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PERSPECTIVE

A Tribune Special
Sahibs and Burra Sahibs
IAS no longer the preserve of the upper crust, says Amar Chandel
THe steel frame of India is changing. With a major transformation in the social base of the Indian Administrative Service, the shape and the contours of the coveted service today are considerably different from what they were even 10 years ago.

Preventive detention: A constitutional tyranny
by Hemant Kumar
Though the issue regarding Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi’s detention under the National Security Act (NSA) seems to be settled after the Supreme Court’s disposal of the petitions filed by Mr Gandhi and the Uttar Pradesh government, the question remains: why do executive authorities misuse the same without proper application of mind?


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June 7, 2009
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June 6, 2009
President speaks
June 5, 2009

OPED

Drug menace in Punjab
Are we losing our moorings?
by Gobind Thukral
Somewhere Punjab is not only losing its body, but its soul too.  Look at the survey which Punjab government has submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. It reveals 66 per cent of the school-going students in the state consume gutkha or tobacco; every third male and every tenth female student has taken drugs on one pretext or the other. And seven out of 10 college-going students abuse one or the other drug.  Is it the land of opium eaters, consumers of poppy husk or synthetic drugs and pills of all sorts?

Profile
Green Oscar for dedicated conservationist
by Harihar Swarup
Close on the heels of music maestro A.R. Rehman bagging the Oscar, Dr M.D. Madhusudan, an Indian Conservationist, has made India proud by winning the prestigious Whitley Award, known as Green Oscar.

On Record
Helping exporters our priority: Anand Sharma
by Bhagyashree Pande
New Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma intends to focus on helping exporters due to economic slowdown.



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A Tribune Special
Sahibs and Burra Sahibs
IAS no longer the preserve of the upper crust, says Amar Chandel

THe steel frame of India is changing. With a major transformation in the social base of the Indian Administrative Service, the shape and the contours of the coveted service today are considerably different from what they were even 10 years ago.

The signs of things to come are evident everywhere, and visible most of all when the results of the IAS are announced. Many — though not yet most — of the successful candidates today are from the rural areas, from a lower-middle or even poor background, and have had their education from a neighbourhood, downmarket government school, having attempted their papers in their mother tongue.

Indeed, this is a sea change from the time when the IAS was the exclusive preserve of the city bred, the foreign educated upper crust boys and girls from English public schools who thought that they were a class apart even before they joined the service. In fact, a substantial number of recruits, till recently, had an inherited tradition of one or even two generations in the Indian Civil Service.

A major role in this quiet makeover has been played by the reservation of seats for SCs/STs and OBCs. Of late, the nursery from which IAS aspirants are coming is getting widened thanks to the success of those taking their examination in Hindi or other vernacular languages. The best example is Mr Varinder Kumar Sharma, who stood fourth in the IAS this year and was the first among all male candidates. Coming from a small village in Punjab, he not only wrote his examination in Punjabi but had also to overcome his affliction by polio.

Similarly, Ms Kiran Kaushal from Raipur, who stood third overall, wrote her examination in Hindi. She is the first candidate to use Hindi and reach this high rank. Of the top 25 this year, two took the examination in Hindi and one in Punjabi.

What would have been an alluring utopia for most aspirants from these relatively restricted strata of society, till just a decade or so ago, is now a well-demonstrated achievable reality. The sons of the soil have begun to occupy the highest administrative positions to steer the ship of State. While this is heartening and a rich tribute to the democratic republic that the Indian people mandated for themselves some 60 years ago, it also poses a new challenge for the service insofar as the new entrants are required to be seamlessly assimilated into the top echelons of the government pyramid so that the object for which the recruitment base to the IAS was consciously altered by the Indian government, is well served and effectively achieved.

It was in 1970s that the civil services examination was opened to 18 regional languages officially recognised in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. Initially, candidates were hesitant to opt for regional languages, apprehending a bias in favour of English-speaking candidates among the examiners. But gradually, the hesitation has vanished and more and more candidates are writing their examinations and giving their interviews in regional languages.

