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Thursday, December 1, 2022

LIFE ? WHAT CAUCHEMAR !


Perhaps we are all occasional existentialists .To many of us , sometime or the other in our lives , is revealed that life is pointless. In Tolstoy’s description of things “moments of perplexity and arrest of life, as though I did not know how to live or what to do…”This is just one of those days and I don’t know what is bothering me. Nothing has changed, I tell myself . Nothing that I can notice, except for a slight sensation of being ill at ease. In the middle of contentment and well being a sudden surge of ennui, an onrush of undiminished acedia ,some heartfelt bitterness overtakes me . I become aware of a profound indifference to everything. Reduced to a kind of clockwork condition, the zestlessly ticking human machine goes on. In absence of a better definition I would say that I am in the grip of “pink sadness”. “Pink sadness” says Mary Ruefles, “ is not your fault, and .. even the littlest twinge may cause it, …” But that does not help alleviate the condition. Nirmal Verma’s observation ‘उदास’ शब्द ‘उदासी’ की जगह नहीं ले सकता। suddnley assumed a new meaning .People medically inclined will be quick to judge me depressed but they would miss the point.
Intrigued by a small passage in Camus ,early in my life , “ Have you ever had this feeling of a sudden withdrawal from your surroundings and you start wondering, who are you, why are you, what you are. All those urgent concerns which left you restless and distracted melt away leaving no trace . The mind dies and the promised truth is far from being delivered”. I tried to transport myself into this state of being. I was young, I had many commitments, small incentives could send my spirit soaring up. Even serious problems could only knock me down, transiently. I would be up on my two feet , ready to face more blows should they come my way. The prospect of being alive tomorrow in itself was worth living for .I, like everyone else of my generation took tomorrow for granted , it spread out in the future beyond the horizon as far as eyes could see or my mind could wander. I could laugh away the thought that plagued Antoine Roquentin ,“why this eagerness to live in limbs that are destined to rot?” as an existentialist excess , a bit of theatrical posturing .
I guess as you grow old your appetite for future starts getting weaker. The present tense belongs to youth. Its optimism is not shaken by events expected of the future . The memory of that carefree existence is now only a memory, beyond active recall or recreation. It has been replaced by a vague, constant longing for something or someone- or apprehension- beyond the horizon of reality, outside the realm of the approachable. I seem to be longing for “the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited”. May be it is a secret wish that I could turn the pages of my life like one turns the pages of one’s favourite books!
My love of books served me well during dark times. Even some well-thumbed volumes never lost their appeal and they could thrill me to the core . I turned the best past of two shelves the other day to find a book to drown that dull tom- tom in my mind, which kept me restless and anxious. But without much help . Betrayed by the books in which I found an inexhaustible font of solace and comfort , I realised , too late , that the pleasure was not in the books per se , it only came through them. The recipient was as important a part of the process. I have all the time in the world , I am free to read or write as I choose, when I choose but I don’t . Or more precisely I can’t . The words were at my beck and call. Summoned in ones or twos they would be swarming in great numbers , jostling with each other , clamouring to be considered . But suddenly they have turned renegade , have chosen to seek refuge behind some iron curtain , beyond a shout , beyond a call. The little wretches are out of temper; disobliging; disobedient; dumb. What is it that they are muttering? “Time’s up! Silence!” as Virginia Wolf would say .
But the baffling silence within clamours to be muffled in a cacophony of voices. Not necessarily a raucous jaaz , even a sad tune on an old battered trombone will do . I am not much into Urdu poetry but these two couplets form Firaq Gorakhpuri floated into my mind .
सुकुते -शाम मिटाओ , बहुत अँधेरा हैं। सुख़न के शमअ जलाओ ,बहुत अँधेरा है.
Let the silence of the evening break for it is very dark. Initiate a conversation to dispel the darkness which is very deep .
चमक उठेंगी सियाहबख्तियां ज़माने की. नवा-ए -दर्द सुनाओ बहुत अँधेरा है।
It will begin to illuminate the ill-fated darkness of the world . Sing a sad song for it is very dark .
Whose voice shall it be? In that moment of fecklessness I could not care less. “If the sea is destined to breach the dikes/Let all the brackish water pour into my heart.”
James Joyce, B. R. Sharan and 42 others
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Monday, August 8, 2022

My Facebook post dated 3rd May 2022. Why Writing A Memoir/Autobiography Is Not A Good Idea
A friend's 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.


