Part 3 of 5
The first part of this report presented Gita Dewan Verma’s classification of the citizenry and, as an example of The Big People “who fabricate the stories”, focused on the web of deceit that is the British “charity” ActionAid (AA) with spiderMander in its centre (1). That it is a web of deceit continues to be confirmed as fresh data surfaces. “ActionAid discovers Kashmir in Delhi!”(2) referred to the AA-supported Aman Ekta Manch (AEM) as a shadowy entity – so indeed it is; it is not a registered body and has no office-bearers but its “volunteers” collect in its name funds from the public; it apparently has a bank account but will not say where; and it does not see itself accountable in law or to the public for the money it collects. It is presumably the device called a “non-structured organisation” by Mander and his followers (3).
This part elaborates on the double standards of some other eminent social activists who project themselves as our country’s conscience-keepers.
(B) Dr Syeda Hameed/MWF and Links:
Take Dr Syeda Hameed, historian and former member of the National Women’s Commission. In an impassioned article titled “Rage against the dying of the light” in The Hindu, March 27, 2003, expressing great concern at the Nadimarg massacre, she wrote on behalf of herself, her Muslim Women’s Forum, and a number of other NGOs such as Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia, the All-India Democratic Women’s Association, the Indian Social Institute, Sangat, the Aman Ekta Manch, Guild of Service, Jagori, Saheli, ActionAid, the Women’s Federation for World Peace, North Eastern Network and Servants of People Society, that “we won’t let this go on. We won’t allow the peace process to be derailed. We are one with the Kashmiris in their moment of sorrow. We demand that the central and state government ensure that they will ruthlessly crush all elements who will try to use this event for political gain. No reprisals, justice for the families, and protection for the minorities. We will not go gentle into the good night”. An appeal was made twice thereafter to her and many of these NGOs, and to her as representing a Group of Concerned Citizens on the well-known secular site Sabrang, that they translate their “demand” into a petition to the President of India on 3 specific issues, including that he advise the Government to accept the recommendation of the National Commision for Minorities to notify the Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) a minority. To date there has been no response (4). The “rage” Dr Hameed and her friends displayed outside a luxury hotel in New Delhi was evidently only for the benefit of the secular English-language press. Thereafter, where the KPs at any rate are concerned, Dr Hameed and her friends appear to have gone quietly and gently into the good night!
(C) Ms Aruna Roy/MKSS:
The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) did sterling work for the right to information in Rajasthan. It is identified with Ms Aruna Roy, distinguished social activist and Magsaysay awardee. Ms Roy to this writer had been explicit that the MKSS did not receive foreign funds, but she defended the MKSS professionally collaborating with those that did even when it was pointed out to her that these latter (including Mr Harsh Mander and the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information – NCPRI) were not prepared to divulge the sources of their funds. She was consequently formally asked on 27/2/03 about any foreign financial support to the MKSS (5). On 10/3/03 she replied they would “take a week or so more to reply”, and on 18/4/03 that “the official letter answering your questions of the MKSS will follow”. Meanwhile, in The Hindu, April 6, 2003, in “Tapping the angst” Kalpana Sharma reported apparently in interview with Ms Roy that “the MKSS has not taken any funds from donors and has survived on contributions from its constituents and supporters”. The response from the MKSS was eventually received on 9/5/03, and is notable for its complete absence of figures and for its pious generalisations (6). Notable among these generalisations are:
(i) a defence of the “high integrity” of those associated with the NCPRI and the “common commitment to transparency and the accountability of all sectors” shared by “all members”. It is curious that Roy feels obliged to give a clean chit to Harsh Mander and Shekhar Singh who, as she well knows, have themselves not had the integrity or transparency to answer, even if only as she has, similar questions addressed to them. Neither NCPRI leaders Singh and Mander nor Ms Roy herself rebut the specific instances brought to their notice of the absence of transparency and accountability by the former two, so this writer continues to stand by his inference of the first two “preaching inclusion but quietly lobbying to ensure exclusion” from the right to information law. This inference had excluded the MKSS except through the taint of association(5), but the lady protested so much recently in The Hindu that one begins to wonder about her too. After all, it is telling that, after the passing of the bill, there is no significant public report of Ms Roy/the NCPRI continuing to lobby for inclusion of “all sectors”. However, it remains a tribute to Roy’s loyalty to the Mander/AA hand that feeds her that she does not bite it but instead barks loudly in its defence!
