Signs Of The Times – This Week`s Column


By Humra Quraishi
Though I’m no fan of Anna Hazare or of Arvind Kejriwal but do quite agree with their latest outburst against the politicians and civil servants of this country. Those occupying the top slots .At the helm of affairs .Those supposedly running the very governmental machinery .

Earlier this entire evening – that is , before I started writing this column – I sat for a considerable stretch , trying to come up with even one name from the who’s who in the establishment , whom one could genuinely respect . None . No , I couldn’t think of even one name from the present lot of men and women running this country …Yes, the only exception are those few IPS officers of the Gujarat cadre who have had the guts to take on chief minister Narendra Modi and expose the mask(s ) behind the 2002 massacres.

The rot in the system, amongst the top brass gets murkier by the day . Weeks back three Karnataka ministers were viewing porn right inside the State Assembly . And now comes in news of a repeat – this time in the Gujarat Assembly. Bogus explanations are getting flung about, more as a gaudy cover up . The truth , of course , lies in the fact that sub -standard and third raters sit fitted in the system . Imagine , C.C Patel – the man in charge of the Women and Child Welfare ministry of the Karnataka Government was said to be busy watching porn right inside the Assembly. Perhaps, now, after all this hue and cry , just about changed the place of porn viewing – maybe in a hotel suite or at some farm house … And porn viewing shows the very attitude of these men and that in itself relays nothing but a terribly frightening scenario …

And focusing on the communally tainted politicians the list is long. Perhaps , not ample space to offload those details. Right now just about this – the two main players in the Babri Masjid demolition and with that in the divisive politics at work – LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi – continue to hold sway in every possible way …Few years after that demolition , LK Advani was made deputy prime minister of this country and Joshi was made the HRD minister .

Look around and see for yourself the controversies brewing all over . General VK Singh , the Army chief of this country , is sitting flinging out goodies at this ripe old age ,at this near retirement stage. Call them distractions if you must . First his age battle. And now going overboard detailing the bait thrown at him. It seems he’d been taking a nap on both these fronts – could have had the age date controversy settled years back and if he was so disturbed by this bribe offer he could have raised an alarm right then – in 2010 .Why now , in 2012 ?

Everyday scandals are finding their way out . From every possible ministry and those who sit manning them .And it would be a folly of the worst sorts if only the politicians are blamed for this loot or rot or whatever term you’d like to use for this ongoing mockery of the very system..

What about their hand – in – glove partners : the civil servants! Without their able support no politician would be able to find his way , towards any of those ‘gates’.


Whilst on the civil servants, there could few exceptions. Needless to mention that instead of we honoring their grit , they sit sidelined . No, no Padma awards or any of the other governmental awards for their integrity and sheer bravery .And a pity that even the powerful IAS and IPS associations do apparently little to protect these upright officers …

But the good news is that at least one of them -’92 batch IPS officer Rahul Sharma of the Gujarat cadre has been honoured by IIT Kanpur , with the Satyendra Dubey memorial award . The award, was set up by the IIT Kanpur alumni in memory of their student Satyendra Dubey, a whistle-blower who was killed for exposing corruption in the National Highway Project., rightly goes to Rahul Sharma .

And there’s this rather detailed backgrounder to this upright police officer’s role in trying to take on the Modi government, which is important to share with you readers .Let me quote from it – ‘ The Modi government has charge sheeted Rahul Sharma … Rahul Sharma is locked in a battle with the Modi government over a CD of phone calls which he submitted to the Nanavati Commission, which the government says he did without official clearance The IPS officer had been reportedly asked to assist the police in investigations of Naroda Patiya, Naroda Gam and Gulbarg Society 2002 riots cases. Sharma, who holds a B Tech in electrical engineering from IIT Kanpur and a law graduate, procured the cellphone call details of that period from Cellforce and AT& T, the telecom service providers in the city at that time.

