Category Archives: reflections

State and Us

Got this message from a dear friend over the violence seen in yesterday’s agitations against Supreme Court’s decision on SC/ST Act. Felt like replying once the things calmed down. Felt like sharing after replying. Perhaps some thoughts for introspection for us – the people – who is failing who, where do we want to move.

#ViewsArePersonal #Polity #State #SocialContract

Please take it from a political science theory point of view only – what should be the relationship between state and its people.

This is what my friend said…

My reply…

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Musings of an Aussie Fan…

I never cheered for Australia. I almost always hated them. I hated the way they used to make India surrender down under. I almost wept when in the 2003 world cup final, Ricky Ponting singlehandedly beat Dada’s team mercilessly. I felt so helpless when Matthew Hayden would buldgeon sixes after sixes, when Adam Gilchrist would come in at five down for 100 and almost everytime hit a century even on Indian pitches. I used to silently watch in disappointment McGrath and Brett Lee and even the side hero Gillespie make Indian batsmen surrender so completely, so brutally.

Of course I cheered for India. I will remember the majestic 281 by Laxman forever. That moment still gives me goosebumps as for the first time India took a raging bull by horn and fought it instead of surrendering meekly as it would do earlier. A fight which subsequently became the team’s culture and which now every player carries. I danced as Ishant made Ponting dance to his deliveries in Australia. I was elated when Dravid and Laxman would score double centuries and centuries in almost every test in the Australia in perhaps 2004. I rose to cloud nine when Sachin would dance down and hit Warne for sixes over his head…

But overall, Australia always outmatched India. More often than not I would watch India surrendering to – better players. Out of desperation, I would support anyone who would stand upto Aussies. I used to find solace in their victories against the Aussies and feel sad when they lost. So perhaps I cheered for Cook more than I cheered for Sachin down under. I was perhaps as frustrated as Klusner when Alan Donald ran himself out. I shouted so loud a NO when Gibbs dropped Steve Waugh that night. I felt so happy when the Proteas chased down 438…

Ohhh.. I hated the Aussies. I hated them coz they were a class apart. I hated them coz they would beat everyone everywhere – a mark of true champion. I hated them coz they were legends. Yet I don’t know when my hate also turned into a respect. For the same reasons, I also respected them. I always put Ponting above Sachin and today rate Smith higher than Kohli in the best batsmen debates. Of course in bowling there has never been any match.

I don’t know when my envy turned into admiration and admiration turned into awe. I realise I am an Aussie fan despite my hate. They were just so brilliant. The baggy green – it carries with itself the pride vested into it by generations of champions – men who played it fair and hard.

But today, I am heartbroken. Perhaps as much as on that fateful 2003 final. Perhaps even more. Smith had no right. He had no right to so recklessly abuse the baggy green. He has hurt not just me – but millions of fans across the globe and all the legends who once wore it before him. He has no place among the legends. He doesn’t deserve it. That cheat!!!

#ViewsArePersonal

जीवन – एक दही

Volume I  

Policy Paralysis: Unlimited Liability

#ViewsArePersonal #NothingOfficialAboutIt

 

देश में जब कोई बालक/बालिका IAS की परीक्षा में बैठता है तो मन में देश के लिए कुछ करने गुज़रने का एक सपना लेकर बैठता है| सोचता है कि देश के विकास के लिए कुछ करेगा, देश के भविष्य के निर्धारण में अपना एक योगदान देगा| इस नौकरी में पैसा तो नहीं है, मगर इज्ज़त रहेगी| एक इज्ज़त भरी नौकरी और देश के लिए महत्वपूर्ण विषयों पर फ़ैसले लेने का, नीति निर्धारण का मौका – यही सोच कर वह यहाँ आता है|

भगवान की दया से गलती से यदि उसका चयन हो जाता है तो बस – जीवन सफल हो गया लगता है| अब बस देश के विकास को कोई रोक नहीं सकता, देश में जो अब तक नहीं हुआ वो अब हो जाएगा| एक हनीमून पीरियड चालु हो जाता है जो अमूमन एक से दो वर्ष का रहता है| और फिर — CRASHHHHH…. वह मासूम बालक अर्श से फर्श पर आ जाता है, जीवन एक दही हो जाता है|

