In fond memory of Mitra Kumar Pradhan
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
By this time we could know each other in official capacity as well since I served a long tenure in the Finance Department in my capacity as the Under Secretary to the Joint Secretary and later as Special Secretary. He used to visit looking for some urgent file routed through to get Cabinet approval as I was entrusted with the proposals from the Sikkim Public Works Department – bifurcated into Roads and Bridges as well as Buildings departments after the departure of the then chief engineer K. K. Mohan Babu on repatriation to his parent Government in 1978(?). Mitra Daju had joined the Government service on 30 October 1963 and was executive engineer like another dashing personality Mr. L. B. Chettri. Mitra Daju was chief engineer in charge of the Buildings, while Roads and Bridges was entrusted to Mr. Chettri. Both rose to be the Principal Chief Engineer cum Secretary subsequently. One of his subordinates Pradhuman Shrestha recently recollects Mitra Daju to be the Tiger of a personality, who would use choicest words to an erring official in order to maintain work culture and raise the dignity and decorum of the service he himself also held it in high esteem.
He was a strict disciplinarian and his views shared on Facebook: “23 Aug 2015 An incident of my times in Govt School Kalimpong, in class 8, comes to my mind re discipline. In the daily morning meet, our Head Master, Late KB Gurung, carried some papers found in the school road and asked who threw the stuff. Immediately one senior teacher took the responsibility and expressed sorrow. This subject was not discussed thereafter but this left impression in our mind what is Discipline n Cleanliness.Mr KB Gurung a gold medalist in Mathematics n strict disciplinarian and has left deep impression on me. This aspect is vanishing from present day life. This is not OK and there is a need to propagate this.”
He was a thorough knowledged technocrat who knew his subject thoroughly keeping well abreast with fast technological developments taking place all over the world practically in all the disciplines, as found in the keynote address (a copy sent to this author then the secretary Science and Technology) he delivered as the secretary Irrigation in the workshop held on 22-24 February 1996 at Gangtok on “Role of Geosynthetics in Hill Area Development” also published as Proceedings of the workshop by the Committee of International Geosynthetics Society (India) and Central Board of Irrigation and Power, New Delhi.
His worry about Climate Change as he posted on Facebook: “4 Jan 2016 Why the cold seems to be subdued these few days after a bitter bout a fortnight ago. Why? Again the Climate change effect? my God. I have not yet faced the bitter cold say after a short shower, you know your hand freezes and do not like to go out, look for sunshine, seen nowhere.
“They say there was some heavy snowing at Tikjek, Gyalshing, around 5000 ft. I have never seen or heard of this there, well I was there in Rabdentse for about 5 years and have no memory of snows there too about 6000ft. What is going on? Is 2016 waiting for some high ups & down in all sort of things? I prey there should be no Earthquake, no heavy rains like in 1968, no drought like some years back. I remember of a acute drought conditions in 75 or 76s when people in Hathidhunga, near Rinchenpong, West Sikkim resorted to some wild roots for food. I thought of "Food of Work" program-me and this worked wonderfully bringing great relief to the people affected. I still feel full satisfaction for initiating this programme. It may be the first one in India too, I actually do not know. Whatever, poor people got the benefit during bad times. I prey for good times in 2016.”