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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 ।

Friday, August 20, 2021


Hollywood script writers have done way better than American policy planners and generals put together. The movies accomplish impossible missions , while the American administration not only leave their tasks unfinished , they create a huge lot of mess , leave behind their allies in the lurch ,and the believers in American superpower status in deep shit. But when it comes to cost, neither the Hollywood nor the USA worries about it , whether in terms of dollars or in terms of misery of the people whose human rights etc , etc , etc had beckoned American intervention in the first place .The US of A enters with a bang and exits with a whimper . It is by now accepted as the style statement of the super power. But their naivety is beyond imagination. Apologists say they have stitched a face saving exit by the treaty with Taliban; actually it was something much more precious they got away with, considering the predilection of the Taliban. Americans have been sleeping with Pakistan for ages and still they have not figured out whether it is their trusted “keep” or a two timing ally , their spy or a double agent.

To provide a historical context , Independence Day- a film made in 90s , is chillingly smug and self-assured in its basic assumption of the idea of a unipolar world of which America is the unquestioned leader .The experience that I was able to bring back from the viewing was an overwhelming sense of gratitude , that Americans were members of the human race and a reinforced belief that under the global leadership of America, we shall overcome even the more advanced extra-terrestrial monsters.

A satellite engineer detects a 3000 mile-wide mothership approaching the earth with none to friendly intention. Before an appropriate response could be mounted it has caused significant devastation and now America is threatened. Let that sink in- "America is threatened." It is decided that the lives of "more innocent American civilians' should not be risked". The President-a former fighter pilot dons his G-suit, helmet and gloves teams up with scientists and others who have reverse engineered the technology of the aliens to combat their design. After that it is all over. The Africans emerge then some seeming Arabs, a timely reminder that it is Americas burden to save these hapless creatures as well. Which war is unwinnable which difficulty insuperable if America is in forefront of the enterprise? Which cause, which treaty, which world order can be questioned if the Americans sponsor these? The President of America appropriately declares July 4-The American Independence Day as a day of commemoration for the entire planet which is just as well perhaps because America takes a decision and expects the world to ratify it.

Cut back to reality. James Reston, one of the most influential political commentator of his time in an interview with Paul Niven Of the National Educational Television described the American foray into Vietnam thus "(I was) worried whether we could really exercise our power all across the' Pacific Ocean...the big easy walking American kids...! saw the same kids walking in the elephant grass. They had gone to a strategy of searching the enemy and destroying him on his terms, in his country." This same millenary mission took them to the Desert Storm "we went…we didn't ask why-our country called and we felt proud".

It is the privilege of the homo Americanus to feel proud in whatever they do. Whether they rain napalm bombs on innocent civilian population or spread chemical defoliants in Vietnam or sow land mines like some malevolent tubers . To these immemorial events , we must now add some of its more recent humanitarian acts in the interest of saving democracy from non-existent WMDs . During the Iraq War, a squad of Blackwater mercenaries killed 17 civilians at Nisour Square, a traffic intersection in Bagdad. But it pales into insignificance before the much more heinous and culpable Haditha carnage. In 2005, a squad of U.S. Marines shot down 24 unarmed civilians ranging from age 3 to 76 , one of them was in a wheelchair, some still in their pyjamas in their bedrooms reviving brutalities memories of the My Lai massacre. No one, however , came to grief and even the squad leader, Staff Sergeant Frank D. Wuterich, was acquitted in a court martial. It needed telling in some detail because America keeps a very detailed account of all transgressions against Human rights all over the world.

But think what they might even the American might is worsted sometimes and they were forced to retreat from Vietnam , with as much good grace as they could, in a sticky situation. (They have overhauled this record in Afghanistan. In Vietnam there was a decent interval in the change of regime , Taliban did not even show them this courtesy).

