Citizens' Issues
High Court seeks reply on media interaction proposal for government servants

The Allahabad High Court has directed the state counsel to seek instructions from the ministry of personnel and public grievances within 10 days about allowing selective media interaction by government servants instead of complete ban at present

The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court has directed the state counsel to seek instructions from the ministry of personnel and public grievances within 10 days regarding amendment in conduct rules for government servants. Lucknow-based Amitabh Thakur, a former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer in his two representations, has prayed the amendment to allow government servants to state through media, cases related with inside corruption and misuse of official position, unlike the complete ban that presently applies.

The bench of justices Uma Nath Singh and Mahendra Dayal sought an official response as regards the suggestions made by Mr Thakur for amendment in Conduct Rules and performance appraisal presently applicable to the government servants.

Earlier, Thakur had sent these representations to the ministry of personnel and public grievances, Government of India, but did not get any response from them. He then sent reminder mails requesting them to respond and also stated the need and importance of the changes. Failing to get a response, Mr Thakur finally sought help from the high court through a writ petition.

In his first representation, Mr Thakur has written about the changes required in the Conduct Rules applicable to most of the government servants like the All India Services officers, members of the Central Civil Services and various state government officials. He explained that the current conduct rules act like a barrier between government officers and the public, particularly through the use of media. Some of the important facts stated in the Conduct Rules, which justify these barriers are…

  1. No government servant shall participate in a radio broadcast or contribute any article or write any letter to any newspaper or periodical, etc.
  1. No government servant shall in any radio broadcast on in any document make any statement of fact or opinion which has the effect of any adverse criticism of any current or recent policy of action of the government or which is capable of embarrassing the relations between different governments or which is capable of embarrassing the relations between the central government and the government of any foreign state.
  1. No government servant shall, except with the previous sanction of the government, give evidence in connection with any enquiry conducted by any person, committee or authority.
  1. Where any sanction has been accorded to give evidence, no government servant giving such evidence shall criticize the policy of the government.

Based on these rules, it can simply be said that a government official is completely banned from making any interaction with the media. Mr Thakur said that though an official possesses a lot of confidential details related to the government, which should not be disclosed to the public, the act should at least allow the officials to approach the media if any inside corruption, misuse of official position etc takes place.  Some of the amendments suggested in the representation are as follows:

  1. It needs to be clearly specified that any adverse criticism of any current or recent policy of action of the government does not in any way mean coming up with facts that might be critical or denigrating to one or more officers and/or ministers, etc in the government. The various Conduct Rules now need to specify in black and white that adverse criticism of a government policy is not to be equated with presenting such facts before the public through the media that is critical to a senior officer or is critical to a minister or a MLA or MP, etc. It also kindly needs to be specified that the acts of individual public servants (government officials, ministers and/or public representatives, etc) are not to be treated as the act of the government per se and cannot be rigidly equated with the policy of the government.
  1. It possibly also needs to be inserted in the Conduct Rules that even as regards the government policies or an act of the government, the government official would have the right to present facts before the public, if it is in the larger public interest and is connected with corrupt practices of any kind. The corrupt practices here would include not only financial corruption but would also include all kinds of biases, prejudices and motivated acts.

Thakur further added that these amendments needs to be implemented fast because these Conduct Rules were framed in the 1950s and 60s where there were hardly any corruptions and improper acts of the higher government officials taking place.

In his second representation, Thakur has written about the changes required to be made in evaluation of the performance appraisal of government officials. Currently, seniors make ACRs (Annual Confidential Report) of the juniors and they are evaluated on the basis of that report. But Mr Thakur said that a 360 degree feedback system should be adopted where an employee is also evaluated by his peers and subordinates. Under this system, feedback about the official can also be taken from the external sources such as the customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders.

According to Mr Thakur, the changes specified are very important and needs to be worked on immediately.

Reported by: Anishi Khetan




4 years ago

As the Whistle Blower policy of Vigilance wing of every department is aimed at individual's corruption, but not ill-policy check in the system, what Mr. Amitabh Thakur's demands are 100% correct.