Monday, 08 August 2022

HAS THE COUNTRY FAILED THE IAS?

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  • HAS THE COUNTRY  FAILED THE IAS?

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, writes Manoje Nath

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.


Saturday, July 2, 2022

Too frequent a murder of democracy is not good for its health

Only the other day I had pleaded for a political consensus on the number of times democracy could or should be murdered during a year or during the term of a legislature. Too frequent a killing of democracy does not bode well for its good health. More importantly after it has been murdered , the body should be interred, cremated, or otherwise disposed of with greatest dispatch . No matter how vibrant our democracy is , it does not make a beautiful corpse. Like lilies that fester it smells far worse than weeds .
Even the merest patzer hooked on to Agatha Christie or even Jasoosi Duniya could tell you that the recent murder was not planned well enough. It is easy to mock the wisdom of planners which saddles them with the responsibility of dragging the corpse all over the country, leaving tell-tale blood stains and marks of dragging. A murder should be executed swiftly , bloodlessly and the disposal of the corpus delicti must be done with clockwork precision. The sight of the dead body of democracy lends some credence to the rumours about its ill health, because it is only those who are in the great game of politics know that democracy is like the Schrodinger’s cat : it is both alive and dead. Or if you are the type who has literary inclinations, democracy is like the Cheshire cat, the cat has disappeared but the smile lingers on and on .
Democracy is all about deception. A rather crude description of it compares it to a balloon sent up in the air in a village fair, and while you were watching it your pockets are silently picked. I can tell you it is much more sophisticated than that . ‘Free elections’’, says the maverick thinker, commentator and polemicist Slavoj Zizek, “involve a minimal show of politeness when those in power pretend that they do not really hold the power, and ask us to decide freely if we want to grant it to them.” Could a Kafka maintain the illusion of an ordinary voter, in all his phony majesty ,seated on the make believe throne, playing king and granting ruling rights to all and sundry? The art and sorcery of politics lies in maintaining this illusion.
How does politics achieve it? The primary trompe de l'oeil is to make their constituents believe that politics is adversarial, that there are good people and evil people. The good should rule, the evil should go to jail. But it is not a fact. Politics of all shades of morality, from black to jet black , are connected through subterranean capillaries which feed each other . It has a palimpsest identity and masks of good and evil are revealed according to expediency . Whenever there is a regime change people impatiently await the evil predecessor whose corrupt practices stood exposed, about whom copious documents were flashed , will now certainly end up in jail . Have you ever seen any politician of consequence go to jail ? Bergson’s quip, “Stop !Only God has the right to kill his own kind ,” is merely an exercise in rhetoric .
Politics has over the years evolved a very complex code in which it conducts its intra mural transactions. That is how it keeps its followers engaged and constantly enraged because the concept of enemy is central to the political enterprise. They cohabit merrily while their followers are at each other’s throat. Umberto Eco let me in to their secret code , “the politician, when speaking in obscure terms, is actually sending a message in code that emanates from one power group and is destined for another. The two groups, sender and receiver, understand one another perfectly well, and the wittiest of rhetorical turns is not, for the right people, mere flatus vocis but so many promises, threats, refusals and agreements. It is clear, moreover, that in order for communication between power groups to carry on undisturbed it must go over the heads of the public, just like the coded message passing between two armed camps in a war situation, which might be intercepted by chance by a radio ham but never understood. The fact of its not being understood by others is the indispensable condition for the maintenance of private relationships between power groups…. ( I)t leapfrogs the citizen and denies him any room to agree or disagree.” The art of politics is about making suckers of people. The best, the most illustrious conmen of them go down in history as great leaders .
Arthur Miller’s observation that our political life, thanks to 24/7 TV is now “profoundly governed by the modes of theatre, from tragedy to vaudeville to farce”, is now obvious to all . The political actors are past masters at feigning conviction and the television is an accessory to their deception. Instead confronting politics ,collectively, to account for the mess in detail, the TV manages to stage a fixed political reality show and we are reduced to being mere voyeurs of the antics of the fake fighters in political arena.It is a spectacle of the “strange symbiotic relationship between power and resistance.”
I am afraid it is a long convoluted way of getting to the point, but TV is the greatest ally of debauched politics.Together they make suckers of people .

