It had to happen sooner or later. The semi-insurgency conditions, that were whipped up in many parts of the country just before and after the CAA was enacted, threw up an event that could well be seen as the logical culmination of the process. One of the fringe members of the rabble, in the second rung of the IIC – Lutyens Zone – Khan Market-lot, launched a verbal tirade and assault on the Indian armed forces.
…Any attempt to equate the Indian Armed forces with their Pakistani counterparts is so risible and outlandish that it will have a very short shelf-life.
This is not the place or the forum to rebut the fellow’s obscenity, because that would amount to giving the carbuncle the oxygen and importance it craves. And it is certainly not this writer’s intention to do that. Any attempt to equate the Indian Armed forces with their Pakistani counterparts is so risible and outlandish that it will have a very short shelf-life. However, this is as good an opportunity as any to dissect the operations of the various forces that are testing the country’s overall defence mechanisms (not just the military ones) so systematically.
For quite some time, in the good company of my distinguished peer group, I have been studying our country’s and society’s fault-lines that render us so vulnerable to repeated assaults on our body politic. In a recent essay in this publication, I briefly tackled this issue in the context of the anti-CAA tsunami that had been unleashed on our shores.
Here, I would like to briefly list the fissures in the Indian socio-political structure that constantly weaken and destabilise our basic defence mechanisms. More importantly, they permit and allow foreign institutions and countries to use them for their purposes. The following are our fault-lines, and they are listed not necessarily in any order of priority or importance: the bureaucracy, the judiciary ,the political framework and some political forces within this structure, academia, media and a religious philosophy that is a virtual stronghold of agitprop and violent dissension.
Many readers in this forum are aware of the broad contours of the subject area. Even then, it is worthwhile to pinpoint exactly how each of the fault-lines impede our national cohesion. In the case of the bureaucracy, the debate has been extensive. Numerous studies, commissions and learned bodies have studied how our civil services have constantly used their constitutional immunity and niche to basically enrich themselves and increase their share in the national pie, and at the same time thwart India’s journey to greatness and a rightful position among the leading nations in the world.
Analysts both within the country and overseas have marveled how the desi babus have managed to extract from the nation and its government a mechanism as bizarre, distorted and debased as the Non-Functional Upgradation (NFU). This was a bonanza bestowed on the bureaucrats by the Manmohan Singh’s UPA regime through the 6th Pay Commission. Briefly speaking, this monumental aberration works as follows: whenever an IAS officer gets empanelled at a particular appointment at the Centre, all other Group-A service officers are also upgraded to the same level after a period of two years from the date of empanelment, on a non-functional basis, irrespective of whether they are actually promoted or not.
Basically, the country’s higher judiciary has conferred almost total immunity on themselves. There is no other explanation for this flagrant hijacking of all the provisions of or country’s Constitution.
Initially, a cherry meant only for the IAS, it was later extended to the other All-India Services (like the IPS, Forest Service) and the Central Armed Police Forces like the BSF, CRPF et al. Not unsurprisingly, the Armed Forces were denied this facility and the Supreme Court, which is hearing the matter, has not yet decided on this issue. In the apex court, the civilian officials in the Ministry of Defence have resolutely opposed NFU for the Armed Forces, while having no compunctions about their own service enjoying this bonanza.
However, the NFU is a mere bagatelle in this discourse. The crucial issue in this discussion is how the Indian babus have enjoyed a quasi-immune legal position from the days of our colonial masters by virtue of a simple loophole or ruse, as some people would say more frankly. This is Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code which extends almost complete immunity to babus. Basically, it provides that a Judge or Magistrate or a public servant is not removable from his office except by or with the sanction of the Government, if he is accused of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting or purporting to act (emphasis added) in the discharge of his official duty. No Court can take cognizance of such offence except with the previous sanction of the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be.
Admittedly, the courts have recently provided some clarifications about what constitutes “discharge of official duty”, but there is no definitive or final interpretation of this complex issue and a lot of ambiguity remains. The mischief, of course, lies with the words “or purporting to act” in the discharge of official duty, as mentioned in the earlier quotation. A simple removal of these four words will bring about a sea change in the country’s administrative system.