Sex in Indian ancient medical literature

The famous Vatsayana’s Kamasutra is a monumental work in this area. The idea of male-female attraction is the strong foundation for the preservation of the species


Man is born with only two natural instincts—self preservation and procreation. No one need teach anyone, or for that matter any living being, as to how to procreate. The idea of male-female attraction is another strong foundation for the preservation of the species. In fact, some of the male rhine deer could follow the trail of a female in heat just by the smell of the latter’s pheromones in the hoofs of the female during heat, that could be dug as deep as twelve feet in snow. Nature is a wonderful wonder. 


Without the male-female copulation the very foundation of a broad-based genetic material for the offspring can not be assured. I have written extensively in an article entitled God forgotten and Man sleighted, about the futility of cloning to produce the offspring of one’s choice. One could only make a look-alike but never another replica to do exactly what the scientist intends the offspring to do. The consciousness develops largely based on the environment. Today even genetic researchers have realized the futility of engineering the genes alone as gene-penetrance depends on the environment to a great extent and the human chromosome has only twenty-five thousand human genes while it has three billion germ genes!  


In this background it is very unlikely that the Indian scholars of yore had not thought about it. In fact, in his very exhaustive work on Indian sexuality the author, Peter Rahul Das, has gone very deep into the deep jungle of literature in this area in the Indian science and has come up with some fascinating material that could be a field for further research. The famous Vatsayana’s Kamasutra is a monumental work in this area. I refer a serious reader to the book mentioned below, The Origin of A Human Being, for which I wrote the following review in one of the leading medical journals in the country, the National Medical Journal recently. It is here for the reader to study.


This is one book that bowled me completely for the first time—all three stumps had flown away! A real spinner it was. For sometime I wondered why the editor chose me to review this book, but came up with no easy answers. I sat down to read the book for the second time and that is the reason for the inordinate delay in reviewing this book. Finally, here it is. 


During the course of my second reading I remembered a similar book that I had read earlier having had similar difficulty in comprehending the essence. It was The Birth of the Clinic (An archeological medical perception) written by Michel Foucault. Both the books deal with birth, in the first of the human baby and in the second of the medical clinic. 


I have no hesitation to echo the sentiments expressed by Marguerite Howe of The Nation who wrote in her review the following passage about the author, Michel Foucault that could easily be written about the author of this great work, Rahul Peter Das: “Elegant, arrogant, razor-blade brilliant. Foucault nevertheless wears his learning lightly: he may be outrageous but he is never dull…..” I thought Marguerite was verbalizing my thoughts about Rahul just at the time I finished reading The Origin of the Life of a Human Being for the second time.


Mind-boggling details of the ancient Indian medical and paramedical texts referred to in this book amazed me. Caraka, Sushruta, Vaagbhata or two Vaagbhatas, Vatsyaayaana, Svetaketu, Cakrapanidatta, and a host of others in addition to the Greek and Yunani writers of importance were extensively quoted throughout the text. The detailed references with their Sanskrit renderings are amazing. This scholarly book reads like a PhD thesis with its intricate discussion points with protagonist and the antagonist views having been given equal weightage with the writer not being judgmental to begin with. However, he sums it all up for a lazy reader at the end in a very lucid chapter where he cites the role of the woman in conception, delivery and also her role in the sexual act. 


The detailed discussion of the two fluids, arthava and sukra, the female and the male procreatory fluids essential for a new life, their origin, their flow, their importance in orgasm, the sex of the child, as also their role in the origin of the human being are clearly discussed with reference to all the texts referred to above. One of the curious facts that I noticed was the description fitting that of the long disputed (in western medicine) Grafenberg spot on the anterior vaginal wall that could get stimulated during coitus to produce the “female semen” referred to in Indian texts many times. 


One point here deserves special mention and that is the truth brought out in this study of the role of the female sexual pleasure as an important contributing factor for the evolution of the human being since conception is regarded as being possible only if both man and the woman have an orgasm. Even the birth of a male heir depends to a large extent on this. May be there is a possibility that pregnancy did not result in the absence of female orgasm.


Be that as it may, this book brings to fore many important aspects of Indian thought in an area of great significance. The western thought up until the eighteenth century did agree with this view but, has since changed.


