‘Irresponsible, pathetic’: Former civil servants, activists and Jamia teachers demand action against Suresh Chavhanke

The Sudarshan TV editor has released a promo for a show tonight about the ‘infiltration of Muslims into bureaucracy’.

WrittenBy:Akanksha Kumar
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“Big expose on the infiltration of Muslims into bureaucracy!”

“What explains the sudden rise in the number of Muslim IAS and IPS officers?”

“Imagine what would happen if the jihadi from Jamia becomes your district magistrate or a secretary in a ministry.”

These obnoxious lines are from a 47-second teaser for a “report” to be aired Friday night by Sudarshan TV. The promo, featuring the news channel’s editor Suresh Chavhanke, has garnered 2.8 million views and 15,000 likes on Twitter.

This is par for the course for Sudarshan TV, which Newslaundry has called out for inciting hatred against the Muslims.

The channel's incessant hate campaign is almost invariably driven by lies, and that's the case here as well.

According to news reports based on information provided by officials in the minority affairs ministry, a total of 40 Muslim candidates cleared the Union Public Services Commission's exam to join the civil services this year compared to 28 in 2019. In all, only about 5 percent of the successful candidates were Muslim. As a proportion of the population, that’s quite low. The Muslims form over 14 percent of India's population.

Chavhanke's latest show of bigotry has drawn condemnation from former civil servants as well as the IPS Association.

"It’s an affront to the secular credentials of our country. The UPSC respects only merit. Standards of Sudarshan TV are miserable and pathetic. As more candidates from marginalised communities join civil services, they will add strength to our polity," said Vikram Singh, former Uttar Pradesh police chief and an advisor to the UPSC.

Pointing out that the proportion of Muslims who passed the exam was low compared to their population, Singh asked of Sudarshan TV, "Does this seem like a rational representation? They need more affirmative steps. How can someone make such irresponsible statements?"

The IPS Association took to Twitter to express its dismay: "A news story targeting candidates in civil services on the basis of religion is being promoted by Sudarshan TV. We condemn the communal and irresponsible piece of journalism."

The video also prompted some activists to seek immediate action against the TV channel. RTI activist Saket Gokhale approached the judicial magistrate in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, requesting that the police be directed to file an FIR against Chavhanke. Another RTI activist, S Q Masood, filed a complaint with the Hyderabad police commissioner. It states, "I urge you to take action against Suresh Chavhanke and Sudarshan News under sections 19 and 20 of the Cable Television Networks Rules 1995 and book a case under sections 153A and 295A of the IPC and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code."

TV commentator Tehseen Poonawalla wrote a letter to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority, requesting that the broadcast of the impending show, "Naukarshahi Me Musalmano Ki Ghuspaith", be stopped and legal action started against Sudarshan TV and its editor for "giving the UPSC selection process a communal colour".

Maxwell Pereira, former Delhi police joint commissioner, told Newslaundry, "All of us came into the services not because of religion but on the basis of abilities. It’s heartening to hear that more Muslims are joining the services. No one questions religion when you join the army. Religion should not be a question when you join the services."

Nearly 15 years ago, the Sachar Committee examined the social, economic and educational conditions of the Muslims and found that they had only about 3 percent representation in the IAS, 1.8 percent in the Indian Foreign Service and four percent in the IPS.

Talking about proportional representation in the civil services, Yashovardhan Azad, former IPS officer and Central Information Commissioner, said, “UPSC is one of our best institutions and anybody who gets in does so on the basis of merit. If people from different regions and communities are qualifying UPSC, it helps as they have a better understanding of local issues.”

Meanwhile, the Jamia Teachers’ Association has urged the university administration to file a defamation case against Sudarshan TV and Chavhanke.

“JTA requests JMI to process the matter for FIR under various sections of IPC and UAPA, and initiate proceedings under criminal defamation,” the association said in a letter to the administration. “It is worth mentioning that Jamia Millia Islamia stood as number one central university in an assessment by the MHRD and media persons or their masters are using a cruel approach against 100-year-old university and the Indians who serve the nation through administrative services.”

Calling for action against the TV channel and its editor, Singh, the former Uttar Pradesh police chief, said, “You cannot spew venom, say things against the steel framework of administration and get away with it.”

India’s bureaucracy has long suffered from frequent transfers, staff shortage and corruption. And locking horns with political leaders, in a bid to fix the system, has often proved costly for many bureaucrats. According to a 2009 paper by the Harvard Business School, “Between 1980 and 2000, the probability that an IAS officer experiences transfer is 53 percent. The average tenure of IAS officers in a given post is 16 months.”

Instead of bringing attention to such systemic problems that ail the 165-year-old institution, Chavhanke wants to use it to spew his bigotry.


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