Tuesday, 27 September 2016



Though I know Ajit Doval, the current N.S.A., from my days in the Intelligence Bureau, Government of India, but I was never close to him. In fact because of some reasons, a certain amount of negativity had come to exist between two of us. It was unfortunate that this coldness remained even when I returned back from deputation to Government of India where I had served, for about a decade, in different organisations and ministries. Even after my return to the state of Punjab, from where on account of some differences with the then Government, I was unceremoniously thrown out on deputation in early 1980s, I continued to be sent to Delhi to attend various meetings. I remember several such meetings held in Delhi when Ajit Doval was the D.I.B., Director Intelligence Bureau. D.I.B. is one of the most coveted posts and incumbent thereof is one of the most important advisers to the Prime Minister of India. Though the position of the incumbents was subsequently a bit diluted with the institution of the post of the NSA, National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister; but again being a full-fledged adviser to the Home Minister of India, office and the post of D.I.B. remains immensely enviable.

Oh I am sorry for having lost the thread. You will have to pardon me for not getting younger day by day. I was talking about the days of Ajit Doval as the D.I.B. and my relations with him. Whenever I attended a meeting presided over by him, most of my participating colleagues used to bombard me with stupid questions trying to probe the 'negativity' between him, a very senior officer and a pesky junior like me. I had never realized that the negative vibes between us were so damn predominant.

Ajit Doval had a comparatively short tenure as the D.I.B., but even after his retirement I kept hearing about the really great job he continued doing, taking immense personal risks. I must admit that certain amount of negativity and differences between us, not withstanding, I have great regard for his original thinking, his guts and courage. And this regard exists even today, despite my personal view of him as a 'practical man'. He has been a great intelligence operator and a master of the game, perhaps the best that I know of. Though he has a number of successful operations, both during service and after retirement to his credit but  had at least one of his particular post retirement operations  which seeded in middle east, succeeded;  the fate of India would have changed for better and for all times to come.

Despite being a successful intelligence man, he had only one minor negative point and that is his reluctance to work as a team and of remaining a bit closed and unapproachable. This disqualification damaged him a lot while in service. But I think that with time one gets wiser and changes accordingly. With the establishment of the Vivekananda Foundation, he certainly changed for better. Here, unlike the previous times, he probably was 'the first among equals'. He had succeeded in collecting the cream from among intellectuals and thinkers from across the spectrum, from all walks of life and services etc. And it contributed to his rise and success.  The Government of India is practically being run by this foundation because a number of its members are not only aiding and advising the prime minister but are also holding key potions.

The other day while in a book store, I came across a book, “The Modi Doctrine". While glancing through the book, I could 'see' Ajit Doval’s thinking almost everywhere. Again, the age old negativity between us notwithstanding, I appreciate his both so-called ‘failed’ and successful polity. But I do not think that any of his ‘polity’ had really failed. His major failure was alleged to be Narendra Modi's co-called ‘flop’ surprise visit to Pakistan to felicitate Nawaz Shareef. But in retrospect it has paid dividend in the sense that it showed India's sincerity towards normalization of relations with the rogue country, Pakistan.

And one of his best current strokes appears to be Indian 'decision’ (read threat) to 'review' 56 year old Indus Water Treaty instead of going in for an outright war with Pakistan.

(This 'decision', read threat, itself is fraught with several 'possibilities'. I will try to write separately about them in coming days...)

My very best wishes to the N.S.A....

Sunday, 25 September 2016



I have been asked to write about the state of corruption in India. It is indeed a difficult topic indeed, perhaps one of the most difficult ones that I ever have been asked to write. I do not know from where to start and to end where. Corruption and civic societies have unfortunately become synonym for each other. I was sure that it is a world-wide syndrome and my perception became conviction when I researched the subject.

