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Is India whistleblowers’ graveyard? IAS officer DK Ravi’s death suggests so

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By Harshmeet Singh

In 2009, when DK Ravi’s parents heard the news that their son has cracked what many call ‘the toughest exam in the country’ with an all India rank of 34, they could hardly believe their ears. Little over 5 years down the line, another ‘unbelievable’ news regarding their son struck their ears. This time, they were told that their son has committed suicide by hanging himself to the ceiling fan.

The news of young IAS officer DK Ravi’s mysterious death in Bangalore is both, sad and depressing at the same time. As the news spread like wildfire, conspiracy theories of a foul play began surfacing from all quarters. In his tenure as the Deputy Commissioner of Kolar district in Karnataka, Ravi had earned the love of the locals owing to his honesty and integrity. His efforts to expose the sand mafia in the district were well known in the entire district and beyond. His 24×7 accessibility for the common man, random raids on sand mafia and on people with political connections made him a threat for many a people. His untimely transfer to Bangalore as Additional Commissioner of Commercial Taxes is traced to the pressure put by Sand mafia over the state Government. His transfer from Kolar saw unprecedented protests from the locals in the district, who were not willing to see their hero go away. And far away he went.

Ravi’s family has now revealed that he used to get threat calls from Dubai, but he never lost his sleep over them, which makes his alleged suicide all the more doubtful. The family has also refused to believe the theory that ‘extreme work pressure’ led to Ravi taking such a step. With the sand mafia angle looming large and the state’s Siddaramaiah Government already knee deep in corruption allegations, justice in this case seems far and away.

 Unfortunately, DK Ravi’s case has a number of precedents in the country.

Shanmugam Manjunath

While working as a Marketing Manager in the Indian Oil Corporation, Manjunath had ordered the sealing of two petrol pumps in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri for selling adulterated fuel. He was on a surprise inspection to one of these petrol pumps when he was shot dead by the owner of the pump, Pawan Kumar Mittal. The accused were convicted and are currently serving a life sentence. Inspired by his courage, students from IIM established ‘The Manjunath Shanmugam Trust’ in his name. The trust currently operates a nationwide Right to Information Act Helpline with an aim of improving governance in the country.

Satyendra Dubey  

Satyendra Dubey’s case was perhaps the most high profile whistleblower case in the country. An officer in the Indian Engineering Services, Dubey was murdered in Gaya in 2003 while he was exposing a major scandal in the government’s ambitious Golden Quadrilateral project. While working as project director at National Highway Authority of India, he found that Larsen and Toubro, the main contractor of the project, was subletting the work to smaller and cheaper firms who didn’t possess the required high end technology for the project.

 After his seniors didn’t respond to his questions, he sent a letter directly to the Prime Minister saying “Though the NHAI is going for international competitive bidding to procure the most competent civil contractors for execution of its projects, when it comes to actual execution, it is found that most of the works, sometimes even up to 100 per cent are subcontracted to petty contractors incapable of executing such big projects. A dream project of unparalleled importance to the Nation but in reality a great loot of public money because of very poor implementation at every state. I have written all these in my individual capacity. However, I will keep on addressing these issues in my official capacity in the limited domain within the powers delegated to me”.

Despite his repeated requests about not disclosing his identity, his name came out in the open and he was cautioned by the NHAI for sending a letter directly to the PM.

His death led to strong protests all over the country and inside the Parliament. In 2010, three people were convicted by the Patna court for Dubey’s murder. Satyendra K Dubey Memorial Award was established after his death. Given to the IIT alumnus with highest professional integrity, this award has been awarded to Arvind Kejriwal as well.

Narendra Kumar

An IPS officer of the 2009 batch, Kumar was killed after he exposed the mining mafia in the state of Madhya Pradesh. He was brutally run over by a tractor in Morena, Madhya Pradesh after he tried to stop the tractor which was carrying illegally mined stones. Anna Hazare, along with his team, staged a protest against the murder of Kumar.

In the same week as Kumar’s murder, another IPS officer in the Chambal region, Jaidevan was assaulted by the local liquor mafia. Though he managed to escape without serious injuries, the deteriorated law and order situation in Madhya Pradesh was for everyone to see.