This book deserves the respect from all those interested in serious research into our ancient wisdom. It also deserves special respect for the scholarly exposition of the subject matter under study. That said, I must hasten to add that this is not the book for a casual reader or for bedtime reading. It is a very serious book that needs to be studied in depth to get at the core of the matter. While I congratulate the author for the exhaustive narrative I wonder what would be its market value, as it could, at best, be of reference value. I feel that any library worth its salt must have a copy of this book.  


(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London.)



The Buy Side: A Wall Street trader’s tale of spectacular excess

The atmosphere of the trading floor is well captured and many characters will stay with you after reading. There are no boundaries when it comes to milking a dollar

“The Buy Side” in Wall Street parlance refers to those who manage the money.  They are the ones who place the ‘buy’ orders with the brokerage houses, which are referred to as the ‘sell’ side. “The Buy Side” by Turney Duff, a Wall Street hedge fund trader is a fast paced read. By now, nothing of Wall Street excesses shock or surprise anyone.

This book is his story on Wall Street between 1994, when he started on the ‘sell’ side before moving on to the ‘buy’ side after three to four years. He came from a small place in the US to make his life as a journalist and ends up joining Wall Street, thanks to the clout of one of his uncles who has enough push to get him placed, irrespective of his total absence of interest, knowledge or background about investing and stocks.

To his credit, he picks up enough to graduate from a dealing room assistant to a partner in a hedge fund, investing money in hedge funds, where portfolios are churned on a minute-by-minute basis.

The book shows the cosy relationship between the ‘sell’ side and the ‘buy’ side. The sell side gets its commissions on the business done by the ‘buy’ side. The buy side gets its money from delivering returns and getting a fee on managing the money plus a share on the gains it delivers to its investors. So the ‘sell’ side has to offer every imaginable temptation ( booze, drugs, women, cruises, and every other form of entertainment or pandering required in order to get a higher share of business) and the ‘buy’ side has to ‘cultivate’ some special contacts who give them the edge of ‘early’ warnings about changes in events that will move the price of a stock in a big way. Without this, it is difficult for someone to deliver spectacular returns that will draw in yet more money under management.

Turney Duff acquires the skills needed to be a successful ‘buy’ side money manager. He makes no bones about the ruthlessness needed to overcome conscience bites when money is at stake. The book also shows the power that the ‘buy’ side has that makes the sell side grovel and eat a humble pie at every turn.

The book is a good chronicle of the excesses that the money management industry ails from. From excessive salaries and bonuses to lifestyles that make million dollar salaries seem inadequate, Wall Street gets a tick in the box for every known (and some unknown) ills. There are no boundaries when it comes to milking a dollar.

Turney Duff’s book is also a journey of the decline and fall in his personal life thanks to his dealing with temptations in the easier way—by succumbing to them. Drugs, booze and sex become so much a part of his life that they finally kill his career in a brutally short period.

Turney Duff worked for Morgan Stanley, Galleon (of the Rajarathinam insider trading fame), Argus and Kramer Berkowitz. The atmosphere of the trading floor is well captured and many characters will stay with you after reading.

The book is also a chronicle of the poor habits controlling and destroying a career and a person. His addiction to cocaine and the description of his binges makes one wonder how he could recall so many details. Addiction to drugs and booze combined with an extravagant lifestyle leaves someone poor at the end of nearly two decades on Wall Street.  And with many of those years giving seven and eight figure dollar salaries!  In an industry where the high paying jobs have no continuity beyond the day you finish your work surely needs a strong temperament to survive. Career spans are short because competition is on whom you know and when you know rather than what you know. Performances are ranked every day. Temptations thrown at you each moment and the ease at which one succumbs are perhaps directly in relation to the stay in the profession. An industry in whose dictionary the words morals, honesty and trust are missing. The dividing line between right and wrong is only evident if one is caught.

Turney Duff himself comes across as someone who oscillates between what is good and what he does to make his living, but not strong enough to keep off the grass and the glass. His “after- hours” became so big that it ruined his life.

This book may not be ‘news’ to those in the money management industry. It is not on par with something like “Bonfire of Vanities” or “Liar’s Poker” in terms of literary milestones. However, it is a breezy read and well written by a Wall Street insider who aspired to be a journalist. Don’t look for any inside or new financial scoops either.


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