Friday, June 24, 2022

आइएएस/नजरिया: बाबुओं के ठाठ और ठसक मनोज नाथ

सत्ता के तिलिस्म की गिरफ्त में बेचारा कलेक्टर ऊपर वालों की जी हुजूरी और नीचे वालों पर रौब न गांठे तो क्या करे
https://www.outlookhindi.com/story/column-on-ias-by-retired-ips-of-bihar-cadre-of-1973-batch-manoj-nath-3568
आइएएस पति-पत्नी युगल के कुत्ते की सैर के लिए दिल्ली के त्यागराज स्टेडियम को नियत समय से पहले खाली कराए जाने की घटना ने राष्ट्रीय चेतना को कुछ इस तरह झकझोरा, मानो कोई अप्रत्याशित घटना घट गई हो। विशिष्ट जनों के लिए आमजनों के अधिकारों या सुविधाओं में कटौती तो हमारे जीवन का ऐसा कटु सत्य है जिसे हमने बहुत पहले अंगीकार कर लिया है। फिर ऐसा क्या कहर बरपा? स्लोवानियन चिंतक स्लावो जिजेक का मानना है, “यह सार्वजनिक मंच की विडंबना है, भले हर कोई किसी अप्रिय तथ्य को जानता हो, उसे सार्वजनिक तौर पर कहने से सब कुछ बदल जाता है!” 

यूरोपीय उपनिवेशवादी अपनी आवश्कतानुसार कैसे देसी अभिजात वर्ग गढ़ते हैं, इस संदर्भ में फ्रांज फेनन की पुस्तक द रेचेड ऑफ द अर्थ की प्रस्तावना में ज्यां पॉल सात्र्र ने लिखा कि होनहार और कुशाग्र बुद्धि वाले नवयुवकों को चुनकर उन्हें पश्चिमी संस्कृति, विचारों और अवधारणाओं के गरम लोहे के लाल छड़ से दागकर चिन्हित किया जाता है और उनकी पहचान अपने देशवालों से बिल्कुल अलग कर दी जाती है। उनके पास अपने देशवासियों से कहने को कुछ नहीं बचता। ब्रिटिश शासन ने आइसीएस के ढांचे में इस बात का खूब ख्याल रखा था।

आइसीएस के करिश्माई करतब सत्ता के निर्बाध प्रयोग के दिनों के थे। एंग्लो इंडियन ऐटिच्यूडस: द माइंड ऑफ द सिविल सर्विस में क्लाइव डयूवी लिखते हैं कि बीसवीं शताब्दी में सीमित स्वशासन अधिकार के मिलते ही आइसीएस में विरोध के स्वर उठने शुरू हो गए थे और वे मुखर होकर काले लोगों को सिर पर चढ़ाने के लिए अपनी सरकार को कोसने लगे थे। भारतीय नेतृत्व ने औपनिवेशिक उद्देश्यों की सुचारू रूप से प्राप्ति के लिए नियोजित आइसीइस को आमूल स्वरूप में ग्रहण ही नहीं किया, बल्कि उससे यह आशा भी लगा बैठा कि अब वह जनोन्मुख होकर लोकतांत्रिक उद्देश्यों को धरातल पर उतारने में अहम भूमिका निभाएगा। सरदार पटेल का मानना था कि स्वतंत्र, विचारवान और मुखर अखिल भारतीय सेवा संघीय व्यवस्था का प्रहरी होगा और देश की अखंडता को सुरक्षित रखेगा। अखिल भारतीय सेवा के पदाधिकारियों के लिए इसी आशय से संविधान में ऐसी व्यवस्था की गई थी, ताकि उन्हें सहज ही प्रताडि़त न किया जा सके।

आइसीएस के भारतीय प्रसंस्करण आइएएस से मूल रूप से तीन अपेक्षाएं थीं। पहला, उनका नजरिया स्थानीय पूर्वाग्रहों से कलुषित नहीं होगा, अत: वे स्थानीय राजनैतिक रुझान और संकीर्णता से मुक्त होंगे। दूसरा, केंद्र और राज्यों में पदस्थापित रहकर संघीय व्यवस्था को सबल करने हेतु वे केंद्र और राज्यों में बेहतर समन्वय स्थापित करेंगे और तीसरा, कलेक्टर के रूप में वे अपनी सरकारों के संकटमोचन होंगे।

