The coming Presidential election is marked by political brinkmanship. With the electronic media covering intra-party and intra-coalition splits on minute-by-minute basis , locating the ‘consensus’ candidate by all political parties, was impossible. Pranab Mukherjee, the “Sankat Mochak” of the Congress emerged as its nominee. Sonia Gandhi is ecstatic as Rahul Baba’s elevation as PM after 2014 general elections, would be hurdle-free. Intensity of politicking reportedly marked by alleged secret deals like gifting Cabinet berths, slowing down investigations in DA cases against corrupt politicians has exposed the quid pro quo culture of Indian polity. Appearance of SP and its bête noire BSP on the same page alongside the Congress re-inforces the belief that “Ends are more important than the Means”. This paradigm shift in ethos spells disaster for the country. Let the eggheads unite.

The moot point is : Could the Opinion Makers including intellectuals, social activists , teachers, Editors, Journalists, retired judges and civil servants ,et el remain as mute witnesses ? In the face of present turbulence in Indian polity, could they not spread awareness among members of Electoral College about the ideal of “ voting as per dictates of conscience”. I am baffled by the reticence of Indian Media.

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After conducting 399 hearings, examining 100 witnesses ,seeking 50 extensions and 17 years of labour pain ,the baby is born ,at last , albeit at such a stupendous cost of Rs 9 crores! The timing of release of Liberhan Commission's report reinforces the public suspicion that this was a Congress's ploy to distract peoples' attention and disturb communal harmony. Both the Congress and the BJP were co-sinners in mosque demolition ! They have a single point agenda: How to disturb the communal harmony? In my humble view, both the Congress and the BJP were jointly responsible for the catastrophy on Dec,6,1992. Could Justice Liberhan explain as to how did he take 17 long years to submit his report? He has attributed the delay to the "non-cooperative attitude" of the witnesses. This argument is absolutely fallacious . Freebies like HRA (or rent-free residential accommodation),TA, DA, emoluments , chauffeur-driven car, and several other facilities as admissible to a Supreme Court Judge, must have been available to him. These are magnets, that could attract any one! Why did he not submit his findings within three months ie by March,16,1993. Why did he accept the assignment of the Inquiry Commission,if he was not sure of completing the job within the prescribed period? Further, in the interest of transparency, it would be appropriate to ascertain whether the staggering expenditure of Rs 9 crores on the Commission during the past 17 years, was incurred as per rules, particularly the payments ,if any, made to the lawyers or any other agencies engaged by the Commission. The C&AG may take up the study.It is never too late.

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The CBI as a highly professional and premier investigating agency of the country is held in high esteem by the Supreme Court, the High Courts, the Parliament and above all the public. It investigates major crimes in the country having inter...-state and international ramifications. It enjoys high credibility even among the CMs of Opposition –ruled States. Against this background, Sheila Dikshit's recent utterances have been most reprehensible, not expected of the CM of NCT Delhi. Dikshit’s open appeal and formal leters to PM and HM for insulating former Chairperson NDMC from CBI investigation in CWG -related works is unjust and unfair. This amounts to directly influencing the course of investigations by the CBI. This criminal misconduct is punishable under the Law of the land. Equality before the law is the key principle of the indian legal system. The rich and the powerful are as subject to the law as are the weak and the vulnerable. Dr Manmohan Singh, the Mauni Baba did not even reprimand Sheila Dikshit. Let us remind Delhi’s CM:‘Be ye ever so high, the law is always above you’

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Based on thirty five years of my experience in GOI, I have always felt cheated by the MOF's austerity drive carried out year after year. Action of Ministers and bureaucrats never fits into the government's sham focus on austerity. Take the case of our peripatetic Ministers, MPs and bureaucrats visiting abroad at the cost of taxpayers money. The expenses run into thousands of crores of INR. The Planning Commission has no remorse about spending Rs 35 lakhs for renovating two toilets in Yojana Bhavan.The foreign tours undertaken by the President of India and her kins and the Deputy Chairperson Planning Commission have already attracted adverse media publicity. Tours within and outside, are manipulated . With modern IT facilities including video conferencing, more than 70 percent government tours could be straightaway cancelled. Another area of government insensitivity and hypocrisy is the discretionary power given to ministries for making unfettered appointment of "Consultants". This is a scam where officers are rewarded , post retirement, for their loyalties. The consultants are taking over the regular functions with access to sensitive info and without any accountability. What happens to Pranab Da's commitment made in 2009 for restoring black money to the country. According to Director CBI ,the black money stashed abroad ,is estimated to be of the order of Rs 25 lakh crores. India will be able to feed its millions of hungry, malnourished people. At present, the obese Indian Government is doling out low calorie diet to the undefined BPL category. This is a fraud committed on Aam aadmi.

