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Thursday, May 19, 2022


"Has the country failed the IAS?" Published in PIONEER On may 15 , 2022

Last evening I posted it on twitter and with in no time I received many messages- from some IAS officers I knew and some others whom I did not - hugely complimenting me for my article but demanding, in the very next breath- an equally trenchant and hard hitting article on IPS . The IAS and the IPS - they are a funny pair: parity is the zest of of an IPS officer's life. He spends the best part of his career seeking this impossible goal. I never knew IAS officers too seek parity in some circumstances . Here is the text of the article.
Officers of the Indian Administrative Service ( IAS) who demonstrate the capability to make money from the system ,and make it fast , inevitably endear themselves to people in power. So , whatever the outcome of the ongoing investigation against Jharkhand Mines and Industry secretary Pooja Singhal, IAS , it will not interfere with the chances of her appointment as Chief Secretary of Jharkhand , when her time comes. In its brief history of twenty years as a separate state, Jharkhand has honoured three such IAS officers by appointing them as Chief Secretaries . Among officers so appointed was a gentleman who was facing trial in two cases related to financial irregularities in purchase of fertilizer. Another one had spent many months in jail on charges of forcing entrepreneurs to donate money to his NGOs and finally won a reprieve from the Supreme Court . A third officer who was convicted in an animal husbandry case, and perhaps died in jail, had two stints as chief secretary of Jharkhand. Jharkhand’s case may be an exception, but in popular imagination IAS officers can make money not only with impunity but with honour .
There are two standard explanations for the steady diminution of the stature and prestige of the IAS . The first consists of playing down the well-founded criticisms of servility and capitulation, corruption and chicanery. Even though sometimes the merit of the criticism is granted , its significant contribution to the polity and society is dwelt upon at great length; distortions and aberrations that may have crept in are laid at the door of the many extenuating circumstances.
"If the IAS has failed it is because the country has failed ( or is failing at an accelerated rate) ," is only the extreme formulation of such an approach. The other strategy is to deflect- and devalue - the criticism by outwitting and silencing the critic with a more vehement self-critical diatribe, an anguished self-loathing of their own, as if the act of advertising could, in itself, absolve the service of all the sins that were being advertised.
The IAS, according to one view, requires a particular kind of society to function to its full potential , something like the idylls of Nehruvian era. The post-Independence leaders and influencers like Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Ambedkar, Madan Mohan Malviya, T T Krishnamachari, Acharya Kriplani, Jyoti Basu, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Jaiprakash Narayan ( to mention just a handful); industrialists like JRD Tata, Jamnalal Bajaj, Dinshaw Petit and GD Birla; editors like Desmond Doig, Arun Shourie, Sunanda K Dattaray, Kushwant Singh, Frank Moraes and Russi Karanjia have been mostly replaced by pygmies and carpet baggers. These people may win elections, make billion of dollars in one year or run up huge TRP ratings, but they are incapable of promoting public values or morals, or establishing ethical corporate standards, or writing an editorial ( let alone investigating a story).
But that is hardly the case .The IAS has not only been quick to limber up to the changed political realities, it has scripted an even more indispensable role for itself in the era of “pygmies and carpetbaggers.”
Politics, to appropriate Balzac’s remark , has become like ,“Soldiering, … chiefly a financial undertaking, you need gold in order to do battle, and you need to do battle in order to get gold.” Some governments are( were ) headed by leaders from newly emergent political classes for whom English was not the language of choice, who did not feel constrained by rules, regulations etc and were quite upfront about their intentions to abuse their office for personal gains.
The longevity of governments challenged the myths that the IAS had forged out of isolated life stories of a young collector telling off a CM, a chief secretary recording his dissent in days long gone by, myths that made them intelligible to themselves, provided them with their reassurance during times of self-doubt. Governments were there to stay; they were here today, they were going to be here tomorrow. How long could they wait out in the cold?
Though supposed to be unaligned, personally free and subject to the executive authority only within a defined area, they choose to be incorporated in the apparatus of political power . Commitment to rule based governance , are pragmatically abandoned by such officers . They are for the government , the government is for them.
An interesting example from marine biology will serve as an apt metaphor. In the Bay of Naples, a common sea slug medusa , and a snail, start off as independent organisms but on close encounter become conjoined in such a manner that both the jellyfish and the snail shed off a lot of themselves. A small portion of the snail gets permanently affixed to the ventral surface near the mouth of the jellyfish to become one single organism. They get along nicely in a symbiotic arrangement, exploiting each other’s biological capabilities and yet retain their specific otherness.
A clutch of trusted officers-the drastically edited version of service , the cadre may have hundreds of officers , in an arrangement reminiscent of the medusa and the snail, handle the core sectors of the governments as also the entire range of political purpose. The others are kept in a state of idle splendour. But like an Englishman the IAS is “never at a loss for an effective moral attitude … you will never find … them in the wrong.” It is responsible for the marginalisation of its own service and yet persists with the complaint of political interference.
There is a wide recognition that the creation of the IAS was one of the cardinal follies of the wise. It is irrelevant to the people at large but it has made itself hugely useful to the political class . In an unusual consensus, cutting across their ideological divide , they have found them to be even more valuable after retirement than they are in service. As heads of all the accountability institutions , all those roadblocks to arbitrary exercise of executive power, they render them defunct . In many states you can find officers recruited in the 60s , 70s, 80s making themselves useful to their political masters in a myriad ways. To stand an old saying on its head , “the dead lion is even more valuable than the living donkey .”
The alliance of these two major institutions has significantly altered the balance of power much to the detriment of democracy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Why Writing A Memoir/Autobiography Is Not A Good Idea

