A Fascinating Grass Roots Level Officer

M P V Shenoi


Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues. His email id is

This website provides the impressions and opinions of many educated, elite persons. Some of them worked in bureaucracy, some of them were private individuals/men of standing. They have written about the historic transition of our country from a British colony to a free democracy and its governance during that period.

This story is about a person who served one wing of the government at the grass root level. He was not particularly articulate, but he sometimes spontaneously gave out his opinion in his own way, without any concern about style.

It was July 1958 when I received the posting order from Engineer in Chiefs Branch, Army Head Quarters, and New Delhi. I was eagerly waiting for the letter - I had passed the required UPSC examination nearly three years ago.

My maternal grandparents and family

Indira Pasricha and Neera Burra


Indira Pasricha was born on 17 January 1917 in Sidhpur in Multan district. She studied in Kinnaird College, Lahore. She married Prem Pasricha on 28 April 1940 in Lahore. She was a social worker and played an active role in saving Sikhs during the riots in 1984 in New Delhi. She was an active member of the women’s wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party. She and her husband Prem Pasricha helped the tribals in Orissa in setting up the Ekal Vidyalaya and eye camps.

Neera Burra, a sociologist, has a Ph.D. from the Delhi School of Economics. As Assistant Resident Representative at the U.N. Development Programme, India for several years, her focus was issues related to gender, poverty and environment. She has published extensively on the issue of child labour in India, including Born to Work: Child Labour in India Oxford University Press in 1997. Her most recent book is A Memoir of pre-Partition Punjab. Ruchi Ram Sahni 1863-1948 Oxford University Press 2017. A great granddaughter of Ruchi Ram Sahni, she maintains a blog about him

Lajwanti: Triumph and Tragedy

Lakshaya Grover

Lakshaya Grover: I am a history enthusiast, on my way to become a lawyer. The enamouring world of the past seems intractably intriguing to me, and I spend my days exploring it. I read a lot. I think a lot.

Editor's note: Lakshaya has written this account of his family at my request. This account is based on what he has heard from his older family members.

My great-grandparents. Lyallpur, Punjab, Undivided British India

Lajwanti had been in the throes of emotion for the past few days. She was certainly not one to lose it all and cry, and yet, her life had already made its first tryst with utter despair. The family she had so assiduously built was lying in shambles. Everything had been so phenomenal, so miraculous. She had given her husband Tarachand, Tara, as she called him, a reason to rejoice. She was able to fight fate and occult powers, she had broken the curse laid upon her ‘Tara', she had defied the prophesies of pundits and maulvis alike.

Lajwanti, the hero of this story, the protagonist who could not survive the suffering inflicted upon her by chance, as if God was playing dice with her life, and the lives of millions of people like her, who were about to become refugees, or were going to be slaughtered en masse. A flurry of memories floods my brain as I write this, trying to make a cohesive story by stitching together dispersed anecdotes passed on to me by my late grandfather, who survived India's Partition in 1947, and lived to divulge the ghastly intricacies hackneyed catastrophe.

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