Lalit Mehta

Lalit Mehta paid the price for exposing multiple irregularities in the NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act). He was found murdered in Palamau, Jharkhand in 2008. The local police conveniently passed on the matter, saying that his murderers have been killed by the Naxals since they claimed that they will bring his perpetrators to the books. “Now there is nothing to enquire into the Lalit Mehta case,” is what Palamau SP Udayan Singh had to say.

Unfortunately, the list of courageous whistleblowers who lost their lives for doing their job with integrity is a never ending one. V Saseendran was found hanging in his house with his two children after he exposed financial irregularities worth Rs 400 crore in the company where he was working. It was found later that he was the prime witness in a number of cases involving political leaders of the state.

Laws for whistleblowers

It was only in 2011 that the Government felt the need to frame a law for the protection of whistleblowers in the country. Subsequently, the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2011 was passed by the Rajya Sabha in February 2014 and got the President’s nod in May 2014.

The Parliament, very conveniently, has excluded the politicians from the purview of this act. When was the last time that a scandal took place without a political hand in it? Unless the political nexus gives way to an honest bureaucracy, no act would be able to change the fortunes of whistleblowers in India.

The Modi Government has recently announced its intentions of bringing certain amendments in the Whistleblower Act to give more teeth to the CVC. Prioritizing this bill and making it more holistic would certainly help make India a safer country for whistleblowers and save the life of the next DK Ravi and Satyendra Dubey.

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The Best IAS Preparation App’s For Aspirants

I.A.S stands for ‘Indian Administrative Service’. It is the administrative arm of the All India Services. The service is considered to be the top-notch civil service of India

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IAS exam is held through Civil Services Examination (CSE). Wikimedia Commons
IAS exam is held through Civil Services Examination (CSE). Wikimedia Commons
  • IAS is considered to be the top-notch civil service of India
  • IAS members are deployed in various public-sector undertakings
  • There are many mobile applications that can come handy while preparing for IAS exam

I.A.S stands for ‘Indian Administrative Service’. It is the administrative arm of the All India Services. The service is considered to be the top-notch civil service of India.

The IAS (Indian Administrative Service), IPS (Indian Police Service) and the IFS or IFoS (Indian Foreign Service) comprise the three arms of the All India Services. Candidates from these administrative services serve the central Government as well as other States. IAS members can also be deployed in various public-sector undertakings.

At par with countries which follows the Westminster system of government, the IAS is part of the permanent bureaucracy of the nation and is an inseparable element of the executive of the Government of India. The bureaucracy is supposed to remain politically neutral and guarantees fair administrative continuity to the ruling party.

Civil Services Exam

IAS exam is held through Civil Services Examination (CSE). It is a nationwide competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India. There are a number of mobile applications for civil services exam online preparation.

Also Read: Exams are Knocking at the Door? Here are 10 Things you can do to Handle the Exam Pressure

Civil Services Exam Pattern

Till 2010, Civil Services Exam pattern was based upon the recommendations of the Kothari Commission (1979). It consisted of two examinations, one on general studies worth 150 marks, and the second on one of 23 optional subjects worth 300 marks. The pattern got a revamp in 2011. The preliminary pattern was sustained with only minor changes once every ten to fifteen years.

There are a number of mobile applications for civil services exam online preparation. Wikimedia Commons
There are a number of mobile applications for civil services exam online preparation. Wikimedia Commons

Every year many aspirants prepare hard and try their luck in clearing one of the toughest exams of India. But due to the complexity of the exam, the success rate becomes very narrow and only a handful of people are selected after the gruelling selection process.

Following are the number of exercises which can be taken into practice to crack the IAS exam:

  1. English Dictionary: Dictionary is the foremost component for the preparation of IAS exam. One can not read between lines unless he/she understands the whole meaning of the lines completely.
  2. Thesaurus: It will help you to learn new words, to refer to when you are writing an essay and struggling to find fitting words
  3. Civil Services Prelims Papers: Prelims Papers sorted by years will help you to analyze the paper pattern and take calculated decisions while preparing for IAS exam.
  4. Aptitude and Logical Reasoning: It is one of the most significant parts of the IAS paper. By practising hundreds of aptitude, reasoning and English vocabulary questions will settle you in a very organized way.