बालक को पता चलता है कि जहाँ वो सोच कर आया था कि बड़े-बड़े काम करेगा, वहां तो वो छोटे-छोटे फैसले भी बिना दस बार सोचे नहीं ले सकता है| बालक को सिखाया गया था कि, “बेटा, ईमानदारी से जनहित में फ़ैसले लोगे तो चिंता मत करना तुम्हारा कुछ नहीं होगा”| लेकिन यहाँ तो माजरा ही कुछ और है| बचपन से उसने पढ़ा था कि “innocent until proven guilty” अर्थात आपको दोषी सिद्ध करने का ज़िम्मा आरोप लगाने वाले पर है और जब तक आप दोषी सिद्ध नहीं हो जाते तब तक आपको कोई सजा नहीं हो सकती| किन्तु सरकारी व्यक्ति के लिए इसका उल्टा होता है – सारी दुनिया उसको दोषी मानकर चलती है जब तक कि वो खुद को निर्दोष साबित नहीं कर देता है| अब इस नौकरी में है तो बालक फैसले लेगा ही| फैसले लेगा तो किसी का बुरा होगा ही| जिसका बुरा होगा उसको बस बालक के ऊपर आरोप लगाना है, कोई प्रमाण नहीं देना है – एक ही चिट्ठी की कॉपियाँ प्रधानमंत्री कार्यालय से लेकर विभिन्न आयोगों और जांच एजेंसियों को देनी है| और फिर शुरू होगा जांचचक्र – जांचचक्र अभिमन्यु के चक्रव्यूह की तरह है जहाँ से मृत्युपरांत ही निकला जा सकता है| बालक के आने वाले साल देश के लिए बड़ा काम करने में नहीं बल्कि विभिन्न आयोगों की पेशियों में कठगरे में मुलजिमों की तरह खड़े होने में तथा एजेंसियों व जांच अधिकारियों को जवाब देने में ही निकल जायेंगे| सर पर तलवार हमेशा लटकी रहेगी कि कौन कब क्या कर बैठे| विभागीय कार्यवाही चलती रहेगी तो प्रमोशन नहीं होगा, विभागीय कार्यवाही बंद होगी तो कहीं जांच एजेंसी FIR न दर्ज कर ले| लेकिन भाई सबूत कहाँ हैं – बालक ने तो जनहित में फ़ैसला लिया था, कोई पैसा थोड़े खाया था? अरे भाई, जांच सबूत ढूँढने के लिए ही तो होती है, जांच चलाने के लिए कोई सबूत थोड़े चाहिए| बालक बरी होगा – चाचा सही कहते थे कि इमानदारी से फैसले लो कुछ नहीं होगा – लेकिन 10 साल जूते घिसने के बाद| तो फिर सबूत नहीं मिलने के बाद भी जांच 10 साल क्यूँ चल रही है? क्योंकि सबूत नहीं मिलने पर जांच बंद करना (या फिर सबूत मिलने पर दोषी करार देना) भी तो एक फ़ैसला है जो कि उस फैसला देने वाले को जांच के कठगरे में खड़ा कर जांच का लूप रीस्टार्ट कर देगा| इसीलिए हर कोई इस फ़ैसले को टालता रहता है जब तक 5-10 साल में कोई क्रांतिवीर आकर कोई फैसला नहीं लेता|

लेकिन फिर भी बालक ने पैसा तो खाया नहीं था न ही कोई अन्य लाभ लिया था| तो फिर तो उसको कुछ नहीं होना चाहिए? नहीं श्रीमान! शायद देश में करप्शन की सरकारी परिभाषा आपको पता नहीं है| आम आदमी के लिए करप्शन का अर्थ होता है किसी से अनुचित लाभ लेकर किसी को अनुचित लाभ देना| आप सोचोगे कि करप्शन केस में जेल में डालने के लिए रिश्वत लेना या आय से अधिक संपत्ति होना आदि सिद्ध करना पड़ेगा| नहीं बॉस, इस तरह की सारी ‘formalities’ आज से 15-20 साल पहले ही ख़तम कर दी गयी थी| करप्शन की कानून में परिभाषा है किसी प्राइवेट आदमी को यदि कोई लाभ पहुँचाया ‘बिना जनहित के’ तो वो करप्शन है| कोई रिश्वत आदि prove करने की आवश्यकता नहीं है| बात भी सही लगती है – अपना देश तो है जुगाड़ वाला देश – करप्शन का पैसा कहाँ कैसे ठिकाने लगता है जांच एजेंसी कहाँ तक ढूंढ पाती – तो बिना जनहित के यदि किसी प्राइवेट आदमी को फायदा पहुंचा है तो करप्शन ही होगा| जांच करने वाले को और कुछ सिद्ध करने की ज़रुरत नहीं है बस यह कि किसी प्राइवेट आदमी को लाभ पहुंचा है और कोई प्रोसीजर violate हुआ है| अब बालक का सर चकरा जाता है| आज की तारीख में कौनसा फ़ैसला वो ऐसा लेता है जिसमें किसी प्राइवेट पार्टी को लाभ न पहुँचता हो? वो ऑफिस के लिए एक कुर्सी भी खरीदता है तो कुर्सी बेचने वाले को फायदा पहुंचा रहा है| वो किसी का जाति प्रमाण पत्र भी जारी कर रहा है तो उस आदमी को फायदा पहुंचा रहा है| वो किसी भूमि का प्रयोग खेती से अन्य गतिविधियों में करने की परमिशन दे रहा है तब भी उस आदमी का फायदा पहुंचा रहा है| वो किसी पटाखे वाले को लाइसेंस दे रहा है तब भी तो उसका भला ही कर रहा है ना भाई? सरकार बनी ही लोगों के भले के लिए है|

