Saturday, August 14, 2010

WHISTLE-BLOWERS OF INDIA: TIME TO BLOW YOUR WHISTLES

B.RAMAN

( Written for the Independence Day issue of “India Abroad”, a weekly of the US published by Rediff.com )

As India celebrates its 63rd Independence Day, the focus will be on all the great things we have achieved.

Let us also highlight what we have not achieved. Our failure to force our political class to bring about a greater transparency in governance, administration and national security management should top the list. We, the citizens of India, have been kept in the dark by all political parties that had ruled the country since 1947 about one wrong-doing after another.We hardly know the truth about so many things that went wrong during our 63 years of freedom.

We do not know 48 years after the humiliating performance of the Indian Army at the hands of the Chinese Army as to why the Indian Army fared badly. Was it due to intelligence failure? Was it due to deficiencies in military command and control? Was it the result of poor political handling? An enquiry was held by the Government to determine what went wrong and why. The report of the committee of enquiry consisting of Lieutenant-General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P S Bhagat, the then Commandant of the Indian Military Academy, has not been shared with the public. It is alleged that the retired Lt.Gen, a distinguished Anglo-Indian officer who subsequently settled down abroad, retained a copy of his report which he was readily showing to foreign analysts and observers.Foreigners know the truth about the findings of the committee, but not we the citizens of India.

During the 1965 war with Pakistan, the advance of the Indian Army into the Lahore sector was stalled. The Army blamed the Indian intelligence for its lack-lustre performance in the Lahore sector despite the famous victory scored by our tanks over Pakistan's US-gifted Patton tanks in the Khemkaran sector. The Army alleged that the intelligence on the Ichogil Canal furnished by the Intelligence Bureau was found vague and unhelpful. An enquiry was ordered by an official of the Ministry of Home Affairs. What were the findings of the enquiry? We, the citizens of India, have not been told about it.

In 1966, we were totally taken by surprise by the revolt of the Mizo National Front headed by Laldenga. The IB was again blamed. An enquiry was held. It was alleged that the enquiry report brought out failings by the Congress leadership in Assam, which facilitated the MNF revolt. The report has remained suppressed for 44 years.

Between 1975 and 1977, the country passed through a dark period in its history when Indira Gandhi imposed a State of Emergency to counter a public agitation against her headed by Jayaprakash Narayan . The press was muzzled. Critics of the Government were jailed without evidence of criminal conduct against them. The Intelligence and investigative agencies were misused to spy on Indian citizens in India as well as abroad. We, the citizens of India, still do not know the entire truth of the Emergency. The guilty men and women of the Emergency managed to flourish for years thereafter despite their wrong-doings.

The Government of Morarji Desai, which came to power after the defeat of the Congress in the elections of 1977, appointed a high-power committee headed by L.P.Singh, who was Home Secretary in the 1960s, to enquire into allegations regarding the misuse of the intelligence and investigative agencies during the Emergency. Its report has remained hidden from the public.

It has been reported that attempts by some persons to seek access to the papers and files relating to the Emergency under the Right To Information Act have met a stonewall with the reply that the papers are not traceable.

In 1984, the country went through a colossal human tragedy in Bhopal due to the leakage of poisonous gas from the Union Carbide factory. Thousands of innocent civilians died immediately after the accident. Thousands more continue to die as a result of the after-effects of the gas. Twenty-six years after the tragedy,we, the citizens of this country, still do not know who are the guilty men and women of Bhopal. Who ordered the release on bail of Warren Andersen, the US-based Chairman of the Union Carbide Corporation, and helped him to leave the country and why? Was there a quid pro quo between the then Government headed by Rajiv Gandhi and the Ronald Reagan Administration? If so, what was it? An analyst had drawn attention to the fact that the son of a senior Muslim Congress leader, who was close to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, was then facing prosecution in the US under some criminal charges and frantic efforts were allegedly being made by the Congress and the Government to persuade the Reagan Adminisatration to drop the case against him and let him return to India.Before the visit of Rajiv Gandhi to Washington DC in June 1985, the case against him was dropped by the Reagan Administration and he was allowed to leave the US as mysteriously as Andersen was allowed to leave India without blemish. Was this the quid pro quo? No answers possible because no papers available. Important decisions involving the fate of thousands of victims of the tragedy were taken and the papers relating to them are supposedly untraceable. Take it or leave it. We the citizens of India have been left with no other option.