Why Writing A Memoir/Autobiography Is Not A Good Idea My Facebook Post 03 05 2022
My friend James Joyce has now been revealed as Mr. KVK Murthy, a poet of exceptional merit, thanks to the efforts of another outstanding poet, essayist and critic Sumana Roy. Mr Joyce is so well read in just about everything that is worth reading that for the next seven lives he could play ducks and drakes and yet be counted among the leading scholars of his time. His suggestion that I should write my memoir plugged straight into that universal vulnerability; we all believe that we have a story to tell and the world is eager to listen to it. Well, not exactly. Not everyone, but there are a fairly large number of people who would probably want to tell their stories should they have the requisite skill, the time and the logistical wherewithal. In that sense of the term autobiography is the proper democratic genre; it admits to its portals people without any distinction (pun intended). Civil servants and police officers as a class, are as eager to make their contribution to the society known as anyone else.
There are many ways of framing a life. Police officers generally like to be seen as swashbuckling heroes, chasing gangsters and drug peddlers, hunting down terrorists and desperate criminals. Those looking for inspirational or sensational literature of this kind will find their expectations undone. To them, it will not quite appeal as a readerly text. As an IPS officer, I did not kill anyone in hot pursuit nor in the heat of battle; custodial interrogation to the accompaniment of aesthetic torture was never a part of my professional repertoire. Never admitted to the first circle of power, never enjoyed the confidence of chief ministers, nor lent my services to Mafia dons, therefore, never performed tasks in the stealth of night for them - the cloak and dagger stuff - which should be now ripe for sharing.
An autobiography must be a frank, bare all document, to get the monkeys off your shoulder. But I do not have any confessions to make. I never felt called upon to atone for my sins and to find solace in spiritual activities. Salacious stories of secret liaisons, scandals, or adultery, would also be found missing from this account. I am afraid I have nothing to confide by way of intimacies or intrigues. So, of what interest will be the career of someone who had simply walked through life ‘without a horse, a saddle, or a sword’ ?I feel honoured but I feel mystified too.
But there is another style of policing. It is less spectacular, affords no drama, has no climactic moments; it is the determination to act, and go on acting, strictly according to the dictates of law. It is a lifelong painful grind, the humdrum of the routine, the refusal to accept the law of the implicit and unstated “exceptionalism” that colonial police was grounded in, and has become part of the unstated ethos of Indian police as well.This ultimately becomes the brick and mortar in which the strongest pillars of a society governed by the rule of law is rooted. But the formula that clever professionals apply in their pursuit of that bitch goddess called success, is to recognise the special rights of people who matter, by recognising their enclaves of privilege marked by crossed bone and skull. Their lives become easy, their reputation in circles that matter soars and they have the best of both worlds. You have to make your choices early, changing horses midstream is not the best bet. The effect of your routine quotidian effort begins to show in the confidence and respect of the people you serve. If you are consistent, if you persevere despite reverses or setbacks then your reputation travels by word of mouth which is much the more durable and authentic.
My father was a lawyer, my grandfather was a lawyer too and my great, great grandfather, Munshi Chatrapat Sahay, was a judicial officer who, according to the family folklore, stood up to the British dictate of using law as a weapon of revenge in 1857 and paid the price for it. So the belief in the supremacy and majesty of law was imbibed with my mother’s milk.This belief, what Kafka’s Zurau Aphorisms defines as “a belief like a guillotine, as heavy, as light” began to gutter as I grew in service .
My forty years in the IPS was a painful journey from innocence to experience. Layer after layer of the myth of law being the weapon as well as the armour of the policeman has frayed, has become a patchwork of rags, until the grand deception clothed in its phoney majesty of Latinate expressions like Fiat Justitia Rauta Calum (Let justice be done though heavens fall) has come off revealing it in its in complete nakedness and those who put faith in law it at the mercy of powerful offenders .
I could make a game of my suffering, I could flaunt the elegant scars from my wounds like badges of honour. But I was troubled by thoughts which gnawed at my deeply held beliefs. One single pain would be multiplied in many hearts of all those close to me, my wife, my children. The cross that should have been mine and mine alone became a family burden. Those were the occasions that all this seemed like a moral self-appeasement , an illicit indulgence. But if you have good samskara the self-doubt is transient.
I have been meditating intently on the last few years of my career, on the desirability of sharing my experience of how a police officer committed to acting in accordance with law becomes a quixotic figure, an object of mild derision as well: whether there is any value in memorialising the sharp decline from rule of law to rule of men. Evolution , it is said is a barbed arrow in time. A biped cannot regress to be a quadruped, vertebrates- those who develop spines over a period of time cannot descend the evolutionary ladder to become invertebrates. For ten years I have waited, equivocated, felt alternately enthused and deterred looking at my own story through critical, even hostile eyes but I have not been able to gather enough courage to present my case to an audience mesmerised by the exploits of Singhams. It is not worth it. As the Bhojpuri saying goes, “ का पर करूँ मैं सिंगार पिया मोर आंधर.” Who should I bedeck myself for, my lover is blind.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Mr. Ramachandra Khan , IPS , (1968 , RR , Bihar) died a week or so ago .He was an honest and upright officer, conscientious , courageous ,brave and bold .But he was not the garden variety cop with just the necessary policing skills and attributes suited to his trade; he had a keen mind and an unbounded intellectual curiosity. As SP Begusarai he distinguished himself for his anti-crime crusades against the infamous Kamdeo Singh . As Dy IG Bettia he left a mark but a career full of great promise in police was eclipsed by circumstances which were as bizarre as bizarre could be.
Mr Khan’s career was doomed by one fatal flaw in his personality . He was out spoken in his opinion and the truth of his opinion was rendered doubly lethal when delivered in a waspish tongue. He was by no means a votary of sagacious advice सत्यं ब्रूयात् प्रियं ब्रूयात् , न ब्रूयात् सत्यम् अप्रियम् , प्रियं च नानृतम् ब्रूयात् ( Speak the truth but speak it sweetly, refrain from speaking hurtful truth but don’t speak a lie calculated to please.) A cold fire seemed to be running under his skin and it seeped through in his animated discussions ,arguments and left many an interlocutor singed. It was a talent which was not calculated to please and dearly did he pay for it.!
The most significant fact of his life was that he was charged for some irregularities in the so called uniform scandal. There were credible stories that the case which destroyed the top leadership of Bihar IPS was built around a petty pique which arose out of a wordy duel that Mr Khan had. It was a matter which could be handled departmentally but perhaps as the first example of ‘extraordinary rendition’ , a term which gained currency after the infamous Guantanamo Bay, (extraordinary rendition is the transfer of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention and interrogation) the CBI was called in a trifling matter of poor inventory control and some irregularity in purchase of uniform items. The sum involved was paltry but the CBI cast its net far and wide.
