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When three IAS men quit


In 2009,  one who hit news headlines was Kashmiri youth Shah Faesal who  secured the first rank in the civil service examination of that year.  When a Kashmiri Muslim gets raned first in  the most prestigious competitive examinaion of the country, it makes news indeed.   Soon Shah Faesal became the cover page image of English periodicals.   Most of  the national media focused on him as a face of changing Kashmir and he was highlighted  as a symbol of new generation Kashmiris.   The narrative then was that the new crop of Kashmiris were not enamoured of azadi agitations, but in meshing with the national mainstream.   In other words, Shah Faesal was turned into a poster boy against secessionism.  But ten years thence, in 2019 Shah Faesal became man in the news again for a reason entirely opposite to those.   On 9 January 2019 came Faesal's disclosure that he was resigning from civil service.

Shah Faesal announced his resignation raising not any personal reasons,  but clearly political ones.   The unceasing murders in Kashmir,  the Centre's lack of sincerity in working with the Kashmiris,  the attempts of Hindutva forces to marginalise the 200 million Indian Muslims and to treat them as second class citizens,  the onslaughts on the special status of Kashmir and the hatred and enmity growing in the name of frenzied nationalism – so read the pinpointed reasons Shah Faesal gave for his resignation.   Thereafter,  he was seen forming a political party named Jammu-Kashmir People's Democratic Movement in collaboration with the Kashmiri student who stole the limelilght through JNU students' union, Shehla Rashid.   And now,  since the withdrawal of special status of Kashmir on 5 August,  Shah Faesal has been kept under house arrest.

The factors surrounding with Kashmir raised by Faesal in his resignation letter  are continuing in more disturbing form.   It would be easy for 'nationalists'  to under-rate Faesal's decision saying after all he is a Kashmiri and nothing different can be expected from him.  But now,  two other resignations from IAS that happened in the last two weeks should force us to ponder further.  Kannan Gopinathan,  the Keralite energy secretary of Dadra & Nagar Haveli territory resigned from IAS on 21 August and so did deputy commissioner in South Kannada in Karnataka,  Sasikant Senthil on 6 September.

What makes both these resignations stand out is the fact that they resigned not raising any work-related or personal causes,  but highlighting certain grave issues related to the country.   Kannan Gopinathan's resignation was tendered following the Centre's repeal of Kashmir's special status and when the state turned into open jail.  In the resignation letter he also mentioned his protest at the Centre's act of denying Kashmiris their right to freedom of opinion.   As for Sasikant Senthil,  he gave his resignation stressing issues in a deeper and more serious sense than Kannan Gopinathan did.  He wrote that  it would be unethical for him to continue as a civil servant in the government when "the fundamental building blocks of democracy were being compromised in an unprecedented manner" also giving a warning that "the coming days would present extremely difficult challenges to the basic fabric of our nation."

The pro-government school's natural response may be that nothing is going to happen due to the resignation of a couple of IAS officers, which is technically correct too.   And all government decisions may not please every one.  Even then,  there is a certain common ground in government actions generally accepted by all.   The country and governments proceed on the basis of such shared perceptions and actions.    But what has happened runs counter to that concept.  The government is running  roughshod over everything every where with a defiant stance with no attempt for consensus as if to say 'you can do anything,  but we are not going to consider any of them'.

By normal standards those in civil service are bound to implement the decisions of the government as such.  They are those who do their duty without much noise.  But what these resignations prove is that the present central government is moving in such a way as to create disaffecton even among that class.  Its approaches are dividing the society vertically down the middle.  The superman image about the prime minister and the government may be giving self-gratification to the ruling party.   But that is leading the country to an abyss of hazards.  India is becoming a country of increasing percentage of people living with angst and grievances.  When such disgruntlements are brewing even among those in the upper echelons of authority,  it is no trivial matter.

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