Officer whose life is one lyrical symphony

Dr Hari Om, IAS of the 1997 UP cadre is much more than a competent officer. While striking the right notes in public welfare, he also enjoys a phenomenal equation with them through his poetry, music and song. His journey makes for a scintillating songfest. With hundreds of shows, many on-stage with reputed names, he is the humane face of administration. 

Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it. If talent is a gift, character is a choice and if the protagonist is nothing without the gift, the gift is nothing without work. Dr Hari Om, a senior IAS officer of the 1997 UP cadre is a felicitous example who can be sententiously described as an “IAS officer by profession and musician-litterateur at heart”.

The officer who has struck a reputation of being ramrod-straight is otherwise a versatile Shayar, Story-writer and a Ghazal singer. The multi-splendored dimensions that he brings to his dynamic personality give him just the right equilibrium to strike a perfect balance between his professional and personal life. Hailing from the backward hamlet of Katari in Amethi district, his personality has been commodiously shaped by the education he pursued in Allahabad University and JNU. A brilliant student from his school days, he trekked on with his meritorious record to complete his PhD from HNB University, Garhwal, Uttarakhand and went abroad for his second Masters in Governance, Public Policy and Political Economy from The International Institute of Social Sciences, The Hague, NL.

A man of letters and words, a man of passion and creation, a man of intellect and wisdom, a man full of humility and sensitivity is perhaps the simplest way to define Dr Hari Om who has spent 23-plus years as Collector/District Magistrate in as many as 11 Districts of UP. Important field assignments apart he has the experience of working in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Agriculture, Cooperative, Sports and Water Resources Development and Social Welfare Department.

A man of mettle and strong moral fiber, Dr Hari Om unspools his journey to the stature he has reached today. “I angled for IAS as it was a dream I nursed in those days like many others. Pursuing higher education in Katari, a backward, rustic place was out of question. After my 12th, father advised me to move out to Delhi or Allahabad. My biggest advantage was being an outstanding student. The teachers on their part would always galvanize me and I didn’t let them down. The time I spent in the hostel at Allahabad University turned out to be an ideal platform in honing my skills. After graduation I opted for JNU where Civil Services still remained my prime intent. The entire crux of my thinking philosophy was not just about good life but the ardent desire to serve the country and society better.”

Music ran through his veins. As student he would sing film songs, his ideals being Mohammed Rafi and Talat Mehmood. “I wasn’t just a music aficionado; I knew I had a melodious throat. But what started as a means of entertainment was destined to be elevated several notches more. I had managed to get a Harmonium during my hostel days which managed to give me a break from the routine ennui. Until then, there was no thought in my head to become a professional singer. Very soon it dawned upon me that Music was making me humble, deferential and sensitive. It was as if it touched the raw nerves inside me. This artistic flavour also extended to my penchant for Literature. The love for Shayari, Ghazal and Writing were like sprigs of my emotional quotient,” he recalls.

The last five years were an exercise in rediscovery. Dr Hari Om found himself steeped into the aesthetics of the Ghazal and in quick time carved a niche for himself as a Ghazal exponent with mega hits like  “Sikandar hun magar haara hua hun’ which is always on the lips of his admirers. Among the number of albums that have seen the light of the day are Rang Pairahan and Intisaab which are dedicated to the memory of the legendary Faiz. Roshani Ke Pankh and Rang Ka Dariya are his other albums where he has sung his own lyrics. Never playing to gallery, he writes his own Shayari, lyrics, composes them and sings them too. He recently made waves with a unique ghazal-kathak musical project ‘Khanakte Khwaab’ where he has written, composed and sung ghazals in such a manner that the kathak can be performed on it classically.

A dyed-in-the-wool admirer of Mehdi Hassan, Ahmed Hussain Mohammed Hussain, Ghulam Ali, Chandan Dass (with whom he shared the stage), and Jagjit Singh, he has to his credit hundreds of live concerts in India and abroad. Having shared the big stage with playback singers Kailash Kher and Shreya Ghoshal, he recently performed on India’s biggest dais Music and Literature ‘Jashn-e-Rekhta” . He particularly remembers how impressed with his performance Ahmed Hussain Mohammed Hussain egged him on to keep doing ‘riyaaz’ (practicing music) and it paid off in the longer run. At a poetry recital, there was a ‘fermaish’ for him to sing.

For the officer, the pen also turned out to be as mighty as his singing decibels. His books Dhoop Ka Parcham (2002), Amreeka Meri Jaan (2009), Kapas Ke Agle Mausam Me (poems 2011), Khwabo Ki Hansi (Ghazals 2016), Titliyon Ka Shor (stories 2018) and Mai Koi Ek Raasta Jaise (2020). A number of awards —  Firaq Samman, Sahitya Shri Award, Rajbhasha Award, Tulsi Shri Awad, Awadh Gaurav Samman and International poetry Award in London – stand testimony to his literary credentials.

His work has set up a phenomenal equation with the common man whose travails troubled his sensitive heart. While he exerted as a District Collector to bring relief to people who thronged his office for redressal of their grievances, he brought their stories alive during the long lonely hours spent in remote Guest Houses through his writings. These stories are now compiled and their appeal lies in the realistic portrayal and the detailing which goes into evolution of characters that relate to all. Anyone seeking to know Dr. Hari Om must flip through these pages to comprehend the sensitivity which this unique officer has brought to his professional work.

The officer recalls his salad days of the rural life that offered him an interesting interface with nature and people around. His younger days were full of stories, characters, events, friends, emotions and unique situations. Freedom and fun with nature drove his sensitivity towards expressing through letters. This is what triggered the poet in him. It also drives him to unravel the mysteries of love and longing to his Muse. His renditions are a refuge for kindred souls

While the world gravitates in quest of material pursuits, Dr Hari Om lets creativity expand his mind and stretch it beyond human comprehension. Its manifestations are evident in his persona and work.


The link to Aankho me iqraar nahi hai (Jashn-e Rekhta)

The resemblance to Talat Mehmood in this “Jalte hain jis ke liye” Sujata song