Many IPS officers figured in the investigation and were banished to that moral -no- man’s- land , in that twilight zone between guilt and innocence. A few may indeed have acted malafide but most young IPS officer were negligent and put too much trust in their subordinates – sergeants and sergeants majors. At the end out of the day a dozen or more officers were put on trial ; except two or three , everyone was exonerated and they got all that was due to them during their service , as if there had been no case against them. A reprieve which was no reprieve at all because nothing remained to be salvaged . Mr. Khan happened to be the officer controlling the budget so he was held constructively liable for the act of every single officer in the field. But while others were resigned to their fate and vagaries of legal process he fought, as was his wont , undaunted and unintimidated by the situation putting it across to his tormentors and got acquitted in all the cases but one. But much the more credible judgement in the court of public opinion had already been passed; the verdict of not guilty was unanimous .
I will permit myself one brief reminiscence. I was SP Chapra but I was prematurely transferred just before the by-election. Public outcry however led to its cancellation. My Dy IG was at daggers drawn and refused to have anything to do with me . Gautam my predecessor at Chapra has already mentioned in his memoir the reason for the Dy IG’s displeasure- and how the Dy IG himself came to grief - with both of us. In a situation like this Mr. Khan was deputed to Chapra . Those were pre T N Seshan days and the Election Commission was but a distant rumour which parties in power did not believe in. Yet there were norms and rules and one could enforce them ,if one had the guts.
I received a message on my wireless , that a minister was moving around with a convoy of six or eight cars in gross violation of norms . On my orders the convoy was intercepted and taken to the police station . To boot many of the vehicles did not have proper papers. The minster stormed in the Rivilganj police station and was bullying the local police and zonal magistrates. I reached there in in no time .The minster was a marvel of miniature , less than five feet in his socks, but his rage was towering .VIPs in abbreviated or diminutive versions throwing their weight seem more like caricatures and my encounter with him was interesting but must await some other occasion .
The minster raised hell with Patna and Mr. Khan was despatched to the police station at the behest of government. He was believed to be close to the CM , so he was there in double trust- as the man from Patna and as the trouble shooter for the CM . To cut a long story short I explained to him the situation. The law he knew and I made it known to him that the writ of the election law will prevail. Like an elder brother handling an obstinate younger one he humoured and cajoled me . He was politely persuasive but in the end gave up . I witnessed none of his famous flashes of temper that I had heard about.
The minster stomped his foot , got up to go but tarried endlessly . I had shown my willingness to stand up and see him off but after I had made the appropriate gesture I sat down . The minster could take it no more and left . I followed at the tail of small procession that saw him off to his car. His cavalcade stayed behind till the voting was over. On his way to Patna we went to my house for a cup of tea . Mr Khan was so forthcoming, so self-denying and so warm in his approval of my actions that he earned my respect and gratitude for life . He said that he had expected me to behave exactly like this but he did not seem to be seen to be lacking in effort.
We often bumped into each other during the days when I fancied attending seminars, lectures etc but soon I got tired of what Koestler called the “intellectual call girl circuit.” The last I met him was in 2011, at a social gathering. I had severely burnt my fingers with the electricity board case and generally found myself lonely and shunned at such venues. He walked up to me and said in Hindi कितना लड़ोगे ? कब तक लड़ोगे? (How much will you fight ?how long will you fight ? ) On an impulse I said “जब तक है जान( so long as there is the last breath in me.)Actually it was a line from a very famous song . We had a hearty laugh and I lingered a while with him before making good my escape.
I visited his house day before yesterday , and the presence of the absence was unmistakable . Books , magazines , papers all bore testimony to the fact the active life of the mind of the man. Tuhin was organising the treasure that the man had left behind . I could not meet Usha jee , his illustrious wife, a Padma Shri recipient for her bilingual writing, because she was attending some Shraddhanjali – one of the many that were held in the honour of the departed soul. His children all distinguished in their own fields bear the impress of a highly literate and cultural upbringing .The man had become a memory and shall always be treasured in our thoughts .
Stride like a colossus , Mr Khan, wherever you are because no other mode of being would suit you .
This photograph of a trainee IAS officer inspecting a hospital ward was so appropriate to an article that I had written sometime back but which was published in The National Herald on the 19th April 2022 that I could not but help retweeting it. You can find the article here "Do we need the IAS? The myth of the DM or the colonial ‘Collector’While the country continues to be ruled by the trinity of PM-CM-DM, the colonial ‘Collector’ continues to be an instrument of oppression . "
Below is the text of my above article Do We Need the IAS ?
The British colonial administration in India bequeathed to its successors, the Indian National congress , along with their independence, a fully fitted out colonial state with an administrative machinery, the ‘steel frame’.
In an inexplicable state of mind for which later generations found a name, ‘Stockholm syndrome’, the founding fathers fell in love with this very apparatus of control, domination and subjugation that had thwarted its striving for independence with iron hands and retained it lock, stock, and barrel. The new term of endearment for the fabled service, created in the very image of the mythical ICS, was IAS. It was expected to perform the feat that it’s precursors, the ICS, had been done for their colonial masters: hold the new country, with its wide diversity, together. They were supposed to advise their political masters at the centre and in the states, and help them steer the ship of the state.
Sardar Patel believed that “You will not have a united India if you do not have a good All-India Service which has independence to speak out its mind”.
To ensure that they were not lightly trifled with, Article 311, a politically self-denying provision was introduced to inure them from arbitrary punishments. The then government of India shared the belief of their colonial predecessors that deliverance could only be had at the hands of the District Magistrate and Collector. PM, CM and DM were the three forms of loco parentis in which the mai-baap sarkar of our democratic polity manifested itself.
The fears of the founding fathers about the threat to federalism seems to be coming true, but their faith in the service as the defenders of the idea has come undone. The unseemly incident in which the CM of West Bengal walked away with her Chief Secretary in tow, from a meeting convened by the Prime Minister to assess disaster caused by cyclone, has created some sort of an impasse. It was a situation no civil servant would like to be in: an IAS officer is bound in obedience to both the CM and the PM, but for a situation in which he has to choose to obey one and show willful disrespect to the other, there are no precedents. Anyone else would have agonised but the CS, WB, found it easy, because there is a general belief that all India Service officers in West Bengal, and many other states, are long used to behaving like party apparatchiks. What followed was even worse: the decision of the central government to recall an officer who had been granted an extension, a few days back, was churlishness of unthinkable proportions. As Stalin famously said, they are both worse. Instead of steering the ship of state away from choppy waters of state-centre confrontation together they have charted a collision course.