(ii) the admission that foreign institutional support in kind (including from AA) has been its accepted practice since its inception. To draw an apparently moral distinction between this and not accepting foreign institutional support in cash is the grossest hypocrisy. The duplicity of Roy’s statement speaks for itself. Not only does the MKSS accept unlimited foreign funds in kind but, contrary to the public image it generates for itself in our country, it has been doing so for a long time and from a wide range of foreign donors.
Let us look at one instance of MKSS activists singing for their foreign supper. The America-based Association for India Development hosted Roy and fellow-activist Shankar Singh as the keynote speakers at a conference in that part of the world, and reported that they “came to Ann Arbor to talk about their Freedom to Information campaign as well as the communal violence that has devastated Gujarat….Arunaji and Shankarji also gave heartfelt testimonials about the communal violence in Gujarat….Ann Arbor was only one stop on their tour of America. They stopped in countless cities…..”(7). Why these two committed patriotic activists, who as a principle will not accept American money for their campaign in India, need then to go to and travel all over America at American cost seeking American approbation for a domestic political cause is unclear. Are these Americans among the “ordinary people” Roy told Sharma are the MKSS constituency?
Unless, of course, we note that during this extensive and expensive American tour these secular stalwarts sang feelingly about Gujarat but are not reported to have sung a word about the victims of the far worse and ongoing communal violence in Kashmir, and that this foreign Association for India Development lists 4 relief projects (with their total donor budget of USD 84,416) directly related to the rehabilitation of victims of communal violence in Gujarat – but not a single project for victims of communalism in Kashmir
(D) NCPRI & Mr Harsh Mander:
Now take the NCPRI. In a loudly pyrotechnical “shock and awe” piece titled “Harsh treatment” in The Hindu, May 10, 2003, Aruna Roy, Bela Bhatia, Jean Dreze, Nikhil Dey and Prashant Bhushan, writing as members of the NCPRI, scoff that the charges against Mander(1,2,9) “are bound to sound patently absurd” to anyone who knows him. Readers will appreciate the critical difference between charges “sounding” absurd and charges “being” absurd, and the NCPRI defence of Mander is not in specific rebuttal of facts on which the charges are based, but in a hagiographical paean to their hero. Let us consider just three of the many charges:
(i) is it not a fact that Mander had decided in principle to leave the IAS at least about two years before he actually did so; that he repeatedly proclaimed his moral anguish at the Gujarat riots and his resigning from the IAS as a protest; and that, each time he made this bogus claim of his resignation, AA knew he was lying, and connived in the lie? Roy, who herself resigned from the IAS, surely cannot pretend that she does not know the valuable difference between what her honourable friend of high integrity publicly and repeatedly claimed he’d done, and what very very covertly he actually did.
(ii) the NCPRI through Mr Shekhar Singh was asked certain questions about Singh’s and Mander’s public affairs, and readers can judge for themselves whether these questions are unparliamentary (16,17). Is it not a fact that the NCPRI did not answer even a single of these questions? Then why does the NCPRI speciously twist the mere act of asking into the accomplished fact of “scrutinised to absurd limits”? And when questions are not only within parliamentary norms but are of the kind the NCPRI itself asks of other public agencies, how can the NCPRI deny citizens the right to ask them, and shrill that such questions “undermine the principles of equity, justice, humaneness and secularism”?
(iii) my exposure of Mander starts from his public statements and claims beginning with his 20/3/02 article in The Times of India. However, Mander’s NCPRI champions, to certify his character, rely essentially on his claimed record of service in government postings. They state 20 transfers in 18 years (though Adm.Tahiliani in The Times of India, 24/3/02, reported 22 transfers in 20 years) as evidence that he “was always ready to move” in his confronting “powerful individuals and institutions”. Readers will be interested to see Mander’s own description of one transfer:
“I have been informed by the Government of India that it has decided to reduce my deputation to ActionAid from four years to one year…..I have appealed to the Government against its decision…..However, I would like all of you to know that I think it would be very unfair to the organisation, and to both the issues and people we are working with, if I were to pack my bags and return to the IAS after one year. Therefore, I have decided that if the Government does not revise its order, I will resign from the IAS.”
