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Seeking & telling truth, selectively

As the country stands behind the persecuted IAS officers, Durga Shakti Nagpal and Ashok Khemka, the political classes seem to be vertically split between supporting either of the two bureaucrats, obviously to serve their own vested interests. While Durga was suspended by the Uttar Pradesh government led by Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party, Khemka was transferred by the Congress-led Hooda government for pulling the plug on Robert Vadra’s shady land deals.

On the other hand, veteran IAS officer Shakti Sinha, one time private secretary of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, has been forced to seek voluntary retirement from the administrative services because he has been repeatedly overlooked for the post of the chief secretary of NCT Delhi, even though he has delivered his duty without a smirch and has had an unblemished record as far as his bureaucratic career is concerned. Clearly, it seems that the governments, both at the state and central levels, have singled out officers of the executive bodies, its hallowed bureaucracy, who have dared to stand up against the nefarious practices of the political classes and those officers within their own clan who are hand in glove with their political masters.

Appallingly enough, a UP minister had even boasted of bringing down the ‘steel frame of India’, its galactic circuit of IAS officers who run the day-to-day show on the ground, at the district and block levels of its various states, within just 41 minutes, the time taken to impose the suspension orders on Durga Shakti. In another such instance, officer Khemka had complained how he has been hounded out repeatedly from various state governments, thanks to his intrepid and honest manner of doing his duty, without trying to dance to the tunes of the party leaders and members of Parliament or state assemblies.  

It is obvious that ours is a selective outrage, and the moral high ground is occupied when our feathers are ruffled directly. More than ever before, we are confronted with a rotten political crowd, and a bureaucracy that is usually in bed with the corrupt party brass. Rarely do we find a bureaucrat or a police officer who prefers his or her duty, the law of the land and integrity to the perks that can be availed by hobnobbing with the political masters and corporate honchos. Yet, occasionally, we do come across gritty bureaucrats such as Durga Nagpal, Ashok Khemka or Shakti Sinha, who manage to take on the powerful interest groups of the likes of the sand mafia in UP, or the land mafia in Haryana-Delhi, and even the power sector lobbyists. But, inevitably, it is these officers who end up paying for their integrity, as they are persecuted by the draconian state for simply doing their job. However, it seems that the bureaucracy is trying to wake up from a long slumber and is starting to take its uprightness and honour seriously, galvanising itself behind the likes of Nagpal, Khemka or Sinha.

Functioning under enormous political pressure, the bureaucracy has been, to borrow a metaphor used by the Supreme Court on a different occasion, a ‘caged parrot’, either conniving blindly with the political and corporate masters or facing the music for taking on the corruption behemoths, and living out of their suitcases, as it were, being transferred from post to post every few years.     

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