Sep 23, 2023
Sep 23, 2023
There are parrots and parrots. Some can fit in the palm of your hand. There are some like the South Pacific parrot who can grow taller than three feet. Some are green with yellow heads, whereas others are red with blue tail feathers.
What endears parrots to humans is their unique ability to imitate different sounds they hear. You enter a room and hear someone greeting you with a loud “hello”. You turn around to find who it is, but see no one. It was just a parrot in a corner that accosted you. And there was hardly any difference. However, unlike humans, parrots do not have vocal cords. Instead, they learn to control the movement of the muscles in the throat to direct the airflow in such a way as to reproduce certain tones and sounds akin to human articulation.
Have you heard of the new Indian hybrid variety of parrots? And we have a new name for it. CBI Variety. It has been hybridized in the copious backyards of Lutyens’ bungalows and thrives in the corridors of North and South Blocks on Raisina Hill. Thank the Supreme Court of India for confirming that it’s up and doing.
In a mood of utter candor – so uncharacteristic of a Government functionary – present CBI chief, Ranjit Sinha accepted the Supreme Court's observation that the country's premier investigating agency was indeed a “caged parrot” that “speaks in its master’s voice”. He was honest enough to admit: “Whatever Supreme Court said is correct.”
The hybridization experiment to develop the new species started long ago. Way back in 1941 during the war years a Special Police Establishment (SPE) was set up to investigate cases of bribery and corruption in transactions with the War and Supply Department of India. And you’ll be surprised to know its headquarters were at Lahore. The problem of corruption in our society is as old as hills.
Later, it blossomed into what is today known as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the premier investigating police agency of Government of India It is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigation on behalf of Interpol Member countries. The services of its investigating officers are sought for in all major criminal probes in the country.
The agency is now headquartered in a state-of-the-art building located in New Delhi. It has field offices located in major cities throughout India. The CBI is controlled by the Department of Personnel and Training in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension of the Union Government usually headed by a Union Minister who reports directly to the Prime Minister. While analogous in structure to the famous FBI of the USA , the Government of India – and give it credit for it – made sure that none of its directors ever assume the gigantic stature of John Edgar Hoover who led the Bureau for 48 years till he died – God be thanked for it – in sleep in 1972.
The original Special Police Establishment assigned itself a motto that also serves CBI as its lodestar: “Industry, Impartiality, Integrity”. Anyone who has dealt with its present incarnation will most readily bear out how hardworking its men are. On the bidding of their political masters they give a mid-night knock at the door and work exceedingly hard uninterruptedly ripping sofas and tearing walls to recover hidden, unaccounted wealth of politicians that are menacingly hostile to the government of the day.
CBI’s impartiality is all too well known. The entire Government establishment swears by it. “As impartial as CBI” is as well accepted truism as “honest politician.” And its integrity – the third component of its motto – is all too familiar.
Its working style is very well known: start a case as dramatically as possible, have it exceedingly well-publicized and then forget all about it for the next decade or two till there is a further clue from the government of the day.
“Mian Mithoo” or Mr. Mithoo is perhaps the one most familiar phrase taught to domesticated parrots, who squeak it out on the master’s bidding. That’s indeed what their Lordships had in mind calling CBI as “Parrot in Cage”. “Start Proceedings with a Bang” and “Now File Closure Report” are the two most familiar orders that CBI knows. Ms Mayawati will bear me out. She has had the privilege of being at the receiving end of both.
If our MP’s were paid – as I believe they should be – by the hourly rate of fruitful work, most of them will start looking for a more rewarding career. The Budget Session 2013 which was adjourned sine-die last week set a record of sorts. It had the distinction of being the second most disrupted session of the current Lok Sabha. Its winter session registered a total loss of 92 hours and 40 minutes. And its total sitting lasted 94 hours and 42 minutes. Aren’t our MP’s really ashamed of this abominable performance of theirs? What happens to the economy if tomorrow the organized labor unions quote this as a model and repeat it week after week?
Won’t it be in order if a court injunction is obtained to deduct 50% of the pay and allowances of our MP’s for the just concluded session? Why doesn’t one of our public-spirited NGO’s file a petition in the Supreme Court?
