Monday, April 07, 2008

Harish Khare on Bureaucratic Ethics

Harish Khare's op-ed in the Hindu today has a strange dichotomy. His principal point is that M.S.Gill ought not to have accepted the ministerial appointment lest it sets a wrong precedent and will entice future ECs into engaging in partisan conduct with a view to similarly securing office post-retirement. The point no doubt has merit but if political association after retirement is such a bad thing, is not similar association during service doubly worse? So you would think but look at what he has to say about Navin Chawla:

It may also be noted that a controversy has erupted around one of the current Election Commissioners, Navin Chawla. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the principal opposition party, has knocked at the door of the President and has also sought to inveigle the Supreme Court in its campaign against Mr. Chawla. It has sought his removal from the Commission on the baseless and specious charge that since he was “associated” with some Congress leaders before he began his Nirvachan Sadan innings he could not possibly be expected to remain unbiased and disinterested in performing his new constitutional role.

Whether involving the Supreme Court is a good idea is debatable but knocking at the President's door is nothing new. Political parties do it all the time to express their grievances over the government's conduct. So is Khare's claim that this charge that he was associated with 'some' Congress leaders is baseless and specious? Chawla's association with the Congress has been a long one and one look at the people appointed by this government is enough to tell you all you need to know about the kind of people who get rewarded - loyalists of the Gandhi family. Does Navin Chawla fit this profile? Absolutely. I quote some well-recorded instances of such association and his misconduct during the Emergency from Wikipedia:

At the time of Indian Emergency (1975 - 77) he was secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. Shah Commission which inquired into the excesses during the Emergency, indicted Mr Chawla for having been 'authoritarian and callous' and for gross misuse of power "in cynical disregard of the welfare of citizens". Further, it declared that he was "unfit to hold any public office which demands an attitude of fair play and consideration for others"

Election Commissioner and his wife Rupika ran the Jaipur-based Lala Chaman Lal Education Trust which had secured MPLADS funds from Congress MPs — A.A. Khan, R.P. Goenka, Ambika Soni, Dr. Karan Singh and Mr A.R. Kidwai.The trust was allotted six acres of land by the Congress government in Rajasthan when Mr Ashok Gehlot was the Chief Minister.

So if Khare is trying to squelch corruption, he should probably take aim first at someone with an established record of partisanship who holds high constitutional office currently rather than someone who held office ~10 years ago and is only now, after a long hiatus, returning to an overtly political office where a degree of partisanship is even acceptable. The fact that he chooses to do the opposite only goes to show his bias against the BJP.

10 comments:

Dirt Digger said...

Harish as usual puts his foot in his mouth. Good expose on the double standards in the case of Navin Chawla. There's more details in tis site,
http://www.hvk.org/articles/0705/60.html
Navin if some of you might remember was one of the govt. thugs who reported to Sanjay Gandhi during emergency.
Of course the Congress decides to reward its sycophants and gave him a EC post, similar to how it kept Krishna in the news by making him a Governor.
Harish is mentally lax to write an article without doing the research.
Not to worry, we've smart people to catch him in the act.

Dirt Digger said...

Another nugget from Harish,
"Now his appointment as a Minister cannot sit easily with serious students of constitutional correctness."
WTF. Who cares about the serious students? Can he deliver on his duties? Then let him do the job.
More golden words,
"Constitutional functionaries are like monks, making lifelong commitments of moral virtue and personal self-negation."
Whoa! Anyone becoming a minister swears an oath on the Indian Constitution to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
Is he guessing that they cannot deliver?

pilid said...

Right. Khare has a soft corner for the Congress though his op-eds usually carry some 'advice' to the party how to conduct itself or its government. And generally, he is against the BJP - a good example is his coverage of the recently completed Gujarat elections which was more about who he wanted to win (Congress) than who was in reality better placed to win (BJP). He sometimes makes sense but more often than not, his logic is tortuous with a lot of holes in it.

Thyagarajan said...

I am sorry to disagree with you Pilid. To my mind, none of this Khare phure persons writings have made sense. He is out with an agenda (like all communists) and his ends only justifies his meanness.

Thyagarajan.

buddu ram said...

Is HK expecting a nomination for the Raya Sabha for his brilliant and extraordinary analysis of the indian political scenario.

pilid said...

Thanks buddu ram and Thyagarajan.
Khare is not a communist - he is often critical of them though not in much detail probably in keeping with Hindu editorial policy. He is a secular liberal definitely. He comes across as someone who might be classified as believing in the ideology of the old British Labor party before Tony Blair - left but not so far left to be classified a communist.

Aanchal H. said...

You guyz are hilarious and clearly know squat about squat! U want to nitpick even when Chindu is bang on the mark. U would have preferred HK to have hailed the appointment of M>S.Gill. When he didn't, you are reduced to flailing your bosoms and carping about irrelevgant things. I wish India had intelligent rightwing commentary and not this sad crap. I guess I should start my own blog with authentic conservative commentary, not this semi-literate pseudo-analytical ranting!

Andromeda said...

HK's piece here is so typical of him. He terms the BJP's allegations against Navin Chawla "specious" while lecturing on constitutional morailty and Proprietary. You must also not forget the fact that this UPA govt has filled most important offices with its croonies - be it the EC, governors or the president. Naveen Chawla has close ties with the Congress and his appointment raises the same serious questions that MS gill's appointment has raised. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Aanchal, we may not be blessed with super intelligent skills that you claim to posess. You may well start off your own blog and dish out "authentic conservative commentary" .We wish you the best.

pilid said...

Good point Andromeda. I agree that it has filled most offices with cronies. However, filling up a ministerial position with a crony perhaps does less harm than filling up the position of an election commissioner with someone of that kind because of the inherent need for impartiality in case of the latter (not only to actually be impartial but to be seen as such).

Dirt Digger said...

aanchal,
You are hilariously nonsensical.
The author primarily focuses on the double standards shown by HK towards similar appointments by the same party with the only difference being the bias against a right wing party.
Pertaining to the constitutional correctness, HK raises specious arguments against the appointment, when there is no article in the Constitution preventing MSG from taking an appointment.
The issue of interference is far less of an issue than say if a Supreme Court judge were to become the Law Minister.
HK himself indulges in a fair bit of grandstanding without having supporting facts or proposing viable alternatives.
It would behoove to read and understand the context of the article.
We look forward to reading your blog which will no doubt be filled with nuggets of knowledge.