Does the NCPRI deny this letter Mander circulated in AA about two years before he actually quit? If he was “always ready to move”, why did he “appeal” in this particular case? Is this the kind of letter a loyal Indian government employee circulates in a foreign agency? Does this read like confronting authority or running away from it? Is it not tantamount to soliciting a job while still in government service? Readers will realise the clever fallacy in the NCPRI claim of the mere fact of transfers certifying “conscience” and “conviction”; it is the circumstances of the transfers that will tell us about the character of the man, and these the NCPRI chose not to reveal. Since it is the NCPRI itself that draws a moral from Mander’s transfers, will the NCPRI now make public the circumstances of his other transfers and tell us against how many did he likewise appeal? Will the NCPRI clarify whether in none of the earlier transfers was there unfairness to the Indian organisations, and why it was only in the case of a recall from deputation to a British organisation that Mander saw such unfairness to the British agenda that he decided he must leave his own country’s administrative service to serve as an agent in India of our former colonial masters?
(E) The AA/Manderweb & The Fatwa Brigade:
In India, the Manderweb, spun with AA’s enormous financial “will you walk into my parlour?” temptations, connects over 300 voluntary agencies and, in the Punjlish phrase, their nears and dears. Some of the fatter flies in this web, and some linked lesser webs, were identified in Part 1. Ms Roy is one of the juicier catches. The AA website editorially lauds her(8), and she in turn declares Mr Mander’s ‘”integrity cannot be questioned”. She does not rebut a single of the realities published about him(1,2,9); personal friendship is sufficient certification for public integrity, and it is wrong of this writer “to publicly denounce and question” a person whom the writer does not personally know (10). Evaded, of course, is the basic point that it is Mr Mander’s professional and public persona that is under question and the writer does not need to know him personally to do that: it is being done on the basis of Mander’s own public presentations and pretensions and to question these is to exercise a civic democratic right.
The issue is not that Roy and people like her have not done good work in the Schumacher sense. The issue is that they have grown to identify their causes with themselves – for example, the AA website(8) may quote Roy as “synonymous with the right to information campaign”; the problem arises because Roy herself believes it to be so – the India is Indira/Indira is India syndrome.
These Big People cannot have double standards because only their interpretation of the faith is authentic. To verify the public standards of these Big People is blasphemy. To question them is to challenge the cause itself. Theirs is the right to “tear aside the veil of secrecy”, “to nail officials and elected representatives”, to launch a “lethal weapon”(8); in other words, to strip, crucify, kill. They are the fatwa brigade; the mullahs and mullahnis of our sovereign socialist secular democratic republic.
Roy “cannot stand by” as Indian democracy collapses (11). But Roy had no difficulty standing by in the State-justified massacre of the Sikhs, and she still stands by in the State-enabled ongoing “ethnic cleansing” of the KPs from Kashmir. Surely if, for Roy, Indian democracy survived these two devastations, she is not indispensable to its survival elsewhere too. According to some of Mander’s American sponsors, “Mander is prominent among those who are fighting to save the soul of India in a changing world”. The arrogance is unbelievable of people like Mander, Roy and Hashmi that it is persons like them “who have been struggling to keep the country together”(1), and implicitly our country will fall apart without these ulema to guard the faith.
It is relevant to note the foreign-based agencies eager to involve themselves with the Manderweb and the fatwa brigade in the survival of Indian democracy and the struggle to hold this country together. Consider, for example, the foreign sponsors of Mander’s talks May 2003 in California, Michigan and Chicago – American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin, the Indian Muslim Relief Committee, Coalition against Communalism, Coalition for Secular Democratic India, Indian Muslim Council, International Christian Coalition for Human Rights, American Federation of Muslims from India, New Republic India, Sikh American Heritage Organization, Federation of Indo-American Christians of North America, Voice of Asian Minorities, South Asian Group for Action & Reflection, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, and Sikh Foundation. “Harsh Mander is on a short speaking tour of the US as the country-director of UK based NGO Action Aid – India’ and the announced subject of all these talks – Gujarat!
