1. It is unprecedented. It is the first time that the Supreme Court has intervened to the extent in removing the director of a central investigating agency from a probe that is working on. Can we term it judicial activism or the Supreme Court was forced to do after the apex court’s patience was tested enough by the CBI director?

2. But, shouldn’t have this decision come much before given the fact that it has come almost three months after the visitor diary of CBI chief’s residence containing details of visits of people facing probe in 2G and coal-blocks allocation cases was put in public domain and the Supreme Court attention was drawn to it?

3. Shouldn’t have the CBI chief recused himself from the 2G probe when the allegations surfaced in the first place? Should he step down now?

4. Isn’t it too late given the fact that Ranjit Sinha is finishing his term as the CBI director on December 2, just after 12 days from now, and removing him from the 2G probe cannot alter the functional grounds of the investigation process now?

5. Should the government wait and let Ranjit Sinha finish his term or it should act after the Supreme Court’s order on Ranjit Sinha on moral grounds?

6. If the decision doesn’t hold for the technical elements of the investigation now given his term is ending, what is the symbolic message that it conveys?

7. ‘CBI is a caged parrot and set it free’ – Ranjit Sinha had famously demanded once. It opened a Pandora’s box of debates given the fact that CBI thoroughly enjoyed the reputation of being a central investigating agency controlled and manipulated by the parties in power. Will the Supreme Court’s decision to remove him from the 2G probe prove an effective reminder in that direction?

8. When Ranjit Sinha had demanded so, it sounded hollow as coming from a person who had faced allegations of being biased and favouring politicians and whose appointment had a streak of controversy behind it. Hasn’t the Supreme Court decision today proved the controversy justified?

9. Supreme Court went as far as in setting the seriousness of its observations while removing Ranjit Sinha by saying that it was not passing a detailed order as it would hurt CBI’s reputation. What does it tell to the government given the fact that Ranjit Sinha is finishing his term and a new CBI director is to be appointed?

10. Don’t we need to relook at the debate on CBI’s autonomy in the context of the Supreme Court decision today?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


November 19 resonates for a day nine years ago. In 2005, an honest and promising youngster, who was trying to live his ideals, the ideals that are supposed to be followed universally, as parents expect from their children, as is taught in all schools, as all the scriptures scream to convey, was shot to death for following these universal principles of human civilization.

The 27-year old IIM Lucknow MBA and Indian Oil Corporation’s ‘Marketing Manager Grade A’ was killed while carrying out his duty honestly, living the ideals the way we all are supposed to do, the way the oath given to ministers, legislators and bureaucrats expects – not compromising on values of honesty and integrity while holding the office.

And that behaviour in office reflects the conduct in personal life.

And the universal norms expect them to be voluntary and not forced.

But he was living in a time when ‘honesty is equated with foolishness’ and when ‘honest people are fools’ had become, for long, valid themes for public discourses and when ‘corruption had become a way of life’. Corruption has, very much, become a way of life.

Yes, he was not alone. But humanity gets such souls rarely, the commoners who stand up and speak up for what is right, without fear, with an unflinching resolve. He was one among the rare breed of leaders who continue to show us the light in spite of our betraying attitude; they continue to put their lives in grave danger for the principles of humanity, for the social ethos of human civilizations, that societies tend to undermine.

I caught somewhere an article on a college debate on S. Manjunath titled ‘Was Manjunath idiotic or heroic?’ with the team behind the biopic ‘Manjunath’. Its director Sandeep Verma here talks about his meeting with Manjunath’s parents in Karnataka. The observations on conversation he had with them is an eye-opener on the social ethos today.

Here it goes:*

“I met Manjunath’s family in Karnataka. I knew that Manjunath had come from a humble background. I met his grief-stricken but proud parents. I could discern that his mother was shocked that people were implying that Manjunath could have exposed the scam in a different way. He could have been more patient, used different methods, that he was stupid or naïve, and that is why he was killed. People made them feel almost ashamed that they had a son who could not adjust to a situation. While the students absorbed Verma’s statement, the director looked angry as he stated, “This was really a barometer of how society treats its heroes. It was a reflection of us. I was angry when I heard this. Manjunath’s mother told me she does not want a single rupee from this movie. She only wants me to show that her son was not stupid but courageous.”””

People like Shanmugam Manjunath are the reminders of what we have become, in the name of civilized societies of a thriving democracy where a ‘Goonda Godman'(Rampal, Hisar, Haryana) takes on a state machinery and refuses to bow before the Constitution of the land.

What we have become reflects in her mother’s worries that people see his brave and honest son as ‘stupid or naive’, as someone who could not ‘adjust to the situation’ when we need to live the spirit with which he lived the ideals of personal and professional integrity.

