A wife’s fight to protect her whistleblower husband’s life

I think the first time I heard about J. N. Jayashree was on a news channel some months back. Then I read this New York Times article. Her husband, M. N. Vijayakumar, an IAS officer from Karnataka, has been fighting corruption in every department where he is posted, and his higher-ups therefore keep on shunting him around. He has also received death threats because of the work he is doing. To protect his life, Jayashree began blogging about his work, the idea being – if people know about what he is doing, he cannot be eliminated that easily.

Jayashree maintains Fight Corruption Now, a website-cum-blog where she writes about her husband’s work, the threats he receives, the various RTI applications she has filed and so on. And there is a forum where people who face similar problems post about them. Recently, she has written a letter to the Governor of Karnataka asking for her husband’s suspension to save his life –

“I have urged the Governor to suspend my husband and order an inquiry into the life threats he faced as police in Belgaum have not acted on his complaints filed in September and December last”, Jayashree told PTI here.

There are many people who have responded on the website, most of it in the form of moral support, but this comment is the best example of the cynicism that a lot of people in India including me, have about the way the system works in this country and why they cannot do anything about it –

Most of the bribe is paid to obtain what is legally yours. The bribe paid for undue favors is much less in comparison.

It is impossible to do business in India without paying bribes. Show me a businessman BIG or SMALL who says he has never paid a bribe and I would show you a liar.

Bribe paid as an extortion money, as a facilitator, as a speed money is seldom for tax evasion its to avoid harassment.

Yes the trilogy of Politicians, Bureaucracy and Business does thrive on the axis of Corruption. Lord Machiavelli said that the “King should form such laws that subjects are compelled to break them. A law breaker loses his spine and would never revolt against the King.” We live in similar cynical times in India. Hence we do keep paying bribe and perpetrate corruption.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for a few good men to do nothing – is a phrase that is found on some pages of her website. But the good men do nothing because they fear for their life. Maybe they deserve the evil they face, for they have brought it upon themselves.

I can only hope that Vijayakumar’s work encourages a few more in government to grow a spine and stand up for what is right. And that this sense of responsibility percolates down to the general populace. Such cases make me rethink the entire idea of morality. Maybe it is time to follow the Kautilyan credo of dealing viciously with the vicious, for those who have no morality do not deserve moral treatment from those who do.

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