    Indian constitution comprises a principal aspect of every IAS exam. Wikimedia Commons
    Indian constitution comprises a principal aspect of every IAS exam. Wikimedia Commons
  5. Indian Constitution: Indian constitution comprises a principal aspect of every IAS exam. Thus, going through the whole of Indian Constitution will always cement your base stronger.
  6. Wikipedia: As we all know that Wikipedia is the key station for any knowledge. It will surely help you to gain a better understanding of any subject.
  7. World Atlas: World Atlas will help you with countries, capitals, economies and other details. Every minute details related to the globe should on one’s fingertips if he/she wants to after I.A.S all guns blazing.

Also Read: How to prepare for your Engineering Exams in the Age of Digital Distraction?

Apart from the above-mentioned practices, one can always rely on their smartphones. Here are some of the top mobile applications that can be downloaded and come handy in guiding the IAS aspirants to achieve their goals.

  1. Online Tyari

Online Tyari is a leading web and mobile app platform which helps in preparing for different competitive exams. It partners with coaching institutes, independent tutors and publishers to provide the latest study materials to aspirants. For more details, visit the website.

  1. ClearIAS

ClearIAS is rated among the top websites for IAS preparation. It provides free online study materials, guidance, toppers’ interviews, online mock exams, etc. Clear IAS is also an Android application now. For more details, visit the website.

  1. Civilsdaily

Civilsdaily application offers a lot of general knowledge and current affairs topics for IAS and UPSC preparation. It provides news in a simplified manner for aspirants. It also publishes daily flashcards and compiles them under different topics on the website. For more details, visit the website.

  1. Unacademy

Unacademy is India’s largest free education initiative. It makes high-quality educational videos that are free for everyone. The digital application bestows the best explanation of every educational topic in all languages. The Unacademy application is also available on Google Play store. For more details, visit the website.

Unacademy is India’s largest free education initiative. It makes high-quality educational videos that are free for everyone. Wikimedia Commons
Unacademy is India’s largest free education initiative. It makes high-quality educational videos that are free for everyone. Wikimedia Commons
  1. mrunal.org

This website is for every newbie who wants to give the exams a shot. Mrunal Patel is well-known for breaking down complex ideas and explaining things to public service aspirants in the simplest manner. Mrunal wasn’t able to clear the UPSC exams but he channelled his energy into teaching other aspirants. He also gives video lectures on Youtube. For more details, visit the website.

  1. Pratyogita Darpan

Pratiyogita Darpan is one of India’s leading magazines for UPSC aspirants. It is available in both English and Hindi and is widely read. It covers current affairs and interviews of prominent personalities. It now has a free app on Google Play store, where the entire magazine is available to the user. For more details, visit the website.

  1. Byju’s

Byju’s is an education organization that focuses not only IAS aspirants but also those who want to crack other competitive exams. Byju’s started training UPSC aspirants in 2011. It uses fun and unique teaching methods and is a popular online classroom used by IAS aspirants. It has a paid app. For more details, visit the website.

Byju’s is an education organization that focuses not only IAS aspirants. Wikimedia Commons
Byju’s is an education organization that focuses not only IAS aspirants. Wikimedia Commons
  1. IASexamportal.com

This website is one of the widely used portals by civil service aspirants. The community comprises more than 5.5 lakh members. It promises to provide the latest information to aspirants and has a large base of users from rural areas. It also has an app. For more details, visit the website.

  1. ias100.in

IAS100.in is an online portal for UPSC exam preparation. It has various courses online for civil service aspirants. It also has a distance learning program. The application is also available on Google Play store. For more details, visit the website.

  1. Mapboard Lite

Mapboard Lite is a smart study tool for Geography students, civil services aspirants and learning enthusiasts. With eight ready-to-edit blank maps, it lets you practice map drawing and allows you to make notes on the go. It also works in offline mode.