A disciple’s tribute to R K Kumar


‘Tut, Tut, Tut’ … I can hear the Guru’s impatient voice, chastising this errant sishya. ‘Never deify anybody, whoever or whatever he or she is. Now, stop the archanas and get on with your work’. It is difficult to disobey his command, for they are always laced with concern and conviction, but then there are occasions when impetuousness is a virtue.

The boss will have to forgive me. Is not the most revered guru, god incarnate himself? In any case, what is wrong in worshipping pristine intelligence that does not ordinarily come by in this very unintelligent world?

A professional par excellence, Shri R.K. Kumar is, sorry, was also a very consummate human being. Humble to a fault, he never paraded his immeasurable knowledge and instead hid it under a camouflage or personal charm and affability. The veil of humility was never breached even under overwhelming provocations when lesser mortals who cannot tell a bank from a bunk, used to harangue on subjects in which he was an authority.

He was always extremely forgiving of naivette. But he had his way of asserting his mastery and when he speaks…spoke, others just followed in mute obedience. Scores of clients, innumerable board rooms and a plethora of fora had been witness to his financial wizardry and still all that would constitute just a trifle of the capabilities of R.K.Kumar. But then the learned auditor somehow got his political calculations wrong. A mis-step that he rued till his death.

Perhaps, his unassuming ways and simplistic demeanour were also his undoing in politics which is all about hype and bluff, things alien to Kumar. Common acquaintances and well wishers often used to quiz me on how a good man like him got entangled in the sickening web of politics.

That, indeed is a telling commentary not only on the integrity of Kumar, but also on the state of the polity. Politics has always been his dying ambition, quite literally too. His flair for writing, both in English and Tamil, a keen sense of assessment of current issues and an analytical brain ensured that the political fire kept burning in him.

His association with these newspapers of T.R.R, enabled him to articulate his views and display his polemical skills, something that had hitherto been confined to law courts and tribunals. His regular columns on subjects of varied interest ranging from the financial scams of the day to travelogues to political analysis were well received.

His foray into Parliament was the culmination of a relentless hardwork that is characteristic of R.K. Kumar–When he is not easing the tensions of worked up clients, one can normally find him pounding away at that hapless personal computer of his, day in and day out, even as he puffed gaily on those fateful cigarettes, once again, day in and day out.

Stepping into North Block as MoS for Finance was his ultimate hour of glory. Who better than him, the quintessential finance man, could handle such elite portfolios like Banking, Revenue and Insurance? He knew the subjects like the palm of his hand and could effortlessly walk the lanes and by-lanes of the statue books, blindfolded.

Though he never wished for it, when it came he responded to the call of intellect with the enthusiasm and elan of a school boy. It was one of those rare times in this cursed country that such men of knowledge, who also know the job, actually land in those jobs. The happy communion, however did not last long, in tune with India’s tryst with mediocrity that has been destined by its politicians. The cruel hand of ‘fate’ and to be sure it was fate and nothing else, nothing at all, ensured that Kumar was out of a position that he never sought in the first place, in just two months.

The Kumar who emerged from that turmoil was a disillusioned, dishevelled man, just a pale shadow of the colossus that he was. Down physically and exhausted mentally, Kumar was just regaining his panache and poise when once again fate intervened yesterday to arrest his heart. But then, had not Our Kumar died a thousand deaths, this year and quarter, with the question, ‘why’, nagging at his brain perennially?

It is a great pity that the nation has seen very little of him. Yet one can hear the reverberations of silent homage and respect emanating from the boardrooms, corporate houses and even the economic ministries at the loss of a man who was just what the doctor ordered for an economically ailing nation. How we wish, there was a way to preserve such cerebral stuff and keep them alive and active!

Our poignant salutes to our guru!

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Jawahar T R