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Civil servants 'developing antipathy' to social justice, secularism, eco-protection, dissent

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

A few days back, results of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) were out for this year's civil services. Lots of congratulations and greetings were being loud mouthed everywhere, as if that is the final achievement for anyone's life.
The fact is that these elite services are meant to protect the interests of those in power and not devote themselves in the service of the people. They claim to do 'service' to the nation but not the people. Somehow, in the new system, the nation is basically a piece of land, and not its people.
Even as there is an effort to make the nation as its people, it is equally important to ask as to who are the 'people' in the perception of our rulers. Perhaps the dominant communities who have exploited land and natural resources? For these dominant communities to remain in power, it is important that they control our elite institutions and services. Given this framework, one wonders if civil services are civilised enough, or do they proactively protect the Brahminical elite?
I know many friends who have joined this institution with the aim of serving people. But they find it difficult to work independently. Most civil servants turn arrogant and become a means to 'rule' over the people and not work for them. They feel they are the law unto themselves and look down upon any form of democratic protest or dissent.
Of course, there have been very wonderful names in the civil services who were dedicated to the cause of the common people, and I can name many of them. There are many whom you would love to listen to as they are are full of deep knowledge.
But things seem to be changing. People and people's issues are out of their purview. These days, civil servants have Instagram accounts. Many post their photos and family events, while others show their 'humane' side as if they have come from some other planet. However, the most worrying factor is not about their governance but how they respond to a crisis.
Several of the current lot of administrators appear to have developed deep antipathy and suspicion towards secularism, social justice, economic justice, environmental protection and human rights. Many in the new generation of youngsters have grown up listening and reading to the Hindutva narrative and its hatred towards social justice, inclusion and secular polity -- which they feel is against Indian (read Hindu savarna) culture.
This situation is not confined to civil services. The malaise has spread to our judiciary and media, too. It is this class of youngsters, hailing from powerful dominant communities, who feel speaking about human rights, social justice, Dalits and Adivasis means dividing India and encouraging caste system. These new policy executioners go so far as to openly propagate extra judicial killings to control dissent and political protests.
Deleted tweet by ex-DGP
A former DGP of Kerala recently openly threatened  the protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, saying the police would be justified to kill them. Such a nasty tweet from a senior police officer only reflect the state of our institutions we trust so much for protecting our Constitutional rights.
No action has been initiated against this officer for threatening the Olympians. Though he has deleted the offensive tweet, so far nothing has happened except that the IPS Association has condemned this act, which is a welcome step.
The fact is that this is not an exception, it is fast becoming a norm. Many police and former military officers are heard shouting hoarse, using abusive language. They are allowed to go unchallenged on prime time shows of the darbari media. These war and hate mongers actually are Hindutva protagonists who equate Muslims with Pakistan.
They try to project the wrongs of Pakistan and its feudal elite leadership as the fault of Indian Muslims -- all of it gain political mileage from the BJP. They provide 'moral support' to all the officials who are ready to go out of their way to execute the Hindutva propaganda plan. Whether it is General VK Singh or Kiran Bedi or others, they all lure power.
They stand in sharp contrast to the likes of SR Sankaran, BD Sharma, KB Saxena, PS Krishnan and many others who dedicated their lives for the cause of social justice and inclusion selflessly. I have known Chandra Singh, an IAS official of Uttarakhand, one of the most sincere officials of his time who worked tirelessly day and night to help the poorest of the poor and anyone in need.
But things have changed now. The new political climate has created a situation where civil services have become a tool to help the mighty and the powerful. The poor are treated with contempt and suspicion, while the powerful are welcomed as 'role model'. There is no issue if a role model is eulogised. But the role model changes as soon as the government develops a dislike for this person.
The same police officers and civil servants tweeting 'Bharat kee betiya' for the women wrestlers who won medals at international events, including Olympics, suddenly start behaving as if those protesting have become criminals. It is not without reason that for days no action is taken despite an FIR having been filed against BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh, who has been accused of sexual harassment of women wrestlers.
When those who celebrate the 'festival' of our 'new parliament' despite giving least importance to parliamentary affairs, including debates, it is pure hypocrisy. One doesn't expect much from the political class, but the civil services and their members should think of the future of India and what kind of institutions should build today, instead of being guided by the ruling party's notorious IT cell.
It is time these services and their associations show their strength and assert their autonomy in the greater interests of India.
*Human rights defender



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