The book “Gilli Danda to Golf”, a memoir by Ram Varma, a retired IAS and the former Chief Secretary of Haryana, captures and narrates the profound, introspective and a no-holds-barred life story of a seasoned bureaucrat.
Recently launched at the India International Centre (IIC), the book published by Rupa, is non-fiction, and is a memoir about a young boy, born to poor and unlettered parents, who educates himself and goes on to become an IAS officer. Varma’s literary masterpiece talks about the journey of a man towards self-fulfilment and satisfaction not through monetary means but through introspection and self-discovery.
According to the publisher’s introduction to the author, Varma was born in a bricklayers’ family to unlettered parents in a small town in Jaipur. He was raised by his gritty, hard-working mother, as his father mostly remained away working on construction sites in Madhya Pradesh. She inspired him to aim high and study hard. He topped the list of first divisioners from the town’s High School in 1956. He did Intermediate (Arts) from Jaipur’s prestigious Maharaja’s College in the first division and graduated from Rajasthan College in 1960. After doing his master’s in English Literature from Allahabad University in 1962, he became a lecturer at Jodhpur University. In 1964, he joined the IAS and was posted in Punjab.
On the formation of Haryana in 1966, he joined the Haryana cadre. His mother and father were still there when he became Collector in Bhiwani. After a long, distinguished career, he became chief secretary in 1997 and retired in 2000.
Spanning from his childhood days spent in the rural terrains of Rajasthan playing gilli danda to swooshing the golf clubs amid the green expanse of a golf course, ‘From Gillidanda to Golf’ is a deeply personal account of an IAS officer, peppered with anecdotes and incidents making this book a beautiful tribute to life.
Serving under various capacities under the three Lals of Haryana–Bansi, Devi and Bhajan Lal–Ram Varma’s memoir records the ups and downs of a meaningful and fulfilling career.
Asked about his mother’s role in his success, Varma told IANSlife: “The struggles of my mother have always been an inspiring energy in my life. I wish to inherit most qualities of my mother to become a good person like her. Her compassionate nature is always respected. My mother is an optimistic person. I always wished to be a strong and positive person like her. She has learned how to move on from negativity towards positivity. I love how she respects herself and motivates us not to give up.”
“My life mantra is to be positive in life. We must not let any obstacle let us down, we must find new ways of keeping ourselves motivated and inspired to achieve the best in life. Motivating our friends and colleagues in the journey is also equally important,” Varma added, in response to a question on his life’s philosophy.
Asked about his life’s highlights, the retired Indian Administrative Services officer also reveals a new side to him — that of being a trekking enthusiast.
He mentions scaling the Indrahar Pass of the Dhauladhar Range one of his highlights. In his words, this is how the story went: “We had set up an Adventure Club for trekking in the Himalayas and rafting in the Ganga. The Club is still going strong. It organises annual adventure festivals, inviting young men and women, mostly students, from all over India and giving them a week’s exposure of adventure activities. My most memorable experience was going over the Rohtang Pass, trekking along the Chenab towards Kashmir and cross the Kullu Valley into the Chamba Valley, going over the 14,500 ft. Saach Pass. Thereafter proceeding to Bharmour and in company of an instructor from the Mountaineering Institute cross the Indrahar Range at sunset and come to the Mountaineering Institute in Dharamshala! The exhilaration I experience after this perilous moonlight trek is beyond words!”
This full-fledged memoir comes after two of Varma’s previous books: “Before He was God: Ramayana — Reconsidered Recreated” (2010) and “Life in the IAS: My Encounters with the Three Lals of Haryana”.