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The philosopher-bureaucrat

By Soma Chakraborty, New Delhi
08/07/2017   0 Comments

Written by Haulianlal Guite, a young IAS officer from the Northeast, the non-fiction novel, Confessions Of A Dying Mind, released recently in the national capital is earning rave reviews. In a conversation with Bureaucracy Today, the bureaucrat who is currently posted as Secretary in the Jaipur Development Authority speaks about his book and his passion for philosophy and writing.
 
As they say, looks can be deceptive. For those not acquainted with Haulianlal Guite, the charming bespectacled youth can easily be mistaken as, in Minister of State Kiren Rijiju’s words, “a college student”. However, in reality behind the “boyish” look is a young bright IAS officer who has earned accolades from domain experts for his insights and knowledge about philosophy.
 
His book, Confessions Of A Dying Mind, is the first philosophical novel written by an Indian civil servant. The first of a trilogy, the book is billed as the “world’s first philosophical novel on God”. 
 
 “Writing is an enduring passion. It comes so naturally that I cannot imagine what I will be without the pen,” the 2011-batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan Cadre says.
 
However, striking a balance between work and passion is no mean task. “It is very difficult to maintain a balance between work and passion. But as one of my seniors once said, No matter how much work you do, even if you bring all the files to your home, there will be something pending. So do not let the two combine. Every day I reach office at 9:30 am. By 8 pm, I finish all my work. From 8 O’clock, it’s my own time. When other bureaucrats spend their leisure time in parties or sports, I dedicate my time to writing. That’s how I balance my work and passion,” Guite elucidates. 
 
Apart from writing, the jovial officer loves playing cricket, travelling and making conversations, “especially with the fairer sex”!
 
Interestingly Guite, who hails from a Royal family in Manipur, always wanted to become a philosopher. It was “the persuasion” of his parents, both of whom are doctors, which landed him in the Civil Services profession.
 
‘NEVER MY DREAM’ 
“Entering the IAS was never my dream. I became a bureaucrat due to my parents’ persuasion. It was always my dream to become a philosopher. However, I do not regret my decision to work as an IAS officer because it has given me innumerable opportunities to do substantial work for society,” says Guite who graduated in Philosophy from Delhi’s St Stephen’s College in 2008.
 
The bureaucrat confides that the book, which is inspired by German philosopher Immanuel Kant and Platonic dialogues, is the “struggle of his philosophical and intellectual pursuits which began in 2005,” the year he moved to Delhi for higher education after completing school education in Manipur. 
 
“I started writing the book during my preparations for the Civil Services Examination and after much writing and rewriting it took its present shape,” says Guite. 
 
The novel alludes to the story of the main protagonist, Albert Dyers – an atheist who undergoes a life-transforming near-death experience. The book is presented as a series of novelized discussions between Dyers, who is in a coma and having the effects of a near-death experience, and a mysterious Mr Walker, either a figment of his imagination or a divine figure sent by some force unrevealed, or a distillation of his own inner contemplations, to teach him the meanings of life, religion and all the rest.
 
Written along the lines of Jostein Gaarder's outstanding bestseller, Sophie's World, the book by Guite powerfully argues that there is no sharp distinction between science and religion, and that if anything, atheism itself rests on blind faith.
 
Dr CK Mathew, former Chief Secretary of Rajasthan and Visiting Professor at Azim Premji University who is a “non-believer” himself, says in the book's foreword, “It (the book) will change your mind, and the way you think!"

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