… The explosive call details had created a stir since it implicated many bigwigs of the state polity as well as the bureaucracy. The CD then mysteriously went missing from police records. However, sensing the value of the evidence he had collected, Sharma had kept a copy of the call details while sending the original CDs to his senior P P Pandey, who headed the Ahmedabad crime branch then. He later submitted the call details before the Nanavati Commission as well as to the Justice U C Banerjee Commission, which probed the burning of the train.

While the state government had questioned the authenticity of the CDs submitted by Sharma, these call details corroborated with other evidence led to the arrest of at least two senior leaders accused in the riots — Maya Kodnani, a former member of Modi’s cabinet and VHP leader Jaydeep Patel…In less than a week after he procured the CDs, Sharma was shunted out of the probe and sent to 11 State Reserve Police at Vav near Surat. This was after the riots. Even during the riots, Sharma had played an important role as DSP of Bhavnagar. He had ordered his men to fire and had dispersed mobs that had gathered to kill Muslim children in a madrassa. Because of him, over 200 Muslim children were saved. Ironically, he had been posted just a day before in Bhavnagar. He was earlier SP, Baroda division, with the Western Railways. This was the division under which Godhra fell where the Sabarmati Express had been torched and 59 kar sevaks had been killed. After sidelined postings, Rahul took a central deputation offer and was
DIG, economic offences wing, CBI and was posted in Mumbai. He came back in 2009 and since then has been on a sidelined posting as DIG of arms unit in Rajkot…Rahul performed his duties according to the provisions of law to serve the society, used the technology innovatively, and underwent a sequel of humiliation and harassment but upheld his value systems with exemplary sacrifices. This was why he was selected for the prestigious Satyendra K Dubey Memorial Award.”


New Delhi based former diplomat author Pran Nevile never misses a date with those personalities of yesteryears …They could be long dead , buried or cremated , but Pran Nevile is passionate about reviving , bringing to the very fore, their musical genius …And the latest in this series is a concert to be held here, in New Delhi ,on April 4 , in memory of KL Saigal’s haunting voice, those melodies …After all , its his 108 birth anniversary.


Though I could not attend Dr Vibha Joshi’s talk on ‘ The reverberative nature of the global network of Christianity : the Nagas of North East India ‘ , but found the topic rather offbeat , so let me quote from this detailed backgrounder to her talk held earlier this week at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library …her talk which focuses on – “ global networks of religion with special reference to Christianity in Nagaland, northeast India, especially the efforts of the Church to bring a peaceful solution to the protracted Naga national movement for independence from India and to heal the conflict-ridden society. It seeks to produce a comparative framework for studying similar processes and attempts at reconciliation elsewhere, in which international sources of influence are intrinsic to local peoples’ political religiosity and their wider religious understanding. …A common feature of postcolonial globalism is the way in which Christianity, having been imported into subject areas under colonialism, has in recent decades been exported back to the original donor societies. This reverberative feature of the Christian global network is a kind of ecumene in Hannerz’s terms, though less of a generalized ‘culture’ and more of locally varying beliefs and practices connected to each other across the world by being identified as Christian. A further tendency also found elsewhere in the world, for instance southern Africa, is for Naga Christians to see their role as healers not just of individual bodies but of the community as a whole. They seek ‘reconciliation’ between combatant groups and try to heal the wounds of war. This is quite unlike the role of early Christian missions (American Baptist) which targeted key individuals for conversion and tried to spread the gospel of ‘peace and love’ in a community by using such converts as religious examples and leaders. Put briefly, while the individual was the starting point then, the community is so now. …”

And Joshi seems focused – She recently guest-curated a major exhibition on the Naga at the Museum der Kulturen Basel. She has co-edited, Naga: A Forgotten Mountain Region Rediscovered, in 2008, and The Land of the Nagas, in 2004. ‘Christianity and Healing: The Angami Naga of Northeastern India’ is her forthcoming title.


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