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The PMO has hijacked the mandated functions of the MEA leaving its career diplomats marginalized and de-motivated. It does not auger well for the IFS fraternity. One wonders how was an IFS officer promoted as Foreign Secretary after superseding several officers and then reappointed as National Security Advisor (on retirement) despite the drafting fiasco at Sharm-el-Sheikh. The appointment of Brajesh Mishra (1952 vintage of IFS)as the NSA in 1998 did not raise the eye brow in the fraternity. There were, however, muted reactions to the appointment of an IPS officer and then an IFS officer of a junior batch as the NSA. Their strength was their perceived proximity to the PM. The level of frustration is writ large on the faces of MEA’s mandarins The “Personality factor” counts a lot in relation between the PMO and MEA. Why was Pranab Mukherjee not made India’s foreign minister, one wonders ? That would have diluted PMO’s importance. The suave S M Krishna, however, does not mind playing a second fiddle to the PMO. Unfortunately, he cannot open his mouth without putting his foot into it. The grapevine has it that the PMO does not keep the MEA in the loop on important foreign policy matters.

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The Indian bureaucracy is unstable due to its skewed structure: top heavy, bulging middle and effete knees. The top echelon is the mastermind. Ensconced in ivory tower, It has empowered itself by its marriage of convenience (Call it “arranged marriage”. if you will) to political bosses. Serial scams could not have taken place without the covert support of the Steel frame of bureaucracy. Consider the latest GOI orders that exclude top bureaucrats (Secretaries, Addl Secretaries et al ) from CVC’s purview in corruption matters. About 1300 top GOI officers, CMDs, Functional Directors of PSUs , public sector Financial and Banking institutions, are now out of bounds of the CVC by a single masterstroke. Complaints against this “privileged monarchy” would now be handled by a Committee of four top Officers. With preliminary investigations in the hands of Secretary (Coordination) in Cab Sectt, genuine complaints getting trashed on grounds of being “frivolous, baseless and motivated”. About 90 % of CVOs in PSUs and Banks are IAS officers whose annual performances are assessed by respective CEOs on quid pro quo basis. Implications would be disastrous. The decision to transfer CVC’s powers to a panel of babus would benefit extra-Constitutional authorities, Political parties, Ministers , Secretaries, CMDs, Functional Directors of central PSUs , financial and banking institutions . Freebies to ministerial mandarins would grow exponentially. It is now clear why are the IAS generalists (lacking domain knowledge) lining up for appointment as CEOs of PSUs, banking & financial institutions, as willing replacements to professionals? Strangely, the draconian move passed off innocuously without catching Media’s attention. One wonders what was the crying need to dilute the importance of a statutory body like the CVC, when the scope and coverage of the Lokpal Bill is under active consideration of the Parliamentary Committee. Is it a subtle move to save top officers involved in CWG, 2G and the Coal scams? One could file the RTI application with DOP&T to access relevant notings and analyse the ulterior motives of the temporary Executive . Perhaps, K M Chandrasekhar, former Cabinet Secretary would know better !

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China betrays a typical house wife mentality. It will be naive to take it at face value in the context of serious differences confronting the two countries. While China needs to be upfront, which it cannot , India must remain alert 24x7, if the experiences in the past are any guide. The competition between India and China is not merely on economic and military issues.It is for establishing hegemony in the South-Asian region. The latest verbal onslaught confirms China’s intellectual and diplomatic bankruptcy. Its advisory to India against massing troops along the Sino-India border, looks to be downright childish for a sovereign country. Let China show mirror to itself and see its deployment of PLA at the border. It is making inroads into Nepal and Pakistan, trying to encircle India by a "String of Pearls"? What is China’s rationale in staking claim over Arunachal Pradesh,Laddhak and parts of North-eastern India ? Making frequent incursions into Laddhak and painting the red chinese dragons on indian rocks are provocative actions. And, now, it is asserting its sovereignty over the South-China sea as part of its expansionist policy. India abandoned the oil drilling project ostensibly due to technical grounds. Internal story is otherwise. Let China see the ground reality before embarking on any mis-adventure against India.Let it improve its human rights record first before addressing its concerns against the largest democracy of the World. Let it not gloat over India’s reverses in 1962.No more territorial aggrandizement. Things are much different now.For its own security, let China learn to shut up and put up.