तो फिर बात बहुत आसान है, जो भी काम करे नियमों की पूर्ण पालना करते हुए करे – कोई प्रोसीजर violate न करे| सिंपल| हीहीही| नॉट सो सिंपल माय फ्रेंड| बिकॉज़ गवर्नमेंट रूल्स अरे नेवर सो सिंपल :-D| एक तो सभी परिस्थितियों के लिए नियम बने नहीं होते| जहाँ पर बने होते हैं, वे बहुत काम्प्लेक्स होते हैं और उनका अलग अलग व्यक्तियों के द्वारा अलग अलग मतलब निकाला जा सकता है| सबसे बड़ी बात, आप कुछ पचास नियम लगा कर कोई काम कर रहे हैं, भगवान् जाने आज से 5 साल बाद कौन कहाँ से सुप्रीम कोर्ट या हाई कोर्ट का कोई बीस वर्ष पुराना आर्डर या किसी विभाग द्वारा 25 वर्ष पूर्व जारी कोई परिपत्र, दिशा निर्देश या आदेश लेकर आ जाए जिसकी जानकारी के अभाव में आपने वो फ़ैसला लिया था| बस… इनमें से कुछ भी हो तो हो गया प्रोसीजर violate और आपकी घिसाई शुरू| उदाहरण के लिए मान लीजिये आपको किसी पटाखे वाले को लाइसेंस देना है| आप पहले तो मालूम कीजिये कौनसे नियम लगेंगे – डरते डरते आपने निकाला Explosives Rules 2008| अब उसके सेकड़ों कठिन-कठिन पन्ने पढ़ कर समझिये आपके केस में क्या लगेगा| (ध्यान दीजिये, आपने जो समझा वो आपकी समझ है, हो सकता है 5 साल बाद जांच कर रहे व्यक्ति की और 15 साल बाद फैसला सुना रहे व्यक्ति की समझ आपसे भिन्न हो और उस परिस्थिति में आपकी समझ का कोई महत्व नहीं रह जाता|) फिर मान लीजिये ये सब जंग जीत कर आपने लग रही 19 शर्तों की चेकलिस्ट बनाई तथा उनकी पालना करने वालों को 3 वर्षों का लाइसेंस दे दिया| अब आपका 1 साल बाद वहां से ट्रान्सफर भी हो गया| आप नया जिला संभाल रहे हैं| एक दिन अखबार में पढ़ते हैं कि उस जगह पर किसी पटाखे की दूकान में आग लग गयी! भले ही आग किसी बीड़ी पीने वाले के अपनी बीड़ी यूँ ही फ़ेंक देने से लगी हो, लेकिन जांच में आपकी गर्दन ज़रूर अटकेगी| हो सकता है कि आपने जो 19 शर्तें निकाली थी उनके अलावा कभी किसी कोर्ट निर्णय या सरकारी आदेश से एक बीसवी शर्त भी लग रही हो जो आपकी रिपोर्ट में नहीं थी! बस गए आप, आजकल एक्टिविज्म का ज़माना है, धारा 302 का न सही लेकिन किसी न किसी और धारा में मुकदमा ज़रूर दर्ज होगा आपके विरुद्ध| हीहीही|

सभी कानूनों में दो प्रावधान हमेशा होते हैं – सदभाव या जनहित में किया कोई कार्य punishable नहीं होगा और किसी सरकारी व्यक्ति के विरुद्ध कोई न्यायिक कार्यवाही से पहले सरकार से परमिशन लेनी होगी| सदभाव या जनहित सिद्ध करने में हमारे बालक के बाल सफ़ेद हो जायेंगे और न्यायिक कार्यवाही की स्टेज से पहले हमारा बालक जेल की हवा भी आराम से देख आएगा| ये सिचुएशन कुछ इस तरह की है कि बालक सोचे उसने मारा था छक्का, लेकिन 5 साल बाद आकर कोई बोले कि ना जी ना, ‘बॉल डायरेक्ट मैदान से बाहर मारना आउट था’ :-P |

अच्छा यहाँ पर यह भी बता दें कि यहाँ हम एक आदर्श दुनिया में कल्पनात्मक रूप से कह रहे हैं कि हमारा बालक आराम से पूर्ण निष्ठा के साथ 19 दिशा निर्देश लगा कर जांच कर पायेगा| 19 नियम लगाने के बाद 100 में से 95 दुकानदारों को पटाखे का लाइसेंस मिलेगा ही नहीं| हाहाहा| हमारे बालक का विरोध होगा तथा राजनैतिक और अपनी बिरादरी में ही उसको ‘इम्प्रेक्टिकल एंड नॉट फिट फॉर फील्ड जॉब’ मान लिया जाएगा तथा उसकी अगली पोस्टिंगें इस निष्कर्ष के आधार पर ही होंगी मगर इन विषयों पर विस्तृत चर्चा आने वाले volumes में होगी|

इस प्रकार हम देखते हैं कि बालक के मरने के लिए उसके किसी दुर्भावनापूर्ण फ़ैसले लेने की ज़रुरत नहीं है, वो किसी भी फ़ैसले से मर सकता है जिसकी भविष्य में जांच हो जाए| जांच होने की प्रोबेबिलिटी देखें तो हो सकता हैं जांच इसलिए हो जाए की नयी पार्टी की सरकार आ गयी, या फिर किसी एक पॉलिटिशियन को दूसरे पॉलिटिशियन से बदला निकालना था, हमारा बालक क्रॉस-फायर में आ गया| हमारे बालक की ख़राब किस्मत, क्या किया जा सकता है| लेकिन सभी फैक्टर्स बालक के हाथ के बाहर नहीं होते| बालक अपने कर्मों से भी अपनी किस्मत फोड़ सकता है| एक तो तय है वो जितने ज्यादा फ़ैसले लेगा उतना ज़्यादा मरने की प्रोबेबिलिटी रहेगी| दूसरा वो जितने ज़्यादा लोगों को नाराज़ करेगा उतनी ज़्यादा ही भविष्य में उसकी मरने की प्रोबेबिलिटी रहेगी| उदाहरनार्थ वो जितने ज़्यादा अतिक्रमण हटाएगा, जितनी ज़्यादा अवैध शराब पकड़ेगा, जितना ज्यादा अवैध खनन रोकेगा, जितने ज्यादा ओवरलोडेड ट्रक पकड़ेगा आदि आदि उतना ज़्यादा लोगों को नाराज़ करेगा और अपनी किस्मत फोड़ेगा|