According to the classical Weberian theory, a bureaucrat is an impersonal, discretionless “single cog in the ever-moving mechanism which prescribes to him an essentially fixed route of march”. But this theory has been strongly refuted by men like Kingsley (1944) who have advocated representative bureaucracies in democratic regimes. This school of thought is firmly of the belief that the neutrality of the bureaucracy is a myth. Administrators come from specific social classes and their behaviour is influenced by their social origin. The only way to avoid the partiality of the bureaucracy is to make it “representative of the groups it serves”.

In India, this elite service which has 5,000-odd members has been sought to be democratised through a quota system. The Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) get representation equal to their proportion in the total population, respectively 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent. The Other Backward Classes, which comprise more than half of the Indian population, have got 27 per cent of reserved seats since 1993, because the quota total cannot exceed 50 per cent, according to a Supreme Court order.

For the sympathisers of the downtrodden, the very entry into the IAS of such people is an overwhelming triumph it itself. For instance, the 1980 Report of the Backward Classes Commission asserts categorically: “By increasing the representation of Other Backward Classes in government services, we give them an immediate feeling of participation in the governance of this country”. But the question remains: Can they really do something specific for the community or the group that they represent? Does the coveted post uplift the whole community or does it only lead to the glorification of a few?

An administrator is bound to promote the cause of society and of the downtrodden without fear or favour. His chair is of divine dispensation. He is not expected to favour some to the disadvantage of the others.

There is a strong point of view that IAS officers who are recruited from an under-privileged background can do more for the poor than their better-heeled counterparts since they have first-hand knowledge of the man in the street and the peasant in the field. Also, they are seen as karmayogis who were not born to the manor and to whom success had not come on a platter. Rather, they have earned it through merit and hard work and can, therefore, act as role models for millions of others like them.

It is also believed that their families and friends are a faithful conduit to the community that the government seeks to uplift and the consequences of government policies and programmes are faithfully mirrored to the administrator belonging to this class.

However, these are simplistic musings. On the contrary, there is an equally strong possibility that the success may turn their heads faster, considering that the elevation is a quantum jump for them. They may become “Burra Sahibs” the moment they cross the threshold and turn against the very milieu to which they belonged.

In fact, it is seen that a good administrator evolves on his own: largely on the strength of his character and commitment and his socio-economic background has practically no bearing on his success or failure. Rather, there are examples of civil servants from aristocratic backgrounds as indeed officers from poor homes who lost their way somewhere along their career.

Therefore, it is hoped that success in the IAS examination does not go to the heads of recruits from the economically backward stratum and they do not lose their way and enter the rarified atmosphere of an ivory tower.

What needs to be underlined is that more than who gets into the elite list, what matters is what the civil servants do for the country and the countrymen. They are there to serve the people, and not themselves. It is a matter of shame for the bureaucracy that it has been ranked the least efficient by a business survey of 12 Asian economies.

It is a pity that the prevailing system has the power to “homogenise” almost everyone who joins in, even if they start with revolutionary zeal. Will the gradual widening of the base ensure that those who move up do not cut off their links with the people whom they are supposed to serve? Will they be civil “servants” in the true sense of the word instead turning into “masters”?

The IAS today has an over-representation of urban middle-class candidates. They will have to cooperate whole-heartedly with the “sons of the soil”. If the latter are looked down upon, the esprit de corps will get diluted and the IAS itself will get fragmented into sub-sets.

The task of training simultaneously officers who are as young as 21 along with those from an underprivileged background who make it to the service at the age of 35, is a matter to be looked at with great sensitivity and vision. How does one enthuse the new entrant with concretised commitment to India’s reconstruction along with the civil servant who at the very entry point has already taken draughts of life in varying measures, earlier?

Much will depend on the political directions that they are given by the leaders to them. Many a civil servant has confessed that the populist political imperative and the commitment to good, impartial, transparent, objective governance is often divergent – if not at loggerheads.

