RIP dear K.P.

By Dilip Cherian | Last Updated: May 06, 2011, 11:48 AM IST

From the glamorous to the grim is a bit of a gap – but hey – being ambidextrous is par for the course in the virtual world. Which brings me to the matter that’s a little maudlin, yet in its own way celebratory.
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The passing away of a dear old friend K.P. Singh in Delhi last week was significant in the lives of many senior babus in the capital. Though many of his best and most senior babu buddies may have passed away before KP – his memorial service was replete with the real Heaven-born, who were still around.
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Though never a bureaucrat himself, KP will be remembered by a slew of babus in key positions across the capital and even more in UP. He strode the vast bureaucratic plains in a manner that today’s weak shadows of lobbyists could never dream of or even hope to aspire.
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Though he worked long stints for the Birlas, thereafter ITC, and finally for the venerable Shrirams, he never really felt or sounded like somebody who was carrying out any Master’s orders. KP argued concepts at a time when mere fixers parleyed licences and permissions. Those were usually beneath his station.
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Singh was a great analyst of policy making and surrounded himself with people, ideas, debates and discussions and even politicians. A small private cabal, in typical Singh’s understated style that called itself (modestly?) the Politburo, would meet at his house every Wednesday. Plied by KP’s generous supply of food and fluids, discussions would ensue on how the country was being governed and what needed to be done.
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His passing away leaves a huge hole in the informal power network that Delhi babus had long relied on. His warmth, his concern for the individual and his family and his ability to create new networks and share them freely were refined characteristics that made the man truly a colossus of his time.
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In this season of Radia and Raja and other matters that are anathema to good taste, this is a man who will truly be missed.
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<i>Dilip Cherian is a senior journalist and former editor of Business India. Best found: dilipthecherian@twitter.com</i>