You decided to resign from the Indian Administrative Service citing the reason that your freedom of expression and communication is being denied. How did people react to your decision to resign?
The response I receive from the civil society is positive, I realize it from the messages. Media too is considering this move as a strong one, yesterday the Press Council of India came up with a statement rectifying their stand, they had earlier decided to stand with the restrictions imposed on Jammu and Kashmir. The situation of Kashmir is conveniently avoided by many, and now they all started thinking about it with their conscience, it could be because not any of them wanted to go through the prick of conscience.
For almost twenty five days now, we are not allowing a people to respond, realizing this many people came forward in defense of what I did. My need is just this, the civil society must react to the things happening in Kashmir. It is sad that almost nobody is doing that. I can speak about this only when I get back my freedom to express. Only after getting it back i can ask this question, why are we silent about this and why are we conveniently ignoring it. That was my sole intention. I am satisfied that it reached till here. It must go forward. I am in the news for just one or one and half days, not more than that. But media houses and journalists like you must continue covering the case of Kashmir. This is one thing that goes on in our country in the year of 2019.
You spoke about a people’s rights being absolutely denied. What do you have to say about the tendency to portray anu one who speak about freedom as anti national?
We must read Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement triangle. The first level after an argument is ‘name calling’, tagging the person who raised a point, calling that person anti-national or corrupt. After this the person’s point is invalidated. The second level is ad-hominem attack, attacking the character of a person who raised a point. In my case it goes like, he is a useless officer, he was already going to face action etc. Once you attack the person’s character you can discredit what the person says. These are the two ways of response when they face those questions to which they have no interest or they do not have a specific answer. These are the two methods of arguments people often easily understands. Once you tag a person who speak out things that we don’t like, once you portray the person as someone you dislike or disagree, then all the questions raised by the person turns to be irrelevant.
The saddest things is that we are scared of this and we choose to stay silent. The are not attacking me out of personal vengeance, they are attacking me because I question their belief, they want to protect their belief at any cost, to do that they attack me or anyone who question them. We must respect this tactic they use, because they are ready to protect their truth, they are staunch in standing up for it. At the same time we must also be ready to stand up for what we believe. If you ask this question to yourself you will get the answer.
On the nineteenth day of India’s Kashmir siege after submitting the resignation letter, you said that if you were the owner of a news paper you would print the front page with just ’19’. Most people in India doesn’t have a means to know what is happening in Kashmir. Isn’t it in such a situation where the national media is intentionally avoiding it, a bureaucrat had to speak this out?
Basically that is it. If our civil society and other non governmental institutions of democracy had reacted the way they should, I an ordinary bureaucrat wouldn’t have to resign from service. People ask me, “did you go to Kashmir?” Who are responsible to go to Kashmir and make us known about the ground situation? Whose duty is it? The media’s. Here the media itself decides, “let’s not go there”, “let’s not cover Kashmir” when saying this we are breaching the trust of Kashmir’s people who are an integral part of the country.
Most people try to portray this easily into an honest officer’s resignation against corrupt political administration, there is no intention to gain sympathy or victim hood. If I stay in the service I would be able to do more things.
International media reports basic healthcare rights violation from Kashmir, but the society seems least bothered about it. Even in your case there are attempts to create multiple narratives. A news website published an opinion piece which says if India is in crisis that’s because good officers like Kannan Gopinathan quit. I feel it’s tone is it is not the problem of the system or the ones who rule it, but that of those who quit in protest. What you say about that?
It can be seen in two ways, there are people who think that only by being part of the administrative service one can serve the society. This way of thinking gives way to the feeling, “oh, once they quit, they lost it”. But governance shouldn’t be the generosity good officers provide. It’s people’s right to have a well performing government. Good officers came into the system, they did some good job, bad officers came into the system, they did very bad job…people are left with no hope. We shouldn’t portray it in a way that officers do good things only when they feel like, or they are not doing it because they don’t feel like.
Be it any officer, interests would differ from person to person. Ten to twenty per cent of innovation can be expected from any officer, it can vary. It depends on the individual. But eighty percent of performance will be there from the system. This must be raised as a systematic demand, it’s value would be great. An officer’s individuality is not very relevant overall. In reality that is the most needed thing for our current times, but in a developed and matured democracy an officer’s individual value will get lessened and the systems strength would get higher. We must shift into that.
The omission commission sent you a show cause notice citing reasons including you didn’t apply for prime minister’s excellence award. Can you say more about that?
A notice can be issued at you of the higher authority dislike you. It doesn’t need solid reasons. One of the reasons given in the notice is this. Reasons from prior notices too were added. Beyond that it has no relevance. Now they are using it against me. I had replied to their memo. I was given additional responsibilities on August 5th. If it affects some way there is no reason for giving additional responsibilities too. They know it too. They just want me to stand on their lines.