The all-India administrative service had come about in the face of stiff opposition from the states which wanted to have only state civil services instead of the all-India services, which they claimed militated against the federal principle.

But the then Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Patel held his ground and put in place this uniform administrative structure to counterbalance the centrifugal forces in a country where many princely states were yet to be integrated and which was in the throes of a bloody partition.

The IAS has indeed brought about geographical integration of the country and given Indian administrative integration. Now is the time for it to ensure a similar social integration.

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Preventive detention: A constitutional tyranny
by Hemant Kumar

Though the issue regarding Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi’s detention under the National Security Act (NSA) seems to be settled after the Supreme Court’s disposal of the petitions filed by Mr Gandhi and the Uttar Pradesh government, the question remains: why do executive authorities misuse the same without proper application of mind?

Political reasons apart, it was clear that the state government tried to keep him under continuous detention for his alleged hate speech. This was highly deplorable. For, preventive detention is no substitute to the normal procedure established by law.

There is a clear distinction between preventive and punitive detention. While the former is aimed at preventing a person from doing anything that may be detrimental to public order or national security, the latter comes into picture when a person is alleged to have committed an act in due disregard of law. Though preventive detention is an anathema to rule to law, it is a necessary evil.

Though preventive detention is to be used sparingly, in the absence of proper safeguards, it is grossly misused. As this is an administrative order, the scope of judicial review is limited. The consideration is limited to the legality of the decision-making process and not the legality of the order per se.

The Supreme Court has held that it is the existence of material and not the sufficiency of material which can be questioned. Moreover, any administrative action can be questioned only on three grounds — illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety. Unfortunately, the courts have been slow as regards intervention in such matters.

Thus, the only remedy for a victim is to move a habeas corpus petition in the High Court under Article 226 or moving the Supreme Court under Article 32 praying for protection of his/her fundamental right. But this takes at least six months until the case is listed before the court. Of course, Mr Varun Gandhi was able to promptly arrange a battery of lawyers to defend his case and obtain parole from the Apex Court (with an extension later) to file papers and join the fray.

A three-member Advisory Board of the government examines whether the detention of a person is justified or not, but there are shortcomings. For instance, its proceedings are in camera except for that part of the report (which is the Board’s opinion). There is also a denial of the detenus’ fundamental right to be represented by a lawyer before the Board. How can a layman fight his case before the board without an advocate’s help? All this is a violation of one’s human rights. The Centre should review the impugned provisions.

The National Commission to Review the Working of Constitution (NCRWC) said that preventive detention, being a detention without trial, is a negation of the rule of law and the principle of fair trial. It proposed that Section 3 (44th Amendment) Act, 1978 which tend to amend provisions of Article 22 (4) be brought into force with a further amendment that the Advisory Board should consist of the Chairman and members who are all serving High Court judges. Further, it suggested that such detention should not exceed six months.

As prevention detention is a clear infringement of one’s fundamental right, the decision on detention should be cogent which can stand the test of judicial scrutiny. It is sometimes wrongly professed that a detenu would not be entitled to bail in such situations. 

The higher courts have reviewed the prevention detention against a person even at pre-execution stage and ordered his/her release. The Apex Court has held that no absolute immunity could be claimed by the authorities as to the decision arrived at as the exercise involves fundamental rights of citizens, freedom of movement and pursuit of normal life and liberty.

In addition to higher judiciary, powers must be bestowed on at least the court of sessions to grant immediate interim relief to a victim of preventive detention in appropriate cases. The government should rework and reframe the provisions as the law is not bad per se. For ordering such detention, highest standards of proof are a must. Preventive detention laws need to maintain a balance between the human right of liberty and security of the nation or maintenance of public order.

In case the detenu is found unlawfully detained, we need to have a provision for adequate monetary compensation by the state though it cannot adequately compensate the detenu’s mental agony.