To Hollywood now falls the task of redeeming their self-esteem which was denied them in history. Regular sorties are made in films like Lost In Action to rescue American soldiers who were taken prisoners of war by the mean and "yellow Asians." The likes of Sylvester Stallone finish the task of "destroying the enemy on his own terms in his own country", piecemeal. Unmindful of the historicity or the morality of the issues involved in Iraq , Afghanistan etc, the simplistic movies use conflict simply as a backdrop , as in Iron Man , or merely as a pretext for display of individual heroism in Lone Survivor . As an American film critic observed movies are becoming a way to create public memory.

In reality Americal also manipulates public memory. Taliban was once poison? It was the epicentre of global terrorism. Americans travelled 12,000 kms and hunted them for decades to make their homeland - and the world -safe from terrorism. In the end they departed in a spirit of bonhomie and making the gift of a fully fitted out modern military state. What happened in these twenty years? Those who know should have known, because America changes its views about worst offenders without notice.

Look at mainland China. It was not recognised by it, till 1979.As an entity it stood in the same category of political evil as Russia. Thanks to its ally Pakistan , America saw great possibilities in China. Its appalling record in human rights, organ harvesting, political executions, detention of the dissidents, and other unedifying activities suddenly ceased to matter. A well-crafted narrative made engagement not only acceptable but the Chinese isolation for so long look like a bit of a 'mistake. Mr Clinton who had squarely denounced George Bush for "coddling" to the Chinese leadership in the end decided “ Let us go and make our visit.”
The Chinese charmed the world by unrolling its Oriental pageantry at its best, something even Hollywood could be proud of , to make this event truly historic.This was a different kind of footage shot "live", but it exploited to the full the possibilities of what Umberto Eco calls "event as mise en scene and life a scene setting.' Mr. Clinton and Xiang clashed over human rights, as scripted , at Tieneman Square- the symbolism need not be lost - for the benefit of the audience back home. Clinton was fielded all the right questions at the Beijing University, and the host spared no effort to make "the democracy in Chinese village", that President Clinton saw appear credible to the rest of the world. This time round, in the interest of democracy global peace etc , America stooped to conquer the enemy, to capitulate to the enemy "in his own country on his own terms". China became wholly good.( The the process of revising the memory has been undertaken timidly. )

So are there any lessons to be learnt from Afghanistan, other than what Kissinger’s, which was not taken seriously. It is dangerous to be America’s enemy but to be its friend is fatal. To me there appear to be two: one , beware of the American bearing the gift of democracy. Two the moral capital of America is its dollar and if expenses in dollars mount , then saving dollars becomes a moral imperative greater than ushering in democracy. General Smedley Brown once said , “ The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.” The reverse is also true .If costs in dollars of a noble mission start mounting the American flag folds up ,retreats and the American soldiers follow their flag .

