Wednesday, June 23

We don't need Satyendra Dubey

Ranjeev C Dubey, managing partner of New Delhi Law Offices (South) writes in Business World India ; Why India doesn't need a Whistle Blower Act. To some extent he is correct, but what he expects "effective, responsible government" requires"effective, responsible society". The society is getting what its deserves but the penalty is paid by people like Satyendra Dubey. So the best solution will be to not to have people like Satyendra Dubey. Support corruption, save a life.
Corporate India does have legitimate fears: for one, cohesion, mutual faith and team play are the key to productivity, and institutionalised Orwellian squealing is its antithesis. Second, there are a thousand ways to victimise squealing employees, but such laws only encourage the incompetent to become whistle-blowers to avoid being sacked. Third, whistle-blowing settles extraneous scores, promotes 'political' subgroups, institutionalises internal and external blackmail, and adds to the predatory powers of our predatory state. Lastly, whistle-blowing results in defensive management, proliferates mindless procedures, and ultimately destroys initiative and risk-taking.

The key point here is that what applies to corporate India also applies to the government of India: a whistleblower law may only work to paralyse whatever still functions in the government. Let's face it, the whole corruption racket works on mutual benefits and fair distribution. What you probably will have with a whistle-blower law is a little benefit and a lot of problems.

So why do we need whistle-blower legislation? Laws don't automatically mean law-abiding societies. That apart, what will the law say that is not already covered under existing fair labour practice legislation ('thou shall not victimise') or, as in Dubey's case, the Indian Penal Code ('thou shall not kill')? So let me put it bluntly: to save a life such as Dubey's all you really need is appropriate and sensitive government response to credible information of corruption in high places, and an effective witness protection programme. These are administrative issues, not legislative ones.

This is not an argument for a whistle-blower law. This is only an argument for effective, responsible government. So let us focus on working towards responsible liberal governance and forget about the symbolism inherent in enacting a grand law we cannot and will not implement.