The Indian Administrative Service, consciously modelled itself after its more illustrious predecessors, the ICS, whom Philip Woodruff described as, “a ruling class, a class apart. They were hard working in a debilitating climate, incorruptible in a society riddled with bribery, celibate until middle age in a subcontinent which married at puberty. Above all they were intellectuals.”
Being an intellectual brought in its wake the responsibility to speak "truth to power", in the famous phrase of Julian Benda. It is a clear case where the IAS on both sides of the fence failed to speak truth to power they were serving, the independence to speak out their minds notwithstanding. The threat to federal structure, as always, seems to have been subordinated to personal career interests. (On this point those interested can see my The Rusted Steel Frame).
Ironically, at this very juncture the other article of the faith of our founding fathers, deliverance at the hands of the District Magistrate, has also been tested and found to be totally misplaced.
After the Bengal Deewani the East India Company began to fancy itself as a state. To make its unconscionable plundering look like a respectable vocation, Warren Hastings was tasked to produce a piece of machinery that English officials could operate and English opinion tolerate. Collector, the emblematic figure of British imperialism, the king pin in Hastings’ plan for the better administration of Bengal, was the answer. This instrumentality of collector was such a roaring success in fulfilling the objectives of the company, while satisfying easily satisfiable British opinion, it was consistent with British “ideas of justice and the proper discipline, forms of deference, and demeanour that should mark the relations between rulers and ruled, “that it was replicated in Southwest Pacific as well (Bernard Cohen). Collector was the man on the spot who knew “the natives,” who was to represent the forces of “law and order.” “Law and order” became the magic mantra and the Superintendent of Police became the magic wand – that he could wield. After the creation of the ICS the office of the District Magistrate was manned by the members of the service.
The successors to the British administration, quietly supplanted themselves in the place of the rulers. The office of the collector, created solely for legitimizing exploitative profits of the Company Bahadur, remained the king pin of the administration which was now supposedly centred around people. It was thought that what was sauce for the colonial goose would be sauce even for colonial gander.
The DM, heads the disaster management authority created by the National Disaster Management Act of India, 2005, at the district level, while the national and state level authorities are headed by the PM, CM and DM respectively. The DM as the head of the authority at local level enjoys unlimited financial powers and huge immunity. Of course, he cannot command the elements, he cannot ask the storm to stop raging or sea waves from lashing the shore, everything else he can. On pain of punishment, he can mobilize every resource and seek almost everyone’s cooperation. NDMA, SDMA, also have retired IAS officers, some representation form retired military officers and a retired IPS officer as well.
The management of Covid-19 by the DMAs, the unplanned migration of workers and the management of the second wave, especially the supply of oxygen and other lifesaving materials, has led to untold misery, an unmitigated disaster. It tested the premise of IAS officers acting in their capacity as DM to deliver, and they failed miserably. As a counter factual it may be noted that a doctor acting in his capacity as district magistrate in a remote district of Maharashtra managed the crisis so well that it became a national success story. There were some others too, I name Rahul Kumar DM of Purnea in Bihar about whom I only heard good things, who acquitted himself very well, which point to the doability of the task. But impersonality and indifference, the defining characteristics of bureaucracy have overshadowed every requirement and trait, in their handling of this crisis. A District Magistrate quipped in face of the shattering image of a child riding a suitcase which his mother was dragging on her long haul back home, that he also similarly rode his father’s suitcase. An audio tape that went viral has a doctor on 24/7 duty in a Covid ward pleading with the health secretary, for some arrangements to be made for his accommodation so that he is not forced to go home and endanger, his wife, his children and his parents. The health secretary asked him to resign and threatened to send him to jail for arguing with him. But the image of rampaging Agartala DM, who bet up the bridegroom, humiliated the guests under the garb of enforcing Covid curfew, will for a long tie represent the public perception of a DM. The production of moral indifference in its handling of Covid was an absolute shame.
I have been a member of the UPSC interview board for civil services for a couple of years. Year after year, the procession of candidates would begin by spelling out their vision of how would they serve the people when they became the collector. No one saw himself as an officer of any other service, no one envisaged any other role for an IAS officer other than that of a collector. I loved to rile them by putting across the proposition that they would be lucky if they got into the IAS, lucky if they became Collectors for more than a term of a year or two, they would have certainly thought about the remaining thirty odd years of their service. They obviously had not. The civil service examination which has been identified with the IAS, and the IAS with the office of the collector fuels - and provides the outlet for - the private little feudalistic fantasies of every eligible candidate alike, even highly qualified professionals earning phenomenal sums of money.
Hasting’s gift to the nation has the potential of turning, has in fact turned - many administrations on the model of East India Company. They are run on the lines of profit-making corporations for their political masters and many of these officers have enriched themselves to become “the King of nabobs”. But that is a different story to be told another time.
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सड़क पर श्री राम !
सब कुछ बदल रहा है। मेरी आँखों के सामने मेरा पटना बदल रहा है. मैंने पचासों वर्ष पटना में गुज़ारे हैं लेकिन प्रभु श्री राम को, गली गली मदोन्मत्त भीड़ के कंधे पर पर शर संधान की मुद्रा में गश्त करते हुए कभी नहीं देखा. प्रभु श्री राम ने जब भी शस्त्र उठाया, धर्म की रक्षा हेतु या किसी , दुर्दांत ,अपराजेय दुष्ट के वध के लिए। अन्य अपराधियों की खबर लेने के लिए तो अनुज और उनकी सेना ही काफी थी. अचानक कौन सा ऐसा संकट आ पड़ा है? क्या गली गली रावण, खर , दूषण , त्रिशरा और बाली उत्पन्न हो गए हैं कि स्वयं प्रभु श्री राम को पुलिस की भांति गलियों में सशस्त्र गश्त लगानी पड़ रही है. क्या यह भी स्मरण कराना होगा कि आज के दिन ही माता कौशल्या ने प्रभु श्री राम से विष्णु स्वरुप त्यागकर " कीजे शिशु लीला अति प्रियशीला यह सुख परमा अनूपा." की विनती की थी। आज का दिन तो श्री राम के उस नयनाभिराम नवजात शिशु रूप का दर्शन कर ह्रदय जुड़ाने के लिए है. क्या हम इतने क्लीव और नपुंसक हो गए है कि नवजात शिशु श्री राम को भी नहीं बक्शते। मेरे मन में - और अधिकाधिक हिन्दुओं के मन में - श्री राम का असीम करूणा का स्वरुप ही रचा बसा है. बिना जगज्जननी सीता का उनका ध्यान ही नहीं होता। सिया राम मैं सब जग जानी . करौं प्रणाम जोर जग पानी. आज श्री राम निपट निस्संग क्यों हो गए? श्री राम सीता जब भी सीता से विलग हुए हैं उसका एक लौकिक उद्देश्य रहा है । सीता हरण रावण की मृत्यु का कारण बना साथ ही रावण जैसा विद्वान, प्रतापी ,शिव भक्त सदा के लिए कलंकित हो गया। सीता का निर्वासन भी हुआ , समकालीन मर्यादा के निर्वाह के लिए. आज किस प्रयोजन की सिद्धि हेतु या किस उद्देश्य की पूर्ति के लिए किसने श्री राम से उनके जीवन संगिनी को सदा के लिए विलग कर दिया? किसने रचा ये विधान ? शास्त्रों,पुराणों , परम्पराओं का संपादन , संक्षिप्ति करण , रूपान्तरण कौन और किस प्रयोजन से कर रहा है? हर हिन्दू के लिए जानना आवश्यक है क्योंकि रामचरितमानस /रामकथाएं हमारी साझा विरासत है किसी फिल्म का स्क्रिप्ट नहीं जिसे व्यापारिक कारणों से कोई ट्विस्ट दिया जा सके.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