लेकिन सरदार पटेल की अपेक्षाओं पर आइएएस कितना खरा उतरा? केंद्र और राज्य सरकार के कटु संबंधों के मद्देनजर पश्चिम बंगाल के मुख्यमंत्री के साथ-साथ मुख्य सचिव भी प्रधानमंत्री की आपदा नियंत्रण बैठक से वॉकआउट कर गए। किसी भी नौकरशाह के लिए यह ‘गुरु गोबिंद दोउ खड़े काको लागूं पांय’ जैसी परिस्थिति में कोई फौरी निर्णय लेना कठिन था। प्रधानमंत्री और मुख्यमंत्री के बीच किसे अपमानित करना है और किस के अहंकार को तुष्ट करना है, इससे बढ़कर असमंजस की स्थिति क्या हो सकती है? लेकिन, पश्चिम बंगाल के मुख्य सचिव सहज भाव से निकल गए क्योंकि दीर्घजीवी सरकारों में आइएएस नौकरशाह स्थानीय शासन के अभिन्न अंग बन चुके हैं। बलराज कृष्ण ने सरदार पटेल पर अपनी पुस्तक में जिक्र किया है कि पटेल और जवाहरलाल नेहरू में निजाम को लेकर तल्खियां चरम पर थीं। इसी संदर्भ में एक सभा में पटेल ने नाराज होकर एक मीटिंग से वॉकआउट किया। वी.पी. मेनन, जो पटेल के सचिव थे, उनके जाने के बाद कुछ देर बैठे रहे लेकिन थोड़ी देर बाद अनुमति लेकर वे भी निकल लिए। लेकिन हद तो तब हो गई जब केंद्र में बैठे आइएएस पदाधिकारियों ने कुछ ही दिनों पहले इस पदाधिकारी, जिसके सेवा विस्तार की स्वीकृति दी गई थी, उसे वापस बुलाने का आदेश दे दिया। फिलिप वुडरुफ ने आइसीएस के महिमामंडन में मेन हू रुल्ड इंडिया में लिखा है कि ‘‘यह एक अलग ही प्रजाति थी। ...ये अत्यंत विपरीत परिस्थितियों में काम करते थे, लेकिन सबसे बड़ी बात कि ये इंटेलेक्चुअल थे।’’ इंटेलेक्चुअल की जिम्मेवारी होती है कि वह सत्ता को सच का आईना दिखाए। केंद्र और राज्य सरकार के बीच टकराव की अजीबोगरीब स्थितियां इसलिए हो रही हैं क्योंकि अधिकांश पदाधिकारी अपनी-अपनी सरकारों को सही, पर अप्रिय परामर्श देने का साहस नहीं कर पा रहे। 

हरफनमौला कलेक्टर ब्रिटिश शासन में अश्वेत लोगों के माई-बाप सरकार का मूर्त स्वरूप था। आज भी अन्य कार्यों के अतिरिक्त स्थानीय स्तर पर जिलाधिकारी को नेशनल डिजास्टर मैनेजमेंट एक्ट, 2005 के तहत असीम शक्तियां एवं संसाधन प्राप्त हैं, लेकिन कोविड आपदा के संदर्भ में राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर जो कुव्यवस्था हुई, वह अवर्णनीय है। ऐसा नहीं कि यह एक असंभव या असाध्य कार्य था। एक-दो कलक्टरों ने गजब की प्रतिबद्धता दिखाई। प्रवासी मजदूरों की घर वापसी की त्रासदी को इतिहास याद रखेगा। लेकिन नौकरशाही की अक्षमता से ज्यादा उनकी असंवेदनशीलता जनमानस को आहत कर गई। सैकड़ों मील पैदल मार्च करते हुए हुजूम में एक परिवार अपने पहिया वाले सूटकेस पर अपने बच्चे को बिठाकर खींच रहा था। इस तस्वीर ने देश के मर्मस्थल को छू लिया था मगर एक आइएएस पदाधिकारी ने चुटकी ली कि उसके पिता भी उसे अक्सर एयरपोर्ट पर ऐसे ही खींचते थे। हवाई यात्रा की विलासिता और खून जलाने वाली धूप में सैकड़ों मील प्राण-रक्षा के लिए चलने की विवशता में भेद न कर पाने वालों के बारे में ही यह उक्ति है कि उनके पास अपने देशवासियों से कहने को कुछ नहीं है। एक वायरल ऑडियो में स्वास्थ्य सचिव ने एक डॉक्टर को अपनी बहुत गंभीर समस्या सीधे उनसे कहने की धृष्टता से नाराज होकर उन्हें जेल भेजने की धमकी दे दी। लेकिन मदांधता और क्रूरता के लिए अगरतला के तत्कालीन डीएम को बहुत दिनों तक याद किया जाएगा, जिन्होंने दूल्हे के साथ बारात को भी जमकर पीट दिया था। जुमा-जुमा आठ रोज सेवा में आए हुए एक प्रशिक्षु आइएएस के तेवर अब तक सबको याद हैं, जो एक अस्पताल में मरीज के बेड पर पैर टिकाए खड़ा था।