Do you still wonder why Mander/AA do not meaningfully want on their agenda the rehabilitation of refugees in Jammu from communal violence in Kashmir? Have not, to borrow the NCPRI’s words for Gujarat, Muslim outfits “aggressively usurped the use of all public spaces, suppressed constitutional rights of free expression, and hounded” KPs out of Kashmir? Do Mander/AA and the NCPRI not consider KPs to be Indian citizens and Kashmir a part of India? Are KPs not victims of Muslim communal violence, and on a scale unheard of in the rest of the country? Do you still wonder why AA Pakistan and AA Bangladesh do nothing about victims of communal violence in those countries? When AA’s country director for India himself publicly confirms AA’s pro-Muslim approach(9), including this British “charity” involving itself in defending the Muslim criminal accused in the Godhra train-burning(19), for what kind of “communal harmony” is the NCPRI bleating?
Clearly, as we have seen in Part 1 and here, though the Big People are touted and tout themselves as paladins of freedom of information, secularism, democracy, and the country, they do not expect the standards they apply to others to be applied to themselves.
(F) Statutory Institutions:
It is not just individuals who fancy themselves the guardians of democracy or of the nation who show these double standards, prevaricating to project a sanctimoniousness that they believe distinguishes their morality from its absence in lesser mortals. Even statutory institutions play this double game. Part 1 referred to the Press Council of India and the National Human Rights Commission. The good news is that, a year after Mander’s Times of India article was made the subject of a complaint to the PCI, the PCI finally issued a notice for a hearing. The bad news is that while the complainant, the three respondents and the PCI are all Delhi-based, the notice fixed the hearing an expensive distance away at Ahmedabad and, worse, that it was not addressed to two of the three respondents including – are you surprised? – Mr Harsh Mander! As for the NHRC, it did under its new Chair issue a notice to the J&K government in regard to the Nadimarg massacre, and then gently tut-tutted its distress at the notice being ignored by the state government (12). Not only did this decontextualise Nadimarg from the longer experience of the “ethnic cleansing” of the KPs, but where now is the secular evangelical zealotry that so distinguished the NHRC in the case of Gujarat?
Finally, our great silver-haired hope, the Lord of the Nation. The election of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam as Rashtrapati was welcomed by all sections of society. That Dr Kalam plays the veena and practises yoga was made much of by our English-language press as establishing his secular credentials (the veena and yoga both, of course, being “Hindu” – though, for example, Mr Clinton’s saxophone and jogging are naturally not to be described as Christian). One of the new President’s first significant acts was to visit the relief camps in Gujarat. He was sent a KP citizen’s invitation to visit the Jammu camps too but neither he nor his office responded. He modified his official website to give on it four official e-addresses for himself, including one specifically for petitions. A citizen’s petitions in regard to the secular double standards of the PCI and the NHRC were sent on 11/3/03 to him both by regd AD (and were received in his office) and by email. Two e-reminders in each case over 2 months later, there remains no response. No doubt the compulsions of Nehruvian secularism require a Nerovian fiddling by the First Citizen of his veena while the extermination of a whole community of ordinary citizens from our homeland goes on before him – “the ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandits, far more horrible than the one of the Bosnians” (18).
While Mander’s champions flame away in emotionalist rhetoric, strategic changes have appeared in their functioning that tacitly confirm the truth of their double standards. For example:
- i) The whole edifice of Mander’s secular heroism was based on his repeated claim of anguished resignation from the IAS; he himself no longer speaks this sordid sham. Note that the NCPRI itself preferred the neutral “quitting” to the earlier morally-loaded and globally-publicised “resigning”. But Mander still acquiesces in his foreign sponsors doing so – for example, the America-based Indian Muslim Relief Committee very recently, while falsely denouncing “the Gujarat Genocide [as] the Worst Violence Since the Partition”, equally falsely announced him as an “eyewitness” and “One of the top 40 IAS officer’s of India, he resigned in protest to Indian Govt.’s involvement in the Gujarat Riots” (13). Falsely because, for example, the Sikhs of Delhi and the KPs in Kashmir have suffered far more and that too with the involvement of the secular political party that Mander/AA support; Mander was not an eye-witness; there is no official IAS evaluation that listed Mander as anywhere among its top officers (unless, of course, in typical Manderian extrapolation, this is really his own rank in his own particular batch); he never resigned at all; and even he does not claim the Government of India’s involvement in the riots.