The Law Commission would do well to examine the entire gamut of preventive detention afresh in the light of contemporary needs and requirements and to help check its misuse. Until such safeguards are debated and incorporated in the Constitution, let the Apex court lay down elaborate guidelines to be followed by the state authorities.

The National and State Human Rights Commissions need to play a pivotal role whenever cases of abuse and misuse of such powers are brought to their notice either by the aggrieved party or through their suo motu cognisance. Prevention detention should be incorporated as a separate chapter in the Criminal Procedure Code.

The writer is Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court

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Drug menace in Punjab
Are we losing our moorings?
by Gobind Thukral

Somewhere Punjab is not only losing its body, but its soul too.  Look at the survey which Punjab government has submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. It reveals 66 per cent of the school-going students in the state consume gutkha or tobacco; every third male and every tenth female student has taken drugs on one pretext or the other. And seven out of 10 college-going students abuse one or the other drug.  Is it the land of opium eaters, consumers of poppy husk or synthetic drugs and pills of all sorts?

These disturbing details were submitted by Mr Harjit Singh, Secretary, Department of Social Security and Women and Child Development, in reply to a petition filed by some drug rehabilitation centres.  The Punjab government admitted, “In the recent times, the amount of narcotic substances seized in the state has also been among the highest in the country”. Only last week the agencies seized over 40 kg heroin worth Rs 40 crore near the border in Punjab.

There are more candid admissions by the Punjab government when it says, “the vibrancy of Punjab is virtually a myth....many sell their blood to procure their daily dose of deadly drugs, even beg on the streets for money to continue their addiction...The entire Punjab is in the grip of drug hurricane which weakens the morale, physique and character of the youth.

We are in the danger of losing the young generation. The vibrant Punjab that had ushered in the Green Revolution is today living in a dazed stupor as 67 per cent of its rural household has at least one drug addict.”  Only 33 per cent of the households have escaped this menace of drug addiction. How long can they escape.

The Punjab government use of alcohol and drugs is now a “part of the Punjabi culture”. No celebration is complete until liquor is served in plenty. However, in the last two decades, the pattern of drug use in the state has undergone a change in favour of new narcotic and synthetic drugs. Now the addicts consume multiple as well as single drugs.

A dear friend, well off connected landlord from Mukatsar, rues his fate as he bemoans the fate of his three young sons, all opium addicts. He knows not what to do as admission to de-addiction centres has been of little help. There are many such sad parents all over the state.

Marriages and other happy occasions only mean free flow of liquor, particularly Indian Made Foreign Liquor. No wonder, Punjab has the highest per capita consumption of liquor and Scotch whisky besides opium and smack. It makes the government earn Rs 1,700 crore. It fills the pockets of the excise officials, drug sellers, peddlers and smugglers besides helping politicians to win elections.

It is part of the international drug racket and helps fund terrorism. Through opium produced in the fields of Afghanistan and other areas and intoxicants they purchase arms and ammunition and destroy countries.   

The government also admits that the amount of narcotic substances seized in the state is among the highest in the country. Punjab accounts for roughly over one-fifth of the total recoveries of heroin, the costliest drug.

Opiates, their derivatives and synthetic opiate drugs are used by 70 per cent of the addicts, followed by a combination of opiate and other sedatives, including morphine. The extent of drug addiction in Punjab is 70 per cent. Household survey indicates that there is at least one drug addict in the 65 per cent of families in Majha and Doaba and 64 percent families of Malwa.

The government admits that Tarn Taran, bordering Pakistan is the most affected rural district and Amritsar is the most affected urban district in Punjab. Per head consumption of alcohol is maximum in Punjab and again Tarn Taran district tops the list.  In border areas, the extent of substance abuse is 70-75 per cent in the 15-25 years age group and up to 40 per cent in the 35-60 year age group.  Over 16 per cent population is addicted to hard drugs. Smack is mainly coming in from Pakistan and Nepal, but the regular supply for Punjab comes from Delhi, Meerut, Sardulgarh and J & K.