Sunday, August 1, 2021


There is nothing new to be said about our police forces , what was said fifty years ago or seventy years ago will hold good even today .Writing for The Indian Express two decades back I had said that “The growing ineffectiveness of state police forces in the face of powerful offenders creates a demand for CBI investigation, even in cases which are well within the professional and logistic competence of the state police. The CBI itself becomes eminently vulnerable to charges of bias once the affairs of the Central Government become the subject matter of enquiry. The state police forces are well on way to being reduced to a level where they will be good for nothing but ceremonial parades and watch and ward duties and a day may come when the CBI too may face an erosion of credibility. Who shall we turn to then? The Interpol, the FBI, or Scotland Yard?”
The moment of reckoning for the CBI seemed to have arrived . The family members of SSR sought the intervention of the Supreme Court to bring in the CBI . Then we are told members of SSR family seem to be distressed at the way CBI is investigating the case. What shall be done now?
The reiteration of the trite fact will help illuminate the dilemma of both police and the public. “The popular mind has a very straightforward and simple expectation from the police. It is that police should make itself useful to them in all sorts of circumstances. It is a demanding task. You cannot be useful to the victim and the offender, to the complainant as well as the accused, to the party in power and the ones in perpetual quest of wresting it, to the underprivileged and the powerful, all at the same time.” The only way in which police can navigate this situation is by remaining strictly neutral and following the dictates of law. Therein lies the rub. Police never was, nor is, the agent of law , it is the handmaiden of those who control it. The word has gotten around that those who bring to bear the most pressure on police win the day.
The organizational culture of police puts too much premium on their blind obedience of orders . Stanley Milgram, a management expert conducted a series of obedience experiments in Connecticut in 1961 and advanced a hypothesis that human beings have a natural tendency to obey men in authority and they will even stoop to needless brutality and inhumane treatment of their fellow beings should they feel so commanded by an authority. In the light of above findings we can better understand the conduct of the police force in which obedience is drilled in day in and day out. The senior police leadership of the day, and in days to come, need to be put through a crash course in disobedience to refuse to make the organization available to the dictates of political expediency. But who will do it?
One must also now admit the sad but inescapable fact that increasingly it is the criminality of various echelons of governments that often require to be investigated . The fate of political leaders holding responsible positions in governments sometimes depends on the outcome of the investigation of a criminal case. The manifest centrality of impartial investigation for the functioning of democracy can no longer be ignored . The political control of police is leading to unheard of situations. Police officers acting as flag bearers of their respective governments find themselves pitted against each other. In West Bengal it was the CBI vs local police , in the instant case an IPS officer from Bihar was incarcerated by BMC. But the worst instance of police the mistaken direction that police has taken is the exchange of fire and tragic death of police men.
“As above, so below” was one of the central tenets of the ancient hermetic philosophies – the world in which humans lived was a reflection of the glories of Heaven, but at the same time, the heavens were affected by what happened on the mortal Earth. The eternal truth, “as above so below”, holds good .

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Life In The Shadow of Covid

The decline of Covid cases to double digits ,in both Delhi and Bihar, signaled for me the opportunity to head for home.I booked my and my wife's tickets for Patna;a planned visit to Delhi for 18 days became a near permanent residency. I was under the absolute maternal care of my daughter and son in law ,and my two grandchildren but thoughts of how things might be at home never left me .
I arrived home to an uncertain welcome. The torrential rains thwarted the many attempts of the pilot to land at Patna ILS,notwithstanding.We got diverted to Varanasi and could land only after the weather at Patna had cleared .
The Covid figures have again started going up , from a low of 25 thousand sometime back to 43 thousand yesterday .Kerala accounted for more than 22 thousand of those 43 thourand , a state with less than 3 percent of the population toted up 50 % of the total number of new cases. Kerala, we are told is the most literate and progressive state. Its monitoring system was publicised as worthy of emulation. Maharashtra another standard bearer of modernity and prosperity has been consistently adding disproportionately large number of new cases .It is not in good taste to question these states. Only when poorer ,laggard states fumble , it becomes a matter of national concern . Meanwhile the two states keep the hope of an early third wave alive . Or has it already , as one report on twitter says?
Covid 19 has proved to be the greatest disruptor known to mankind in recent times. We, in India, looked for redemption in the heat of the scorching Indian summer; it was a virus of the colder climes, we told ourselves. But summer came , the way it always did, spent its fury in vain and made way for an uneventful rainy season. Covid 19, contrary to our hopes ,stood taller and firmer, if anything ,notching up new heights every day. The fabled Indian immunity, acquired by our long association with filth , dirt, lack of civic amenities , its familiarity with tuberculosis and measles did not seem to be giving us a free pass either. It was another one of those chimera which we had been pursuing!
Days passed by , seasons changed but we still had no idea how long would this ordeal continue. There seemed to be no end , no event , no hope in sight , only a paralysing sense of fear and foreboding : it could last a life time or go away in a year. Living and partly living, we pinned our hopes on 2021, in the upcoming Vaccine . Vaccine was the new redeemer!
But come 2021 and Covid 19 numbers petered off. And up surged the self-esteem of our leaders, like ink to the nib. Some needless frontier bravado and avoidable chest thumping at having defeated the disease percolated down to the grass root levels. A wave of mass delusion swept the country and people let down their guard. In The Plague in the city of Oran had similar delusions, “Our townsfolk were not more to blame than others; they forgot to be modest, that was all, and thought that everything still was possible for them; which presupposed that pestilences were impossible. They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views. How should they have given a thought to anything like plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views. They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences”
The virus bounced back with vigour and redoubled ferocity, as if to mock the vanity of human agents. While we are getting the logistic right ,we had overtaken as world leaders, notching up a figure of more than 4 lacs per day and rising . The surreality of dead bodies being cremated on pavements foregrounded our fears of an apocalypse. Those who tried to wish it away realised that , “A pestilence isn’t a thing made to man’s measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they haven’t taken their precautions” . Not even to a super man’s measure , one may add. The redeemer vaccine was way off in the future and has now started trickling down. The redemption had been postponed We are still bobbing up and down the second wave, but at our backs we already hear the winged chariot of the third wave hurrying near. If we are able to vaccinate a large number of people soon enough, we may open a window for some fresh air to get into our lives. We are clinging to that hope, desperately . We hope to live a little between the second and the third wave because Covid like “the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”
I guess, “That is how life will have to be: with happiness and moments of delight when all goes well, but with the threat hanging there—life set between parentheses.” as Simone de Beauvoir says in Adieu. Like the proverbial mice , we will play a while, till a fresh Covid wave sends us scurrying behind masks and for cover in our homes