In the context of India, like perhaps elsewhere, it is one of the two oldest professions. Yes I call corruption, a profession like prostitution, one arising out of the ‘greed’ and the other arising out of the ‘need’. Both are individualistic concepts, arising out of human psychology. I, personally, have some regard for a prostitute but certainly not for a corrupt ‘individual’. Yes I have deliberately used the word ‘individual’ because both of the human sexes are essentially the same, the moot point being the ‘opportunity.

Coming back to the findings of my study, I located a one conducted by ‘Transparency International’ in year 2005 which stated that ‘more than 62% of Indians had first-hand experience of paying bribes or influence peddling to get jobs done in public offices’. Their 2008 report stated that about ‘40% of Indians had first-hand experience of paying bribes or using a contact to get a job done in public office. Though the report claimed that the largest sources of corruption in India are entitlement programmes and social spending schemes enacted by the Indian government, but the fact remains that hardly any field of governance, be in government of private sector, is untouched by corruption. It is, however more in the government sector. Bigger the budget, greater the corruption and it encompasses all fields, from defense to urban and rural development to sundry civic departments. In ‘closed ‘departments like customs, revenue, income tax etc., where both parties are gainer, it remains closeted where as in other departments like police, where there are multiple parties; complainant, accused and the official authority, it comes more into the fore.

Corruption has become the bane of the Indian democracy. It remains the topic of discussion everywhere but without any tangible results. For me, the true index of a system’s ‘uprightness’ is the perception of a lay man walking up and down the street, a person sitting under ‘baba bohr’ (bohr, in Punjabi means, An old banyan tree in a village under which people sit in shade and chit chat, called ‘khund charcha’ (general talk, in Punjabi). For me, that is the real index of the sentiments in rural India. In case of urban India, my ‘pulse index’ is the view point of lay men who ‘loiter’ all around in the streets, in parks and normal ‘chai shops’. I place least credence on the views of the so-called intellectuals who participate in the prime time ‘discussions’. More often than not, I find them tainted by various extraneous factors. For them the scale matters. Corruption involving comparatively lower amounts is, ‘CORRUPTION’ and those involving massive and even astronomical amounts is ’SCAM’. Former is out rightly condemnable and the latter is reserved either for ‘late evening social drawing room talks over drinks’ or for ‘high-fi primetime panel discussions on mightier TV channels being anchored by gorgeous looking ladies and hunks.
For them a fatal accident by a bus, a two wheeler and an inexpensive car is out rightly condemnable but a worse accident be expensive SUVs and sedans is just ‘unfortunate.

Organ of state power are out rightly corrupt in India. We have already referred to the executive. Now let’s talk about the legislature. Available figures indicate that the present top legislative body, the parliament of ‘India that is Bharat’, elected in 2014 has the highest number of ‘politician – criminal ratio’. Association for Democratic Reforms, in their report, stated that about 34 per cent of members of this august house had criminal cases registered against them. In the previous Lok Sabha the percentage was about 30 per cent.

Then a further random search on the net gave following results;

“Almost 34% ministers from State Assemblies have criminal cases ...
indianexpress.com › India › India News
Aug 5, 2016 - The states with highest percentage of ministers with serious criminal ... The average assets per minister from State Assemblies is Rs 8.59 crore.
Criminals in politics: India - Indpaedia
4 Trials against MPs in serious cases continue for 7 years on an average ... About 1,258 (31%) out of the 4,032 sitting MLAs from all state assemblies have .... and official figures on crime in India show that the proportion of people facing such ...
Corruption pan-India: With average asset of Rs 8.59 crores, 34 percent ...
www.newsgram.com › Corruption
Aug 5, 2016 - Corruption pan-India: With average asset of Rs 8.59 crores, 34 percent State Assembly Ministers also have criminal cases against them.
Survey shows 1460 criminal MPs and MLAs in the country - Rediff.com
www.rediff.com › News
Jul 10, 2013 - The judgement is important considering the fact that India has 1460 sitting ... 15 per cent of the current MLAs from all state assemblies have declared ... The Jharkhand 2009 assembly has the highest percentage of elected ...”