इसी सब पशोपेश में बालक था कि अचानक से निर्णय आया कि एक और ‘formality’ हट गयी है| पहले तो खुद के गलत फ़ैसले पर मुसीबत होती थी, अब तो नीचे वालों के गलत निर्णय पर भी होने लग गयी| मान लीजिये बालक को एक कमिटी का चेयरमैन बना दिया जिसको निर्णय करना है कि नगरीय क्षेत्र में अतिक्रमियों को मुफ़्त में उनके कब्ज़े की ज़मीन का पट्टा देना है कि नहीं| अब ये काम तो सम्बंधित नगरपालिका के निचले अधिकारी / कर्मचारियों का है ना कि जो 100 फ़ाइल कमिटी में निर्णय के लिए आई हैं, उनके फैक्ट्स वेरीफाई करना? कि मान लो एक शर्त है कि अतिक्रमी का कब्ज़ा 5 साल पुराना होना चाहिए, उसके आगे 30 फ़ीट की रोड होनी चाहिए, उसके कब्ज़े पर पक्का निर्माण होना चाहिए, उसका और कोई मकान नहीं होना चाहिए इत्यादि इत्यादि| इसके लिए नगरपालिका में एक इंजिनियर होगा जिसका काम होगा सड़क की चौड़ाई को मापना तथा अतिक्रमी का पक्का निर्माण कितना है ये बताना, एक अन्य डेडिकेटेड आदमी होगा जिसका काम होगा ये बताना कि इसका कब्ज़ा कितना पुराना है, एक अन्य का काम होगा बताना कि इसका और कोई मकान है या नहीं| बालक तो इन्ही की रिपोर्ट के आधार पर निर्णय लेगा न कि ये अतिक्रमी इन सारी शर्तों की पालना करता है या नहीं? तभी तो बालक 100 फ़ाइल पर निर्णय ले पायेगा| यदि इनमें से किसी ने कोई तथ्य छिपाया है या फिर गलत पेश किया है तो इसमें बालक की क्या गलती? सरकार इनको भी तो पूरी सैलरी देती है ना भाई इनका काम करने के लिए? लेकिन यदि 10 साल बाद जांच एजेंसी या कोर्ट आपको बोले कि नहीं, इनके गलत काम की सज़ा बालक को मिलेगी तो? क्या बालक अब इनकी रिपोर्टिंग पर यकीन करेगा? क्या अब वो खुद सभी 100 फ़ाइल के मौके देख कर सभी फैक्ट्स वेरीफाई नहीं करेगा? लेकिन ये काम तो 10 लोगों को करना था, बालक के भी तो वही 2 हाथ, 2 पैर हैं| तो फिर 100 फ़ाइल कैसे निर्णित होंगी? बाई-द-वे बालक ऐसी 70 कमिटियों का चेयरमैन है| बाकी 69 कमिटियों के काम का क्या होगा? हमारे ऊपर वाले उदाहरण में बात करें तो माने की 5 साल बाद कोई आकर बालक को कहेगा कि ना जी ना आपने तो छक्का नहीं मारा मगर किसी और बैट्समैन ने मारा था इसीलिए आपको जीरो पर आउट माना जाएगा| बालक के क्षेत्र में 5 लाख लोग रहते हैं, बालक इनमें से आधों के जाति प्रमाण पत्र बनाता है, बालक 6 महीने में इनमें से कितनो की जाति व्यक्तिगत रूप से जान सकता है या फिर यह कि कौन क्रीमी लेयर में आता है कौन नहीं? वो तो गाँव में जो सरकारी कर्मचारी हैं, उन्ही की रिपोर्ट मानेगा ना? तो ऐसे में यदि किसी को गलत जाति प्रमाण पत्र जारी हो जाता है तो बालक के विरुद्ध मुक़दमा क्यूँ? हाँ, बालक की ज़िम्मेदारी तब बनती है जब बिना गाँव के सरकारी कर्मचारी की रिपोर्ट के या उसकी प्रतिकूल रिपोर्ट के बाद भी वह खुद प्रमाण पत्र जारी कर दे, लेकिन यदि रिपोर्ट अनुकूल है तो कैसे?

यदि कोई भी निर्णय लेने पर भविष्य में असीमित जवाबदेही हो तो कैसे कोई निर्णय होगा? किसी को रिश्वत लेते हुए या उसके या उसके परिवार वालों के पास आय से अधिक संपत्ति हो तो उनको पकड़ना जायज़ है| लेकिन सिर्फ निर्णय लेने के लिए पकड़ने लग गए तो कैसे होंगे निर्णय? सोचिये अभी ही कोर्ट में किसी केस का निर्णय होने में सालों-दशक लग जाते हैं जबकि जजों को उनके निर्णय की वजह से नहीं पकड़ सकते| इतने सारे निर्णय निचले कोर्ट से ऊपर के कोर्ट में जाकर पलट दिए जाते हैं – सबूत वही होते हैं, कानून वही होता है| ऐसे में यदि निचले कोर्ट के जज को अपील के केस में ऊपर के कोर्ट में पेशियों पर जाना पड़ जाए या फिर ऊपर से उलट फैसला होने पर जेल जाना पड़ जाए तो सालों में होने वाले निर्णय दशकों में और दशकों में होने वाले निर्णय सदियों में नहीं होने लग जायेंगे? और यदि ऐसा कानून बन जाए कि आरोपी के कोर्ट द्वारा बरी होने की स्थिति में ना केवल जांच अधिकारी बल्कि पुलिस SP के ऊपर भी मुकदमा होगा तो कितने लोगों को पकड़ने लगेगी पुलिस? क्या होगा देश का ऐसी स्थिति में? दुखद बात यह है कि ऐसा कुछ हाल वर्तमान में सरकार में हो चुका है|

इतना सब कुछ होने के बाद खबर आती है कि एक नया अभियान आने वाला है| अबके 100 नहीं 500 फाइल आएँगी… 10 नहीं 2 दिन में करना होगा सब कुछ… खत्म हो गया पालिसी पैरालिसिस…

 

नोट: इस आर्टिकल को लिखने के निर्णय का परिणाम क्या होगा मुझे नहीं पता| मेरी समझ से मैंने कोई नियम नहीं तोड़ा है बाकि देखिये|

Was all this worth it?