Drug seizure in Punjab has increased in last three years. The amount of narcotic and psychotropic substances recovered has increased substantially over the last three years. While the quantity of heroin seized has gone up by nearly five times, the quantity of charas recovered is up by 10 per cent. For smack, it is double.

The official data highlights the increase in drug recoveries from 2006 to 2008. Compared to the 53-kg heroin recovered in 2006, the amount seized in 2008 rose to 269 kg. For the same period, the quantity of smack seized increased from 32 kg to 55 kg, while that for charas increased from 98 kg to 110 kg. One of the petitioners, Talwinder Pal Singh, who runs a drug rehabilitation centre in Punjab, had moved the High Court challenging the orders of the Punjab to close down such government-run drug rehabilitation centers.

The government submitted, “Punjab remains vulnerable because of its proximity to the Golden Crescent (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran). Drug traffickers have changed their overland route and narcotics are being transited through India, of which 40 per cent is transited through Punjab alone.” 

According to records furnished by the police, narcotic and psychotropic substances like opium, poppy-husk, smack, ganja and charas are smuggled into the state from Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

And, Punjab is the land of gurus and saints. Travel anywhere, rural or urban areas, gurudwaras, mandirs and other places of worship of the almighty dot each nook and corner. There are hundreds of Deras that dispense readymade solutions for the ills of this world. 
We have the all-powerful SGPC, the mini Parliament of the Sikhs with a huge budget.

There is, of course, the all mighty Punjab government. Yet, drug addiction, that is destroying the youth, is so rampant  and no serious effort to check at government, religious or social level is visible. Are we losing our moorings?

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Profile
Green Oscar for dedicated conservationist
by Harihar Swarup

Close on the heels of music maestro A.R. Rehman bagging the Oscar, Dr M.D. Madhusudan, an Indian Conservationist, has made India proud by winning the prestigious Whitley Award, known as Green Oscar.

Madhusudan is Director of Nature Conservation Foundation, a Karnataka-based NGO and renowned Indian Wildlife biologist. He was conferred the honour by Princess Anne at an impressive ceremony at Royal Geographical Society, London.

Madhusudan received the Green Oscar as a symbol of recognition for his contribution to reduce human and wildlife conflict in the Western Ghats in Karnataka. He received a trophy and 30,000 pounds.

Popularly known as “Madhu”, Madhusudan has shown the farmers how to reduce crop raids, improve their incomes and avoid park encroachment. As a matter fact, his inspiration came from an elderly couple whose crop was destroyed by marauding elephants despite keeping a strict vigil. In the words of Madhu: “ One morning, I found the couple disconsolate.

The night before, the exhausted old man and his wife had dozed off briefly but, in this short span, their entire crop had been destroyed, leaving them with nothing. For someone like me, raised in the city, it showed the true harshness of marginal farmer’s life”.

Edward Whitley, Founder of Whitley Fund for Nature and judging panel chairman, praised the award winners, saying “the aim of the Whitley Awards is to find and support conservation scientists whose vision, passion, determination and qualities of leadership mean they are able to inspire local communities to take positive conservation action of benefit both to the wildlife and peoples’ life.

Madhu is a science graduate from Mysore’s Yuvaraja College. He did his Master’s from the Wildlife Institute of India at Dehradun. Currently, he is working with the farmers living in the nearby villages of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve on a pilot community-based conflict mitigation project.

He and his team members’ main aim is to combine science with practical conservation action so that they can avoid any further conflicting situation between wild animals and the local communities.

The Bandipur National Park is one of the most fascinating wildlife centres. Established in 1931 by the Maharaja of Mysore, the park is nestled in the foothills of the Nilgiris. As one travels deep into the forest through well-defined paths, one can almost hear the animals passing by the bushes and trees. And this was one reason why this region was chosen as the centre for the Project Tiger.

In 1973, the Bandipur National Park became the first of India’s Tiger Reserves and the southernmost of the nine reserves specially formed under the Project Tiger. In 1974, the Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a National Park.

