I went to St. Xavier’s school in Kolkata. It was one of the best schools in the city, and produced great personalities like Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Jagdish Chandra Bose and many other great names. Our school used to take students from all strata of society on the basis of merit. We had very good teaching facility, which inculcated good values in students.
I had a very middle class background. My father was an accountant in a jute company. I learnt the value of discipline in life from him. I went to IIT Kharagpur after school and passed out from there in 1998. I wanted a job, preferably academic. However, I learnt that in our country to get a good academic job one has to have the right kind of contacts, which I never had. So I decided to go for civil services and cleared the exam. Thereafter I went to the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai (TIFR), for research in computer science. Two of my papers were published in international journals.
My real touch with the administrative world started after this. The recent DLF land deal case has been highlighted by the media and there is sort of hype created around it. However, I have been transferred 40 times in 21 years of my job. I think barring around 10 times, rest of the times I have been transferred on extraneous grounds.
People ask me how I cope with the pressure of dealing with the cases relating to the high and mighty. I would not say I don’t feel afraid. Sometimes I am scared, but then I find the courage from within to fight and stand for truth. For me courage is life and fear is death. I have struggled in my job and you can only keep struggling if you like struggling.
It is believed that the recent DLF land case was the biggest challenge of my life as a civil servant. However, I have had several cases where I have stood for the right cause and law in the past.
My toughest period was in 1994 when I was SDM Tohana in Haryana. I was asked by the Bhajan Lal government to provide 200 trucks from the local truck union for ferrying people to the rally in Delhi, on completion of three years of the P.V. Narasimha Rao government. I refused to obey the order as there was no provision under law for trucks. I was transferred as undersecretary to Chandigarh. At that time my wife was seven months pregnant with my first son. It was a very testing time for me and my wife.
My two sons also suffered due to my frequent transfers, as they have had to change schools. Even this house which has been allotted to me recently has been newly constructed and some work is still pending. I have hired a private plumber and electrician to make it liveable. My wife is also trying to make it livable, but she never complains.
The frequent transfers, apart from disturbing your personal life, also affect your work. The officer should get at least two to three years in one posting for optimum results. All the hard work put in by a person comes to naught; it is like a loss of a child. This is the reason I went to the court regarding my transfer.
There is a Veerappa Moily report, which recommends a minimum tenure for officers. Thirteen state governments of the country have agreed to implement it. I was trying to remind the government about the law. I try to do whatever is in my capacity.
Like when I was working at the Haryana Electronic Corporation I allotted plots through a very fair practice of interviews, unlike discreet methods of allotting such plots. This method could have been followed in other departments, but vested interests desist from implementing transparent and fair methods in allotments.
Despite my struggle my family is proud of me. My wife never complains about my frequent transfers. She has always stood by me, perhaps that is the reason why I am able to take a stand on the right issues.
I strongly believe that my purpose for joining the services was to make a difference to society through my work. I went to Stanford University during my B.Tech days on an exchange program. I would not be lying if I say that I was not enamored by the life in America. But life for me in America was too materialistic, and purposeless.
I live a Spartan life; there is not much place for money in it. I don’t eat out and only like simple home-cooked food. My expenses are limited so I am happy within my means.
Even now some people ask me to join the private sector and earn more money and have a better lifestyle. However, money never attracted me, it is the quest for truth and standing for the right cause which give me self-confidence and resilience to bear all the hardships in the process.
I have two sons — one is going on 18 and studying in Hyderabad, and other is 16 and studying in Chandigarh. At times I fear for their well-being. However, I get my strength from reading books and spirituality.
Ultimately, what has to happen will happen and there is no point in getting perturbed over it.
Other facts of Ashok Khemka
After graduation from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in 1989 Ashok Khemka obtained a Ph.D in Computer Science from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. He also holds an MBA degree.
Ashok Khemka is an IAS officer of the 1991 batch. He has been repeatedly transferred by various state governments in his home cadre of Haryana after he exposed corruption in the departments he was posted in.
Dr. Khemka transferred 21 times total in 12 years service, nine times in five years during government led by Mr. Om Parkash Chautala, and completed 15 months in Labour & Employment Employment & Training Department as Director, which is his longest stay during 21 years of service.
Apart from this during Mr. Chautala led INLD government Dr. Khemka faced first face to face fight with Indian Politics, when he was director, Education Department and did not succumb to political pressure, faced the wrath of Chautala government which posted him ex cadre post of OSD in Personnel & General Administration and Administrative Reforms department, further humiliated him by withdrawing official vehicle and forced him to come to office by foot.
In 2005, when Congress Government led by Mr.Hooda assumed power appointed Dr. Ashok Khemka as Deputy Commissioner, Kaithal district (Mr. S S Surjewala Constituency) on 13/03/2012 under impression that he did not scramble under Mr. Chautala pressure suit present government but soon Mr. Khemka proved that he is made of different stuff and removed from Kaithal, and there after he was forced to roll like football 16 times in span of 7 years under present Congress government.
Currently Ashok Khemka is MD in Haryana Seeds Development Corporation from 15/10/2012 onwards.
Awarded money donated to cancer hospital: ‘S R Jindal Prize – 2011’ for ‘Crusade against Corruption’ with a cash prize of Rs. 10 Lakhs along with Shri Sanjiv Chaturvedi for his fearless efforts in exposing corruption in high places. He says he donated the prize money to cancer and tuberculosis research.
Despite multiple appearances on Indian television, he has stressed that he is not criticizing government policy in the media, something that is, in itself, against the rules of service for a bureaucrat.
“Crony capitalism and corruption is not government policy,” he said. “I am just lending my voice against my superior decision-makers in the hierarchy, who are blatantly disobeying government policy and engaging in this kind of racketeering.”
Ashok Khemka successfully fought the use of asbestos in warehouse walls and water pipes, overcoming a powerful asbestos lobby in league with local politicians.
“I have a sixth sense of seeing where a scam is,” he said. That has not always made him popular with his colleagues — especially now.
“In the last one or two months, most of my friends, or some of them, have deserted me, for the reason of fear, or part jealousy,” he said. “I will not walk into an office very comfortably. Sometimes I feel a sense of uneasiness, that I am not one of them.”
Nevertheless, IAS officer Khemka said that his juniors are often proud to be associated with him. He has received messages of support this month from retired senior bureaucrats and Indians all over the world, he said, something that has helped him through this “nightmarish experience.”
But journalists and lawyers here in Chandigarh say Khemka has an unrivaled reputation for honesty.
“In my experience, there are two kinds of government officers — officers who work only to please their political masters, and other officers who work to uphold the law, who work for justice and the poor,” said advocate Kuldip Tiwari. “I put Mr. Khemka in category two. So far as his honesty and integrity is concerned, no one can doubt it.”
Ashok Khemka death threats
IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who took on the state government over suspicious land deals between Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and real estate major DLF, has received fresh death threats.
Please find more details about Ashok Khemka in the following articles:
Ashok Khemka: Similarity between Hooda and KGB
British Rule’s ‘Kala Paani‘ to IAS officer probing DLF-Vadra
Have PM & Sonia Gandhi any word? Life threat to ‘transferred’ Haryana IAS officer probing Vadra
No Probe against Vadra is a defeat of Democracy
Natural storm in U S vs DLF-Vadra-Hooda made disaster
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