In August 2014, I stopped writing new articles on this blog. This was primarily because I felt I had done my bit, given all I had to the aspirants.

However, a recent talk given at forumias gave me an opportunity to reflect upon my life before and now… Was all this worth it? Was IAS worth it? The path taken 5 years ago, from the glamour of Wall Street to the shitty lanes of remote villages in Rajasthan – was it worth it? From the efficient and fast private sector to working in government – was it worth it? Why IAS – the question which used to haunt me during the interview prep…

I am uploading the video here – watch till about 35 minutes and then the last 5 minutes. This is my heart which speaks… Its a bit long but apologies, can’t write everything again…

My Kashmir Diary

(Disclaimer: All this is a work of fiction. I have simply made it up. If anybody is hurt, I apologize.)

1. On the very first day, I learnt there was a Kashmir Bandh organized by Geelani against the Kousar Nath Yatra. What sort of secularism and tolerance is this? Apparently they are doing it to protect the fragile ecosystem there :-)

2. During a dinner in Pahalgam, the restaurant was playing Pakistani TV channel showing some political news of theirs! I suppose we as Indians would be more interested in our politics than some other country’s. And mind you, Pahalgam is not some far flung interior area in Kashmir but a major tourist destination.

3. Had a dinner with a friend’s friend who is a rich Kashmiri and has done all his education in ‘India’ (actually rest of India). He owes his entire career to India. We talked about how staying out helps in developing a perspective and getting away from narrow mindedness. So expected him to be more sympathetic and reasonable. When the topic came, he began by saying there should be a political solution which was encouraging for me. When asked further what sort of a political solution does he see, he said ‘referendum’!! (referendum on whether kashmir should be a part of india or not!)

4. While passing through an area where they made cricket bats, saw some posters of Shahid Afridi and other Pakistani players for promotional purposes! I know admiring foreign players and that too Pakistanis and also watching Pakistani TV is no crime, but when it comes to Kashmir, we can’t be ostriches, can we?

I last visited Kashmir in 2002 when terrorism was high. Kashmir was impoverished and one could see security forces everywhere. But this time things were completely different. Nice houses, smooth roads, prosperity clearly visible in the valley. Security personnel also were rare. I thought all these years of peace and prosperity (because of India) would have changed the outlook and made them see the benefits of sticking with India. I used to think economic development weans away a person from separatist tendencies, but looks like I am wrong :-(

Also clearly, we can’t afford to withdraw our forces from there – not yet!

Dear Patriots of India,

Pakistan killed two of our soldiers and beheaded one of them. Expectedly, our zealous patriots immediately began to criticise the government for allowing Pakistanis to play hockey with us, allowing their artists to perform in India and for letting their writers speak in our literary fests. So our government sent all of them back. Then again, expectedly, the patriot lobby began to criticise the government – this time for ‘only’ sending their artists and players back while our soldiers were killed. They called it a betrayal to the nation that our government ‘talked’ with Pakistan while they killed our soldiers. So our government had to suspend the new visa regime and even the PM had to come out and say ‘no more talks. There can’t be business as usual.’ Expectedly again the brave patriots were not satisfied. They again criticised our government, only this time taking your favorite and much in-fashion path of politician bashing. So now while our brave soldiers died on the borders, our weak politicians merely ‘stopped talking’ to Pakistan. Evidently our patriots want nothing short of a war with Pakistan (though some of them even urged our brave soldiers not to march in front of the weak politicians on the Republic Day and thus effectively called for an Army rule in India.)

While I would not dwell into all the patriotic calls of insanity here, one genuine thing which perturbed my tranquil thoughts was that how to ultimately solve the problem of Pakistan? And my conclusion is a war is out of question. No not because I am swayed here by considerations of humanity at large but because a war, in itself, without any consideration for its outcome, would be a huge huge loss for India and a severe blow to her national interests. Simply put, India can never win a war against Pakistan – no sir – not at least in the forseeable future. A war in itself would mean the biggest defeat India has ever suffered so far.

And the reason? Not that I doubt for one moment the conventional and strategic superiority of our armed forces, no. Without adding any complications arising out of the playgrounds of international politics and assuming the nuclear weapons on both sides remain silent, I am convinced that should a war happen to be, Indian forces will steam roll through much of Pakistan. But at the end of that war, will the real problems start. What will we do wih a Pakistan just won? Ruling it directly would perhaps be the worst option, for in the modern age of nationalism, no foreign rule can succeed. So we will have to restore the Pakistani establishment. But any government which has lost a war to India would be immediately discredited – perhaps faster than i can spell ‘discredited’. In the good old days of 71 war, Pakistani army took over the reigns. But not now. For there is another more potent force on the horizons and that is of the Islamic extremism. The war would only fuel their cause and enhance their credibility and in all likelihood they would overthrow the government there. Pakistan would officially become a state ruled by terrorists!

And this is assuming that Indian forces quickly win. But in all likelihood such a quick victory will not be decisive for the battlegrounds will then shift from Pakistan into the Afghanistan. Any Afghan government there would be overthrown and the entire Af-Pak region will become a hotbed of religious extremism and fanatic terrorists (some say it is currently like that but trust me its nothing compared to what it would be should a war break out). Les remember, Britain could not win in Afghanistan in the 19th century, Soviet Union couldn’t win there in the 20th century and US couldn’t win there in the 21st… Not even when they were the super powers of their times… Can we really imagine India would be able to win there?