Sunday, July 25, 2021

A few lines of Brecht in Hindi Translation

I guess receptivity to a particular poem, or even some lines, also depends on the mood of the moment . The most sublime poetry may sometime pass you by but something by its sheer topicality may arrest your attention. Here are a few lines of a long poem by Brecht “To those who have been brought into line," which I have read several times, appealed to me disproportionate to its poetic worth. I translated it in Hindi for a larger audience.
“They describe
The fearful misdeed as something as unremarkable as the rain
Also as unpreventable as the rain.
So, by way of their silence, they lend support to
The criminals, but soon
They will notice that in order not to lose their bread
They must not only remain silent about the truth, but also
Tell the lie. Not ungraciously
The exploiters embrace those who are prepared
“Not to lose their bread.
They do not go along like men corrupted
For they have not been given anything, rather
Nothing has yet been taken from them.
When the eulogist
Rising from the table of the powerful, opens wide his mouth
And you can see between his teeth
The remains of the meal, then you listen
To his speech with scepticism.
The exploiters embrace those who are prepared
But the eulogy of him
Who but yesterday reviled the powerful and was not invited to the victory banquet
Weighs heavier.
प्रस्तुत है इसका अनुवाद , कैसा लगा बताइयेगा .
कितनी सहजता से वे बयां करते हैं
उन भयानक कृत्यों को मानो बरसात का बरसना हो
मानो आम सी कोई घटना हो , वैसी ही अनिरोध्य ।
पर जल्द ही महसूस होने लगता है उन्हें कि अपराधियों का चुप्पा
सहयोग नाकाफी है अपनी रोज़ी रोटी बचाने के लिए ।
सिर्फ चुप्पी से काम नहीं चलेगा झूठ बोलना लाज़िमी है. ।
बहुत शालीनता से शोषक अपना लेते हैं उन्हें
जो तैयार है रोटी की कीमत चुकाने को।
चलते भी हैं वो सर उठाकर पाक साफ़ की तरह
उनके दामन पर भ्रष्टाचार का दाग नहीं ,
न उन्हें कुछ पाया , न ही उन्होंने कुछ गवायाँ
लेकिन जब चारण स्तुति गान करता है
तो उसके दांतों में फँसे हुए भोजन के अवशिष्ठ खोल देते है भेद
समर्थ लोगों के टेबल पर दावत में सहभागिता का ।
उसके वक्तव्य खो देते है विश्वसनीयता , अनायास।
लेकिन कलतक जो कोसते थे ,
विजय भोज का न्योता न पाकर .
उनकी स्तुति कुछ ज्यादा ही वजनदार होती है.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021