खास बनने की ट्रेनिंगः मसूरी की लाल बहादुर शास्त्री नेशनल अकादमी जहां आइएएस का प्रशिक्षण दिया जाता है

खास बनने की ट्रेनिंगः मसूरी की लाल बहादुर शास्त्री नेशनल अकादमी जहां आइएएस का प्रशिक्षण दिया जाता है

कोविड के संक्रमण से ऐसे अधिकारी अनिभिज्ञ तो नहीं होंगे, लेकिन संभवत: खास होने के ख्याल को लाल छड़ से उन्हें प्रशिक्षण के दौरान ही दाग दिया जाता है। आइएएस ने बदली परिस्थितियों के अनुसार अपने आपको ढाला तो है पर उसकी अनुवांशिक विरासत और गुण सूत्र वही हैं। आइएएस में चुन लिए जाने के बाद आम जनता के साथ बराबरी के स्तर पर संवाद स्थापित करना उनके लिए कठिन हो जाता है। देखें तो दोष उनका नहीं, दोष इस समाज का है। पिछले साल बिहार का एक अभ्यर्थी आइएएस की परीक्षा में टॉप कर गया। मुख्यमंत्री ने उसे माला पहनाया और पूरा बिहार हफ्ते भर उसकी प्रशस्ति-गान में लगा रहा। 

दिल्ली के मुखर्जी नगर के ‘तपोवन’ में देश का सबसे प्रतिभावान युवा आइएएस का परम पद प्राप्त करने की कठिन साधना करते-करते अधेड़ हो जाता है। आइएएस वर की प्राप्ति हेतु उनकी तपस्या को सफल बनाने के लिए धन कुबेर, पदाधिकारी, मंत्री या सांसद पिता करोड़ों की थैली लेकर आइएएस के पीछे भागने लगते हैं। सोशल मीडिया पर बस आप आइएएस लिख दीजिए, हजारों फॉलोअर वैसे ही हो जाएंगे। फीता काटने के लिए, दोस्ती गांठने के लिए लोग लालायित रहेंगे। जब तक आइएएस अलभ्य है तब तक वह निंदनीय है। अगर उससे संपर्क, साहचर्य या सान्निध्य मिल जाए तो वह देवतुल्य। आइएएस की उपादेयता घट रही है लेकिन उसके प्रति आकर्षण बढ़ता जा रहा है।

मैं कई बार सिविल सर्विस परीक्षा के इंटरव्यू बोर्ड का सदस्य रहा। इतना क्वॉलिफाइड होने के बाद सिविल सर्विस में क्यों आना चाहते हो, पूछे जाने पर अधिकांश परीक्षार्थी कहते हैं, “मैं जब जिले का कलेक्टर बनूंगा तो अमुक ढंग से जनता की सेवा करूंगा।” तो मैं ठिठोली करता हूं, बंधुवर, बमुश्किल आप कम्पीट कर पाएंगे। अगर कम्पीट कर भी जाएं तो कोई गारंटी नहीं कि आपको आइएएस मिलेगा, अगर आइएएस मिल भी गया तो मुश्किल से एक या दो टर्म कलेक्टर रह पाएंगे। बाकी के 25-30 साल के बारे में कभी सोचा है आपने? सिविल सर्विस परीक्षा का मतलब आइएएस और आइएएस का मतलब कलेक्टर! हर किसी के अंदर एक कलेक्टर बैठा है जो आइएएस बनकर उससे आत्म साक्षात्कार चाहता है।