Between 1987 and 1989, the country passed through one of the greatest public scandals relating to the purchase of the Bofors guns by the Indian Army. The then Government misused the intelligence and investigative agencies to prevent the truth from coming out. As blatantly as the Richard Nixon Administration did in the US in the Wateregate scandal. The Nixon Administration could not ultimately succeed in its cover-up. Many heads rolled.Nixon was forced out of office in humiliation. In our country? Not all the relevant questions have found an answer. No heads have rolled.

One can go on citing many more such instances. That need not be necessary. Is there no way of breaking this stonewall which repeatedly seeks to prevent the citizens of this country from knowing the truth?

There is. Wikileaks has shown the way. It is time for an Indian version of Wikileaks. That is the crying need of the hour as India celebrates its 63rd Independence Day.

7 comments:

Jagdish Pant said...

Well said Raman!! Have the details of the proposed legislation been revealed? The twists of legal language used in GOI legislations leaves plenty scope for an unscrupulous leader to get away. It would be useful if the draft legislation is known as soon as it is placed on the table of the HOUSE. JC Pant.

http://www.theverdictindia.com said...

Respected Sir, Splendid analysis. Yes. I agree with you that this is time for an Indian version of Wikileaks. That is the only way to show our mother country the patriots are still alive!
Jai Hind.
MuraleeDharan Raghavan

Broadway said...

I agree, it's a noble call. Those in the intelligence agencies aware of the stonewalls should do the right thing. The legal route has been tried more than once. They should release the documents in mysterious ways as the wikileak documents. Even the ONLY real five years under a non congress govt(the bjp govt) has not proved productive for RTI purposes.

Where are the patriots in the intelligence agencies? Have they all been sold out to the govt babus and the politicians? What reasons should be used to justify their silence?

William said...

Good, interesting analysis, wrong conclusion. Why would you need an Indian version of Wikileaks? Just use Wikileaks, dear Indian friends. It's there already, all the hard work has been done. We in the West submit documents to Wikileaks. Indians can submit documents to it. Pakistanis can as well. Harder if you're in China; you'd need to be a clever hacker. Here's to India becoming the world's most peaceful democracy as well as the world's largest and most spiritually vibrant.

Sarang said...

ACCOUNTABILITY is just as important as knowing the truth. (ofcourse you need to know the whole truth to know who is really accountable)

We already know something went wrong in 1962...in 1965, in Bhopal, before Kargil, in Sharm-el-Shaikh etc etc. We already know tens of thousands of crores were eaten up during the CWG. But where is the accountability??? Where is the public anger??? We need to device proper ways of communicating our anger...to make the government act against the guilty. Do we come out in the streets and protest? That leads to loss of life, property and leads to anarchy. Then what? Do we use Gandhiji's non-violent satyagrahas? They were a powerful tool...We need to plan and act!

Our vote is precious...but it is of little value if the opposition is just as corrupt and twisted as the present government. That leads to loss of confidence in democracy. The youth need to enter into politics. We need an infusion of uprightness and aggressiveness in our policy making. A bout of young blood with honesty!!

Raman Sir, what stops retired armed forces peronnel from entering politics on a much bigger scale than presently? That may bring in some discipline, honesty, aggresiveness an moral standards to our polity...It is already a trend in the US which has ensured that its foreign policy has always been pro-active rather than timidly reactive (or even non-active) as that of India.

nri2008 said...

Dear Ramanji

You are absolutely right. But the requisite information has to come from Indian Government bureaucrats if they are honest enough to protect the Indian citizens. Any ideas how to to go about it?

Jut read today's article in "The Times of India" where the Indian military are unofficially attacking the Comptroller and Auditor General of India when obsolete equipment and malpractices of procurement arm of of Indian military is exposed-Corruoption at the level of top military and civilian bureaucracy! Any ideas to reform the system Ramanji from such traitors???

"Is CAG ‘leaking’ defence secrets?"
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Is-CAG-leaking-defence-secrets/articleshow/6316698.cms

Warm Regards

Ram

ravinder said...

Ramanji,

What will the whistle blower need to be able to blow the whistle...... Let see:
1) Honesty or else a grudge - plenty of that is available.
2) Public interest in seeing things getting better - that too is available.
3) Media that will run with the story - ah aint gonna happen. Media is a sold out to P-Sec. Much more corrupt then the politicians
4)A witness protection + a robust Source protection + Plea bargains + FBI like federally (not central CBI) controlled authority + Parliamentary oversight that is opened to the public too - Basically protection of the Chain of Evidence. Indian thought process has still not gotten to this point.

IMO the democracy will grow from the shell shocked one at present to something better in future. Thuk kar hi thakur banta hai.

Some wise man once said something to the effect that time is a friend of a good business and an enemy of a poor one. Seems appropriate for a country too.