A couple of days ago I heard a retired IPS officer delivering a lecture , well researched , all the facts and figures on his fingertips, he looked east and west, gathered the best practices from USA and Japan , as models to emulate , suggested ways to harness science and technology to the service of better policing. In every such lecture the words of generations of police men and scholars are modified, revised, updated by those who come after them. It is generally believed that the police reform is an idealist problem of knowledge . Only if we knew then we would. In my younger days I also used to write for many newspapers. Like everyone else I believed that Police would be reformed . It is not so .Close to forty years in the IPS disabused me of this notion altogether. It will need considerable elaboration but I am not going to do that today.
People often ask me, as indeed they should, why are the police the way they are, hostile to people, lawless and uncaring? Depending on my mood of the moment, I tell them that police is not for those who pose such a silly question. Police is for those to whom this question never occurs. This gnomic answer either befuddles them and they clam shut or seek further clarification. Again, subject to my whims or vagaries of weather, I put a counter question: have you ever found his majesty the President of India, the PM of India, the CM of states, holders of capital, merchant bankers, complaining about police? You hear only good things about the police from any government, every government, even after its police have indulged in killing, looting, unabashed atrocities on the weaker sections. It is – has been -ideal for their purpose, for every government that has been or yet to come. Why should they reform it?
After forty years in the Indian police service if I were to give my opinion about police reform, I would keep simple : Indian police needs an Indian pill. It is no longer a matter of the much talked about nexus of crime and politics, criminality of many governments themselves is a sad, but inescapable, fact of our lives. Police officers have to internalize the fact that they are the agents of law and they - especially the IPS officers - must incorporate the habit of firmly saying “no”to illegal orders, not as a one-time act of heroism and valour but as a reflex response. Police officers seem to have forgotten this all important lesson that saves the rule of law from degenerating into rule of men.
When I find Singhams-the new breed of police officers- sprouting like mushrooms on the Facebook , their brave deeds recounted by some similar breed of journalist , I begin to wonder whether there is a nexus between deteriorating law and order and the rise of Singhams. I am reminded of the interesting observation, which many claim is based on scientific facts , “the louder the monkey, the smaller the balls.”

Sunday, July 11, 2021

No i'll not take half of anything

This is certainly not the best of Yevtushenko’s  poems but for some inexplicable reason  reading it last night, I was swept off my feet . I read it several times and then translated it in Hindi to  see if it tastes different. You may tell me , without being unduly insulting , how much of the flavour has been lost in translation. Mind you it is a translation of a translation  

No I’ll not take half of anything..

No, I'll not take the half of anything!

Give me the whole sky! The far-flung earth!

Seas and rivers and mountain avalanches-

All these are mine! I'll accept no less!

No, life, you cannot woo me with a part.

Let it be all or nothing! I can shoulder that!

I don't want happiness by halves,

Nor is half of sorrow what I want.

Yet there's a pillow I would share,

Where gently pressed against a cheek,

Like a helpless star, a falling star,

A ring glimmers on a finger of your hand.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Translated by George Reavey

कल रात येवितेशेन्को  की  उपर्युक्त अंग्रज़ी में अनूदित  कविता मन  को  छू  गयी. सोचा  इसे हिंदी में बांचते है शायद कुछ और रस  आये। इसलिए इसका अनुवाद - अनुवाद का अनुवाद - कर डाला।   पेशे खिदमत है।  आप  बताएँगे कि कैसा बन पडा  है. 