People like Shanmugam Manjunath are the guiding spirit for them who still believe in the universal values of humanity, the human life and the societies should follow. For them, November 19 reflects more on lives like S. Manjunath than the ‘high and mighty’ names like Indira Gandhi whose birth anniversary also falls today.

Manjunath CollageCollage created from photographs sourced from Internet resources


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –

*Was Manjunath idiotic or heroic? Mumbai college debates


It was to happen, and was just a matter of time.

It was a typical Sharad Pawar move, and after placing the cards initially, he transitioned to the next stage, stirring the elements of political opportunism to score the brownie points that were envisaged earlier.

Smelling the flavour, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party had announced unconditional support to BJP to form the government in Maharashtra after the assembly poll results on October 19. Though BJP emerged as the largest party, it was 23 seats short of the majority mark in the 288-member assembly and the talks with Shivsena were not making much headway apart from the routine newsmaking noise.

He reiterated his support on November 10, two days before the trust vote on November 12. He said, “We have made our position clear. We want stability. We cannot have elections again. We will ensure that there will be no instability”.

The ‘tacit’ understanding continued to sing the melody on November 12 when BJP played on the tune Pawar had in mind while Congress and Shivsena created din on the ‘murder of democracy’ after BJP won the controversial trust vote by ‘voice vote’.

Though, even after this, the BJP-Shivsena exercise to find a way in out of the logjam continued. But nothing concrete came out and Shivsena, being the second largest party in the assembly with 63 seats, bagged the opposition leader position as the deadline to do so approached.

Now, the ball was perfectly in Sharad Pawar’s court waiting to be played further by his next stroke. And the next stroke came within a week.

Sharad Pawar, the Congress man, who ‘rebelled’, left (or was expelled from) the Congress party, and formed his own political outfit, Nationalist Congress Party, on the issue of Sonia Gandhi’s Italian origin, soon took a comfortably opportunist political U-turn, entered in an alliance with Congress and formed government in Maharashtra in 1999. It is to be seen in the context that Pawar shared good relation with Pramod Mahajan and BJP-Shivsena combine was expecting NCP to join them after the fractured Maharashtra mandate in 1999. Instead, Pawar, in a move that has become trademark of his party’s political opportunism now, decided to go with Congress.

Though the notes were discordant all along the duration of the compromised love affair, from 1999 to 2014 in Maharashtra and from 2004 to 2014 in Delhi, it continued somehow, as long as the power looked within the visible range.

But Pawar and his party kept on playing, tactfully, the discordant notes all along, keeping its senior and parent party on tenterhooks. The NCP-Congress differences and war of words made for countless headlines. Sharad Pawar even issued grave threats to pull back. Also, his party had no reservations in praising Narendra Modi at times and showing positive inclinations towards BJP.

That was the typical political flavour of the times in India, customized and practiced the Sharad Pawar way – playing the good Samaritan of Indian politics – while keeping his eye centrally glued to furthering interests of his family. The corruption allegations against the Pawar family have the potential to open a Pandora’s box that may prove the ultimate nemesis. That has to be handled and warded away. And that requires one to be in ‘some’ position.

When it was written all over that Congress, UPA and NCP-Congress were not going to come back in power, it was logical that Sharad Pawar break away demanding parity in the ticket distribution process or any other reason for that matter. One of the calculations would be that NCP could emerge out as the kingmaker in case of a hung assembly scenario as the BJP-Sena alliance was also broken.

Pawar played his cards. BJP joined the game as it helped the party on dealing with Shivsena on its own terms. On the surface, the party which Narendra Modi named ‘Naturally Corrupt Party’, was not to be an ally. The spectacle of the ‘voice vote’ was to avoid this embarrassment only. It did keep Shivsena in check but it also made NCP the only choice BJP had, to prove the majority of its minority government, to have the leased life for six months, before which the BJP government’s majority cannot be put to test again.

And that placed Sharad Pawar on top. And he remains there, as of now, as the political developments of the moment are.

Shivsena is the principal opposition and Devendra Fadnavis, who raised the irrigation scam issue with central allegations focused on NCP state leadership and who is openly pro-Vidarbha (a separate Vidarbha state from Maharashtra), is heading the minority government of BJP.

Until BJP seals a deal with Shivsena to form an alliance, Sharad Pawar will remain an imperative for Devendra Fadnavis, a position that BJP would like to get away from as soon as possible. But, going by the political equations now, nothing can be said on that front.

And with it, he played his next stroke today.

It was time to flex muscles after BJP acted visibly-politically-detached on NCP’s offer, sending out the message that it was rather NCP’s compulsion to offer support to BJP.

And it came as a direct warning. Playing the good Samaritan, he deliberated on the political developments that BJP and Shivsena were still not able to stitch an alliance, a must for political stability. He said, “If the BJP and Shiv Sena had joined together, there could have been stability. However, that did not happen. If the situation continues like this for the next six months, it will be time for fresh Assembly elections. We are not obliged to ensure stability of the government.”

