Sunday, December 12, 2010
Whistleblowers Unlimited !
A saying goes like “When a canary is singing , our environment is healthy but when it stops singing or it is silenced, it signifies grave dangers ahead”. A whistleblower is like a canary to any organisation or body of people, who raises a voice concerned to any malpractices or wrongdoings going in the same. Daniel Ellsberg, Michael Paul, Paul Moore, Jeffrey Wigand, John Lennon, Satyendra Dubey and Manjunath Shanmugham to name a few ,where the one who blew up the cover that covered the organisation’s scams, swindles, rip-offs an atrocities. And mind you, it is a legitimate act of bravery which can never be carried forward by faint hearted person.
A way back in 1971, the most famous case of a whistle blowing happened. Daniel Ellsberg, a former U.S. marine and a Vietnam war veteran exposed how the successive U.S. governments had dragged the country into the immoral war with Vietnam . The top secret defence documents were exposed and the scam came to be known as Watergate Scandal. The U.S government didn’t sit quiet after that and they instantly responded by prosecuting Ellsberg on multiple false charges. But even after deploying all the tactics against Ellsberg ,the hue and cry over the prosecution ultimately led to the downfall and impeachment of President Richard Nixon at that point of time. Physical attacks, mental torture ,defamation, threatening calls and everything worse that could have been done was simply played on Ellsberg. But that didn’t deterred him or the truth from unfolding out. This was first big whistle blowing incident and legendary of sorts in it’s own way. Many such Ellsbergs have followed thereafter.
But the uncertainties regarding the security and protection of a whistleblower plays a requires immediate attention. Many whistleblowers have been assassinated after they have blown up the cover. Therefore, protecting the lives of whistleblower remains the main hiccup. So far democracies like U.S.A, U.K., New Zealand and Australia have been successful in enacting the protection bill. The first bill regarding the Protect Act was placed in U.S.A in 1989 and it got amended as a law in 1994. It safeguards and protects the public interest disclosures made by federal employees.
In India NHAI engineer, Satyendra Dubey was killed after he disclosed the irregularities and malpractices regarding the Golden Quadrilateral Project in a letter to PMO. Inspite of his insistence on masking his identity the letter was forwarded to various concerned departments which finally led to his murder. On November 19 2005, Manjunath Shanmugham, an IIM graduate and a sales manager working in IOCL was killed when he reported and exposed the mafia racket behind petrol adulteration in India. All these led to huge public outcry ,resulting in filing of numerous Public Interest Litigations which ultimately led our Supreme Court to act and seek a permanent mechanism to protect whistle blowers. So ,in 2009 Public Interest Disclosure Bill was placed in our Parliament for safeguarding them. The bill is yet to get passed in the legislature. This is yet another revolutionary Bill after the RTI was enforced as law in India.
If the bill gets passed , some people may act and some may not act out of fear or whatever. But one thing that is quite certain to happen is that, it will definitely minimize corruption to a great scale. Mr. We need whistleblowers to curb and dismantle those who are damaging the social strata for their own personal benefits. That’s why whistle blowing in need is a whistleblower indeed.