Pradeep Biswal

Dr. Taradatt is a much discussed name in Odisha Administration. He was famous as Terror Datt among his subordinates. He has himself mentioned about it in his own autobiography: Highlander’s Plain Speak published about two years back. He hailed from a remote village of Uttarakhand, did his master’s and Ph.D. from BHU, and joined IAS in 1983. He was allotted to Odisha cadre, the State to which his better half belonged. In fact, he got married to his classmate in BHU Dr. Indulata Das from Balasore and it was a strange coincidence for him to join Odisha Administration.

He was a very committed person, proactive, hardworking, honest, unsparing, outspoken, upright, and down to earth. At the same time, he was very restless and ruthless in implementing his scheme of things. Anybody not falling in line was bound to incur his displeasure and at times punishment. He was a scholar in Sanskrit and had fair knowledge of Odia language. Even he used to write articles in Odia and speak fluently in Odia quoting from Odia texts.  His wife joined as a lecturer in Sanskrit and voluntarily retired as a reader under the Higher Education Department.


I developed personal contact with him once he was posted as Commissioner of Commercial Taxes in 2005. Then I was looking after the Commercial Taxes branch in the Finance Department and therefore we had frequent interactions. That was the year VAT was introduced in the State and it was a transition year. His positive contributions were to create circle offices in all districts, creating more than three hundred posts of Inspectors at the field level, creating about two hundred OFS posts at the base level, fast tracking the promotions at different levels pending for years, improving the working environment in the offices and construction of the Banijyakar Bhawan in Cuttack. He was very sympathetic towards settling the personal claims of the staff and even on one occasion met the Chief Justice of the High Court to get the arrear salary of a senior officer paid who was earlier working as FA in the High Court.

On the other hand he was very concerned about the evasion of revenue by the traders and the inefficiency of the officers to arrest it. He fixed targets for registration of unregistered traders and ensured collection of taxes as per the targets fixed. He wasn’t tolerating any laxity and never hesitated to reprimand the officers in public, putting them to tears.

On one occasion after his inspection of a circle office in western Odisha, the circle head suffered a heart attack being unable to digest the humiliation. On another occasion one officer came to me in tears requesting me to take care of his family since he was suffering from high blood pressure and high blood sugar due to the daily doses of  abuse from the Commissioner. I arranged to bring him to work under me as Under Secretary in the Finance Department who subsequently got promoted to IAS.

As Director of Agriculture in the past he had the reputation of putting officers on suspension on flimsy grounds and some even suffering a lot on this account. The officers of the Commercial Taxes Department were therefore on toes to meet his expectations  and resorted to novel ways to satisfy him. Many fake dealers got registered by the officers to show more number of registration.

Similarly, the officers arranged to collect advance taxes from the dealers as much as upto six months in advance to show that they had achieved the targets. Although he claimed to have achieved a record 35% growth during the year, it was a double jeopardy for the State since the State lost VAT compensation from the central government on this account. Then I had prepared a detailed note on this issue but the then Finance Secretary advised me to take it back since it would have been embarrassing later as a part of Government records. I had to oblige.

One of the incidents which attracted the attention of the media was the assessment of Bhubaneswar Club. It went to the extent that ,one morning, on his way for a walk he found a carcass and night soil dumped on his doorstep in his government quarters in the Forest Park area and the trees were cut from the trunk. The Club was then headed by a very powerful IAS officer known for his flamboyance. A public notice was put in the Club debarring entry into the club premises for the OFS officers and Dr Taradatt.

As General Secretary of the OFS Association I condemned the incident in the press and extended our solidarity with him. He also reported the matter to the Chief Secretary and the police about the incident but the case was closed as – fact true, no clue. He has given a vivid account of this incident in his autobiography.

On another  occasion, I was sitting in his office chamber along with some senior officers. A telephone call came to him. He talked in Sanskrit. We were a bit surprised. It was his wife on the other side. Then he narrated the story himself. Once while he was posted in Delhi, his wife went there to attend a seminar in NCERT.

In the evening when he came back, he found her in a depressed mood. On being asked she revealed that there was an attempt to discontinue Sanskrit in the school syllabus by some elements in the Government. Instantly he suggested to her to promise that henceforth both of them talk in Sanskrit only so that Sanskrit could live in India till their last breath. Thereafter they continued to stand by the pledge and talk to each other in Sanskrit.

One day when he was Secretary of SC & ST Welfare Department his private secretary telephoned me and asked for my residential address. I was surprised. It was revealed that his son’s marriage was fixed and he wanted to invite me. I was amused. But within the next few days one day he rushed into my office chamber and handed over the invitation with regrets for not being able to come to my residence.

He requested me as an old friend  to bring the family for the reception and without any gift. I honored his words and it was indirectly an honor for me. The reception was very simple and purely vegetarian in his own style. It reminded me of an occasion when I visited his house. He was about to prepare Khichdi for his lunch himself since he didn’t have any cook or office peon engaged in his residence.

He was a pure vegetarian and led a very humble life true to his principles. The last call I got from him before the release of his autobiography with a request to attend the book release function. Although I missed the occasion, he was very pleased to find that I had already got the copy from Amazon and read it before it’s formal release. A person is like a moon having a darker side and a brighter side. He had glaringly the both in him.

