The way public institutions are emasculated

:: M.Y.Siddiqui ::

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been degraded further from the “caged parrot” to a blood hound of the government. When a CBI director, whose tenure was protected, threatened to investigate the Rafael deal, was ousted in a midnight coup, acting director, appointed in place forcibly removed director, effected 40 transfers in the CBI within a day at the behest of the government. Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), was headed by an official, who played a key role in suppressing incriminating documentsrecovered in the raids by Income Tax on the Birla and Sahara group of companies, which showed then Gujarat CM now PM, BJP CMs as recipients of large sums of unaccounted money.

All public institutions like the judiciary, Election Commission, Central Vigilance Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate, National Investigation Agency, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Information Commission,       Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Parliamentary Standing Committees/ Select Committees/ Joint Committees etc., created to play checks and balances on the government and safeguard people’s basic rights in the scheme of the Constitution of India as part of public participatory democracy, seem to have abdicated their intended role.  As a result, there is Hitlerian blitzkrieg strategy all around where power is centralized in one man, who acts undemocratically, arbitrarily and authoritarian without forethought, by awe, shocks and surprises, while apparently manipulating that all is well, democracy and rule of law based constitutional governance are safe and thriving through controlled and regimented media, sustained propaganda, always hiding the truth from the people.  This is the way how fascism works, democracy is undermined, rule of law decimated, without formal promulgation, emergency like situation prevails in the country, leaving people in fear, insecurity and uncertainty to fend for themselves!

However, over the past six years, India’s institutions and its Supreme Court have been systematically dismantled. Media, except for a handful of daring individuals, small but sprightly organisations, has been tamed. Any criticism of the government, its legitimacy notwithstanding, is quickly made to seem as though the country is deliberately targeted by antinational forces. BJP led NDA Union Government has successfully ensured that information about international condemnations, sanctions and reporting on serious human rights violations does not reach the people. If it does, it is given a spin and repurposed as propaganda. That’s how people are encouraged to defend the nation’s collective self-esteem rather than holding their government accountable, in the process, India’s long cherished reputation as the world’s largest secular democracy is now in tatters.

Institutions of Parliamentary Committees and other committees have almost been done away with fewer proposed laws referred to them where healthy discussions and public consultations of participatory democracy could take place. Even in allowing prior disclosure of bills proposed to be passed or allowing public participation in the laws to be enacted, the present nominal democracy has been emasculated. In the audit of the Rafael deal, the government predicted in a note to the Supreme Court three months before the CAG report was finalized and given to Public Accounts Committee (PAC). That the CAG withheld in that report pricing details is unprecedented and in complete violation of the CAG Act.CAG did not bother to audit demonetization and its effect on national economy. Appointment of Lokpal, national anti-corruption watchdog, wasstonewalled by this government for almost five years since the Lokpal Act was passed in 2013. Even inclusion of the leader of opposition from the selection panel of the Lokpal was obstructed by this government, which amended the Lokpal Act with alacrity to exempt public servants from disclosing their assets to the government. Thereafter, when the government was forced to appoint Lokpal, it appointed people who did not think it fit to have even a regular office or take up a single case for investigation for over a year now, thus making the institution redundant.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been degraded further from the “caged parrot” to a blood hound of the government. When a CBI director, whose tenure was protected, threatened to investigate the Rafael deal, was ousted in a midnight coup, acting director, appointed in place forcibly removed director, effected 40 transfers in the CBI within a day at the behest of the government. Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), was headed by an official, who played a key role in suppressing incriminating documentsrecovered in the raids by Income Tax on the Birla and Sahara group of companies, which showed then Gujarat CM now PM, BJP CMs as recipients of large sums of unaccounted money. The gentleman following completion of his tenure as Chairman of CVC is now independent director in M/s Reliance Ltd. National Investigation Agency (NIA), a police outfit, has become a tool of the government to harass and hound social activists and intellectuals, critical of the government. Political use of NIA can be seen in the prosecution of some of the finest social activists in the Bhīma Koregaon casebesides, vulnerable sections of people like minorities and Dalits. During the last six years, Right to Information Act has been eroded by throttling the Information Commission by not appointing the people to fill vacancies even when vacancies were to be filled by court orders. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is no longer autonomous. Two governors resigned over unprecedented too much interference by the government.

With all regulatory public institutions in place, people would have expected today democracy would be much more robust than it has been hitherto. However, if one looks at the functioning of the Indian democracy and democratic institutions one is dismayed and shocked how easily it has been possible to blunt the reforms made so far and make all the public institutions buckle under an authoritarian fascist government!

About the Author

M Y Siddiqui

Mr M Y Siddiqui is the former Director (PR&S) at Government of India, as Spokesman of various Ministries (New Delhi). After his retirement he is now a well known columnist and critic. He writes on government plans & implementation and issues of deprived segments of India.

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