वह जमीन पर बैठ कर मिड डे मील चख ले तब खबर है, स्टेडियम में कुत्ता घुमा ले तब खबर, उसकी संपत्ति विवरणी में नकदी में एक भी रुपया न हो तब भी खबर और एक सौ पचास करोड़ रुपये उसके सीए के पास निकल जाए तब भी खबर, अस्पताल के बेड पर पैर रखे दे तब भी खबर है, अगर किसी बच्चे के सिर पर हाथ रख दे तब भी खबर! सत्ता के तिलिस्म की गिरफ्त में इस समाज के लिए कलेक्टर ही खबर है। क्या करे बेचारा कलेक्टर?

manoj nath

(लेखक 1973 बैच के बिहार काडर के सेवानिवृत्त आइपीएस अधिकारी हैं। विचार निजी हैं।)

Sunday, June 19, 2022

MODI AS IDEOLOGY

I held back this post which was written at the height of farmers' agitation and to that extent it is a little dated . But the violent protests over the Agniveer policy has firmed my views and provides me the impetus to share it now .
Initially I was also skeptical about the idea of ultrashort term service in the military but better informed as now I am, I think it is quite in consonance with the trend all over the world. A respected military officer and an objective strategic analyst like general R W Panag , considers the idea worth a try. Of course , it needs to be fine-tuned to suit local conditions but per se it is not something to be dismissed out of hand.
In Bihar, specially, employment in the government sector is the overriding concern of young men. We have experimented with this idea of using the education sector as a generator of mass employment - with spectacular results. Millions of unemployable illiterates employed as teachers have mass produced many more millions of their own kind, so much so that “Educated in Bihar”, has become a statutory warning. But the military is a matter not to be fooled around with .
And yes, dear Biharis , burning trains will not hurt Mr. Modi; BJP can be defeated on the electoral battle field only , not on city squares.
MODI AS IDEOLOGY
Mr. Modi wields a charismatic authority, in the strict Weberian sense of the term, over his large number of followers. Adored by them as a man of exceptional skills , exemplary in many ways , even infallible, Modi Hai To Mumkin Hai, has been elevated to a gospel truth. As his stranglehold on power becomes firmer Mr.Modi himself has now become the ideology, an ideology without words .
Karl Mannheim thought that ideology acts as an unseen glass that systematically distorts our perception of the social world. Marx holds that it relieves the masses of the burden of thinking for themselves, induces a state of mind in which conviction precedes the validating facts .A basic, constitutive naïveté is an essential requirement ,which Modi’s followers possess in abundance. The stronger the belief in their leader or the cause he espouses the weaker become the rational, critical faculties and the ability to pose pertinent questions. So a very large section of Indians refuse to see the tree for the wood , refuse to see anything else other than what Mr. Modi wants them to see. Strongly held beliefs after a period of time become internalised to such an extent that attacks on these beliefs are treated as attacks on the person . It is not uncommon for friends of fifty years standing to come to blows because of their divergent views on Modi. The Modi ideology is deeply divisive.
His democracy is built around the idea of absolute and unquestioned obedience. New and ideologically compliant forms in name of digital democracy have been built and our civic and even private lives are under ever increasing bureaucratic gaze . His style of governance calls for a voluntary suspension of disbelief, it enforces obligations without explanations. The handling of Covid is an emblematic example. We lighted candles , we clapped , we went into suspended animation because of the most brutal lockdown , marched with suicidal resolve in face of hurtling danger of the second wave of Covid, ignoring Covid protocol to attend election rallies or Kumbh snan but never questioned even once. There is not to reason why , there is but to do and die!
There is a wide, irreconcilable divergence between the reality and the official views on several policies - demonetization, the Chinese crisis , GST and handling of Covid . But of late, notwithstanding their belief, there is considerable disquiet over his handling of Covid, especially the second wave has spread to some section of his followers as well. The truth managers are quite aware of losing many of those who voted for the party in a state of happy mindlessness . So in order to hold them tethered to their beliefs , illusion becomes the chief reinforcer , drama becomes the key, compelling and startling images— “absolute, uncompromising and simple”—that “fills and bests the mind”. As Gustave Le Bon said in his book , The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, the “art of impressing the imagination of crowds is to know at the same time the art of governing them.” To keep the hope in impossible promises alive, chicanery and mendacity have become an important part of statecraft, propaganda has become the main pillar of government. They are experimenting with an applied epistemology which Theodore Adorno once described as , “a lie experienced as truth.” Hand in hand with this strategy goes the negative PR campaign of tarring those opposed to official point of view , a specific and compelling necessity.
