In ideal circumstances, speaking your mind is a simple biological function, a sign that a synaptic link has been achieved between the brain and the tongue; a sign that you are human. In far from ideal circumstances, it is an act of valour, nearly heroic.
Over the past 52 months, all manner of worthies—writers, actors, academics, bureaucrats, economists, army men, election commissioners, intellectuals—have bravely spoken out at the outrages of and under the Narendra Modi government.
The resignation of two serving Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers in the last fortnight—Kannan Gopinathan and Sasikanth Senthil—in reaction to what is happening in India 2019 goes beyond just a plain expression of opposition.
As opposed to desktop warriors, it amounts to two young men throwing away their all—their cushy careers, their “Harvard” perks, their future—and exposing themselves themselves and their families to the trolls, sharks and other beasts.
In the incestuous, herd-like tribe of IAS officers, it also means breaking the code of omerta—and showing the mirror to their colleagues and superiors, the “yes men” who are blindly watching and participating in the destruction of India’s foundational values.
Of the two IAS officers, the deputy commissioner of the coastal Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka, Senthil is more explicit in his rationale, on paper.
In his letter (below), he says:
the “fundamental building blocks of our diverse democracy are being compromised in an unprecedented manner”.
And he goes on to suggest that things will get worse:
“I also feel strongly that the coming days will present extremely difficult challenges to the basic fabric of our nation”.
In a Q&A with Satya K. of the Mangalore-based Kannada daily Vartha Bharti today (below), Senthil is asked:
Q: Is it right for an IAS officer like you to take a decision like this?
A: “It is only if the nation survives will officers survive, is it not? When the nation’s survival itself becomes questionable, how will officers survive?”
“Various institutions are being targeted. The economy is being brought down. There is huge public rhetoric. Public space is being shrunk. There is threat to fundamental rights. There is overall reversal of the system.”
In an interview with Arun Janardhanan of The Indian Express, he uses the F-word, f for fascism.
Fortuitously, in the Dawn, Pakistan, the veteran jurist A.G. Noorani has a piece on civil protests.