CBI and The Folly Of The Wise : A Reprise Item It Was Written A Couple Of Years Back

Italo Calvino’s memorable fable, Numbers in the Dark, contains some timeless observation on the folly of the wise. A conscientious accountant comes across an error – a small error  committed long  time back – by the legendary Annibale De Canis, “the master of bookkeeping,” in a giant Italian conglomerate.

“This infallible man” made a mistake, a stupid mistake of four hundred ten lire in an addition... Over all these years, you know that mistake of four hundred and ten lire has become Billions! Billions! The calculating machines and electronic brains and whatnot can grind out numbers they like. The mistake is right at the core, beneath and bigger than all their numbers, and it’s growing bigger and bigger. The company has grown big, huge, with thousands of shareholders, hundreds of subsidiaries, endless overseas agencies, and all of them grinding out nothing but wrong figures, there’s not a grain of truth in any of their accounts. Half the city is built on these mistakes. No, not half the city, what am I saying? Half the country. And the exports and imports? All wrong? All wrong, the whole world is distorted by this mistake in the life of Annibale De Canis, the master of bookkeeping, the giant of accountancy, the genius.”That’s the point, if genius, great leaders, founding fathers, statesmen err, their errors also are commensurate with their stature. The Congress has ruled the nation for the best part of seventy years and has indeed given us some wonderful institutions and memorable moments of governance but they ruled just long enough to fritter away not only the inheritance of their forebears but have also gone on to commit such a vast compendium of illegalities, immoralities, mal-governance and other evils that their non Congress successors can always cite instances of worse immorality for every immoral deed of their own, for a long, long time to come.

