When Puravankara says Jayakar Jerome zindabad

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: It is perhaps a sign of the times when nothing shocks or surprises us any more. Or perhaps a sign that the line between public and private is fast disappearing in post-liberal, anything-goes India.

Or perhaps not.

Jayakar Jerome, the former commissioner of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), has joined a leading developer in Bangalore, barely two years after his retirement from service—and true to a City where only 44 out of 100 voted, there has scarcely been a whimper of possible conflict of interest.

Jerome, an IAS officer of the 1983 batch, earned plenty of good press—thanks to the deft handout of “G” category sites to journalists and “journalists”—during S.M. Krishna‘s regime when he was credited with having resurrected a moribund BDA and giving it a good name.

As one blogger wrote at the time:

“Once considered highly corrupt and destined for the boondocks, BDA was resurrected, revamped, cleansed, organised, professionalised by a dedicated Jerome and his team. Land sharks, who once ruled the roost, were stamped down as was corrupt BDA staffs, who hitherto, were a law unto themselves.”

When the Congress-JDS coalition government of Dharam Singh transferred him, allegedly at the behest of H.D. Deve Gowda & Sons, Krishna, who had been sinecured to Bombay as governor of Maharashtra, sought Jerome’s services as his secretary.

Jerome who was deputed there, retired in that post in May 2006. (When a World Bank report called Karnataka (under Krishna) “the most corrupt State in India in 2004”, it was secretary Jerome who released a WB clarification to the contrary.)

“He was one of the finest officers I have seen in terms of conceptualising and implementation. To my mind, he would rank in the top 2 per cent of India’s bureaucracy,” Infosys chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy said in an Indian Express interview.

But, in 2008, with a new government barely a fortnight away from being sworn in in the State, how appropriate is it for Jayakar Jerome to join Puravankara, the realty major whose rise into the real estate limelight in Bangalore roughly coincided with its rise as an IT City under the benign gaze of S.M. Krishna?

According to a report in The Economic Times, Jerome, a sixth-generation Bangalorean born in Richards Town, will spearhead Puravankara’s proposed infrastructure foray.

“The Purvankara Group is looking to set up separate subsidiaries for infrastructure, hospitality as well as low-income housing. Mr Jerome is likely to head the infrastructure division,” a source told the paper.

For the record, former Times group president Pradeep Guha is a director on the Puravankara board, as are two IT mascots, Jaithirth Jerry Rao and Ravi Ramu of Mphasis BFL.

To be fair to Jerome, there has been a “cooling-off” period of two years from the day of his retirement in March 2006, and a full four years since he left BDA, before his lurch towards Puravankara. So he is probably not carrying any of the short-term “state secrets” from BDA that might benefit his future employer unlike, say, Rathikant Basu who left Doordarshan one day and was with Rupert Murdoch‘s Star Television the next.

Or Vivek Kulkarni, who was IT secretary one day, and heading an IT company the next.

Moreover, if scientists and researchers can leave our sensitive laboratories for greener pastures, what is to prevent a former bureaucrat from making the most of the remainder of his serviceable years, especially when the city of his birth needs it the most?

And to be fair to Puravankara, if they were smart enough (and rich enough) to hire Jerome’s services, why should it be held against them? After all, if recently retired cops can stand for elections like Subhash Bharani and recently retired bureaucrats like N.K. Singh can become “consultants” to all manner of corporates, why should Jerome not lend his services in his area of expertise?

If expertise is the core determinant of Jerome’s recent employment, the jury is still out.

Jerome was credited with designing HSR Layout—destination of the super rich and the home several of the “G” category media beneficiaries. The media went to town about the project. However, it took just one season of heavy rains in 2005 to reveal the planning that had gone into the project. BDA blamed poor designing and location.

OK, maybe Jerome’s expertise, like Abdul Kalam‘s, is in “man-management”.

Still, in a City whose most prized jewel is its real estate, the fact that a BDA chief can now comfortably sup and cohabit with a high-profile developer with deep pockets—with whom he would have certainly dealt with in his four-year and nine-month term—without a single political or analytical eyebrow going up, doesn’t augur well.

Jayakar Jerome may be as honest, competent and efficient as he has been painted to be. But what is to prevent his underlings from picking up a cue and lubricating their way with builders, developers and other land sharks into lucrative future employment?

Photograph: S.M. Krishna (left) with Jayakar Jerome at the dedication of the Hebbal flyover (Karnataka Photo News)

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17 Responses to “When Puravankara says Jayakar Jerome zindabad”

  1. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    What does he advise about?

    … how to get work done by BDA , paying the lowest bribe?

  2. Andy Says:

    Fact is that SM Krishna’s tenure was a golden era for real estate contractors and companies and Jerome Jaykar presided over these gold mines in Bangalore. Plus, that Govt created new records in corruption in public life.

    Given these, It is very very difficult to believe that Jayakar Jerome services have been hired purely due to his skills.

    Whether its Jayakar or somebody else, Its disturbing to see senior Govt officers who head crucial departments that involve public assets ( land, mines, water, forest etc) join private sectors involved in business these very areas.

  3. captainjohann Says:

    I cannot understand the logic of the blog that his underlings will bribe their way in BDA just because Jerome is in purvankara, otherwise everyone will be honest!!!!When one single family can hold the NICE project to ransom inspite of supremecourt ruling, what this guy can do except may be as witty wick says “how to pay the lowest bribe?

  4. Aatmasakshi Says:

    A city that doesn’t vote. Politicians who have hundreds of crores in assets. A media that isn’t interested in 75 per cent of the population. Journalists silenced by crores-worth house sites. Babus who chase the pot at the end of the rainbow. Why doesn’t anything about Bangalore surprise us any more?