फितरत नहीं  मेरी आधा अधूरा लेने   की ,कुछ भी 

देना है तो दे  दो  मुझे पूरा का पूरा आसमान ,पूरी धरती जहाँ तक है इसका  फैलाव 

सारे  समुद्र और  सभी  नदियां, पर्वत और उसके   हिमस्खलित अंश 

सब हुए   मेरे  ,इस से कम कुछ भी स्वीकार्य  नहीं है मुझे। 

सुन ऐ  ज़िन्दगी , अधूरी तुम मुझे लुभा नहीं सकती 

ज़िन्दगी हो तो भरपूर नहीं तो कोई  परवाह  नहीं 

मुझे न तो  अधूरी ख़ुशी चाहिए न ही अधूरा ग़म 

हाँ एक तकिया साझा कर सकता हूँ.  

हलके से गाल में गाल सटाकर,

अनायास, एक  असहाय टूटकर गिरते तारे की चमक 

तुम्हारी ऊँगली  की एक अंगूठी में जगमगाती है।

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

या दिल की सुनो दुनिया वालों , या मुझको अभी चुप रहने दो , मैं ग़म को ख़ुशी कैसे कह दूँ , जो कहते हैं उनको कहने दो।

Facebook removed a post of mine on the covid crisis sometime back because it had violated some community guidelines.( whatever that may mean but Facebook claims to know what is best for the community interest )The censored post was more in the nature of anguished musings, a rhapsody meditation, a Crie de Coeur on the moral deliquescence of our society. I rued my sense of utter helplessness- and erumpent anger at the gross mismanagement – as well as my inability to make one bit of difference to the lives of people in distress, who made desperate calls for help in this hour of national crisis. The post was removed within minutes and Facebook warned me that I had violated community guidelines . The tone of the admonishment was indulgent, it said people do commit mistakes, but should I persist! I was not surprised, I did not take umbrage . Facebook is the new opium, and I know how the west had turned oriental addiction to good account in the past . History records that East India Company had come to trade and took control of our lives. It seemed so natural, that I almost ridiculed myself for the first impulse to quit Facebook as a bit of theatrical excess.
The custodians of the representation of reality in a society view themselves in exclusively political terms and they are intolerant of any other reality that is inconsistent with the official account of things . That is why dispensations where only a single reality holds sway, writers are reduced to silence by expulsions, arrests, or by simply being cut-off from all realities for good. Capitalist and communist systems may appear to be hostile and mutually exclusive but they appear to be united in abusing their power in silencing dissent .
But why should ordinary people, people who haltingly and hesitantly string together a few words for the consumption of a few friends be a matter of concern to authorities? Do they seem to believe what Simon de Beauvoir says in her autobiography Adieu that “there are always words of this kind, thrown out absent-mindedly, which are like the absent-minded smoker’s match in some forest…and which set the whole lot ablaze.” In their anxiety they exaggerate the potential of idle musings of insignificant people. Don’t worry Facebook we are not only non combustible , we are inert matter.
The linguist Dan Jurafsky writes of a phenomenon called semantic bleaching, in which words, most often in the affective realm, lose their power with the passage of time, or as George Orwell says because of the lies that they are made to convey. The “awe” fades from “awesome” and the horror is drained out of “horrible” . A tragic spectacle loses its tragedy and remains merely a spectacle. I am reading and hearing a lot of things about my beloved state of Bihar, but unfortunately I am very bad at semantic bleaching . All that I can say is या दिल की सुनो दुनिया वालों , या मुझको अभी चुप रहने दो , मैं ग़म को ख़ुशी कैसे कह दूँ , जो कहते हैं उनको कहने दो।