To quote just one trenchant example: when the Modi government was being pilloried for pestering the RBI someone cited the case of the harried south Indian governor of RBI who was forced to resign because of Nehru’s intransigence.

Congress also created some organisations which threaten to rock the very foundation of our democratic polity. I am thinking of CBI, spawned in 1963, for some noble purpose no doubt, but it has proved to be by far the greatest disruptor of our political process in the last several decades, and its activities – antics –are constitutive of the political history of our time. It has destabilised governments, helped oust popular leaders, shored up the sagging fortunes of those who should have been condemned to jail, destroyed dynasties and consigned many highly regarded public figures to the moral twilight between guilt and innocence, forever.

The remark of Supreme Court about the CBI being a caged parrot was not in the nature of a judicial pronouncement nor even an obiter dicta but it has acquired the finality of an axiom. The observation of the court is only half true. The CBI is an aberration, a bio mythological monster. It is not one bird but a combination of two: a parrot, a popular domestic pet and a vicious bird of prey, a hunting falcon that can be set upon those required to be hunted by those who exercise control over it. It can be recalled midway from flight. For those who control its career prospect, it chirps sweet nothings, but ask those whom it is set upon, how vicious can it be!

The division bench on Guwahati and Meghalaya High Court has in a matter WA No. 119 of 2008 in WP (C) No 6877 of 2005 challenging CBI investigation a couple of years back declared the CBI to be an un constitutional entity. The judgement has been stayed by the Supreme Court and the matter is pending there. But the facts regarding the creation of the Frankenstein monster which threatens to gobble up our federal polity are revealing. Let us give a careful reading of the deliberations on the original file, the foundational document:

“Whether it is necessary to have a new comprehensive Act to define the functions and the powers of the Central Bureau of Investigation and to give it the legal authority for conducting enquiries and investigations all over India?

If States are to be consulted and if a new comprehensive Act has to be passed by Parliament before the setting up of the Central Bureau of Investigation, this proposal is likely to be unduly held up. Objections might be raised or doubts might be expressed by some States and the process of resolving them will necessarily take time. Some difficulties might also arise from the standpoint of the spheres of responsibility of the Centre and the States.”

The creation of CBI, it appears, was absolutely necessary and it could brook no delay so here is what they came up with. “Even with all the care in drafting and preparing the Act it is likely to be questioned in courts and it is difficult to anticipate what the decision of the courts would be on the validity of the new Act or on legal points arising from it.

On the other hand, it might be mentioned that the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act has already gone through this process. Its provisions have been debated in courts from all possible angles and it has withstood onslaughts from all directions. Even the highest courts have upheld the validity of the provisions of this Act. It is a matter for consideration whether it would be worthwhile framing a new Act just at present with all the delay and difficulty that this involves and with the risk that it is likely to entail.” (The above quotes have been cited in the judgement declaring CBI unconstitutional)

Under the Government of the time headed by Sri Jawaharlal Nehru and comprising of the top icons of the Congress pantheon, a resolution was issued under the signature of the then Secretary to government of India S. Vishwanathan bringing into being the CBI from 1st of April (1st of April?) 1963.

CBI was thus born, riding piggy back on the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. But once launched it has been on a roller coaster ride, gathering destructive potential along the way until its perilous adventure has brought the polity on the brink of an abyss fifty-five years later.

Those who are really keen to educate themselves must refer to the judgment itself, for its sheer architectonics, if for nothing else. It is built like an impregnable castle, designed to withstand every assault. The court has appointed an amicus curie to obtain non-partisan advice apart from the contestations of the rival parties. Then it goes on to make sure that there was no previous judgment on the issue before them for the consideration, that is, ‘whether the CBI is an entity created by due process of law.

There was none. The many Apex Court judgements delivered from time to time, explicating the role, power, and jurisdiction of the CBI are gone through with a fine toothcomb, and like a trained surgeon wielding a scalpel the ratio decidendi is separated from the obiter dictum. The matter in its extant formulation has never been heard.

The division bench begins at the beginning and asks the union of India as well as the parties to the writ to produce all the relevant papers as to its creation. The original file concerning the creation of CBI is missing and the Union of India produces an attested copy of the file procured from the National Archives. Having exhausted this search for papers the Court puts them to diligent scrutiny. The stark fact of the matter is that there is no paper to suggest that the CBI as a police organization was ever created. In fact, the CBI in official parlance and an icon in popular culture can be connected to the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act only through inference, obliquities and indirect references.

There have been half a dozen amendments since independence and yet the word CBI does not occur anywhere in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE). DSPE is like Hamlet without the prince of Denmark.

The resolution which creates this organization has not been vetted by the union cabinet nor does it have the Presidential assent even to qualify as an executive order. “...that CBI has been investigating offences and prosecuting alleged offenders in the garb of being an organization under the DSPE Act, 1946. In fact, we have already indicated above that the impugned Resolution, dated 01.04.1963, is not, strictly speaking, an executive action of the Union within the meaning of Article 73 in as much as the executive instructions, embodied in the impugned Resolution, were not the decision of the Union Cabinet nor were these executive instructions assented to by the President. Therefore, the impugned Resolution, dated 01.04.1963, can, at best, be regarded as departmental instructions, which cannot be termed as ‘law’ within the meaning of Article 13(3) (a) nor can the executive instructions, embodied in the impugned Resolution, dated 01.04.1963, be regarded to fall within the expression, "procedure established by law", as envisaged by Article 21 of the Constitution”.