Within a week, Mr. Pawar has travelled from – We will ensure that there will be no instability. – to – We are not obliged to ensure stability of the government.

So, the onus is now on BJP. NCP has played it part (and its card). It may be just a rhetoric but coming from Sharad Pawar makes in unpredictable. And the possible predictability that BJP may choose to break NCP in case talks with Shivsena break completely and fail finally would certainly be in Sharad Pawar’s mind when he issued the warning.

Let’s see how BJP reads and interprets this warning.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


These beautifully staked pestle and mortar (khal batta – associated with a ritual of Puja offerings to Sai Baba) peices at shoprs at Shirdi in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra pull attention easily.

And the captivating flow of the pattern their stacking makes elongates the attention span.

There are idols of Gods as well in the frame but the eyes make effort to go there.

A worthwhile click while on the go.

Shirdi Pestle & Mortar-1

Shirdi Pestle & Mortal-2


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, like others were, in 1947, was a freedom fighter first, before being the politician of the Independent India, who was going to be its first prime minister.

And in spite of the differences with his fellow freedom fighters, he was one of the luminaries who could comfortably be placed in the second line with fellow members with the mutual respect they had for each-other. Naturally, the first line was the Mahatma himself.

But, then, that was it only.

Probably, it was one among the many harms that the sudden demise of the Mahatma caused to the cause of the independent India.

Mahatma, the architect of the Indian Independence Movement and the Father of the Nation, had foreseen something and had advocated of dissolving the Indian National Congress to establish a new political order in India with wider participation and diversified freshness.

Till August 15, 1947, the Indian National Congress was an independence movement.

After it, it directly donned the role of a political party when India needed a ‘political movement’.

What the Mahatma advocated was the propagation of a political movement.

Had the Mahatma been there, the nation could have this much needed change, under his guidance and unselfish love for the motherland.

After few months of getting independence, Mahatma Gandhi was taken away from among us when a fanatic killed him, and with it died many hopes of having a transformed India in the future.

Now, it was solely to Nehru and the Indian National Congress. Still there was some sanity till the first elections were held in 1951-52 because of the larger breed of the freedom fighter in the formative years of governance. But cracks were appearing. Many Congress stalwarts left the party because of Nehru.

These could have been accepted as products of regular political process had it not been for Nehru’s political behaviour.

What India needed when it got a wounded independence, riots, displacements and millions of humiliated souls was people in the office with highest standards of probity and personal integrity. There are many to be placed on that pedestal, but when we look back now, we can easily say that the person at the top, Jawaharlal Nehru, could not follow his dignified past of the pre-independence days.

The first and the foremost pre-condition of that probity was to take everyone else as the equal partner in the nation-building process while at the same time, following the strict discipline of the politics of probity.

Sadly, first Feroze Gandhi and then Indira Gandhi gave us a paradox that pushed us to question Nehru’s motives as he went ahead with his prime-ministerial terms, from first to second, to third.

On mass level, no one knows about the family descendents of almost of the leaders who worked for us to give us August 15, 1947.

Paradoxically, on mass level, almost everyone knows about the Nehru-Gandhi family.

And ironically (and pathetically), most in the independent India would be unaware of the family tree of the Mahatma that followed him in the independent India, family tree of the Mahatma who was the real Gandhi.

Jawaharlal Nehru erred here, willing or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly, pushing India into a long and tumultuous future that followed one-party rule and dynasty politics and was cursed with an immature and almost non-existent opposition for decades.

Nehru was the blue-eyed boy of the Mahatma. He should have listened to him. It was his duty. He should have worked to give us the political movement that the Mahatma ‘wished’ during the formative years of the independent India.

But…. and this ‘but’ raises many valid questions.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –







©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Alone was the feeling
Alone was the day
Thoughts were speaking
The grey was gone
When evening came calling
Alone was the feeling

Life saw the clarity
Silence was musical again
Words were melting
Breathing was composed
The soul was in again
And Alone was the feeling

Alone came the night
With the peace of the day
Sitting by the side
Singing from its heart
The day showed the way
When Alone was the feeling

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


A Supreme Court ruling says there cannot be more than 30 female sterilization surgeries by a team of doctors in a day. The ruling also says a doctor cannot perform more than 10 such surgeries in a day. The convention also says such surgeries can only be performed in a government run facility.

The doctor in question, rewarded by the state health minister of Chhattisgarh for scoring the 50,000 mark of such surgeries and arrested now, performed 83 surgeries in five hours in a private hospital that was not in operation for months.

13 of these women died after developing complications. Many are still serious and in hospitals. And there are reports of hospitalization from some other camps as well.

And ‘such’ deaths make for regular news flow. What happened in Chhattisgarh is not a standalone incident. Yes, but the way it happened pulled the global attention. A Google survey will return with reports in almost every language.

