This is the second incident in the past two years when an IPS officer was asked to leave the service due to his alleged unauthorised leave.
Written by Satish Jha
In a setback to IPS officer Samiullah Ansari, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has terminated his service, stating that his absence for the past five years from the duty should be treated as “deemed to have resigned”.
This is the second incident in the past two years when an IPS officer was asked to leave the service due to his alleged unauthorised leave. The other IPS officer was Himanshu Bhatt, who was asked to quit in 2014. Interestingly, both the officers had left Gujarat following the 2002 riots.
Bhatt was SP of Banaskantha district, while Ansari was DCP (Traffic) of Ahmedabad city when the riots broke out.
The Indian Express had reported on December 29 that the MHA had refused voluntary retirement scheme to Ansari and held that he was on an unauthorised leave from September 2010. The MHA’s reply filed before the Central Administrative Tribunal on December 10 stated that Ansari is “only trying in one way or another to prolong the eventuality of his deemed resignation”. The reply was based on a petition moved by Ansari after his VRS plea was rejected by the state government.
The 1992-batch Gujarat cadre officer had joined IIM-Bangalore to pursue a one-year course soon after the riots.
HINDU, JAN 8, 2016
The Left’s bumpy road to revival
SRINIVASAN RAMANI The Communist Party of India (Marxist) held an organisational plenum for the first time since 1978, in Kolkata. The plenum, a platform to thrash out a reorientation of organisational strategy, was held at a time when the CPI(M) — and the rest of the mainstream Left — is at its weakest organisational and political strength in decades. This is more so in the State of West Bengal, where the party has undergone a precipitous decline, reflected in election after election since 2009.
Much of the talk around the event has centred on whether or not the CPI(M) will seek an alliance with the Congress in West Bengal — with cryptic but dissonant voices on the subject emerging from the previous general secretary of the party and the incumbent. Former general secretary Prakash Karat, in a recent article in the party organ, Peoples Democracy , had stressed the need for expanding the party’s independent strength through mass mobilisation and a change in its organisational functioning in this regard. Current general secretary Sitaram Yechury, on the other hand, also stressed the need for flexible “united front tactics” to exploit “differences in ruling class parties” — a euphemism for a possible tie-up with the Congress against the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamool Congress.
Specifically in regard to West Bengal, the talk of an alliance with the Congress is nothing new. For long, even before the first electoral debacle for the CPI(M) in parliamentary elections in 2009, sections of its West Bengal leadership have suggested this as a way to tackle the formidable and growing might of the ruling Trinamool Congress. Now the talk of an alliance has emerged again in the run-up to the State elections in 2016, as the CPI(M) faces not just a strong incumbent in the Trinamool but also the threat of a rising BJP. The Congress itself is in a slump of its own in the State and faces a similar conundrum; while the State unit prefers a tactical alliance with the Left Front, the party’s central leadership has reportedly given the green signal for a tie-up with the Trinamool. If that indeed happens, the strident debate within the CPI(M) would be rendered pointless.
While the talk of an alliance or a lack of it did dominate the coverage of the plenum in media discourse, the CPI(M) has rightly noted that an overhaul in its organisational functioning and direction of its “mass line” is in order for its revival. After all, the decline in the party’s fortunes, especially in West Bengal, had been not just due to policy or governmental failures but also due to serious organisational issues that had piled up over the years.
Political scientist Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya in a recent book, Government as Practice , has in this author’s opinion come up with the most plausible explanation for the Left’s sudden decline from a very strong position of strength as late as 2006 in West Bengal. The author takes on the varied explanations for this change in fortunes before coming up with his own. The “functionalist” explanation suggests that the party suffered defeats and a lack of confidence among the electorate because of a fall in standards of governance. This does not explain why the electorate has reinforced its confidence in the present Mamata Banerjee-led government which has not been effective in bringing any vital change in governance for the better. The “structuralist” explanation alludes to the fall in support due to the failure of the Left Front-instituted client-patron system to arrest corruption and malfeasance by local patrons associated with the front. This does not, however, explain why the very same patrons seem to have shifted to the Trinamool and have delivered favourable electoral outcomes for the ruling party in the State.