    As the piece duly notes, Jerome has at least had the decency to wait a few months after his retirement unlike Kulkarni. But it would be interesting to see if Jayakar Jerome would have been agreeable to working as a consultant for the next government in its drive to bring the city back on track. And if the government would have been ready to pay market rates for his efforts/expertise? If not, he is free to go anywhere.

    I hope they are signing Non-Disclosure Agreements in BDA after this!

  5. dabbachurmuri Says:

    ayyo serilkoolali bidri nimge yenu problem ???

    He is a citizen of India and he has every right to earn his living….

    Whats is your objective in quoting NRN ???

    Looks like the author is jealous as he is not able to get good jobs that are high paying as his………

  6. suri Says:

    Jerome was Mister 10 % .Collection agent for Krishna and Cabinet.

    All these guys lecture us on morality and How Noble public service is ?? Why does Jerome or the other BABU”s work as a VOLUNTEER for some NGO ??

    You would never see that in India as most of these Corrupt Officers are hypocrites to the core.

  7. Alok Says:

    Either Purva is extra-dumb( to have waited four years) or super-smart (to have made sure JJ “cooled off”) in having taken him on in this manner.

    Without further proof of clear favouritism during his tenure in BDA, it is difficult to see what “conflict of interest” exists when
    a. He no longer works for the BDA.
    b. Nothing in his terms of contract with the Government prevented him from engaging with private employers whom he may or may not have had “contact” with during his employment with the Government.

  8. Dheerendragopal Says:

    kaLLa maLLa

  9. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    Didn’t Krishna take Jerome with him to Bombay so that the latter would not be bothered by the Karnataka Lokayuktha? Governors and their chiefs of staff have immunity.

  10. basava Says:

    nimma gantenu hoytu..serikollali bidi

  11. H.R.Bapu Satyanaryana Says:

    I had personal interaction with him for the first time in connection with a promised allotment which was delayed for months and there appeared to be no hope. I took time by personally contacting him at his house and he asked me to meet him the same day and believe it or not the person got his allotment letter by 5PM that day. It only showed that anybody could meet him and probably realised that his office staff was playing tricks. If that could happen for a total stranger like me one can imagine what quality of service he can deliver. It is for such quality he has been hired and there is nothing wrong in accepting it

  12. nilesh Says:

    58 is a young age to retire, Honest and competent persons in Public service is rare.

    If the state failed to utilize his service, what is wrong in joining private sector.

    Even Haranalli Ramaswamy reports suggest that Govt Off should have an option of taking leave for 7 years, they can join either private sector or start a business, in case they want to return back then there will be no loss of rank.

    I for one would have wanted him to be congress candidate from Bangalore North to take on Sangliana, and then have a say on Bangalore matters.

    Maybe a good time to buy Purvankaras share.

  13. Vijaya Says:

    Jerome did enough damage to Bangalore by lifting 10-year lease period his predecessors had devised. Earlier, an allottee could not sell his plot for a period of 10 years after allotment. The idea was to ensure the beneficiary used the plot for his own housing purposes. Jerome lifted that, and came the flood of applications. Thousands of allottees bought BDA plots and sold immediately in open market. The loser was the original land owner. Everyone else gained. The result: Mostl Jerome-developed layouts are lying barren with a few houses here and there. They all have turned out to be sites bought for real estate investments.

    By the way, it was not BDA’s mandate to develop layouts; it was supposed to be KHB’s job. Jerome drifted from the BDA’s original mandate – the agency was required to plan and supervise development of Bangalore and its infrastructure under the Act. He ended up doing KHB’s job. Smart were many greedy Bangaloreans who bought one site each from BDA and KHB. Huchu Munde Madhuveli Undavane Jaana.

  14. babuds Says:

    Please don’t cast aspersions on a sincere hardworking retired Government servant. Jayakar Jerome is one of the rare and sincere officers this state has ever seen.

  15. Joseph Says:

    I know Jayakar, and I worked under him. From my experiance he is an efficient, true to heart person. He is a man of Action and down to earth behaviour. And I have seen another thing also regarding him, people who are not seen him, those who are having western intrests, hidden aggendas always blames him. To be frank he is a short tempered, highly qualified good professional administrator…..

  16. Arindam Says:

    Popular ex-bureaucrats joining the private sector after retirment or ex-army men becoming liasion officers of foreign defence eqipment companies are hired more often than not for their networking skills with their ex-colleagues in the government.

    In India, even a 4 year kid knows that nothing can be done without good contacts & string-pulling in the government. This also essentially implies that the indian bureaucratic system does not function effectively/efficiently and does not deliver results when approached in a straight-forward manner by citizens or organisations.

    Its a malaise of the system and individuals like Jerome benefit from it even after retirement.

    I guess if the government administrative system becomes more efficient & effective in delivering services, Jerome would have no qualms in spending his retirment days idly.

    Till then, why blame him ?

    Blame the system and the corrupt business houses that sustain it.

  17. Dr murthy Says:

    Let me wish those who harbour revenge ,venom,spite,enemity and hell bent up on ruining some body only deserve a dooms day ! Never lend ears to gossips.Upon hearsay if one stoops to act he looses balance of mind whoever may be his mentor,whatever position he gets by virtue of proximity to pelf and power. People said to be enjoying positions by grace shall be kind to others who are less fortunate.Exerting and inflicting harm to innocents using old strings is a pity and the result of lack of vision, no doubt.Any way MAY GOD GIVE THE PEOPLE IN POWER ATLEAST A MERCIFUL HEART>LORD CHRIST HAD PRAYED FATHER IN HEAVEN TO PARDON THOSE CRUCIFIED HIM TO BE PARDONED -FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEYARE DOING. Trusting in providence.

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