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Dec 17, 2003
Is Satyendra Dubey really dead?

On Nov 27, 2003, a 31 year old engineer was shot dead in Bihar. You might be pardoned if you said: “That’s routine life for those parts isn’t it?” Haven’t scores fallen to armed mafia and dons? The television viewers are now bored to death about news from Bihar badlands. So the media ignored this murder.

But Satyendra Dubey, the murdered engineer was different. He was an IIT alumnus and an upright officer working on the Golden Quadrilateral, the Prime Minister’s dream road project. He had written to the Prime Minister detailing the corruption involved in the project and the information about his letter somehow reached the mafia. Dubey was gunned down.

IIT alumni were startled and began to protest. The visual media then awoke to the story. Images of Dubey’s father—a low level clerk-- performing the obsequies, the run down environs of his house and his siblings standing listlessly outraged thousands of Indians. From this heart-ache of a place had risen the smiling young man, gone to IIT, was single handedly supporting his family and putting his brothers and sisters through education. Soon he was the rallying point. The Indian Express alone received 25,000 angry letters. The blame game began, the highways ministry took out full page ads to explain and absolve itself and political parties realised they must take positions. An unconscionable three weeks after the murder the PM stood up in Parliament and ordered a CBI enquiry.

For those that believe in synchronicity, there were other developments that threaded together:

--The HRD minister at the centre began to air his plans to fiddle with the management structure of IIMs and IITs.

--Question papers of the IIMs’ common entrance test (CAT) were leaked and thousands of bright young Indians were told they would have to take the test again.  Those that leaked the papers were traced to Bihar.

--Bihar’s police chief D P Ohja was sacked for speaking out against the state government.

Are we at the low inflection point of the venality curve? There is some promise of citizen’s action led mostly by the IIT, IIM alumni. They are angry-- very, very angry. Given that they have made India’s current shining image, their indignation can embarrass the rulers. Add to that potential, the power of email, cell phones and the Internet. We could be looking at some action with teeth to it. And that is a spring of hope and good news for these times.

So what can ‘you’ do? First, here’s the Dubey story. Read it. IIT and IIM alumni have formed a group that says enough is enough. Their group is open to all serious activists. It’s called Jago India and you can join it here . Jago India (-for Joint Action Group Of India) talks of creating “a Mexican wave against corruption”. In under a week it has 450 sign-ups and growing. The potential is 250,000 influential members. In the USA, outraged Indians have set up the S K Dubey Foundation with a clutch of objectives, among them raising support for a Whistleblower Act. You can join their group, sign their petition: close to 50,000 from 60 countries have already done. Next, sign another petition to the PM even though an enquiry has been ordered. Better still create a new petition at the same address urging that he rise above routine motion and make Dubey an icon for change.

If you are still depressed and perplexed, gaze at the face of young Dubey for a while. You will be driven to do “something”. And then Dubey will no longer be ‘dead’.

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