Clearly not. And the tsunami of hate and terror would sweep India and the costs would be exceedingly prohibitive. All our development, all our prowess would come to a still. Plus fresh dangers will arise inside the country as this tide of religious hatred polarises our own society. Thus clearly, a war, irrespective of its outcome, shall be a grave blow to India’s national interest. And the irony is, every rhetoric of these so called patriots in India, only takes us closer to the war, thus playing in the hands of the religious fanatics across the border.

So then, what should we do? Should we take the Pakistani misadventures lying down? Should we continue to play cricket with them while they kill our soldiers? At least breaking these relations is better than doing nothing, isn’t it? And here I see the second irony.

For a moment imagine, I, who have never met you, never even seen you, hereby swear never to do any business with you. So… Whats the big deal? Why should you care? You are not dependent upon me in any way so why should you care if I threaten to break all my relations with you? And now imagine you are my good for nothing, spoilt son or daughter and I am your rich dad. Now if I threaten to throw you out of my house without giving a penny… Won’t you be alarmed? Won’t you be willing to strike a compromise with me and stop doing things which irritate me?

Well its the same thing with Pakistan… We need to cultivate an India dependent lobby there. And this we can do only by promoting trade and investments with Pakistan… By letting them feed on our growth. India has the potential to be a significant factor in Pakistan’s economics. Right now nobody cares there if we threaten to break our ties with them. But once we have a significant lobby there who depend on us for their profits, they would serve to counter balance the jihadi elements there. Afterall the most loved color in the world is green – and green is not the color of Islam but the color of dollars. But here is the irony. By breaking ties again and again, we just don’t let this India dependent lobby grow. We kill it in the foetus itself. And this is precisely what jihadists want! Again the pressure from our ‘patriots’ makes us unwittingly fall into the trap of the terrorists… Say goodbye to any lasting peace. Say goodbye to national interests. Onward we march towards our doom.

Perhaps that is why international diplomacy should only be played by cool heads relentlessly pursuing national interests and national interests alone. Insanity and emotions have no place there. Never ever let the mistress (or lover for the sake of making it gender neutral) dictate your business affairs…

P.S.: I see an increasing culture of insanity and intolerance in our youth. Be it the Anna movement (gallows to corrupt politicians), the delhi rape case (mutilate the rapists’ bodies, kill them like they kill in Saudi Arabia) or this soldier beheading incident, it seems that all sanity is driving away from our heads and being replaced by impulsive insane rhetoric. How can we call ourselves civilised or any different from Taliban if we also don’t respect human rights and dissent? I hope at least some of my readers will see my point although I expect a lot of gaalis after this article :-)

I Protest

Its amazing how in the last two years the phenomenon of spontaneous protests has caught on, specially in our cities. Just last year it began when Anna was sent to the jail and then now over Damini – the girl. Although no Tahrir Square moments for India, these protests are an entirely new phenomenon, baffling the politicians and the pundits alike. Though protests are no new to our democracy, what is new this time is that common people, used to watching such protests from the comfort of their dining rooms on the television, are now the part of what is being shown on the television. And no sir (/ mam) no, not on the call of any political party, but acting on the voice of their own consciences, giving expression to the deep resentment towards a British Raj like administration, these people have come out on the streets. They are not any political workers but are students, you, me, our mums and pups and our family members. And they came out when they sensed that gross injustice had been committed. Earlier the injustice was committed when Anna was jailed and his freedom of speech was brazenly violated while this time its for the brave girl who became a symbol for the thousands others whose right to life is being so violently denied as our insensitive administration sleeps.

Wihout flowing into any more emotions, lets calmly ask ourselves – what purpose? To what end? Do such protests carry any meaning? As one of my friend told me today, “kuch nahi hoga in sab se”? Com’on we all know some lip service, monetary concession to the family of the victim and arrests for the accused… and then calm until the next time. Such experience is nothing new. Afterall we still await the Lokpal. The questions then is that what is the point behind protesting?

Apart from the above apparant pointlessness, many political pundits have questioned the method of protests itself. It is argued that such protests illegitimately put pressure on the government and have contributed to the thought that one can now bulldoze a legitimately elected government and make laws on the street. They think that yielding to such demands will set a wrong precedent. Some others dismiss the gravity of these protests by calling the protestors either ‘painted and dented’ or middle class frustrated youth.

These arguments carry weight. Ours is an indirect democracy and for it to function properly laws must be made by the parliament only and cases should be tried in courts. For if we were to delegate these jobs to the streets, very soon the days of anarchy shall arrive. But there is another angle as well. In a democracy like ours, representatives are elected. These elections are fought on many issues like the candidate, the party, caste, religion, a set of policies and so on and by their very nature cannot be fought on a single issue like say rapes. Once the representatives have been elected, we are supposed to express our opinion to them on individual issues. Remember expressing opinion and putting pressure on the government to accept it is a legitimate part of democracy. Corporates spend huge money on it and call it ‘lobbying’. Most ministers including the home minister delightfully welcome such corporate lobbyists and in case of some like Ambanis, they even go out of the way to accommodate them. They even have a nice term for it called ‘participative policy making’ (12th Five Year Plan Approach Paper – Montek Singh Ahluwalia urges the government to indulge more into it).

But what happens when we, the ordinary citizens, have to express our opinion on some matter say rape? We are simply too heterogenous and scattered to form lobby groups and dedicate substantial sums toward it. So what is left for us to perform this absolutely essential duty of democracy i.e. of expressing our opinion? Simple, we protest. Thus protests are a legitimate part of democracy and the argument that it contributes to illegally exert pressure on the government is hollow.

But unlike the corporate lobbyists, what is the treatment met out to this ‘public lobbying’? Like in the British Raj, our current rulers resort to police violence to break the protests. They shut down metro stations and close down the roads. Not a single elected representative has cared to even send somebody meet the protestors. Gone are the days when politicians were supposed to be sensitive to the public opinion, the now home minister feels that he is the high mighty and how can he go and meet the mango people.