The Court went on to quash the resolution “In the result and for the reasons discussed above, this appeal partly succeeds. We hereby set aside the impugned judgment and order, dated 30.11.2007, passed, in WP(C) No. 6877/2005, and while we decline to hold and declare that the DSPE Act, 1946, is not a valid piece of legislation, we do hold that the CBI is neither an organ nor a part of the DSPE and the CBI cannot be treated as a ‘police force’ constituted under the DSPE Act, 1946.

The Government of India challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court and the judgement has been stayed. Matters sub judice are to be approached with utmost care and respect, therefore, I have studiedly avoided making any comment and have stated only quoted facts and observations from the judgment. My simple submission is this: why did Mr. Manmohan Singh’s government not make a special plea to the Supreme Court to decide this matter on an utmost priority. What stops the present government, political party activists, jurists, civil society spokesmen to make a common cause before the Supreme Court now to take up the matter straight away instead of PILs about peripheral issues.

But that is not going to be. Every politician, every political party worth the name aspires to the Sultanate of Delhi. All of them would like to use this versatile tool when their turn comes to discipline their rivals. CBI is happy to be used and has found innovative ways to be ever more useful.

The judgment needs to be more widely known and read in the original by whoever cares about constitution and constitutional proprieties.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

बिहारी होने का दर्द

सोचा था आभासी दुनिया से संन्यास ही ले लूँ। वानप्रस्थ अवस्था में भी अगर आध्यात्मिक चिंतन ,मनन नहीं करूंगा तो कब करूंग। आध्यात्म तो हम बिहारियों को विरासत में मिला है . कपिल वास्तु से आकर, दर दर की ख़ाक छानने के बाद परम पूजनीय महात्मा गौतम बुद्ध भगवान को ज्ञान आख़िर बोध गया में ही प्राप्त हुआ. बोधि वृक्ष के नीचे।सनद रहे यह ज्ञान दाई भूखंड बिहारियों की खतियानी ज़मीन है . और वह बोधि वृक्ष हमारी कल्प तरु. गाहे बगाहे बौद्ध धर्म की अनुयाई देशों को एक टहनी भेजकर उससे हम गुडविल कमाते रहते हैं। मैं एक ही बार बोध गया, गया. ( शुक्र है कि मेरा नाम गया नही है ,नहीं तो "गया गया गया " , इसे अंग्रेजी में कैसे कहेंगे ,जो लोक दर्शन का सबसे अहम् प्रश्न है , में फंसकर रह जाता। एक जांच के सिलसिले में गया था इसलिए थोड़ी हड़ बड़ी में था वरना थोड़ा बहुत ज्ञान तो तब ही प्राप्त हो गया होता। बहरहाल सरकार ने एक अच्छा काम किया है, जो अभागा बोध गया न जा सके उसके ज्ञान प्राप्ति के लिये स्थानीय व्यवस्था करा दी है. पटना रेलवे स्टेशन जाने के रास्ते में में एक अत्यंत रमणीय स्थल में एक बुद्ध स्तूप बनवाकर. कुछ भौतिकवादी कुतर्क करते हैं कि बाइस एकड़ के इस भूखंड का पटना के सबसे व्यस्त इलाके को डी कंजेस्ट किया जा सकता था। लेकिन नकारे लोगों की कमी कहीं नहीं होती.
मेरा ख्याल है कि स्टेशन पहुँचने की हड़बड़ी में शायद आपको वातानुकूलित मैडिटेशन सेंटर में ध्यान करने का अवसर न मिले, पर निश्चिंत रहिये , इस भवन का ऐसा माहात्म्य है कि पटना के बाहर पाँव रखने के पहले आप को यहाँ आना ही होगा. नगर विभाग के कुशल रण नीतिकारों ने इसके ठीक सामने ट्रैफिक की संरचना महाभारत के एक अत्यंत प्राचीन पांडुलिपि में वर्णित चक्रव्यूह के अनुरूप की है. अभिमन्यु को छोड़िये इस चक्रव्यूह को भेदने का तरीका मैं बताता हूँ। आप जहाँ भी इस ट्राफिक भंवर जाल में फंसे गाडी से या टेम्पो से उतरकर सामान अपने सर पर लें और सीधे स्टेशन की और दौड़ें. लेकिन सर पर आप अपना सामान तो लेंगे नहीं आप. मानव मात्र घमंड एवं अहंकार पुतला है, पर बिहारी तो बस पूछो मत . बड़बोलेपन में भी उसकी कोई मिसाल नहीं। कुपोषण और अशिक्षा से कृशकाय उसके शरीर का एक आधा हिस्सा हाडमांस बाकी आधा अहंकार ,बड़ बोले पन और डींग हांकना है । रण बांकुरा तो ऐसा कि बस बात बात में तलवार के जगह बाल की खाल खींच कर अपना डी एन ए निकाल लेता है ।
