‘Danger to Constitutional Values’: Statement by retired civil servants

Full text of the appeal sent to the President of India and the PMO,  issued by 17 retired civil servants belonging to different All India and Central Services.

We, the persons listed below, a group of retired civil servants belonging to different All India and Central Services who have worked in the Government of India (GoI), State Governments and a wide range of governmental and other institutions would urge all Constitutional institutions in India, the media and the general public to reflect upon the deeply disquieting trends visible in the public sphere and in our polity today. These developments are causing deep anguish to us as they question some of the fundamental Constitutional principles and legal safeguards we have long taken for granted. Some of these are mentioned below:

1) The discrimination against Scheduled Caste students and an attempt to clamp down upon Ambedkar study groups as found in IIT, Chennai, and in the University of Hyderabad. The tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula has highlighted the unwarranted interference of the GoI in the University of Hyderabad and its targeting a group of students, who did not subscribe to a narrow concept of nationalism.

2) There is a systematic attempt to silence dissent using the outmoded law of sedition against young idealists like Kanhaiya Kumar and his colleagues, who have given India a wake-up call to address poverty and all forms of exploitation.

3) Law and order agencies like the Delhi police used doctored videos in a blatantly partisan manner against JNU students while an MLA and certain lawyers – who were widely caught on camera beating up Kanhaiya and journalists – were treated with kid gloves. Even the team of senior lawyers nominated by the Supreme Court to monitor the situation reported the atmosphere of threat and intimidation.

4) The atmosphere of intolerance is growing what with the murder of the rationalists and the regular threats of violence against minorities and all who do not accept a very narrow version of ‘nationalism’. Such a concept of nationalism is itself grounded in a biased view of history. This intolerance is a direct attack upon the freedom of speech and expression and is anathema to the pluralism of the Indian Constitution.

5) A Minister in the Central Government, a ruling party MP and local leaders have recently issued terrifying threats against Muslims but the GoI does not find anything objectionable in the Minister’s statements. Other minorities have also expressed their sense of insecurity.

What is listed above is only illustrative. We feel that all told, there is a clear and present danger to the values of the freedom of speech, thought and expression as also the pluralism and the secularism that are basic to the Indian Constitution. We add our voice to the multitude of dissents already expressed and call upon all right- thinking people to register their protest at the current goings-on.

At the same time, we would like to point out that we do not condone similar transgressions by other groups – particularly on the extreme left – which try in like manner to silence opposing views by vicious attacks on social media and/or violence.

We urge a return to the civilised and civilisational discourse of the Constitution of India and a renewed public commitment to the freedom of speech, thought and expression.

Yours faithfully,

1) Niranjan Pant, IA&AS (R), former Deputy Comptroller & Auditor General, GoI

2) EAS Sarma, IAS (R), former Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, GoI

3) Ruchira Mukerjee, Indian P&T Accounts & Finance Service (R), former Adviser (Finance), Telecom Commission, Department of Telecom , GoI

4) Kalyani Chaudhuri, IAS (R), former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. Of West Bengal

5) Keshav Desiraju, IAS (R), former Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, GoI

6) Amitabha Pande, IAS (R), former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI

7) Ardhendu Sen, IAS (R), former Chief Secretary, Govt. Of West Bengal

8) Pranab Mukhopadhyaya, IAS (R), former Director, Institute of Port Management, GoI

9) Surjit Das, IAS (R), former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttarakhand

10) Anup Mukerji, IAS (R), former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Bihar

11) Vibha Puri Das, IAS (R), former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI

12) SS Rizvi, IAS (R),former Joint Secretary to the GoI

13) Sundar Burra, IAS (R), former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

14) Harish Chandra, IAS (R), former Prinicipal Adviser in the rank of Secretary, Government of India (GoI)

15) Kamal Jaswal, IAS (R), former Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology, GoI

16) Meena Gupta, IAS (R), former Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, GoI

17) Hirak Ghosh, IAS (R), former Principal Secretary, Govt. Of West Bengal

 

4 thoughts on “‘Danger to Constitutional Values’: Statement by retired civil servants

  1. K SHESYU BABU

    Kudos to the retired administrators to call upon the administers and others to uphold the constitutional values. B. D. Dharma and Shankaran were great personalities who worked for the upliftment of adivasis and poorer sections of society. But they were few and far between. Most administrators even now, toe the official ruling government line and seek security of their jobs. They do not dare to question the policies and draconian laws of the State. If these IAS form union and resolve to oppose implementation of the anti – people policies, most of the suppressive tactics of the rulers would fail and peaceful life would flourish in the country. Hence, they should take the duty of exercising discretion in implementing the orders of the government.
    Industrialists and corporates in and out of the country are out plunder the forest wealth by displacing the tribals and snatching their livelihood. Maoists are fighting for these downtrodden people and their efforts should be complemented. Attacks by them are very few and mostly fabricated by the brahminical upper class media. The larger cause of people’s needs and struggles must in mind and supported by the administrators. IAS cadres are learned people and should be alive to the situation.
    One expects such statements from IPS officers too. Police system is the prime weapon in the hands of the government in implementing anti – people’s laws. The police, beside implementing, resort to rapes and killings and go Scot – free. They should realize that they work among the mainstream people and they are prime targets if they adopt coercion tactics to appease the State and incur wrath of the people. The government and the ruling classes do not directly involve themselves in suppressing people and the burden falls on police officers. If the police form a firm resolve to oppose the State – sponsored terrorism, the State would have no option but to revert to pro – people’s policies.
    Can we expect some positive statement from them too…??!

  2. Thanks to our administrators for a great start. Although I must confess that I was surprised to see such a ‘tiny’ number of our retired administrators who have signed off on this letter. While 17 as a number is a tiny sample size, a quick back of envelop calculation – using names as an indicator of their gender and the same for guessing whether the signatories are from East, West, North and South of India – shows that about 71% of all the signatories are male; and majority come from either the northern or eastern part of the country (approx. 76%). Seems not one of the signatories come from Western part of India which has large states: Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan…

  3. Pyara Lal Garg

    Good that some persons who held high ranking posts in state and center have taken a bold stand and called for the upholding of our constitutional values gained after many a precious lives were sacrificed during freedom struggle. Some time before the repression of extreme degree by the mighty state , people have to resort to the methods that state thinks are illegal but the same state remains blind to the extreme degree of discrimination and violations of the process of law and order.

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