My first recollection of Aruna Roy is of a small, intense woman sitting behind a large wooden desk piled high with papers in a government office in north Delhi. As university students, we were somewhat in awe of alumni who had made it into the hallowed portals of the civil and administrative services. At that time, for many who entered the services, idealism was the catalyst, commitment the driver. Aruna Roy is one of those.
Disillusionment came quickly enough, but few left, and even fewer left to put their commitment, energy and passion into something different and more meaningful. Aruna Roy, born to Tamil parents and brought up in a totally secular tradition, is one of those who did. Six years (1968-1975) in the IAS were enough to convince her that reality lay elsewhere.
In her words: "Frankly speaking, I was not happy with bureaucratic functioning.... There are times when one knows that the decisions being taken by higher-ups are blatantly wrong, but nothing can be challenged."
Aruna left the IAS to join her husband Bunker...