Why, then, this difference in treatment to lobbying and public protests when both are essentially performing the same thing? Similarly whats wrong if those who are protesting this time belong to the middle class? Whats wrong if they are educated and came out hearing their own voices for a change? Whats wrong if the issue here is neither a religious one, nor a caste based one and hence out of bounds for most of our politicians? If anything, isn’t this a welcome sign of maturity arriving in our democracy?

Anyways, coming to “kya hoga in sab se”… Maybe not today… Not tomorrow. Rapes may continue to happen. In this case the poor investigation and legal structure which contributes to abysmally low conviction rates and hence more rapes may remain unchanged. The government may this time again take the easy steps while avoiding the tough one which really matter to wriggle out of the situation. But maybe all this is not in vain. Maybe after the hundredth protest things meaningfully change. Maybe in the times of our kids… But still the importance of the first step taken by us remains. We are taking our democracy in the right direction… Kuch to hoga is se..

Rape of a Woman

The nation is shocked… and outraged. Rightly so. The condition of the victim is deteriorating and my heart goes out to her and so my prayers. Large scale protests have rocked the capital and it seems finally the insensitive administration would be forced into action – action much bigger than a mere knee jerk reaction of catching the culprits in this case and announcing a relief grant for the victim. Things may finally become better… better in general for the women in the country. As we stand here on this perhaps a historic juncture, let us take a moment to sanely reflect upon what can be done to reduce rape.

Suggestions have flown in in plenty. One set recommends a stronger punishment ranging from death penalty to castration to life imprisonment (current punishment is 7 years rigorous imprisonment). Another set suggests improving the ‘moral’ fabric of the society by preaching against ‘lust’ in our school books or marrying men early.

But to proceed with prescribing a solution we will have to examine why rape happens. We will have to look into the mind of the rapist when he is about to commit it. Not all rapes are alike. The most common ones are those committed by a relative, friend, family member or neighbor. Then another type is those committed by strangers where our case in question would fall. Finally another kind is the rape of lower caste (particularly dalit) women committed by higher caste men.

Although the motives and circumstances behind each are different but perhaps there are two points common to all. The first is the lack of fear in the mind of the rapist that he may get caught later and be made to serve the entire sentence. This is hardly surprising given the largely poor state of law and order in the country. Even in Delhi itself, there were 654 rape cases reported last year and there was only 1 conviction! (Source: Reply by the minister in the parliament recently). If the accused happens to belong to the influential strata of the society, forget about him being caught at all. The entire machinery will work to shield him and instead further victimize the victim. After all, we all remember only too well… no one killed Jessica. And in Pipli in Odisha, ultimately the victim and her father had to commit suicide as the police took no action against the accused who happened to be the son of an MLA. In Punjab the additional sub inspector was shot openly by a politician affiliated to the ruling party in the state as he tried to defend his daughter from some molesters.

Anyways, the point to note here is that the would be rapists are often just not scared of being made to serve out the entire 7 year sentence. They think they won’t be caught or even if they are caught, they would be acquitted. If somehow we can create this fear in their mind that they would definitely be caught and convicted soon for the 7 year imprisonment, it would act as a credible deterrent. After all 7 years is no mean punishment. Changing it to death penalty, life imprisonment or chemical castration (where only the male hormone is suppressed using drugs and no part of the body is actually cut off or made dysfunctional) would be meaningless if we are unable to create this fear of conviction in their mind. Thus the crux of the problem is the conviction rate and not the harshness (or leniency) of the punishment. Just think about it… if only 1 out of 654 rape cases actually see the conviction, how much of a deterrence a punishment – which can be administered only after conviction – can have. Think about it – most rapes are committed during wars or in situations where law and order ceases to exist and one know one would never be held accountable for his actions. Now why are convictions so low (and lengthy)? Lack of forensics is a major reason. Police apathy is another (specially if the accused belongs to the influential strata of the society). Slow courts are another reason. So perhaps today what we need are more forensic labs and special courts in each district dedicated to hear rape cases. The problem of accused wielding influence still remains but then it is a difficult one to crack.

The second common reason behind rapes is that women are seen in our society as feeble, meek, unable to cause any harm. Such tendencies are often stronger in a rapist’s mind and he thinks he can thus easily exploit her. Just think for a moment… who can dare to rape Priyanka Gandhi even if she has no security cover around her. There is a dog generally sitting outside my house. Sometimes when I go out and he is sitting in front of the gate, I merely shoo him away. Why? Because I know he cannot harm me. But had a tiger been sitting outside my house I would never dare to even think of stepping out :-P Why in India we only hear of men raping women and not the other way round? Well the point is, the male dominant character of our society has got a lot to do with the rapes. This needs to change and surprisingly I haven’t seen anybody even talking about it.

Finally a note on ‘lust’ factor. There is a problem however. Lust is functional. It is natural. Just imagine if men cease to have lust for women and women cease to have lust for men what will happen to the society. Lust accounts for the sexual attraction (towards the opposite sex generally) and this is how a generation reproduces. Moreover there is no evidence to suggest that lust is a dominating cause behind rapes. Everybody lusts. I do… Most women also lust for men. But neither I nor most women rape. A rape is mostly not an act of sexual expression. It is one where the dominant feelings are that of humiliation, power, domination. Sex is but a mere medium. If suppose God had somehow created human beings such that sex was not possible, then too a rapist would have found alternate means of humiliating, dominating, expressing our power over the other. So reprinting our school books may not be such a good idea after all.

