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Dalit IAS officer used to think caste bias was a myth. Now he’s fighting it

Jagmohan Singh Raju, a Dalit IAS officer of the 1985 batch, claims his elevation as additional secretary was stalled over his caste.

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New Delhi: Tamil Nadu additional chief secretary Jagmohan Singh Raju, a Dalit IAS officer of the 1985 batch, used to think caste bias was a thing of the past for India. Now, four years after his elevation as additional secretary was allegedly stalled over his Dalit roots, he is spearheading a campaign for justice.

“Everyone used to tell me that it (caste discrimination) will happen someday… But for 25 years in service, I didn’t face it at all,” Raju told ThePrint.

“But, slowly, when competition began increasing for the top positions, I felt I was being pulled down from everywhere,” he said. “Suddenly, there was so much hostility… As though the entire society has decided that people from our community should not rise to the top.”

According to Raju, Central Vigilance Commissioner K.V. Chowdary used completely “arbitrary and discriminatory” means to impede his empanelment as additional secretary back in 2015.

Earlier this month, through his lawyer Prashant Bhushan, he sent a legal notice to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) about the “casteist, vindictive and malicious discrimination” allegedly perpetrated by Chowdary, and sought his prosecution under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act.

The notice was also sent to the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), the nodal agency for civil service recruitment.

ThePrint approached CVC Chowdary for comment, but was yet to get a response by the time of publishing. This report will be updated when Chowdary responds.

‘No wrongdoing’

Raju is an IAS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, and hails from a Scheduled Caste family based in Punjab.

Explaining how the controversy started, Raju cited some anonymous complaints made against him in 2013. According to him, while the complaints were closed the same year, and it was concluded that the charges were not genuine, Chowdary reopened the inquiry in 2015, just when he was being considered for empanelment.

“Mr Chowdary… ordered a fresh inquiry into them just to create a pretext to decline me the vigilance clearance,” he said to ThePrint. “Even the fresh inquiry under his own superintendence found no wrongdoing on my part and exonerated me unconditionally,” he added.

Even though the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) recommended back in 2016 that “that the petitioner has been grossly discriminated against and victimised”, the government did not take any action on his complaint.

Raju was compelled to take the matter to the Delhi High Court in 2017, and, in December 2018, the court directed that a decision be taken upon the findings and recommendations of the NCSC within two months.

When the government did not act against Chowdary despite the high court’s directions, Raju wrote to the PMO and the Department of Personnel & Training this month.

More than two weeks later, there is no word from the government on Raju’s notice. “While the government retains its prerogative to take decision on the notice…I shall evaluate (the future course of action),” he told ThePrint.

Also read: This madrasa graduate is in line to be IAS, IPS officer, says it helped him crack UPSC exam

‘Thought caste bias was a thing of the past’

Raju, who topped his BA (Honours) batch at Panjab University, became an IAS officer at the age of 22. At the time, he told ThePrint, he was a sceptic about caste discrimination, and believed education and modernity had made it a thing of the past.

Asked if he felt that caste-based discrimination was widespread in the bureaucracy, he said, “There is a reason why there are such few officers from the SC community at the secretary-level in the government.”

According to details obtained by ThePrint through an RTI application last year, there are 81 secretary-rank officers in the central government, of which only two are from the Scheduled Castes and three from the Scheduled Tribes.

The reason usually offered for the under-representation of the Scheduled Castes at secretary-level is that, because of the reservation and extra attempts they get to crack the civil services exam, people from the community join the service late and retire before they can rise through the ranks, Raju said.

“But in cases like mine, where I joined the service early, some other excuses are made for not granting promotion,” he added.

While Raju’s batch got empanelled for the post of secretary, the top-most level of the civil service hierarchy, in 2017, he is yet to be elevated as additional secretary, a rank lower, despite “an outstanding record”.

A PhD in public policy from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University, UK, Raju has been awarded by UNESCO with the King Sejong Literacy Prize for his exemplary work in spreading literacy among 2.5 crore non-literate adults.

“I think people realised that if I got empanelled in 2017, I would have had five years in service as secretary to government of India… And people don’t want anyone from our community to be in that position,” he said. “Discrimination is under covers…People don’t talk freely about it. But it’s there.”

Also read: IAS officer suspended for checking Modi’s chopper is a vocal critic of govt

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  1. This happens everywhere. My father works in pwd sector, he and his other folks belonging to backward class were transferred to profiles where no work happens (table work jobs) mainly cz the caste.

  2. Casteism cannot be abolished without abolishing Caste based reservation and Caste based any shitty govt schemes.
    Caste discrimination will keep going till caste based govt schemes exists.