The “ideological” explanation, most prominently offered by Left intellectual Prabhat Patnaik, argues that the reduction of the CPI(M) and the Left’s work into “mundane and pedestrian politics” in order to perpetuate its rule and its ignorance of its larger ideological project of transformative politics transcending present-day capitalism, was responsible for its overall decline. Mr. Bhattacharyya counters this by suggesting that the CPI(M) did not do enough in the task of transcendence that was possible in the “politics of small change” — in the way the party regulated the affairs of the State as a party of government in West Bengal. His argument is that the CPI(M) was so caught up in the process of preserving power that it refused to reinvent a process of change that came about after the reforms it initiated in the 1980s. Rather than utilising the quotidian nature of its engagement with the people to further change — by expanding the benefits of land reforms to improve the status of landless agricultural workers; by organising and working towards the improvement of livelihoods in the unorganised sector; by focussing on primary education and health; by involving its cadre from the lower segments of society in a way that they could be taken into higher leadership — the party was merely reduced to an arbiter of sorts, with decisions taken in a top-down manner, leadership remaining ossified and dominated by the upper castes and the focus restricted to winning elections.
Road to rectification
In the last six years, the CPI(M) has had the opportunity to analyse and rectify its structure and organisational thinking in a changing West Bengal. Yet, it has been unable to move away from the logic of what Mr. Bhattacharyya calls “governmentalism”. This has meant the limiting of the party’s work to sterile critiques of the Trinamool and its inability to mobilise opposition to the ruling party in the form of mass actions against corruption (the Saradha scam, for example) or failures in governance. In this regard, the plenum’s resolution to focus on categories such as the urban poor by forming neighbourhood associations, for example, suggests atleast a serious rethinking, which requires to translate to actions on the ground.
Two years ago, this writer had the opportunity to visit the Marxist, writer and former West Bengal Finance Minister Ashok Mitra at his apartment in Kolkata. Mr. Mitra bemoaned the weak stature of the Indian Left and was sad that his prognostications about the precipitous fall in its popularity following the land acquisition controversies in West Bengal in the late 2000s came true. When asked as to what could possibly be a way out for the Left to win the support of the people in the State, he hearkened back to the early 1940s. The communists in Bengal were discredited for having taken an antagonistic position against the Quit India Movement by adopting an abstract political line that sought to support the Allied powers as the Soviet Union was under threat from fascism. Mr. Mitra reminded us how as a teenager then, he and his friends decided to engage in relief efforts during the Great Bengal Famine by organising under a generic student banner. Slowly but steadily by the dint of their work, the young communists managed to win back their standing among the people, he said. These are sage words, even if from a strong dissident voice and a critic of the CPI(M), that the mainstream Left party should heed.
India’s population concerns: Growth should contribute to human resources WITH a population of about 1,277 million, India is the second most populous country in the world today. This distinction is all set to be erased — and bettered: in less than a decade’s time, India should overtake its neighbour China as the globe's single largest country. As might be expected, there are both benefits and burdens associated with having a large population; and a pressing onus on the State is to display a consistent engagement with well-defined, humane plans designed to enhance the benefits and alleviate the burdens of carrying an increasing population.
A major potential benefit to be had from a rising population, when it is accompanied by reductions in the fertility rate wrought by declining birth and death rates, is that the dependency of the very young and very old populations on the working-age population will decline, while the latter itself will increase in size, thus contributing productively to the process of growth. This is the so-called ‘demographic dividend’ that population experts speak of. Clearly, growth in aggregate output per person is an essential component of the demographic dividend. If a large, healthy, educated and skilled work-force is essential for growth, then growth also is essential for ensuring the good health and knowledge — and skill — levels of a burgeoning work force. For human resources to contribute to growth, we require that growth should contribute to human resources.
In particular, the fetishism of a numerically targeted growth goal of 7.5 or 8 (or whatever) per cent — much evident in official policy pronouncements — is barely adequate to realise the potential of a demographic dividend. Much also depends on the nature of growth envisaged and planned for. In particular, while it would be foolish to deny the essential centrality of growth in the scheme of things, a growth that is relatively jobless and absolutely dis-equalising, can scarcely be expected to compensate for impressively large rates of growth, per se. Unfortunately, this (jobless and non-inclusive growth) is largely the sort of growth that India is witnessing.