- ii) ActionAid has been obliged to hire a British international PR giant for an image-saving campaign.
iii) ActionAid was forced to acknowledge communal violence in Kashmir even though this was tokenism, given AA’s different politico-communal standards for Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, and witness its Rs 100,000,000 donor budget advertised for the “5000 families and over 2000 children” it announces are affected in Gujarat as against nothing for over 10 times that number that fled Kashmir.
- iv) Ms Shabnam Hashmi, who denied foreign financial support to SAHMAT till she was shown not to have told the truth(1), “broke away” from SAHMAT and, with Harsh Mander, KN Panikkar and Shubha Mudgal, set up a “non-structured organisation” called Anhad “to fight the fascist forces and [we] do not want a repeat of Gujarat” (3). They are obviously quite comfortable with the “ethnic cleansing” going on in Kashmir. The first two announcement letters of Anhad do not state anywhere its legal status but this does not prevent it from soliciting funds! When specifically asked about its legal status, it did not reply. Presumably the AEM is also a “non-structured organisation”- a device to collect public money and evade public accountability? Yet to ask questions about legal status is for the NCPRI the raising of “calumnies…at individuals and organisations that stand in solidarity with Mr Mander…”. Since when has asking for or telling the truth become calumnious? Will the NCPRI name these individuals/organisations and show how they have been calumniated, and will the NCPRI explain how, as unregistered organisations, the Mander/AA – promoted AEM and Anhad have bank accounts in their names?
- v) Organizations such as SAHMAT and MKSS have been able to publicly pretend absence of foreign financial support because they shrewdly gloss over support in kind. Not taking support in cash also cunningly enables them to bypass FCRA scrutiny. The Right to Food Campaign (with the management of which the MKSS and AA are associated at least indirectly) that is committed to “scrupulous honesty and transparency in all financial matters” in its website gives its accounts, including – hold your breath! – support in kind, but no doubt with a view to getting around the difficulty of publicly having to acknowledge foreign support here, shrewdly announces that “funds are raised entirely through individual donations in Indian rupees” (as if “individuals” cannot be foreign, and foreign support cannot be in Indian rupees!) (14).
- vi) And Aruna Roy’s remark on a popular website that this writer “has taken leave of his senses” has been withdrawn (15). Readers wishing to see a picture of Fatwa Brigade-Major Roy in action are invited to admire the red-robed mullahni in the illustration to “Rs 70 lakh in Rs 1.3 cr just vanishes” on p.5 of the Delhi edition of The Times of India, Jan 1, 2003.
(1). “`Hindustan Hamara’: Big People & Double Standards” at
However, note that the Open Letter footnoted there has been shifted to
(3). “A voice against `fascist’ forces”, The Hindu, April 30, 2003
Anhad stands for Act Now for Harmony and Democracy and, according to Ms Hashmi in this news report, begins by fighting fascist forces in Gujarat. She clearly identifies fascism only with Hindus – there’s not a word about Muslim fascism in Kashmir or Kerala. Anhad’s first two announcement letters are no different in tenor – the basic concern is “the prejudices against the minorities”, especially in Gujarat , Rajasthan, MP and Chattisgarh and then Orissa, AP, UP, Assam, Karnataka and Kashmir (according to the 20/3/03 letter) with second thoughts about Orissa, UP, Assam and Karnataka (omitted in the 7/4/03 letter). “Kashmir” for Anhad, like for AA, the AEM, and Dr Hameed and her friends, is secular tokenism. For these Big People, all Muslims in India are by definition a “minority”. They are not prepared to petition for the notification of KPs as a minority. For which “minority” in Kashmir are they then concerning themselves?