I am semi-literate. But a question looms over my rational faculty. Can a legislature which itself is under scrutiny, pave way for a corruption free civic society?

Let’s shamefully accept that we Indians are living in a system which is thoroughly inefficient and corrupt. Our so-called leaders only indulge in ‘Jumla Bazi’ and the times gone by for what we are today. They just enjoy the perks of their seats.

Only our own thought, our shame, our guilt, our passivity may be able to bring a teeny weeny hope.

Otherwise this county may be on its way to a total revolution which may not be very peaceful…

Thursday, 22 September 2016



Is terrorism knocking doors of Punjab?

Today one of my young journalist friends, Anilesh Mahajan; whom despite our huge age difference (lest any controversy arises, I must clarify that he is younger and I am older), I respect and admire because of his great journalistic insights and acumen; posted an update on Facebook, posing a question;
"Punjab RSS's number 2 Brig Jagdish Gagneja breathed last at DMC&H, Ludhiana. He was shot at on August 6 in Jalandhar. Police is still clueless. Is terrorism knocking doors of Punjab?"

Before I move further, I must state that I had met Brigadier (Retd) Jagdish Gagneja, twice in my life time. Both meetings were held in his Jalandhar office which is located in some commercial building between Radisson hotel and the Clock Tower. I must apologize that despite my posting in Jalandhar for about less than one year, I hardly know the city. I know some locations but not exact addresses thereof.

I had met him in connection with my anti-drug campaign. I had been trying to seek the help and support of various political parties, front organisations thereof included; various politico - social - religious organisations, religious and dera heads, NGOs, youth organisations etc.  I had succeeded in meeting some top leaders of Congress, BJP & left wing parties. Sadly, SAD and AAP leadership had either flatly refused to meet or just let the request go unheard. Even those who met indulged only in 'bandal-baji', slang for 'gas bags'. Some so called radical Sikh parties & organisations, a number of NGOs and youth organisations appeared to be sincerely concerned and did organise some campaigns. I also found 'radical Sikhs’ to be genuinely concerned and worried on the issue of drug menace.

Brigadier Gagneja had turned out to be a simple and straight forward man, despite the heavy weight of the brass that he wore on his shoulders while in service. I found him to be a down to earth and sincere man. I had barged into his office around lunchtime. He was eating his home cooked lunch out of his lunch box. He asked me to join in. On my polite refusal, he got up from in-between the lunch, washed his hands, gave me a glass of water and resumed his lunch after asking for a cup of tea for me. Our discussion hovered around the drug menace, total failure of law and order and civic administration in Punjab, corruption and criminalization of state politics etc. Offering his total support for the anti-drug drive, he promised to take up the matter with his organisation as well because drugs are being done all over the country, only the scale there of varies. Second meeting with him was more general in nature. He insisted on seeing me off till my car which was parked at a distance because of non-availability of parking space nearby. The attack on him had come as a shock. I had an instant liking for this gentleman.

Now coming to the point raised by Anilesh, my comment on his post was,
"No. It is only criminal - politician nexus which is operating and thriving in Punjab..."

Punjab is different from other states. Most foreign invasions into the country were from this route. Punjabis always had to face the first brunt thereof. It only helped in turning Punjabis into a martial race. In any martial race, fascination for arms is but natural and this is one of the reasons why we Punjabis love to possess arms. Thus, the so-called 'gun culture' is but a natural corollary. This 'arm culture' has been exploited by various rulers from time to time. Punjabi 'missels' were the very cause of the successful conquests of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the greatest of Sikh rulers ever. Britain's success at several places during the First and the Second World Wars was also only because of Punjabi troops.

The same Punjabi chivalry has been and is being exploited by modern day rulers in Punjab. Almost all political parties have enrolled their goons who are ever ready to quench their thirst for blood, money, good life and as usual, the sex. They indulge in all this under the patronage of their political godfathers who can't do without them. Goons are needed to grab property, be it private, state owned or natural resources. During elections they are used for intimidating voters. They are also the 'private army' which secures 'drug line' and ensures that drugs are not pilfered by couriers. These goons hibernate under political patronage almost across the spectrum but one particular party owns and controls the majority.