विरासत की बात जब चल निकली है तो यह भी बताये देता हूँ कि श्री वाल्मीकि की ही परंपरा में वाल्मीकिनगर में अवतरित महाकवि श्री मनोज वाजपेयी जी ने बिहारियों के यायावरी प्रवृत्ति, त्याग एवं आध्यात्मिक रुझान पर एक महाकाव्य ही लिख डाला । इसका अखंड पाठ एवं मनन के उपरांत रेलगाड़ियों में गठरियों ही तरह ठसाठस भरे हुए हर दिशा में जाते , हर दिशा से आते बिहारियों के पलायनवादी प्रवृत्ति के गूढ़ दर्शन को आप समझ सकेंगे । सब कुछ तो है बिहार में , दूध घी की नदियां बहती हैं, शिक्षा के अवसर हैं, फिर भी पलायन? "दू बिगहा में घर बा लेकिन सूतल बानी टेम्पो में। " तप , त्याग , विषय वासना से मुक्त बैरागी का रहस्य जानने के लिए आपका ट्रेन छूटना ज़रूरी है.
आपकी गाडी छूटेगी इसकी गारंटी मैं लेता हूँ. हमारे भोज पुर में भविष्य द्रष्टाओं ने इस की परिकल्पना बहुत पहले की थी। 'तीसरा उड़ान में तीतर पकड़िहें।" लेकिन अब ये आसान हो गया है , आप दूसरे प्रयास में ही ट्रैन पकड़ सकते हैं। सामान क्लॉक रूम में डालिये , सकुचाइये मत आप के साथ कुछ जाने वाला नहीं है, हाँ क्लॉक रूम से हो सकता है कि अंतिम यात्रा के पूर्व ही आपकी इह लोकिक सम्पदा आप से विलग हो जाय. पर इसकी चिंता मत कीजिये , आपकी अगली गाड़ी १० -१२ घंटे बाद है इसलिए घर जाने का मोह त्यागिये। पैदल ही निकल लीजिये मैडिटेशन सेंटर की और , ध्यान रहे बौराये ट्रैफिक में कहीं आपकी आत्मा शरीर से विलग नो हो जाय। ध्यान से आत्मा का गहरा समबन्ध है। मेरा अनुमान है ३ ४ घंटे में आप अवश्य ध्यान केंद्र पहुँच जायेंगे। ध्यान लगाइये , ध्यान रखिये ऐसे भी ध्यानावस्थित न हो जांय कि गाडी फिर छूट जाय। लौटने ले लिए चार घंटे बचे रहें। कश्मीर, मणिपुर , त्रिवेंद्रम की गाड़ियां दिन रात चलती है, लद जाइये , किसी में.
जम्मू कश्मीर में बिहारी लगतार मारे जा रहे हैं। बिहारी तो रोज़ ही देश में मारे जाते हैं ,रोज़मर्रे की घटना का खबर क्या बनाना। उनके मरने का मातम भी क्या मानना जो देश की एकता और अखंडता के लिए अपना सर्वस्व न्योछावर कर दे। जहाँ पूरा देश पृथकता वादी , आतंकियों,राष्ट्र विरोधी तत्त्वों का अखाड़ा बना हुआ है सही मायने में पूरे देश को एक सूत्र में पिरोने वाला बिहारी ही एकमात्र जीव है । इतिहास गवाह है , बिहारी नागालैंड में मारे गए हैं , आसाम में मारे गए है , पंजाब , गुजरात महाराष्ट्र , द्रविड़ उत्कल ,बंगा , सबने इनका शोषण किया, ज़ुल्म किया। हमारे नेताओं ने अनेको बार कहा "बिहार में सकुछ है " , फिर भी उन घुमक्कड़ों का सरकार क्या करे जो यहाँ की बड़ी नौकरिया छोड़कर पहलगाम की वादियों का लुत्फ़ लेने के लिए वहां गोलगप्पे बेचनें चले जाते हैं .
लेकिन एक प्रश्न मेरे मन को लगातार लगातार कुरेद रहा है. ये बिहारी है कौन ? पचास साल के सार्वजनिक जीवन में एक भी बिहारी बिहार में तो कभी दिखा नहीं। यहाँ तो राजपूत मिले ,भूमिहार मिले, स्वजतीय कायस्थ मिले , यादव , बनिया पासवान लेकिन बिहारी तो कभी नहीं मिला. यदि बिहार में पासवान जी मरते तो ये दलित मामला होता, साह जी मरते तो ओ बी सी का मामला होता, फॉरवर्ड कास्ट के होते तो अगड़ी जाती समझती , ये अचानक नई परंपरा की शुरुआत क्यों हो गयी।नेताओं के बयानों से लगता है पूरा बिहार शोक निमग्न है. क्यों भला ? वोट जात को देते हैं , तो संवेदना गैर जातियों को क्यों , यही सबक हमारे नेताओं ने सिखाया है न , इसी पर जनता को चलना है न ?
ज्ञान , अज्ञान ,सामाजिक न्याय की आभासी दुनिया, राजीनतिक यथार्थ की वोट लोलुप दुनिया , वैराग्य, भोग, त्याग के मकड़ जाल में फंसा हुआ मैं सोचता रहा कि ज्ञान पिपासा के इस कीड़े ने मुझे कब काटा? गाँधी मैदान की तरफ तो बरसो से नहीं गया , और ज्ञान भवन बनने के बाद तो ब्लिकुल नहीं। शपथ। "कौन है ये बिहारी , बिहारी , बिहारी ?" पर अचानक एडवर्ड केकुले की तरह मुझे अनुभूति हुई.
बाहरी प्रदेशों में निषिद्ध एवं एवं हेय व्यक्तियों की पहचान का शब्द है बिहारी। गले में घंटी की तरह . बिहार की सरकारें केंद्र सरकार के आगे पांच लाख , दस लाख करोड़ की मांग करती है विपन्न बिहारी का रूप धरकर ,कुछ इस तरह जैसे पृथ्वी विष्णु भगवान से याचना हेतु गाय का रूप धारण करती है. शौकिया बाहर मज़दूरी करने वाले इस प्रदेश के निवासियों को रैंडम हिंसा में मारे जाने पर सरकार मरणोपरांत दो लाख रुपये, श्वेत चादर और 'बिहारी" की मानद उपाधि देकर दुनिया से रुखसत करती है. बिहार में बिहारी को खोजना मुश्किल ही नहीं नामुमकिन है ।