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Courting Sleep

Putting me to sleep is a job much harder than many would imagine . Before the Gods condemned Sisyphus to his arduous task of rolling a stone uphill, they had suggested him the option of singing me to sleep . Obviously he found the other option easier. So I have to perform this arduous task myself , every day, day after day ,because a night comes after every day . If I were a king, half my kingdom would have been up for grabs for any one who could put me to sleep. But the entire kingdom to someone who could make it last seven hours, at a stretch . I think after having tasted this state of Nirvana I would not want a Kingdom. I would be a happy mendicant gambolling in grass skirts . Having read Raja Radhika Raman’ Daridranarayan I always thought sleeplessness is inevitably accompanied with the gift of a crown .‘Taaj ke tale neend kahan,’ or that English proverb ‘ uneasy lies the head that wears a crown .’ I think in years to come fables and fairy tales are going to be written about me- a man condemned to double jeopardy . No crown and no sleep either.
As I said, last night I had counted all the sheep that were available to be counted . I started with my own country but considering sleep was still miles away and the Covid diplomacy had bombed so badly , I thought it will be a good gesture to win some brownie points for India , my India , with some census diplomacy . I decided to keep the clumsy MEA buggers out of the loop. In the stealth of the night I , or my mind ,crept through international borders . All the sheep in China , Australia , Sudan , Mongolia , New Zealand were now accounted for .Heck , no , but the goal to which this fruitless labour was hitched was still nowhere in sight . My eyes were wider and seeing much further in the dark . So I thought why not make a global census , leave no sheep uncounted . I quietly chuckled to myself that I will set the gold standard for the WHO fellows- leave no one unvaccinated. The task was done no sooner than conceived . Clueless , I looked for advice to Billy Crossby, an American poet , and went for the wild beasts , camels , skylarks , then all the animals in the zoos and aquariums. The task finished I took a jaw shattering yawn but the problems and thoughts which nagged me throughout the day were still lurking . “Give me a break “, I beseeched my nagging suspicion that Covid 19 was an unintended product of the gain of function research that was being carried at the Wuhan research laboratory and there was something fishy about it . Now what? Go on a hitch hiking mission to the galaxy looking for Gryphons, Sphinx, Minotaur, Taurs , Draconope ,Echidnam Mermaids, Sirens. Or go hunting Snarks ,
Fortunately I had a sottisier of remarks which needed mature cogitation .I had top politicians, PMs, eminent historians , intellectuals . scientists lined up. A wise general had just said that, “ The IAF is a support arm , just like the artillery of engineers,” had also been agitating my mind .There were
other conundrums which had defied hours of contemplation during my waking hours. Why not try to crack them now? Randomly I alighted on a remark which has been attributed to a certain gentleman . “ India is a beehive . China is an elephant. A beehive is stronger than elephant . So India is a super power.” I am very poor at analytical reasoning , I have not made a formal study of logic , I am weak in rhetoric but I tried my best to limber up to this nimble mind jumping from a beehive to the back of an elephant and declaring form that vantage point that India is a super power. I put it aside gently for deliberation after I had equipped myself better .I failed to deconstruct the second one also, “Dalit community needs the escape velocity of Jupiter to achieve success.” This was far above me and got clubbed with the other unsolved riddle of mathematics propounded by another genius . “We are the 2ab of a+b2 +2ab” . This third one was little less opaque , I was getting the connection between milk and women but no further “ Gujrat ko agar kisine khada Kiya hai ,to woo Gujrat ki mahila hai. Gujrat ko agar kisine amul Diya hai, Dudh Diya hai to woo Gujrat ki mahila hai . “ But I never knew someone could describe my state of sleeplessness as well as this . “This morning, I woke up at night.” The last that I can report is that I got up at around 11 AM . My wife was violently shaking me : Get up .And what is this that you have been uttering ‘get me some dhotis , get me some dhotis. I hate politics.” On my laptop, the wise man’s last remark was still there. “There is politics in your shirt , politics in your pant.” I guess this had lulled me in a state of absolute stupefaction which my wife mistook for sleep.