Every human life lost owing to such misplaced and ill-conceived human priorities is an utter shame but we are living in an age of lost priorities.

Smaller number of deaths don’t figure at all beyond the local news coverage. Even this huge calamity was not potent enough to storm a national outrage and serious debate. No social media campaign was launched. No ‘such’ self-proclaimed advocates came forward. It did not trend beyond the realm of news making machinery.

And ‘such’ deaths just didn’t happen now. They have had a long history, dotting the timeline of the independent India.

Female sterilization surgery has been in regular use. Earlier, it was a state policy tool, with targets explicitly fixed. In fact, it was a state policy forcefully implemented during the Emergency years. Later, to make it look more progressive and inclusive, the process was made voluntary with more emphasis on educating the participants on family planning practices.

But most of it remained on papers, especially in small town, rural and hinterland India. Targets were fixed unofficially. Targets are still fixed unofficially. And ‘such’ surgeries have continued with their botched-up legacy.

Statistical reports say 12 women die every day in India owing to the botched sterilization surgeries or complications arising after the surgeries. Official figures say over 1400 people died in ‘such’ surgeries between 2003 and 2012, almost of them being women, and the statistical history dates deep back in time.

Now, India is a vast country when we map it in terms of its population. Around 1.25 billion people, distributed mostly across the small town or rural India, and most of the them just somehow surviving their living conditions. Enough is a word seldom arrived in their lives on their day-to-day requirements.

Hunger, healthcare, education and shelter are chronic issues still affecting the large swaths of Indian demographic landscape and the ‘subjects’ of most such female sterilization camps come from these population realms.

According to the reports, the governments offers monetary and other incentives to the ‘subjects’. Yes ‘subjects’ because the conceiver and developers of such plans don’t see them beyond this as revealed by the continuance of such target driven practices.

The reports say the monetary reward for women (tubectomy) is Rs. 1000 while the monetary compensation for men (vasectomy) is Rs. 2000. Why this gap? This is when tubectomy has greater complications than vasectomy. Some other reports say the incentive is Rs. 1400 adding that the National Population Policy discourages it. At the same time, the local health workers and doctors are also provided with incentives to bring more and more women to the sterilization surgery camps, like this Chhattisgarh doctor was awarded by the state government.

It is by now a deeply entrenched social malaise made permanent by the tentacles of a patriarchal society. Women are still considered secondary or inferior family members in social formations that make for most of the ‘subjects’ of ‘such’ female sterilization camps. The extreme position it has taken should become clear from the fact that we never discuss ‘male sterilization camps’ or ‘male sterilization deaths’.

And all for Rs. 1000 or Rs. 1400 or so! From an urban, metro middle-class lifestyle, that doesn’t make anything.

But for poor families dotting the Indian population across its geographical formations, it is a great sum that they rarely find in their possession in one go. And crushed by the conceited male egos and libidos, they choose or are coaxed to opt for or are forced to go for that ‘elusive stash of cash’, never thinking or questioning that their husbands doing so would be easier and probably more lucrative.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


My reflections on life – in quotes




©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Getty Images – In this 1950 photo, a group of women sit below posters advocating family planning in a doctor’s clinic in the Indian village of Badlapur in Maharashtra.

A well thought out photograph tells all. It is the essay in itself. The sayings say so. And it is true always, as this photograph tells.

Midst the controversy (that didn’t pull the outrage it should have, nationally or locally) on 10 sterilization deaths in Chhattisgarh (which got global media pull), I came across this photograph in a The Wall Street Journal’s web write-up*.

The photo tells us how wrong our priorities were when we began, as it dates back to 1950, shot in a Maharashtra village.

And it also explains why, in the 21st Century India, that claims to be a space power, a missile power, an Information Technology power and an economic power house, we still come across regular news headlines like this.

This 1950 photograph had family planning posters hanging in a doctor’s clinic in a Maharashtra village.

And the posters were in English, in a village, probably Marathi speaking (as being in Maharashtra). It was not in some town, city or metro. Also, way back in 1950, literacy rate in India was in pathetic situation. And here the subjects were women. Education for them is still a secondary priority across a large section of the Indian society. So, think of 1950!

And in those days, we began with wrong priorities, this photograph is symbolic of that. The messages were packaged in alienated words and the ground work was supported with draconian practices like ‘forced’ female sterilization camps. Yes, the camps.

Such camps and such ‘forced’ practices (though some would like to say incentivized) can be seen throughout the history of independent India.

And this Chhattisgarh camp was also a forced (incentivized) one where 10 women lost their lives owing to the expertise of the state medical practitioners who botched up the surgical process that is routinely performed at ‘camp’ levels in many parts of India.

*Why India Continues to Sterilize Its Women

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –