Book Review: A. R. Nanda, Bureaucrazy—The Razor’s Edge

Date01 June 2017
AuthorMadhu Bala Nath
Published date01 June 2017
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Indian Journal of Public
63(2) 302–318
© 2017 IIPA
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0019556117699741
Book Reviews
A. R. Nanda, Bureaucrazy—The Razor’s Edge. New Delhi: Manas
Publications, 2016, 245 pp., `695.
The book entitled, ‘Bureaucrazy—The Razor’s Edge,’ is recently published by
Manas Publications. The author of the book is Mr Amulya Ratna Nanda. A post-
graduate in political science and population studies, Mr Nanda was a member of
the Indian Administrative Service (1965–2002) who held many important assign-
ments in central and state governments in India including the posts of the Registrar
General and Census Commissioner, Chairperson of the India Investment Centre
and Secretary to the Government of India in Health, Finance, Mines and Power.
This book has a unique flavour of taking the reader from the gross to the subtle,
from the human to the spiritual and from a factual existence into a mystic discovery.
This makes the book quite unusual in its presentation. This journey begins in the
prologue and continues till the epilogue. Quotations like ‘The complex interplay
of the three gunas’, ‘The gross and subtle threads of memoirs of the past’ and ‘The
karmic philosophy of deha prarabhd and karma phal’ are presented beautifully as
the author says, ‘through the eyes of the child within me in my spiritual life and
that all has been achieved by satguru’s grace’.
The book gives not only a graphic account of the author’s life journey, it is a
truthful and honest narration of his encounter with corruption, with eccentricity,
with movements, with programmes, with real lives and livelihoods of men and
women who are governed and administered by those commonly referred to as the
servants of the people. The book is therefore especially relevant for upcoming
administrators as this is a truthful and honest account tirelessly and deftly penned
into a very readable document.
The author has not just shared his experiences in how the Indian Administrative
Service situates sincere and dedicated officials at crossroads of public interest
versus private interest and more seriously of integrity versus corruption. But the
examples and anecdotes of how to tackle such situations through transparency are
quite engaging for the reader. Undertaking surprise inspections to build evidence
against corruption is a road where few would venture but the author did venture.
The challenges of a young officer handling a tribal subdivision of the state of
Odisha, dealing with the difficulties faced by exploited tribals bring out the
commitment of the author to equity and social justice. Equally interesting are real
life examples shared by Nanda as he tackled very difficult situations posed by the

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