Retired Bureaucrats and Defence Personnel Speak on the State of the Nation
On June 30, 2018 India Inclusive, an informal open platform networking with citizens and civil society groups across India organized a Citizens’ Conclave on Safeguarding the Constitution: Ensuring the Independence and integrity of the Civil Services and Defences forces at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi. The reason for holding an exclusive Conclave was to provide a platform to former Civil and Military personnel for free and frank exchange of views.
The conclave was attended by many eminent dignitaries and retired officers of the Civil Services and Defence Forces. Some of the panelists were Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas, retired Chief of the Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, Aruna Roy, former IAS officer and social activist, Wajahat Habibullah, first Chief Information Commissioner of India, K.S Subhramanian, former IPS and academician, Air Marshal Vir Narain, retired Commanding-in-Chief of Indian Air Force, Ashok Kumar Sharma, former diplomat and Indian Ambassador.
The former Indian bureaucrats and Defence personals addressed the conclave and spoke extensively on many issues regarding the current scenario of the Indian bureaucracy, Army, Judiciary and how violation of Constitutional rights and laws are taking place by vested political interests. They also spoke about the threats and dangers to the democratic structures and Indian democracy and how minorities and Dalits are being attacked and marginalized. Some of the opinions and views addressed in the conclave are as follows.
Wahajat Habibullah, a former IAS addressed the conclave and said: "In a democracy, Civil services cannot be the guarantor of constitutional values because we've designed it that way- it is neither transparent nor accountable but what is required is greater professionalism". He also talked about the minority issues in the country. "I never noticed that I was the only Indian Muslim in the service then, no one made me feel that way, but now things have changed." He added, "In 2002, I appealed not for Hindus or Muslims but for Indians, who were killed not by Pakistan or someone else but by their own India"
Dr. Atul Bharadwaj, former Indian Naval officer and independent researcher and columnist maintained, “We've intelligence polarised, Supreme Court polarised, bureaucracy polarised and now armed forces polarised". He further added, "When we joined Navy, we were totally apolitical but now things have changed. We see serving fauji commenting openly on political matters."
K.S Subhramanian, former IPS, said, “I resigned from the IPS after serving for 10years because after that I was posted in the Intelligence Bureau. While working in the Delhi Police I was attacked by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad while on duty in front of the Parliament. the VHP was taking out a procession demanding stoppage of cow slaughter and when they saw me standing in uniform, totally unarmed, they attacked me with arms and stones and I was so badly injured and unconscious for five hours. This is the experience and price a police officer has to pay for maintaining peace and order. After that incident, I was transferred to the Intelligence Bureau but I found it very dishonest and wrong reports were sent to the politicians to please them. Thus I resigned. ”
, Air Marshal Kapil Kak, a retired officer of the Indian Air Force spoke out against AFSPA and the extreme pain and despair it had been causing in Kashmir for the last 50 years and how no one is held accountable which is extremely wrong. He further said that the surgical strike was a purely military mission but the Indian government made it a political mission for its own interest.
The Citizen spoke to Shabnam Hashmi, one of the organizers and an activist working for gender equality, secularism and human rights.
She said, “Indian Inclusive started about three months ago when we just four friends came together because we were feeling very restless about what was happening in the country especially the attacks on the Constitution and Judiciary of India. The idea of India Inclusive is that in the time when democratic spaces are shrinking to start a platform where various societies can come and express themselves to have a place where you can have the discussion whether you agree with them or not.”
She further added, “Countering the situation is not easy and very difficult right now. The first step for everyone is to come together. The civil society must win resistances and defeat these forces in 2019 that would be the first step towards starting and trying to turn the wheel back. That is not going to end even when they are defeated because the infiltration of people who believe in hatred is very deep in the society.”