Sunday, October 2, 2016
FOUJI COMMUNITY - CHANGE OF MINDSET NEEDED (SHED EGO AND RANK STATUS?) : LEARNING FROM THE IAS
Armed Forces personnel blame the IAS fraternity for all the ills that plague our country. In the last couple of years, the criticism of the so called ‘babus’ has become even more strident. (Incidentally, the term ‘babu’ was once used as a term of respect, in Bengal, Bihar and the United Provinces during British rule. The names of Dr Rajendra Prasad and Jagjivan Ram were usually prefixed with ‘Babu’). Be that as it may, there are a few things that men in uniform can learn from the IAS fraternity – camaraderie and esprit de corps.
Recently, when the former coal secretary HC Gupta was booked by the CBI in a case of corruption, the entire IAS fraternity rose in his defence. Instead of watching from the sidelines, they sought legal opinion on how to intervene in the matter. They also used their contacts with political parties to seek help for their colleague. The BJP national secretary RP Singh has promised to extend all help, including financial support, to Gupta. He has asked the Minister of State for Personnel to “revisit the case”. Members of the IAS Association also met Dr. Jitendra Singh, MOS in the PMO. He has assured them that the laws will be suitably amended to protect IAS officers from harassment. The matter was even discussed in Parliament, and laws will soon be framed to protect ‘honest’ officers from prosecution. Of course, there is already a provision in the Prevention of Corruption Act for prior sanction before government servants can be prosecuted. Needless to say, such sanction is rarely given by the Government (read ‘babus’) for prosecuting one of their own.
Compare this with what happens when an Armed Forces officer is in trouble. In 1988, a naval officer, Captain BK Subbarao, who had voluntarily retired a year earlier, faced a similar predicament. A brilliant scientist, he had worked in BARC for many years and developed a design for the propulsion plant of a nuclear submarine. He was arrested at Bombay airport shortly before he could board a flight to USA, where he was to make a presentation. He was charged under the Official Secrets Act and the Atomic Energy Act and accused of trying to smuggle classified documents including atomic secrets. In fact, what he was carrying was a copy of his thesis for which he had been awarded a PhD by IIT Bombay in 1985. It took him five years to prove that he was innocent, of which 20 months were spent in jail. During this time, his case was heard by three Magistrates, five Sessions judges, 21 High Court judges and 13 Supreme Court judges. In the meantime, Subbarao had spent his time in jail studying law and appeared in-person in all the courts.
The case against him had been foisted by corrupt officers in BARC, after Subbarao had found fault with three of their successive designs for the propulsion plant for an atomic submarine. This led to funds being cut off for the projects, causing heartburn in the BARC hierarchy. The last straw was the proposal cleared by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to appoint him the Technical Head of the nuclear submarine project. This caused alarm in BARC and before it could come about, his enemies aborted the proposal. BARC and the Department of Atomic Energy connived with the Maharashtra Government to implicate Subbarao in a false case to prevent his re-induction into the project. There was also a well orchestrated media campaign, branding him as a spy who was caught trying to sell atomic secrets to foreign powers. Though he was finally acquitted, he and his family underwent immense pressure and emotional trauma. It was a long and arduous battle that he fought and won alone. He did not get any support from any of his erstwhile colleagues or his parent service.
The case of Maj Gen VK Singh (yes, that’s me) is similar. In June 2007, his book India’s External Intelligence–Secrets of the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) was published by Manas Publications. It brings to light the rampant corruption in RAW, where he served for about three and a half years before his retirement. Almost three months after the publication of the book, the CBI raided his house and took away his computer, passport and diaries, informing him that they had registered an FIR under the Official Secrets Act based on a complaint from RAW that he had revealed ‘secrets’ in the book that endanger the security and sovereignty of India. Though he was not arrested, he applied for and was granted bail after the CBI filed a charge sheet in the court of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. The case is pending and the charges have still not been framed, even though nine years have elapsed.
Soon after the commencement of the case, Maj Gen VK Singh made a formal complaint to the CVC and the CBI, pointing out instances of corruption in the organization, with the names of the officers involved mentioned in the book. Meanwhile, a delegation of the Whistle Blowers Forum comprising Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Admiral Tahiliani met the CVC and asked him to get the cases investigated. The CVC (an ex-bureaucrat) as well as the CBI, did nothing. However, Prashant Bhushan filed a petition in the High Court to quash the FIR and charge sheet filed by the CBI. This case is also pending with no end in sight.
The case received extensive media coverage after it was filed, with eminent people from almost every section of society decrying the unfair treatment meted out to Maj Gen VK Singh. Almost everyone feels that he should be treated as a whistleblower and the case against him dropped. It is clear that like BK Subbarao, he is being targeted by corrupt officers in RAW, whose misdeeds have been exposed in the book. Though he has received support from politicians, lawyers, bureaucrats and media persons, hardly anyone from the Army has come out openly in his support, except for a few such as Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi. In contrast, the IAS fraternity immediately jumped to the aid of Gupta, even though he has been accused of corruption. However, none of our own ex servicemen’s organizations have thought it fit to assist one of their own like Capt BK Subbarao or Maj Gen VK Singh. Don’t we need to learn something from the IAS?
Maj Gen VK Singh, Veteran,
Tel No 9873494521
(SOURCE- VIA GP E-MAIL)