The Story is Seventh in a series of articles.

(Mr. Pradeep Biswal is a bilingual poet writing both in Odia and English. His poems are widely anthologized. He is also an editor and translator of repute. A retired IAS Officer, Mr. Biswal presently holds the position of Member, Odisha Real Estate Regulatory Authority and stays with his family at Bhubaneswar. Views are Personal)


  1. Dr Taradutt has been a dedicated, brilliant, honest, hard working, result oriented and pro people civil servant. All human beings, including incarnations have their limitations,so also he.
    It’s great to read the first hand experience by Pradeep Babu, who himself is an embodiment of all the qualities ,i described in the opening line for TD, except the over strictness and never ever smiling face of TD was known for. Sometimes was too strict, but then he was more strict to himself and his better half. Most of the time he was going to office by cycle. No family member was authorised to use the official vehicle, which is rarest example here.
    He took some commendable steps as the SRC, including mock drills in MP cyclone shelters.
    Yes, he used to hate corruption and was too ruthless curbing it in his sphere of admn. Then it’s the mandate of civil service.
    Such qualities,however were not liked and he had to face many embarassing moments in his professional as well as personal life.
    He has remained a plain, pure prrson from the sacred mountains.
    Thanks Pradeep Sir for your writings on such an outstanding civil servant and great human being.

  2. Bright side of Dr Tara Data former IAS has very nicely depicted by Pradeep Biswal former IAS in this article with powerful words like”A person is like a moon having darker side and a brighter side.He had glaringly the both in him .”
    My regards and congratulations to the writer .

  3. Loved to read this. Please publish the series in a Book shape, so that one can enjoy the reading. My Father was an Assistant Agriculture Officer. Those days I heard about many things on the honesty and sincerity of Mr. Datt. Madam Indulata Dash was writing a series of Articles when I was working in Pragativadi.
    Thanks for the write up.

  4. Sir, your narrative on Dr Taradutt is though interesting but not cent percent true so far as factual position is concerned. No doubt he was a hard task master and ensured best compliance from the fellow officers working under him. Because of mounted pressure from him an officer from Western Odisha suffered heart attack is not a fact at all. Me was the person who then worked as CTO, Sambalpur II Circle Bargarh while Dr Taradutt was the CCT. I had deep sense of regard and respect on him because of his uprightness, honesty, sincerity but never never and never afraid of him as because I was never a non-perfermer. I was not under pressure even regarding the given target and I put my best ability and effort to get the commitment complied. It was on 17.11.2005/ Margasir Guruvar (Thursday) I felt some uneasiness for which I called Siv Prakash Bohara, Advocate and went to Dr SL Sharma for consultation. He then advised me to consult Dr Sunil Kumar Sharma, Cardiologist for better treatment. Accordingly rushed to a nursing home at Sakhipara, Sambalpur. The mild problem arose because TG level was 360 and HDL level was 26. The treating physician attributed the cause of such ailment to smoking and chewing of zarda pan. I honestly acknowledge both the bad habits from the year 1980- 81 onwards till the date of ailment. As per the treatment, I got cured and resumed to my duty also within a month. Before joining I personally telephoned Dr Taradutt and joined in my assignment. Were I afraid of the Terror Dutt I would have proceeded on long leave or would have asked for a change. By the grace of God and blessings from family, friends, relatives and your good self I am all ok and leading hale and hearty life as on date. So I never attribute my ailment, if any, to the pressure of Dr Taradutt, the then CCT. Hence, I sincerely disagree with your views since it is not a true fact. I sincerely also request the readers and thinkers to amend their understanding, if it is as per with the writer.

  5. Pranaam Sir.Got the previlege of going through the kind sharing of your valuable experience beautifully picturised in the above worthy piece of writing which is noway less than any rare document,still very pleasing and heart touching. Really we had also opportunity to work in the CTD while Dr Tara Dutta Sir was commissioner. We had very few occasions that is during his inspection to meet him. But right from communication his tour programme the heartbeat Wass starting increased. Excepting being Little bit tight ,taugh and non compromising, so far government interest is involved, there were somany reasons to praise him. However ,going through your nice narration Sir , which is is just like, hearing from horse,s mouth,the memory is refreshing again. You were also working as an important shckabsorber and keeping balance with both the ends. Thanks and regards for the role you played at that time aswel as refreshing the forgotten chapter and Kindly sharing.

  6. You have very beautifuly narrated the working style & the character of Dr.Taradutt.Every body, those who have worked under/with him are well aware about his honesty in government service. Above all he is a humble, noble & committed person and goes beyond his limitation to help his sub-ordinates on right cause.
    Thanks for bringing out your memories in the form of short story and gave me a chance to go through it.

  7. What a great writing skill you have Bhai!??
    Your ability to recall so much facts is very much impressive.
    Thanks and regards.

  8. The first hand experience told with easy flow of prose.There is no attempt at either overstatement or the opposite of it.

  9. It is a very nice account of life of an honest, people friendly, proactive and principled administrator.I heard a rumor of his complaint against his wife neglecting in her duty, at higher education authorities.I also saw officers going in to a panic when he had tour to Kalahandi when he was in charge of KBK development.Congratulations.

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