Straight Talk with K. Mathai

Transferred 28 times over a 10 year period, K. Mathai KAS, one of the honest and upright officers of our times shares an honest re-telling of experiences with Sameera Fernandes on how he managed to emerge victorious as Chief Minister of Karnataka Hon’ble BS Yediyurappa cleared him of all fabricated charges and ordered to close all false pending cases.


You have set yourself quite a track record on various fronts. Tell us about your background.

After almost 2 decades of serving the nation in the Indian Air Force, I joined the Karnataka Administrative Services (KAS) as a Tahsildar and Taluk Magistrate for Shringeri.

Thus followed a career of 15 years where I was transferred about 28 times in 10 years for exposing various illegalities such as the infamous 300 crore loss to Mandya Urban Development Authority by way of illegal allotment, the issue of illegal sand mining at Hassan Taluk, 2000 crore BBMP Advertisement Scam, weakening of Sakala by Senior IAS Officers and more.


How important is it to have a stellar reputation?

Though we have laws in this country where transparency and accountability is most important, we are all witnesses to senior officials, bureaucrats and others who are not complying. Specific laws dealing with Anti-Corruption are here to make India a better place to live in. Yet, politicians all over India have sabotaged the process and bureaucrats who have to implement the laws as per the provision have also joined hands. It now has become the duty of the society and whole community to ensure honest people are encouraged, nourished and protected to keep the true spirit of all the laws intact. I am here to help those people involved in fighting corruption and in favour of transparency.


What can we all do to make a difference and bring about a positive change across India?

We need to raise our voice against corruption. I agree with the words of Justice N Venkatachalaiah, former Karnataka Lokayuktha, who once said, “All corrupt officials must be declared as anti-nationals and stand in the way of the development of their own country”. It is time for us to move out of our comfort zone and try our best to develop a growth mindset with our youth who are the future leaders of our country.


How can values of honesty, transparency and openness be inculcated in our people?

Keeping in mind that our generation still has the culture of reading, introducing publications, articles and books on truth and reality through case studies and showcasing real life experiences can be a great influencer. Unfortunately, today we are part of a generation where many are corrupt either directly or who have a role to play in supporting corruption. It is time to sensitise the youth through promoting these values at Institutions and other gatherings which can hopefully inspire and set a new trend in place.


‘The Price of Truth’ is a biography that was recently released. What was the purpose behind it?

I was lucky to come across an author who has lived a major part of her life abroad and who was so excited to hear my story and how I tried to fight the system to upload the values. She herself felt inspired and wanted to share this with the world. I am amazed to see how she was ready to dedicate time and efforts selflessly towards a very noble cause and this was a driving force for me too.

Being a self-driven person who was determined to get the system in order and expose illegalities all through my life, I was constantly victimised. However, I was committed and through the years of transfers and other ‘punishment postings’, I still emerged victorious. It was a feeling of victory when Hon’ble Chief Minster BS Yediyurappa learnt of the ordeals I went through and immediately ordered to close all false cases that were pending for years together.

The experiences and instances that I have narrated in the book are an honest re-telling of experiences and I hope this will be an inspiration for the youth to emulate these ideals and principles to fight corruption and upload great values in life.


What is your message to the community at large?

We can stand for values, we can stand for principles and try our best to be a role model to others. What people end up doing is finally their call. However, it is important for us to upload these values and help create upright people in society.  The time is ripe for us to collaborate and join hands together with key stakeholders – the Government, Educationists, Senior Officials and others to drive forward positive change towards a progressive society.


Moving forward, what are some of the Initiatives you will be spearheading?

With the release of the book, ‘The Price of Truth’, my aim is to aggressively promote a spirit of honesty, transparency and openness in all that we do. Together with the support of other thought leaders and key influencers, we will promote these values across educational institutions, corporates, Government bodies. Slowly and steadily, we will go back to our roots where good values take centre stage for a fulfilling life.

The views and opinions published here belong to the interviewer and the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sameera Fernandes
Sameera Fernandes is the Director of Ecosol Global and Chairperson of External Affairs - Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC). She is also the former Director – Strategy, St. Francis College, Bengaluru.

She was conferred with the Nirbhaya Award and also the ‘Woman of Influence’ Award by Archbishop Dr. Peter Machado.

Her past stints include Sun Microsystems, Nokia (UAE), Jet Airways, Al Ghurair Investments (UAE) and has been a regular contributor to the Friday Magazine of Gulf News.

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