Over past few years these criminal gangs, with the connivance of their political lords, become more daring and aggressive. Their areas of operation have increased and they are working in league of similar politico-gangsters of other states. Their cooperation is on account of various reasons including; interstate availability of ‘unknown’ sharp shooters, transaction of latest weaponry and most important of all, ready-made availability of interstate shelter and creation of alibis.

Police forces are either silent spectators to it all because of political reasons or because the 'wiser' amongst them, are willful partners of thereof.

Ironically gangsters and criminalized / politicized police forces are an integral part of the kind of political system that we have in this country and shall remain so.

This 'arm of state power' operates under the PPP (Politician-Police-Protection).

This was the one major protected group which had hijacked law and order in Punjab even during the days of militancy and accusing fingers were raised somewhere else.

This is the age of POLITICO-TERRORISM...

There is no question of revival of terrorism in Punjab…

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Haryana's Beefy Pains...

My article in 'Quint', just now (15th September 2016 ) on Haryana's Beefy Pains...

Haryana’s labs may not be well-equipped to confirm presence of beef in biryani samples being sent by the police.


Tuesday, 6 September 2016


Kashmir Today…

Knee-jerk policies of Government of India on Kashmir continue to shock me as they are likely to further escalate the problem there. I am equally surprised, rather shocked, that today the Central Government chose to go in for of the SAD way of controlling ‘undesirable’ elements who ‘do not fall in line’. Yes, the favourite way of the alliance partners of the BJP in Punjab, is either the withdrawal of security or the threat there of, to contain such ‘undesirables’. Plan of the Government of India to either withdraw or ‘review’ the security of some hardliner Kashmiri leaders is a deplorable decision. For a terrorist nothing is sacrosanct and they utilise all possible ways to escalate tensions and mayhem; whether it is an attack on their own sacred and holy places or killing of their own vulnerable leaders who have popular or mass base. Any of these two treacherous methods, besides several others, can instantly fuel the fire which can’t be extinguished. These sick methods are employed by terrorists all over the world and if the Government of India thinks that they can’t or won’t be employed by militants and terrorists in Kashmir then they are living in a fool’s paradise.

Watching Barkha Dutts’s documentary on Kashmir on the NDTV today, reinforced my conviction that Indian Political Parties and the Political System is the root cause, not only of the current crisis in Kashmir but all over the country, which god forbid, I fear, is very gradually but consistently moving towards disintegration. These parties generally work in diametrically opposite direction, which are disastrous. I am not the one to live in the past because it can’t be undone. Whatever has happened has happened. Instead of crying over split milk one should try to do the damage control. This is one lesson which any of the Indian political parties will never learn.

Government of India will have to take some gutsy steps to minimise the damage, which can’t easily be undone. BJP has lost credibility in Kashmir, as elsewhere, not only amongst minorities but even amongst the saner civilians on account of stupid mad meaningless controversies and debates on a wide range of issues; right from singing of Vande Mataram to Hinduism to what constitutes Nationalism to Gau Mata to all those immense array of issues which have been raked up in a mindless manner.  They have only given an impetus to anti national sentiments and Pakistan as also its fanatic, yet committed, elements have been grinning at our buffoonery. We ourselves have been creating mindless centrifugal and fissiparous forces.

The ‘meaningless and failed act’ of our Prime Minister in trying to emerge as a world level statesman has, unfortunately, also hastened the process. Instead of concentrating on internal issues, he is acting more like a foreign minister, in his uncalled for bid to emerge as a world leader. He is not only failing but is also bound to finally fail in this act and the Indian history will be testimony to that. He should instead act more like the other legendary Gujrati, Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel. He should act more like a minister for ‘pan India internal affairs’. He should act more like Atal Bihari Bajpai. I do not know what was the compulsion for go to Islamabad, on his way back from Afghanistan, to greet Nawaz Shareef. It was more of dramatics. If he is really a statesman then he should have known that Nawqaz Shareef is more like a football and being kicked at by different entities in Pakistan, from the Pak Army to ISI, to terrorists to a section of Maulanas and Ulemas out there.