(5). From email dt.27/2/03 to Ms Aruna Roy: “This is with reference to my letters to The Pioneer and The Times of India…, a version of which The Hindustan Times edited and printed, your reply in the HT 12/2/03, and my letter then to the HT…..
Though none of the papers to whom my letters were addressed published them, e-copies of the originals went to you so that you would be aware of the substantive issue I raised.
In regard to the MKSS, you are quite aware of my admiration for its work in Rajasthan and the opportunity I used to take of expressing my concrete support to it whenever we met. This admiration is repeated in my letters, where my point was the danger to the credibility of the MKSS in its associating with the likes of the NCPRI that quite indubitably does not practise what it preaches. I never inferred “that the exclusion of the NGOs [from the new law] was engineered by the MKSS” – the accusation of double standards was specific to the NCPRI; the risk to the MKSS is through the taint of active association. And unless the government makes public the reason why NGOs have been excluded, the publicly-established duplicity of NCPRI leaders with strong government connections does not make far-fetched the inference that they preach inclusion but quietly lobbied to ensure exclusion, so that they and their organisations escape public scrutiny. ActionAid India, for example, has been exposed as an instrument of British policy, and I am not the only one who has pointed out its dishonesty and that of its leader. And please note that ActionAid India receives strong support not just from the British government but from the IAS and Indian governments too.
In your letter in the HT, you do not say whether in fact the MKSS “has compromised its position on not accepting foreign funds” but say that “questions relating to specific …organisations can only be competently answered by them.”
In my letter thereafter, I asked specifically for the position of the MKSS. Though the letter was addressed to the HT with a copy to you, you could still have chosen to clarify the substantive issue!
Anyhow, I’m now asking this question directly:
I request an unambiguous statement whether or not the MKSS has accepted any money it knows to be of foreign origin or, it amounting to the same thing, it has accepted foreign resources in any form (such as travel money or hospitality). In particular, has the MKSS accepted any money directly or indirectly from Mr Harsh Mander/ActionAid?
By “indirectly” is meant in kind (e,g., travel costs, hospitality, any other resource placed at the disposal of or used by the MKSS so that it saves on its own expenses), or routed through any link/sponsored/satellite agency/company of a donor (such as the Aman Ekta Manch is of ActionAid).
If yes directly, just the name of the foreign source or its Indian face, the amount, and the purpose for which it was given. If yes indirectly, just a broad description of the kind of support and from whom (e.g., expenses of postage/posters/banners/food/accommodation, economy/first class air ticket from….to….).
I make it clear that I am not per se against foreign support; only that public-service individuals/agencies receiving it should unhesitatingly supply details to concerned citizens, especially if these individuals/agencies campaign for transparency by others in public work.
May I hope to receive a reply by March the 9th?
And if your answer is an unequivocal “nil” to any foreign assistance, allow me to extol again you, your colleagues and the MKSS as being worthy of the highest admiration – though I’d still suggest the MKSS be careful of the company it keeps!”
(6). “In response to your letters and queries, regarding the MKSS and its association with the NCPRI, we would like to make it clear that members of the MKSS have been an intrinsic part of the NCPRI since its inception. The NCPRI is a Campaign which has derived its strength from people with high integrity who have chosen to associate with it. This includes Harsh Mander and Shekhar Singh. As we have mentioned before, members of the NCPRI are from varied backgrounds, some of whom receive foreign funds for their work . However all members of the NCPRI share a common commitment to transparency and the accountability of all sectors. The NCPRI like the MKSS is on record for having consistently fought for the inclusion of all sectors under the purview of the Right to Information/Freedom of Information Acts. Your continued inference of “preaching inclusion but quietly lobbying to ensure exclusion” is baseless and factually incorrect.
The MKSS policy with regard to funding has been to not seek or accept institutional/ project funding (foreign or Indian) for its work . We have taken no funds from any foreign agency in India or abroad, for any activity of the MKSS.
However since its inception, the MKSS has permitted members and workers to accept the costs of travel from organisations that have invited us to participate in meetings outside. This has included a variety of organisations, including State and Central Governments, Universities, UN agencies, and Indian and Foreign Civil Society Organisations, including Action Aid, India.