As they were engaged in score-settling, the MPs had no time to discuss really juicy issues to grill the Government on JPC report on 2G scam, the CBI report on Coal scam and the cash-for-post in the Railways.
Mayawati and her loyalists are famous for setting records. She, for instance, will always be remembered as one of the richest politicians who ever straddled our political landscape. She set the record – unlikely to be broken – of converting huge unaccounted wealth into what’s endearingly called white money by declaring it as political donations and paying – hold your breath – income tax on it.
Now look at BSP MP Shafiqur Rahman Barq who, while the national song was being sung, suddenly remembered Allah and his Messenger and walked out of the House. TV showed repeatedly his languid walkout while every other MP stood – including the Momins (believers) of other political alignments. His explanation was simple and straightforward: his religion didn’t permit him to sing it. Let’s excommunicate the composer-musician, A R Rahman for his audacity to compose and sing: Maa Tujeh Salam.
Will someone better acquainted with the Holy Qu’ran take the trouble to tell us which chapter and verse of the book forbid the believers from singing and of all the things in the world, Vande Matram?
One question my countrymen will have to decide sooner or later is if the 20% Muslim minority will decide how the other 80% should live and conduct their affairs or abide by what the overwhelming majority believes in.
Meanwhile, one wonders why on earth didn’t Shafiqur Rahman Barq cross the border with Qaid-Azam to the other side of the Great Divide in August 1947. I’m sure not a single tear will be shed if he does it today. The rest of his co-religionists will merely say: Khas kum, Jahan Pak (The lesser the straws the purer the atmosphere.)
Meanwhile, it would, I believe, an act of great cowardice if Speaker Meera Kumar does not expel the erring MP from Lok Sabha unless he stands before the House in ashes and sack cloth.
I was discussing with an old IAS friend leading a quiet retired life about what the Governments –both at the Center and in the States – do with inconvenient honest officers who refuse to deviate from the straight path.
“They are driven from one P to the other P,” he said stoically.
Not too familiar with officialese I requested him to educate me about the jargon.
“Oh I’m sorry I didn’t spell it out. It stands for Pillar to Post.”
The phrase, philologists tell me, originated in the middle ages. (Are they really over?) “Post” represents as a whipping post and “pillar” originally was called “pillory,” a punishment-through-humiliation. An offender’s head and hands were locked so that he or she might be mocked at by passers-by.
Last October, within a day of his cancelling a questionable land deal involving UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and real estate giant DLF, Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka was removed as director-general of consolidation of land holdings and land records, a post he had held for just 80 days. His successor, an under-secretary who was five levels below Khemka’s rank as secretary to the government, arrived to take charge even before the transfer order came. Khemka was not even served the transfer order. He was asked to download it from the Government web site.
It was his 40th transfer in a career spanning 20 years, not counting the two years of training, when he was moved around four times. Now, less than six months after he was appointed as Managing Director of Haryana Seeds Development Corporation, where he uncovered misappropriation of farmer subsidies, he has been posted to the archives department – an office that hardly befits his seniority. It does not have experienced stenographers, basic stationery or a computer.
Khemka is not the lone IAS officer to receive what in bureaucratic parlance is known as “punishment” or “khuda line [side job]” posts. I hear Vijay Shanker Pandey, an upright 1979 batch officer in Uttar Pradesh, has been transferred 48 times in 30 years.
Khemka tells his friends: “But I have only 12 more years to go. So why should I change? I’ve no plans of quitting. What message will that send to our youth? Most of all, it is much easier to make a change from within than from outside.”
The transfers of bureaucrats across the country are not based on any minimum tenure considerations, though the rules governing the IAS cadre specify two-to-three-year tenures, depending on the state and the post. There are cases of IAS officers getting transferred in less than two months.
In 1997, Chief Minister Mayawati had transferred 229 officials in a single day. In 2004, Akhilesh’s father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was Chief Minister, sent 150 officials packing in a single day. Under Mulayam and Mayawati, the average tenure of IAS officers in UP came down to less than six months in a post.
“It must be awfully inconvenient!” I suggested it to my friend.
“Not at all. I never unpacked my luggage whenever I was transferred out.”
“We should live and learn; but by the time we’ve learned, it’s too late to live,” said American author Carolyn Wells.
Isn’t it a universal experience? And yet we don’t care to learn from it.
More by : Sakshi