I am not an expert on international affairs but as a lay man, I think that India needs to break off diplomatic relations, if not go in for a full fledged war, with Pakistan which is fuelling fire in Kashmir. President of India also needs to dismiss J&K Government. President’s rule is not being imposed there only because BJP happens to be an alliance partner there. It is disgraceful. Politicization of Kashmir by political parties as also by media needs to be stopped forthwith. Rename J&K as JK&L, Jammu Kashmir and Laddakh to ensure territorial distinction. Entire Kashmir is not ravaged; more affected areas are some districts of South Kashmir. Kashmir does not have only Sunni Muslims, it has fair amount of Shia population as well. The Government needs to announce general amnesty to youth accused either of stone pelting or of criminal offences except manslaughter and attempts thereof etc.

As to remedies, we need to think out of the box. Constitution has accorded special status to Kashmir under article 370; so why interfere in their day today affairs. Non Political Local bodies of civilians and not of politicians should run day today administration within the free work of the Indian Constitution. Political parties and religious leaders are generally the ones who are vitiating the atmosphere there. These local bodies of Kashmiris are most likely to succeed with the help of state police which is demoralised and feels subservient to the army and para military organisations. Kashmiris have to be given all rights ate freedoms which are accessible to the citizens of India as such. And yes no Pellet or Chilli guns please. Link up of Kashmir with POK also need to be ensured.

Many more steps can be thought of.

Diplomatically it needs to be pondered whether Pakistan and China will ever agree to release the areas of erstwhile United Kashmir which are now forcibly occupied by them. If Kashmir yearns for Azadi then it has to be total, and not partial. India can't let Kashmir to go under subjugation either of Pakistan or China. But again another issue to be ensured by world powers is that Kashmir can't be permitted to become another hot-bed for the ISIS.

Lastly, with reference to the entire country as such, it is about time India is given a totally new face life in the form of a true Federation. The days of Unitary or Quasi Unitary forms of government and governance are over.

Long live India along with all its Citizens and its Constituent States...

Saturday, 3 September 2016

PUNJAB AT CROSS-ROADS: 2017 (Part 6); Birth of a baby, Awaaz-e-Punjab


Birth of a baby, Awaaz-e-Punjab

After hell of a long time, Navjot Singh Sidhu has thrown the dice at last, but man!
what a dice! because numbers thereof are not clear. No one exactly knows what the numbers are but yes, one thing is clear; that  good old game of ’Chaucer’ is all set to be played a few months hence.

                                                                 The Game of ‘Chaucer’

Four corners, four players;

Grandmother of most of political parties, The Congress

Not so old but Master of the Game, The SAD / BJP

The Thunderous AAP, whose thunder is on the wane even in the ‘Sultanate of Delhi’


Awaaz-e-Punjab, the newly born Ivanhoe of Punjab

Game is all set, but the question is who is going to be the ‘Shakuni Mama’ in this game. Chaucer is not a simpletons ka khel. It is a curious mixture of one’s Luck and of intrigue, deceit, facade, cold blooded planning and of anticipation. It is a game where a player’s hand does the juggling of dice. Remember the story of Mahabharata?

So kisi ko nahi maloom, bilkul nahi maloom; if it is going to be ‘fixed’ or will it only be played with all Machiavellian expertise as the times come.