MKSS work is funded by resource mobilisation in the area and personal contributions from individuals who share our concerns and ideals. Harsh Mander has supported us with personal contributions of money and time, when he worked with government and thereafter.
MKSS accounts are transparent and anyone is free to come and see them.”
(8). http://www.actionaidindia.org/media_bworld.htmlincl. “The social audit Is the polite term for Jan sunwal (public hearing), the lethal weapon launched by Aruna Roy of the Mazdoor Kisan Shaktl Sangathan (MKSS) in 1994 to tear aside the veil of secrecy surrounding governance or the lack of it. The public hearing demands transparency in policy and execution at the local level. It questions expenditure on public works, and seeks to nail officials and elected representatives responsible for corruption. It is an impressive show of people’s power and the most visible manifestation of Roy’s right to information campaign.”
(9). “Conspiracy of silence” at http://www.hvk.org/articles/0103/211.html
(10). pers. e-comm. dt.18/4/03: “But you have chosen to publicly denounce and question…people whom you don’t know well, and who are really earnest and good people, with integrity…..I have known Harsh since he was in his late teens and we have been friends since then. He has always been a compassionate and committed person, kind and determined. His integrity cannot be questioned.”
(11). pers. e-comm. dt.18/4/03: “We cannot stand by and watch the failure of government and civil society, the break down of law and order, of democratic human values. It is a question of whether Indian democracy will survive at all.”
(16). extract from email dt.27/11/02 to Mr Shekhar Singh/NCPRI: “You will agree that public figures who press for the right to information should themselves be ready to disclose information about themselves that is of public interest. Your letter has a number of signatories as the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information. One of them is Mr Harsh Mander. Mr Mander is country director of ActionAid India. He and his organization have been much in the news lately and you will agree that he is certainly a public figure and his organization a public one. I have the following questions for Mr Mander:
- Mr Mander published an article titled “Hindustan Hamara” in The Times of India, March 20, 2002. Will Mr Mander state whether any facilities and/or resources of ActionAid enabled this article? This includes office, stationery, phone, computer and email facilities, use of staff for ticketing and other travel arrangements, and incurring of travel or other costs and allowances (even if reimbursed later to the organization).
- If Mr Mander “resigned”, he forfeits his retirement benefits. If he “retired”, he claims from the Indian government perhaps upto a million rupees in retirement benefits. Mr Mander is in the media described as having “resigned” from the IAS. Mr Mander has never denied this, even when said to his face. Will Mr Mander state whether he “resigned” from the IAS, or applied for voluntary/early retirement?
- Mr Mander has in the media always given reasons connected with his “anguish” and his “conscience” as provoking his leaving the IAS. Will Mr Mander state whether about two years earlier he’d circulated a letter through ActionAid indicating, in effect, his loyalty to ActionAid rather than to the IAS and that he would leave the IAS if the government recalled him from the deputation to ActionAid? In this regard, will Mr Mander also make public his ActionAid salary and allowances/perquisites on the date he applied to leave the IAS, and whether he was receiving that salary in Indian or foreign currency?
4. As a condition of accepting Mr Mander’s application for voluntary retirement, the Indian government stipulated he resign from ActionAid. Mr Mander has refused to do so. Will Mr Mander clarify why not?
Mr Mander, as country director of ActionAid India, has been travelling all over this country and abroad making claims and statements, and garnering funds, plaudits and awards, that are definitely of public relevance and importance. He is also a publicly vocal advocate of transparency in public life. Let Mr Mander show that he practises what he preaches.”
(17). extract from email dt.15/1/03 to Mr Shekhar Singh/NCPRI: “In your capacity as an NCPRI office-bearer, the following information is requested from you:
1. Names and addresses of organizations of which you are an office-bearer or spokesperson (including NCPRI and Centre for Equity Studies).
2. Whether any of these organizations, or you yourself or a close family member, has received money from ActionAid directly or indirectly (through its associate/sponsored agencies).
3. The dates, amounts, and the purposes for which the money was given.”
(Francois Gautier, “Nachiketa and India”, The Pioneer, May 14, 2003, op-ed page).