Thursday, July 1, 2021


Exactly nine years ago I retired from service. I wrote this post celebrating that event .
Freedom at Afternoon
The question that is being asked of me by many of my well wishers, friends and admirers is how do I feel, now that I have retired. Well, to be honest serving for close to four decades in one of the most coveted services of the country has many disadvantages. You tend to forget the use of your limbs. There is someone connecting and picking up the phone for you, you are driven around, your engagements, your tour, and your other quotidian worries- from filing tax return to paying your utility bills- are someone else’s concern. In higher echelons of the government someone even thinks your thought for you. You just have to be! After you retire all that elaborate support system, all those rites of pride and protocol disappear. It is like someone who does not how to swim , is thrown into the sea without a lifebelt. Or you are left to navigate in a totally unfamiliar city. Many of us tend to show unmistakable withdrawal symptoms. Jostling for paying electricity bills, or booking a railway ticket (if you are not into net transaction) doing things as others not so spoilt do, can make you maladjusted for a while. I was warned – not that I could not see it for myself –but I had some more worries.
To add to the standard quota of uncertainties of a retiring officer, I have been trying to renovate my house to make it livable. It was empty for quite some time. It is no point trying to explain the hazards and the frustration of such an activity to someone who has not undertaken such an expedition himself. There are so many liars, thugs and swindlers in this line of business that it can easily turn you into a misanthrope. All in all, my prospect in the near future looked like a perfectly scripted plot for a black, neurotic drama! Anticlimactically, it is my date of retirement that kept me buoyed up, gave me hope and sustenance. And when it actually came it was such a relief! All the uncertainties did stare me in the face as it does any one of us. The prospect of my house becoming livable had receded a few more weeks into the future. But hell is a relative habitation. The comfort zone that I seem to have left behind was no comfort for me given that so many knives were out for me and danger seemed to be lurking at every corner.
So much has happened in the dying years of my service, so many distressing things-vilification, show cause, disciplinary proceeding, supersession, a criminal case and much more- that they remind me of Lenin’s famous remark about politics, “There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." It was only God’s infinite grace that I survived several attempts to frame me up in order to harm me in my career and ruin my reputation. I have never considered the denial of opportunities, postings, medals, etc as acts of disfavour because the government giveth and the government taketh away. (For the record, I was overlooked for the post of DGP on four occasions and I have retired in a lower grade of pay than officers four years my junior. I never even made a grievance of it.) But my reputation is not a matter of an executive fiat, or a government notification; it has been hard earned and paid for in hard currency of an unwavering faith in the values of probity in public life. The worst thing is that on every occasion personal malice was dressed up as considered government decision. Since an officer cannot challenge every order in a court of law, the government can play havoc with his life and career. I felt like the French philosopher who spoke during disturbingly unsettled times in France, “If today I were to be accused of having stolen the Church of Notre Dame I would have no option but to run away from France.”
Now that I am past the hump , all these precious years of my life which vaguely leaked away in worries and anxieties seem but like a transient twitch. I am in a celebratory mood reveling in my migration from the ranks of Helots – Helots were a class of people halfway between slaves and citizens in ancient Sparta-to that of an independent citizen. This freedom is worth years of the lives of any number of tongue tied, terrorized and fear stricken civil servants. Like any liberated serf I am going to exploit to the utmost my freedom to speak my mind. Earlier on my conversations with the government were subject to conduct rules, elaborate courtesy, and the unbreakable code of never mentioning facts that could bring disrepute to the government however disreputable its conduct. Never to speak truth to power except in such a term that the unpalatable truth became an error of your own judgment. (I violated that rule on several occasions and paid the price for it. So we are quits!) In fact, when I was addressing the Home guards who had lined up for inspection on the eve of my farewell parade on the 30th of June at Bihta I kept concentrating hard so that I did not shout from the podium itself : azadi , azadi azadi. Decades of conditioning, however, was a surer guarantee and my uniformed self behaved exactly as it was supposed to.