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In saga of IAS officers walking their dog in sports stadium, there is only one happy ending

It is rare in any controversy involving the powerful to find a completely blameless figure. In the saga of Principal Secretary Sanjeev Khirwar and his wife (also an IAS officer of the All-India cadre) walking their dog in Delhi’s Thyagraj stadium, after athletes were forced to stop their training early to allow the canine a wide berth, there is enough blame to go around — the officers’ sense of entitlement, the larger culture they represent and even the notion of “punishment” postings to Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Yet, the figure at the center of the tale is blameless. The dog, after all, didn’t demand world-class athletic facilities for his walks.

The chagrin at the bureaucrats is understandable. Unfortunately, their canine’s public image too has become a casualty of the outrage. The pedigree dog, like so much else in an unequal society obsessed with status, is a sign of privilege: From the diminutive Pomeranian in the early 1990s, to the German Shephard and now, Huskies — dogs can be as much a marker of social mobility as the move from a hatchback to a sedan. Perhaps the officers’ Great Dane, large as that breed is, was meant to serve as a social marker.

Where will the Great Dane go? His fate has been the subject of much concern on social media and beyond. Dogs, like people, are creatures of routine and since the officers are headed off to different locations, he will certainly miss one of them. But there’s a silver lining. The pollution-ridden city is no place for a large animal, with or without a stadium at his disposal. Hills, clean air and space to be — that’s what a dog needs. In all likelihood, the Dane will not, unlike the bureaucrat, see Ladakh or Arunachal Pradesh as a “punishment posting”.

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