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Absence of intra-party democracy in the Congress has resulted in political arrogance. Its uni-centric approach has led to concentration of power . The steel frame of bureaucracy has failed to maintain its political neutrality. A coterie of pliable officers is infamous for manipulating their return to Central government on deputation without completing the mandatory cooling off period. They manage to get empanelled against rules with plum postings. Post retirement, some bureaucrats get rewards for their political loyalty. They get placements as Governors, Members of CECs, CICs UPSC, Regulatory authorities, Commissions, independent directors of PSUs and several sinecures. The politicians extract their pound of flesh. There is the case of an officer appointed as Member CAT, despite being reprimanded by the same tribunal while in service for some wrongdoing. Square pegs in round holes ! So much for misuse of discretionary power by political masters despite NAC’s recommendation to the contrary. Why this double standard? The vicious circle of “give and take”, “pick and choose” and the “specific suitability” clause are arbitrary, discretionary and subjective? Why does the Cabinet Sectt not prescribe specific guidelines for curbing misuse of discretionary power and bring about transparency in empanelment and postings? For how long, will the bureaucrats promote their self interests by playing into the hands of politicians?

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Controversy is chasing Retired Justice Katju.His sermons to the Fourth estate do not seem to end. Deprecating the prevailing self-regulatory mechanism , he wants the electronic media, to be accountable to the PCI . Former CJI J S Varma says: "irresponsible talk is best ignored.". Ambika Soni and Katju ji are on the same page. She sermonizes the Media to sensitise itself. A perfect Quid pro quo deal,it is to implement the Congress's mandate. Katju ji tries to justify his viewpoint by stating that since the lawyers are accountable to Bar Council and Judges could be impeached by the Parliament, the electronic Media must be accountable to the PCI or the Lokpal. This is specious and misleading. The menace of 'Paid Journalism'is certainly a stigma on the Fourth estate.But, why paint the entire Media as corrupt? Why not file defammation suits in courts against the Media. Making the Press subservient to the Executive is liable to be misused and manipulated by the Executive. This will be worse than 'Paid Journalism'. Let us not forget the contribution made by the print and electronic media in exposing successive scams. Demand for Media accountability is anathema to Freedom of Speech flowing from the Right to Life, enshrined in the Constitution of India.

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The comparison between two former Directors of CBI D P Kohli ( 1963-68) and D Sen (1971-77) is not apt. One must appreciate the opposite scenarios in which the two functioned. Consider the scenarios. While Kohli as the founder Director of CBI in 1963 functioned in a comparatively non controversial environment under two successive premiers: J L Nehru and L B Shastri, there was no political interference during those halcyon days of Indian bureaucracy. The paradigm shift in work ethos took place when Indira Gandhi took over the reins in 1969. The corruption was re-defined. The CBI's erosion of its credibility reached its zenith during the national emergency declared by Madam Gandhi (1975-77). The CBI became politicised. The Shah Commission of Inquiry indicted the CBI for allowing itself to be misused as an instrument of harassment of innocent people by Indira Gandhi and all- powerful Sanjay Gandhi assisted by 'chaatukaars'. All of them are now occupying high positions in the GoI and the Congress party by switching their loyalties. Both acted like bulldozers while seeking compliance of their orders . How could D Sen , the then Director(CBI) , an officer of great professional competence who inspired fear and awe ,be expected to oppose the dictators during the national emergency when the entire clan of high profile IAS officers, as also observed by the Shah Commission, "worked as agents of GOI and zealously collaborated with the authoritarian regime" ? This is how the politicization of CBI started. The IAS officers chose to prostrate when asked to bow before Indira-Sanjay duo. How did the CBI become a convenient tool in the hands of present day politicians to armtwist the bureaucrats and politicians , is anybody’s guess

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About A.K.Saxena

A K SAXENA, an Indian national, is a retired civil servant from Government of India He is also a freelance journalist with several published investigative articles and columns in various fields to his credit. His writings are a reflection of his interest in writing on divergent themes and making the topics relevant to a wider audience. A post graduate in Chemistry from University of Delhi,he could not sustain his interest in pursuing research and instead chose to enter the government service through the IAS etc exam held by the UPSC. “KALASAVYA” that brought out several publications besides organizing cultural shows.


You can contact me at

aksaxena1947@gmail.com

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