But then Mr. Modi is much larger than that. He not only commands his followers and elicits their responses whichever way he wishes ,he holds complete sway over the minds of even those who are opposed to him , the “liberal, “ left ,” “moderate” thinking section. Opposition to Modi, irrespective of the merit of the case , is their ideology , and finding reasons for all that is wrong with this country because of Modi is the chief reinforcer of the belief of the followers of this ideology.
The farmer’s agitation is an emblematic example. As far its economic benefits are concerned , economist and experts have not been able to find much fault with the farmer policy of the government. It was part of Congress agenda which the BJP had vociferously opposed it, just as Congress was stolid in its defence. So the farm bill is not a farmers’ issue but a political issue. Had Congress been able to pass the farm bill the cue lines would have been different and BJP cadres would have been sitting in solidarity with farmers behind the barricade. Exploiting their proximity to national capital, farmers , mostly from Punjab and Haryana, Western UP are bivouacking for several months on the borders of Delhi and . To this they have added - and carried out on 26th January - the threat of marching to Delhi and holding it to ransom. A national capital under siege would make a global headline any day. As Slavoj Zizek, the maverick Slovenian philosopher said , "The actual pressure must be made more pressing by adding to it consciousness of pressure, the shame must be made more shameful by publicizing it.”
Both the parties employ the logic of today’s populism which can be characterized as “democratic fascism.” Farmers invoke the democratic right to protest, which is fair enough but to claim that democracy and legitimacy is limited to their side is not quite democratic . Their refusal to back down unless the government is brought down to its heels is how “fascism that smells like democracy” operates today.
Critical debate , one of the key components of an open society has now quietly yielded to a phenomenon called guided apophenia .
Apophenia earlier identified as an affliction of a schizophrenic patient who could perceive meaningful connections between unrelated things, has now been normalized as political behaviour. In Indian politics Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s habit of attributing every political difficulty to “foreign hands” and later on to the ISI is an old habit but people took it with a pinch of salt. But now all of us cutting across political divide believe in conspiracy theories with the conviction of a schizophrenic.
The farmers say that the government is sold out to Adani and Ambani and this bill is only to prepare for corporatisation of the farm sector and the immiseration of farmers.( This is quite plausible but where is the evidence?) Government, and the media conscripted to government , have not lagged behind in finding the real reason for the protest : it is financed and orchestrated by Khalistanis and their Pakistani and Chinese masters. Pakistan, China and proponents of Khalistan are enemies of India and anything that can discomfit the country is fair game for them, but where is the evidence?). As Alain Badieu said :“Tout ce qui bouge n’est pas rouge” – all that moves (leads to unrest) is not red. ”
The second example which is an even more convincing proof that those opposed to Modi have embraced the Modi ideology is the anti-vaccine movement which finds its culmination in Prashant Bhushan’s open opposition to vaccine . To quote just one highly irresponsible tweet. “ These mass protests against vaccine madness are now taking place across the world against vaccine mandates , lock downs and mask mandates are now taking place across the world . Despotic rulers are using these measures to keep their people under subjugation after it is clear that these don’t work . Time for mass protests in India too.” The deaths due to oxygen were equally the fault of the state governments but they are missing from the charge sheet against them and Modi finds himself as the sole accused.
At the height of cultural cold war, the non-communist left intellectuals found themselves pitted against another fanaticism of a particular variety, its mirror image. As the American literary critic and essayist Philip Rahv said "Anti-Stalinism has become almost a professional stance. It has come to mean so much that it excludes nearly all other concerns and ideas, with the result that they are trying to turn anti-Stalinism into something which it can never be: a total outlook on life, no less, or even a philosophy of history." Modiphobia becomes a total outlook on life. Mr Modi must be loving it. To become the sole point of discourse in a democracy of 1.4 bn people with infinitely divergent interests is something unprecedented in history.
GS Seda, Shyamal Vinod and 14 others
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