Along with Dr Madhusudan, Sudipto Chatterjee and Suraja Dharini, two other noted Indian conservationists have also received the associate award. Dr Chatterjee and Dharani had received cash prize of 10,000 pounds for their contribution to the conservation of rare wildlife species of India.

Dr Chatterjee has an action plan to conserve wild rhododendrons in Eastern Himalayas whereas Dharini has started community-based initiative to protect Sea turtles and Dolphins in Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu.

Dr Madhusudan worked on resource use in and around forests and its impact on large mammal conservation. He uncovered the links between coffee production in Brazil and pattern of cattle grazing and ownership in the forests of Bandipur. He found that the global fall in coffee prices resulted in an increased demand for cow-dung used as manure in coffee estates in several areas in the Nilgiris and Western Ghats.

Following the dung export, livestock numbers in the region increased, aggravating grazing pressure on forests. This work challenged the prevalent notion that resource use for subsistence is distinguishable from and preferable to commercial resource use in the context of protected area management in India.

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On Record
Helping exporters our priority: Anand Sharma
by Bhagyashree Pande

Anand Sharma
Anand Sharma

New Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma intends to focus on helping exporters due to economic slowdown.

In an interview to The Sunday Tribune, he hinted at reviving the Inter-State Trade Council so that the policy framework and issues can be sorted out and investments in various states can be made more investor-friendly.

Excerpts:

Q: How are you looking at investments in Himachal Pradesh? Any specific package?

A: We are planning to create an investor-friendly environment in every region of the country. The Inter-State Trade Council, which has not been functioning for five years, is being revived. We will meet the state industry ministers and secretaries to prioritise regional issues, rules and approvals which will in turn boost investor confidence. I have met with industry chambers, business associations and development boards. Like the plantation sector in the south, the indebtedness of coffee growers etc, have to be dealt with specifically so that we can target problems and provide solution to boost investment.

Q: What will be your focus given the current economic slowdown?

A: My priority will be to help exporters, especially those in the labour intensive sector. What I propose to discuss with FM for the forthcoming Budget is sops for the exporters like extra-interest subvention, rollover of bank credit, availability of more bank credit and tax relief for specific export sectors. Industry chambers have proposed that exporters should be able to borrow in foreign currency so that Rupee movement does not affect their shrinking earnings.

The WTO has projected that the exports will drop by nearly 11 per cent. So we have to make exports more attractive. We will soon examine this while formulating the new Foreign Trade Policy.

As an intermediate solution, I have told trade bodies to tap African and Latin American markets in a big way so that the slowdown does not affect them.

Q: What about Cairns group dialogue at Bali early this week? What is the way forward in the Doha round?

A: I have told the Trade ministers of the Cairns farm exporting countries that we are committed to take the Doha round to a logical conclusion. Talks must resume and the logjam must be broken. We must accept the December draft of Non-Agriculture Market Access (NAMA) and Agriculture market access as the base document.

I will hold a meeting on multilateral and bilateral issues with US trade representative and Commerce Secretary in Washington next week. I will meet the OECD members in Paris as also UK Secretary of State for Business Peter Mandelson in London and the European Union Trade Commissioner.

At Bali, we discussed the different levels of development and the need to make development the theme of the Doha round. The G20 leaders will meet in Pittsburg, US, later this year, but I have suggested that we should hold a special trade ministers’ meeting of G20 members in early September to help address trade issues well ahead.

Q: Did you meet Chinese leaders?

A: I did meet the Chinese Vice Minister and shared our position with him.

Q: How do you plan to revive the sagging SEZ enthusiasm?

A: We will ensure that landowners become full stakeholders. Land acquisition and rehabilitation will be taken up on priority by passing the pending Bill.

Q: What about FDI in retail sector?

A: The present retail policy is good enough. FII investments have also seen a revival. As regards policy, there is no static or fixed position at any time. The present attractiveness of India lies in its stability and the robust growth prospect. The growth will be good and investments are impressive.

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