The ‘total dependency ratio’ of a population is the ratio of the young (less than 15) and the old (above 64) populations to the population in the working age group (15-64). It is true that this ratio has declined over time (from 75 per cent in 1981 to 56 per cent in 2011), while the proportion of the working-age population has risen (from 56 per cent in 1981 to 63 per cent in 2011), pointing to the potential benefits to be had from a demographic dividend. However, in a time of rising population levels, it is wise to be guided by the arithmetic of ratios as well as of absolute numbers. While the dependency ratio has declined between 1981 and 2011, given that India's working-age population has also risen over this period, from 373 million to 750 million, it can be inferred that the absolute number of the dependent population has increased from 280 million to 420 million. We need increases in the absolute quantum of resources to meet this increase in the absolute quantum of dependency. Has there been such a commensurate increase in resources?
Consider the case of hospital beds as an example: the number of these vital health resources has increased from 5,46,400 in 1981 to 8,47,000 in 2011. From 1981 to 2011, the number of dependents in India has risen by a factor of 1.5; while, over the same period, the number of hospital beds has risen by a factor of 1.55. The implication is straightforward. Despite a decline in the dependency ratio, the country has to run faster and faster in order to stay in the same place. Hence the vital importance of a concern with the nature of growth in per capita income apart from only the magnitude of growth.
Declines in the death rate, especially in the infant mortality rate, are an undeniable aspect of India's post-Independence demographic transition. However, when it suits our purpose, we tend to stay content with observing secular declines in the 'bad' (the infant mortality rate, for instance) and secular increases in the 'good' (income per capita, for instance). But have we not arrived at a stage where we must also ask if the rates of improvement in the demographic and standard-of-living indices are commensurate with the country’s potential for improvement; with the country’s needs; and with the performance of other comparably poor countries?
Viewed in this light, India has plenty of population matters to be seriously concerned with. Consider the nutritional status of the country. The International Food Policy Research Institute has come up with a Global Hunger Index, which is a simple average of three distinguished headcount ratios — of undernourishment, under-5 wasting and stunting, and under-5 mortality. The Index is rated as ‘low’ in magnitude if it is less than 9.9, and ‘serious’ if it lies in the range of 20-34.9. For 2015, the Global Hunger Index Report indicates that China had a ‘low’ score of 8.6, while India occupied the upper reaches of the ‘serious’ category, with a score of 29. The World Bank data suggest that for 2015, China's infant mortality rate was 9 per 1000 live births, while India's was 38. According to the same data source, China's maternal mortality rate (number of pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births) was 27 in 2015, while the figure for India was 174. The median age of the population (that is, the age which splits the population into two halves below and above it) was 36.8 years for China in 2014, and 27.3 years for India. The expectation of life at birth for the period 2010-2015, according to the United Nations, was 80.3 years for China and 64 years for India. The examples can be multiplied, but the tendency must surely be quite clear. It suggests, at the least, that India could be productively occupied by competing with China on more than the single matter of a seat in the UN Security Council.
Other population worries for India must relate to distress — or ‘push’ —induced factors leading to rural-urban migration and the swelling of the ranks of the urban ‘informal’ sector. It would be nice to learn that the provision of basic infrastructure in our towns and cities — shelter, potable water, roads — is an important preoccupation with our planners and policy-makers. What we do know of their pre-occupation is an expensive inanity that goes by the name of ‘Smart Cities’. This strikes one as being another instance of the ambition of bridging the distance between Madhubani and Shanghai without the effort of any patient and essential intermediate steps.
At least one more major population worry is — or should be — the skewed and declining sex-ratio of the population, particularly at birth and amongst juveniles. Space constraints prevent further elaboration of the issue here. But what is available on record, surely, is a challenging enough set of real population concerns to have to deal with. The pity is that these real and pressing demographic concerns are being renounced in favour of dangerously diversionary and imaginary concerns having to do with the ‘demographics of religion’ — on which more on another occasion.