We now come to the judiciary, specially the higher judiciary, which comprises the Supreme Court and the High courts. In a landmark judgement (K. Veeraswami vs Union of India (1991) 3 SCC 655), India’s apex court passed the following order:
“In order to adequately protect a Judge from frivolous prosecution and unnecessary harassment the President will consult the Chief Justice of India who will consider all the materials placed before him and tender his advice to the President for giving sanction to launch prosecution or for filing an FIR against the Judge concerned after being satisfied in the matter. The President shall act in accordance with advice given by the Chief Justice of India. If the Chief Justice is of the opinion that it is not a fit case for grant of sanction for prosecution of the Judge concerned, the President shall not accord sanction to prosecute the Judge.”
Most citizens, including readers of this portal, will undergo a culture shock when they realise the full implications of this judgement. Basically, the country’s higher judiciary has conferred almost total immunity on themselves. There is no other explanation for this flagrant hijacking of all the provisions of or country’s Constitution.
Admittedly, the legislators are running second to the judiciary in terms of granting immunity to themselves, but they are doing quite well on the financial front.
We now come to the politicians, who comprise another layer of “untouchables” in our ancient land. This bunch, too, has cornered a vast swathe of privileges and entitlements that the rest of the poor citizens have to pay for. Admittedly, the legislators are running second to the judiciary in terms of granting immunity to themselves, but they are doing quite well on the financial front.
The Indian academics and students may not be as brazen as their other rivals in the loot and scoot race, but they are not doing badly at all. The jholawallah intellectuals in a number of higher academic institutions, starting of course with JNU, Aligarh, Jamia Milia and the like have carved exclusive zones of influence and privileges for themselves. They have loyalties to forces and interests that have nothing to do with the motherland or its ancient patrimony and civilisation. In fact, the foreign overlords of the desi culture-vultures are viscerally opposed to our Indic heritage.
The media, specially the English print and electronic segment, takes the cake in being an autonomous fiefdom. And their vicarious subterfuge is possibly without peer. Despite clear legislative prohibition of foreign control of Indian print organisations, many of them have devised careful strategies of involving foreign media houses in their business and operations. Readers of this portal will easily identify these publications. In the case of electronic media, the oldest private Indian channel has devised such elaborate and convoluted strategies in this area, that experienced analysts are completely at sea when they attempt to unravel the intricacies of its strategies.
Now I must come to a brief outline of the academic study of societies like ours that are basically oligarchies. Our democratic facade is just that and nothing more. Without resorting to minute and pedagogic details, let me confine myself to a lay person’s approach. The theoretical studies on this subject were done by European scholars like Pareto, Mosca and Michels. The first doctrine is that our oligarchy (or “governing elite”) does not really permit its replacement by those whose interests it claims to represent. Secondly, it is not adequately diffused.
…when it faced a genuine challenge and threat from new ideologies and forces, these groups reacted vehemently. After all, their very existence and survival are at stake
For more than seventy years since 1947, we have had a governance structure of oligarchs and elites that only looked after their own group interests. Parliamentary democracy was only a fig leaf for this rapacious bunch. Finally, when it faced a genuine challenge and threat from new ideologies and forces (as we saw in our country in May 2014 and 2019), these groups reacted vehemently. After all, their very existence and survival are at stake
If we understand this basic process, as described above, we will have an idea why the recent events have taken place. It is not possible that, by a remarkable coincidence, we could have had the type of outbursts throughout a huge country like ours, that we witnessed in the last month. There is one caveat that we must consider now, dispassionately and objectively. This is the presence in India of political Islam (as Richard Dawkins terms it) that is equally rattled by the tidal wave that swept over our country from 2014. If anything, these last few years have been even more traumatic and cataclysmic for this camp than for the others. An entire mind-set has been challenged. We will leave it at that.
Now is the right stage for us to conclude. As Aristotle said famously, and this is so apposite in the context of Shaheen Bagh, Jamia and JNU, “Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not easy.”
From the Greeks, we move to the Romans, and I see a delicious irony here : “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.“(Cicero).
But, finally, I have to conclude with the thoughts of V.S. Naipaul, the great Indian savant (even though separated from the motherland for two generations):
“No civilisation was so little equipped to cope with the outside world; no country was so easily raided and plundered, and learned so little from its disasters.” (“India – A Wounded Civilisation”)