Conduct Rules, Freedom of Expression and the Government Servants

Recent controversy surrounding the tweet by J&K Cadre IAS Officer Shah Faesal's and subsequent order of departmental enquiry against him has brought into focus issues of freedom of expression for government servants in the light of Conduct Rules. The write up explores various dimensions of the issue and argues for a more open, transparent system for government servants to express themselves in the public realm.

Reimagining Ministry of Information & Broadcasting

The article is written in response to the piece by former Minister of Information & Broadcasting Mr. Manish Tewari which was published on wire.in. He argued that the Ministry of I&B should be wound up as it has no justification to exist now. I have argued that there is a need to rethink the functions of the Ministry. It remains an important institution for the emerging regulatory challenges thrown by the new media like Facebook, Google etc. Beyond the publicity work, which has been overemphasised in the case of the I&B Ministry, other works including regulatory, need to be strengthened if it has to retain its justification for existence

MAY DAY MUSINGS

Government is today the largest employer in the organised sector. It also has emerged as a very big employer for people with temporary status who lack social security of any kind. The casualisation of labour is reflected in the govt set up too. It looks like we have closed our eyes to the reality of the non-regular workers. Some steps that govt can take to make the work condition just and honourable. Those in the govt need to turn their attention to this sector which allows for exploitation by the contractors, hiring agencies etc. Musings on the May Day

Democracy as Spectacle

Exit polls and the media created hysteria around it is a spectacle that hides behind it a lot of things which needs more attention. French media theorist Guy Debord has said that modern world lives in a spectacle society. The media is its carrier and vital force. Since media and democratic processes have got so deeply enmeshed with each other, it is almost impossible to separate the two. This process of turning everything into an spectacle has dangerous consequences for both society and democracy by corrupting and distorting the meaning and understanding of democracy. The write up analyses the flaw behind the spectacles such as exit polls and draws attention to our role as conscious, conscientious citizens of the country.

Tamenglong- A Visual Diary

It is a visual diary of Tamenglong, a district on the western side of Manipur bordering Nagaland. It is a Naga majority district. Not quite popular among tourists or others, this place has stunning beauty. The photo essay seeks to capture its culture, food, land and people as they appear to a visitor

Uber- Slavery Behind the Digital Veil

Uber is the poster boy of the Sharing economy. Since its inception in 2009, it has expanded rapidly across the world. However, drivers working for Uber have been protesting against it in India as they did earlier in London and many other cities. They claim to be Uber's worker while company says they are contractors. The relationship between drivers and the company is completely behind a digital veil which helps Uber in denying them any benefits. Drivers are angry. The write up explores the implications of sharing economy for worker's right in the context of Uber.

#OneNationOneElection!

The idea of holding simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and State Assemblies has come into focus recently. It is being projected as a 'game changing' idea that would cut cost and make the system more efficient. What lies behind it ? Is it really a 'revolutionary idea'? On closer examination it seems to be a deeply problematic concept which needs to be looked at critically. It may attack at the very roots of democratic system as envisaged in the constitution. We need to be wary of this idea that is apparently in line with what Pratap Bhanu Mehta has called 'permanent revolution'. Blog explores this proposition .

The Social Psychology of Sainthood

Mother Teresa got Sainthood through the process of canonisation. But society has many ways of choosing its saints and conferring the honour on them. In contrast to the institutional method, there is a subaltern, organic method which keeps creating saints in the society. It's, in a sense, society's way of paying gratitude to those who serve it selflessly. The write up explores the social psychology behind this process in the context of some recent examples like Sant Mehi Das or ancient traditions like St.Guinefort within Christianity.

Eating Atom Bomb to Plucking Jalebi from Tree

It is a light hearted look at the world a few decades ago. Growing up in a small place in Bihar, I never thought Atom Bomb was an unusual name for a sweet. Cold drink was not yet part of people’s daily food and was still looked at as an intruder, however alluring. Jalebi could be a fruit or a sweet, depending upon where you are and of course, Ghebar and Jaleba retained their place as sweet memories of changing times.

Requiem for the Metaphor of JNU?

Ganga Dhaba or the Radical Hyde Park of JNU -Rajesh K. Jha The sprawling campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi abounds in great tales about people and places. Ganga Dhaba is one of those fertile locations inside JNU which has given rise to many such stories. Some of these have become part of mythology …

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Gubha Raja and Tiwa People-Meeting a King in the Town Bylane

-Rajesh K. Jha Dipsing Deo Raja is young and handsome. Hardly 25 years of age, fair, short in height, flat nose with sharp shining eyes and a pleasant smile playing on his lips. He looked royal and graceful in his bright red jacket typically worn by Tiwa tribesmen of Assam and Meghalaya. Four wooden chairs …

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Shut Up and Delete your Critical Posts on Social Media

Recent proposal of DoPT to extend restrictions on civil servants on expressing critical viewss on Social Media has generated lots of debate. Article argues that restrictions on Social Media are against the human dignity even of civil servants. It is unpractical and wrong to enforce this new set of restrictions

Patharughator Rann- The Jallianwala Bagh of Assam

Peeping into the Cobwebs of History -Rajesh K. Jha In the middle of unending expanse of paddy fields in the interior of Darrang district of Assam, I was struck by a pillar which looked distinctly like a memorial of some sort. Curious, I stopped near the place where the pillar stood. It looked conspicuous in that area. On …

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A Tale of Tangled Wings and Spiked Dreams

-Rajesh K. Jha If IAS is the steel frame, Why can’t IIS be imagined to serve as the Nervous System?  Two incidents stand out vividly in my memory whenever I think about my early days in the Indian Information Service. The first incident relates to the period when I was on training. One component of …

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Questioning Sanity at Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington

How does one look at sanity? Ms. Piccioto held a vigil at Pennsylvania Avenue in front of White House for more than 35 years against Nuclear Arms, Zionism -all alone till she died in January 2016. Was it meaningless? Some reflections on the question of sanity, resistance and meaning in life.

Berkeley to Bundelkhand and the Dream of 15 Bananas an Hour

Partial Reflections Rajesh K. Jha Sitting in Berkeley and listening to some of the greatest scholars of the world is a rare privilege one gets in life. Alongside the academic experience, one also gets an exposure to the complexity of the American society first hand.  The vast sprawling campus of the UC Berkeley with majestic …

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Worshipping False Gods-Leadership?EQ?Success?Meaning?

Rajesh K. Jha It is a powerful scene from the Clint Eastwood directed Invitcus (2009). The biographical sports drama film on the life of Nelson Mandela depicts his efforts to realise the dream of a nation which has just emerged from the traumatic experience of apartheid. In the film, Mandela has taken over as the President …

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Pity the Plumage and Ignore the Dying Bird-Why I don’t like to see India as a Brand?

Projecting India as a brand is seen as almost a duty for most of us. We are expected to do things in the government and outside to improve the brand image of India. But there are deeper issues in visualising India as a brand. These issues are explored in the write up.