This may be a turning point for the safety of women in our society. I merely hope that we focus on things which matter. Lets have some sanity please before we act.

Our Chakravyuh

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Disclaimer

  1. The views mentioned here do not necessarily represent those of the author. This exercise is just to present a case.
  2. The author has little expertise on the issue discussed here. He has never visited a naxalite area nor does he ever intend to.

You are right – this is inspired from the movie “Chakravyuh”. Naxalism or Left Wing Extremism remains an issue most of us remain familiarly unfamiliar with. The movie raises the issue nicely and brings out its many faces – perhaps better than any other movie in my generation.

But you are wrong – this is not any review of the movie. The idea here is to derive from the movie the various insights it offers and to dwell upon the real life questions which naxalism poses.

First and foremost, what is naxalism? Is it a mere ‘law and order’ problem? Or is it the much more dangerous but equally senseless terrorism? Or perhaps a sinister attempt by some foreign nations to destabilize our country? Is it just a business setup by the naxalites to extract money? And are the naxalites simply some miscreants who are misguiding and exploiting the ‘ignorant and illiterate’ tribals to their own end? Your answer to this question will invariably depend upon who do you think is ‘right’ here and to what extent.

But keeping biases apart lets consider some basic facts. This movement has been raging on in its present form since at least 45 years. This movement has had to face the armed might of the state continuously since almost its beginning. This movement has only spread since then. And this movement is the strongest in some of the most backward tribal areas of the republic. What these facts tell me simply is that this movement has got something right about it. To face the armed might of the state and yet to grow like this means the movement is popular. And 45 years is a long time over which nobody, however ignorant and illiterate, can be fooled. It means this cannot simply be dismissed as a ‘law and order’ problem or ‘a foreign hand’. Of course in a movement as large and as long as this, such elements are bound to creep in. But in its core, deep down, these facts tell me that there are genuine problems of the tribals and this movement genuinely represents them.

So this brings us to our next question – what are these grievances? Simple enough, isn’t it? Ask any MBA student – widespread poverty, illiteracy, hunger, ignorance, disease. And to address them we need to usher in ‘development’ in the area. This development means building roads, schools, hospitals and providing employment opportunities. So why haven’t we been able to address such issues so far? Because – (a) These naxalites don’t let us build there for they are afraid of losing their hold over the tribals, and (b) India is a poor country and lacks resources.

None of the above is false. There is indeed widespread poverty, illiteracy, hunger, ignorance and disease in the tribal areas and these form for genuine grievances. But history tells us that people put their lives at stake and revolt not when they have something to gain by revolting but when they have something to lose by the maintenance of the status quo. And the only thing which these tribals possess is their way of life. And in this way of life, their land on which they live and depend upon for livelihoods is an integral part. Its only when this land is threatened that the tribals will rise in revolt.

While schools, hospitals and employment opportunities sound nice and are welcome, the reality is that in the model of development we follow, these often come with a displacement of the tribals from their native lands. And this is where the problem starts. First of all our rehabilitation and resettlement policy is sh*t. In the name of compensation for the lost land we pay literally peanuts. It is ironical that while this law (of paying peanuts in compensation) was brought about in the name of social justice (land reforms), today this has become the single biggest weapon in exploiting the oppressed tribals. Secondly, in many cases even these weak provisions are not applied. Tribals are simply evicted by a nexus of the government and industrialists and purely by brute force. This government – industrialist nexus is so strong even at the topmost level that when there were attempts to empower the land owners in the new Land Acquisition Bill by paying them a compensation of 4 times the official land rate (which itself is 1/10th or 1/20th of the market rate in most cases) the industry raised a big cry and the government had to dilute the provisions of the Bill.

In the mines so built, of course some tribals will get jobs and if the mine owner keeps his promise, a school and a hospital would be built. But such gains are a mere fraction of the loss of land which they have to endure. And of course a smaller percentage still of the profits of the mine owner. Mines and dams are capital intensive activities – just how many workers are employed in them? And how much are the unskilled workers paid out of the mine owner’s profits? And it is no secret that over 99% of the coal mined or 99% of the electricity generated is never utilized in the same area. It is just used for the consumption of rest of us – the ‘citizens’ of the republic.

Finally who exactly are we to decide the course of development of these tribals? We are the majority… so what? The minority rights have to be protected from the tyranny of the majority for building a just society. After all don’t we think that the minority Jews also had some rights under the majority Nazi Germany? Or that the minority Tamilians have a right to life in a majority Sinhalese nation? Shouldn’t the tribals decide for themselves what course of development do they want? For a change, can we just let them live?

But how can they decide – they are too ignorant. Left to themselves they will never choose a developmental path and may remain forever in ignorance. “Like school kids… they need a master…” Aah… doesn’t that begin to sound now like the British paternalism which made for the moral foundation of the Raj?

And if we argue that we need those resources not for them but for us, then haven’t we removed even the mask of ‘development for them’ here? Isn’t this naked colonialism?

So does this mean that we should not utilize the tribal resources at all? If that be the case, what will happen to the number called ‘growth’? What will happen to the rest of us – the citizens? Well imagine if some alien species wants to destroy Earth tomorrow to make way for an interstellar expressway1? Isn’t it development? Would we support it? Of course not… just because we happen to be on the other side of the table this time. We would argue that anything which happens to the Earth should be done with the consent of the Earthlings. Shouldn’t we apply the same concept when it comes to the ‘development’ of the tribal areas? Shouldn’t we create an enabling environment for the development of strong self governing institutions in tribal areas and then require their free and fair consent before doing anything which affects them in a significant way? That I believe would be the way out of this Chakravyuh.

 

1Borrowed from “A Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.