Coming to Grandmother, the Congress, it is generally playing the ‘Prashant Kishore way’, at least till now. Image building of Capt Amarinder Singh is to be followed by image building, though on a lesser scale, of regional satraps, district presidents and of probable candidates. His team is busy identifying pressure groups, besides trying to identify local issues which can be manipulated. Surprisingly, till now it has not done anything which could have given it some solid credibility; that is taking up Punjab centric issues including drugs, and exploitation of natural resources of Punjab including waters, electricity and all. That is perhaps kept in reserve to be utilised in meaningless rhetoric once elections are announced. It certainly is not a very wise move. They could at least have created a facade that they are concerned about Punjab. Exact working during elections is to be left for individual candidates. They will have to use their money, muscle and ‘medicine power’ as per their need and themselves

The Master of the game is, till now playing the game quietly with cold calculation and shrewd anticipation. Intelligence wings both of Government of India and of Punjab police have to be working overtime collecting, collating, projecting and to some extent even juggling the figures for BJP in Delhi and for Sukhbir in Punjab. Latter is taking keen interest naturally because somehow Punjab does not matter much for the former. But the future of Sukhbir Badal is at stake in Punjab. He has to win this election this way or that. He has no other option. If my previous experience in the Central and Punjab governments is correct, then lists of ‘important local level persons who have good vote bank’ and of ‘acupressure experts’ must be ready by now. Calculation for the ‘economic and medicinal criterion’ also must have been worked out.

AAP, has lost much of its steam by now because of its high headedness and ego. Leaders entrusted with responsibility in Punjab have been living in their ivory towers, enjoying 'hospitality' of Punjabi populace. They had a good chance to prove themselves by combating drugs in Delhi which is as much, if not more ravaged than Punjab. On this, I had advised Arvind and his area commanders’ long time back but perhaps they were not listening. Had they taken up this single issue in the right earnest, they would have earned unshakeable and indelible adoration of Punjabi populace in Punjab and even abroad. Their wrong calculation in ‘kicking out’ Chotepur, back fired like crazy. Their old volunteer force is on rampage and will work against them during elections. If attempts of AAP-Punjab to rope in all disillusioned old volunteers succeed, AAP-Delhi is going to suffer badly. Last but not the least; they have adopted a wrong criterion in choosing party candidates. They are sadly mistaken if they think that just any one can win in name of Arvind. And to make the matter still worse, a number of their candidates have a dubious past and some of its leaders have the image of being ‘unstable’.

And now coming to newly born Ivanhoe of Punjab, the Awaaz-e-Punjab. Its formation yesterday, September 2, had created an earth quake in Punjab. Rumblings of its birth was heard all over Punjab, Delhi and even abroad. Punjabi ‘diaspora’ in Delhi and abroad were taken by surprise and debates started about the future course of action, that is both moral and monetary to AAP, Delhi. Navjot Sidhu might be criticised and dubbed as a ‘non serious’ man, by his adversaries, on account of his association with humorous episodes and all but he has significant following all over Punjab. His wife Navjot has also created a niche for herself in Amritsar particularly. Some parts of her constituency are cut up on account of some of her ‘hangers on’ but still they all support her sincerely. Pargat only has a local base in some pockets of Jalandhar and in some of his sporty fans. Bains brothers have done a lot in Ludhiana and have created an iconic niche for themselves there. But that is about it. New born baby has to struggle for its survival. It needs structure, immense funds and wooing all those, political or non political souls, who have a face and reputation in Punjab. People have to be convinced that the Baby will be able to stand for, stand by and live for Punjab and its issues; may be drugs, waters, land, agricultural yield and sale thereof, electricity, usurped natural / public / private resources by some, unemployment, law & order, corruption, general high handedness, rein-less bureaucracy and police, to name  only a very few. Like AAP, it can’t and should not sit quietly and start counting eggs hoping only to thrive and en-cash upon the strong incumbency against the Master of the Game. It will have to work hard. Master of the Game is indeed a  Master of the Games.

Let’s see how all four Chaucer players play and what the ultimate result is. 

Whether it is going to be a fair contest between four of them or it turns out to be a tie only between the Grandmother and the Master of the Game, remains to be seen…