Polarization in bureaucracy is a subterranean reality

Bharat’s chattering classes living in commodious apartments in metros and other cities generally look upon Hindi and other regional TV news channels propagating the Hindu viewpoint as a bunch of contemptible hate spewing communalists. Much of it is due to the shrillness of presentation, screaming panelists, and shoddy production quality.

The ground reality is that their influence in Bharat’s interiors completely eclipses that of their more sophisticated cousins in the English language media, both electronic and print. Local channels have their eyes and ears closer to the ground which helps them gauge the public mood-o-meter more accurately. The news they deliver, though garishly packaged, is by no stretch of imagination wholly fictive.

Which is why a 49-second promo of a planned 7-8 part news feature titled “UPSC jihad” anchored by the pugnacious editor-in-chief of a Delhi based TV channel, Sudarshan News, on his tri-weekly show, Bindaas Bol, got the goat of some old and current Muslim students of the Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) University. They managed to obtain an ex parte order from the Delhi High Court preventing the broadcast on the plea that the program would tarnish the image of the university, especially the Muslim community. Strangely enough, the Supreme Court on the very same day, August 28, showed greater sense by “desisting to impose a pre-broadcast interlocutory injunction based on an unverified transcript…” The court said it was necessary to be circumspect in imposing a prior restraint on airing of views.

The channel’s editor, Suresh Chavhanke, whom the Islamist petitioners sought to restrain told his writer that the court had not exactly covered itself with glory by becoming the first ever to stop the telecast of a program even before it was aired. This, he said, was done at the prodding of Muslim associations in America and Britain. The bodies had threatened him with dire consequences, even compelled one of their prominent ad partners, Amul, to withdraw support, resulting in an instant loss of contracts worth Rs 1.3 crore. He said he was in possession of “explosive information” on the long-term plan of Islamists to infiltrate the bureaucracy and sabotage the country’s policy making. Ignoring the spike in recruitments from a community with pan-Islamic loyalties in the country’s top-drawer services, selections for which are annually conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), can only imperil the nation’s future.

The Indian Police Service (IPS) Association fulfilled its secular obligation by protesting along predictable lines. Chavhanke was condemned for his “irresponsible piece of journalism” and efforts to drive a communal wedge among serving officers. Rants from Left-Liberal media organs like Quint, Wire, NDTV etc. castigated the editor for fouling the environment of the country’s administrative citadel by casting communal aspersions.

However, let not the crassness of Chavhanke’s presentation trump the relevance of the issue. It deserves a dispassionate overview. To begin with it will be churlish to deny that the inclusion of Urdu literature has led to a spurt in Muslims trying their luck at the UPSC civils. Muslim candidates alone opt for it. The papers are then checked by Muslim evaluators who consider it their moral duty to improve the chances of their co-religionists with inflated marks. Allowances are made even at the interview stage. Given the government’s patronage, merit alone is seldom the sole criteria in the selection process.

More worrying is the troublesome background of the coaching centres behind the recruitment of Muslims to the bureaucracy. Topping the list is the Zakat Foundation of India (ZFI). The ZFI has taken upon itself the task of raising Muslim representation in the bureaucracy even though its main activity is to provide emergency relief, post-disaster rehabilitation, sustainable development, education, healthcare, orphan sponsorship, and seasonal programs like Ramzan iftars and udhiya/qurbani.

The NGO’s links with the outlawed Muslim cleric and criminal absconder, Zakir Naik, has been a subject of bitter debate. Its stand on key issues like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) or the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) run counter to the national interest. Will it then be unreasonable to assume that the ideological biases of the mentors will necessarily be transmitted to those being trained to write the UPSC papers? Twenty-seven of the 40 Muslims who entered the IAS in 2020 were ZFI coached. Barring the odd exception, how many would defend the CAA or UCC is anyone’s guess. Among ZFI’s funding partners is the UK-based Madina Trust whose anti-Bharat activities are not the best kept secret. Members of the pro-Pakistan body were spotted during the violent protests and attack on the Indian High Commission in London on 15 August 2019.

ZFI is among the scores of Islamic bodies using the business of charity and social service as a cover for the larger political agenda. Islamist charities funded by western governments have links with worldwide Islamist movements like Jamaat-e-Islami which operate out of Bharat. In 2012 the Delhi High Court rejected its infructuous public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the Union government’s decision to hold a Limited Competitive Examination (LCE) from time to time to recruit a limited number of IPS officers from among existing police officials under various state governments. Quite obviously the idea of the LCE was mooted to ensure the availability of competent officers for key posts.

Other IAS tutorials for Muslim aspirants include the Azhagiya Kadan (AK) Academy at Chennai situated within the precincts of the Makkah-Masjid mosque. The center has since 2012 been at the forefront of the campaign to persuade Muslim youth to sit for the civil services examinations. Behind the initiative was the then imam of the mosque. Even the email ID of the academy ([email protected]) leaves no room for doubt whom its examinees would owe their loyalty if selected.

Serving Muslim officers in senior positions are not above playing the victim card when things do not work out in their interest regardless of how much they have already benefited from the system. Retired Uttar Pradesh DGP Javeed Ahmad was aggrieved when his claim to the CBI director’s job was glossed over in 2015/16. More telling is the recent letter written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by 54 members of a body calling itself the Constitutional Conduct Group requesting him to tighten the implementation of the social media giant’s hate speech policy.  Among the signatories are three retired IPS and IAS officers belonging to the Muslim community. The letter was written in response to the August 14 news report in the Wall Street Journal on Facebook India’s failure to act on its own anti-hate speech standards. Muslims, said the letter, were being demonized due to their religious affiliation and ethnic origins. Cited were the few lynching incidents, CAA/NRC, and the Delhi riots in which minorities were alleged to have been at the receiving end.

The polarization in the UP bureaucracy, however, is both along religious and caste lines. Its principal beneficiaries in the last three decades were casteist outfits like the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The BJP electoral sweep in 2017 changed the dynamics, but the divisions remain endemic.

Muslim enrollment in the bureaucracy is often seen as a vote-catching tool. Mamata Banerjee has been freely using it to shore up her Muslim vote bank in Bengal. Since the presence of Muslims in the top police hierarchy cannot be raised due to paucity of numbers, she has shifted her focus on boosting their presence at the Officer in-Charge (OC) level. Here there has been a noticeable spurt in Muslim appointments. The choice of the OC is crucial to any inquest or inquiry beginning with the filing of the FIR. Political subservience helps.

Chavhanke’s concerns are legitimate. Every Muslim recruit to the IAS/IPS is by no means a jihadi, but their loyalty to the Union of Bharat cannot be taken for granted. Given the global spread of political Islam, and its impact on ordinary Muslim minds, an intelligence check on each is imperative. Their views on the burning problems of the day need to be ascertained before they are entrusted with the task of administering even a slice of homeland. Potential saboteurs of Acts of Parliament like the CAA, those against the revocation of Article 370 cannot become public servants. The national interest cannot be squandered at the altar of political correctness.


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About the Author

Sudhir Kumar Singh
Sudhir Kumar Singh is an independent journalist who has worked in senior editorial positions in the Times Of India, Asian Age, Pioneer, and the Statesman. Also a sometime stage and film actor who has worked with iconic directors like Satyajit Ray and Tapan Sinha. He writes regularly for the HinduPost as consulting editor.