  3. Hi…Yes it is true. Only few SCs have the dare to speak out of injustice to them. The dirty mind of so called upper caste always afraid of sincerity and honesty of SCs/ STs in governance. If they regards all are equal why they did not allow their daughter to marry with dalits. Why there is caste based advertisement innewspapers for marriage. This is the problem of upper caste including some OBC they can’t see that anyou SCs/ STS grow further with their status. Some intellectuals are doing same distribution in University and colleges. When they gother the chance to recruit SCs or STs. It may take another century to be a equal Indian society. I salute him to raise such discrimination at higher level. I am with respectable officer. Samuel you sir. Modi govt should send the culprits to Andaman nokobar for new posting. …jay,

  4. Caste sysestem harassing minds of indians let’s think about Rajus case seriously, while being an IAS he is facing discrimination. Caste discrimination is present in all spheres progressive rational upper castes people must think. Lower caste not snatching anyone’s right they are in search of equal treatment.

  5. When there’s no discrimination to have President from Dalit community, why do you think Mr Raju, the system won’t want a Dalit officer to be elevated to the level of Secretary? Is this level above President? There may be n reasons for not getting promotions, why you want to attribute it to caste discrimination? Its a known fact, that in Army there is no reservations, yet only fittest few make it to Subedar Major’s rank. No caste discrimination!! You are free to appeal, prosecute bureaucrats politics, but why Play caste card? This only reflects your weak side of your personality, even after serving so long in elite service.

    • Caste descrimination is a way of life in India and in all spheres of life.
      It is a truth and nobody can dispute.

  6. This is the ugly mentality of Dalits. They themselves grab all the quotas and benefits in the name of caste but when their some work is not done they play the victim card and harasse the other meritorious officers and system. The media always fan such views and defame the system and meritorious officers. Even in all of the departments they have caste associations and harass the others. They always misuse the special laws and powers they have. Now meritorious people are scared of them. Reservation and quotas should be scrapped. Caste laws must be abolished. All should be equal.

    • “Reservation and quotas should be scrapped. Caste laws must be abolished.”
      Such demands, I am afraid, cannot be made in any political manifesto even by any party of hardliners. But still some of their candidates have been giving vent to their aspiration precisely like this here and there. They want Manu’s law to replace the Constitution the Constituent Assembly had laboriously drafted and adopted under the leadership of Dr Ambedkar.
      The country is on the threshhold of a terrible situation. Dr Y. Shama might be articulating or anticipating aspiration of those who hate equal share, equitable social order and justice and fairness for all for which country has no history or tradition.
      When Indian Penal Code was enacted by Macaulay in 1860 and enforced from 1861, same ill-feeling had gripped some section who were/are privileged Indians.
      The evil forces needs to be defeated.

  7. Claim of Mr.Raju is justified.All those who r against reservation, should get it clear that reservation is a share of SC/BC in properties of Govt of India as per population, like brothers divide their parents assets.Natural justice allow it.Within their share they have full right to get the admission,job, promotion,land etc etc.,But some people who r less in number/percentage, demand more than their share. So,to maintain share of SC/BC the reservation is there,and not to harm any one.Four sons of a father , each will get 1/4 share of father assets.HOW??WHY?? Think honestly, Go to Villages there these people r forced live in small houses,whereas rich castes , muscle man, Power Full people have illegal possession of Govt land.Same in cities.WHY ???. Similar position is in other assets of our Govt.Their social security also in fear and danger.No future’ of their children.If by the way any get job he has to face like Mr. Raju.Much more to write.

  8. Long ago, I wrote an article on the first dalit and the first tribal in the IAS in a leading English Weekly. The first dalit who made it in the IAS in 1950 was the topper in written exams with 58% marks. He was, however, awarded mere 110, i. e., 36% in viva voce. In the meritlist he was placed at 48th position, the last of those recommended for IAS, etc. He was allotted UP cadre.
    He never made it to Secretary to the Government of India. With him, the man who scored lowest written marks among those recommended fro viva was awarded 265, i. e., 88% and was placed 24th in meritlist.
    So when one whose pen does not impress the examiners, when his personality mesmerized the UPSC Interview Board, the man must be you know who or what. Raju, draw your own conclusion why did this happen. My article carries all details including marksheets.

  9. Caste is the very basis of Hindu Society which is rooted in the soil of Indian Subcontinent. One should think early in their life and career should they want to free themselves from the clutches of Caste and move out of Indian soil to settle in foreign soil. It is understandable that not everyone are economically well poised to seek fortunes in abroad however the reality is caste is a banyan tree firmly footed in the Indian soil. Why I said Banyan tree because it has prop roots too to support it as it expands its span. Also underneath it many can enjoy its shade which is akin to certain sections enjoying privilege by birth. So rather than realizing late in their lives and career if one cannot tolerate with this system one should think of relocating to a different soil.

  10. People may have their own views in favour and against but fact remains that caste bias is present everywhere in even today’s Indian society. My personal firm view is that all discussions and debates on caste based reservation can come to an end if and only if people leave adding their sir name.

  11. The statements of IAS officer is beyond doubt he wrote what he feel in life in our society it is mahamari village to cities caste crimination was also felt by former vice president I strongly support the views of officer I also thanks to THE PRINT who published this message

  12. Please check, did he qualify on the basis of caste or as a general candidate, because that forms the basic foundation of complaint.

  13. Reservn must end immediately. It has been misused by those well-off. Families hv used it over 5 generations. There must be an expiry date and system must END it. It cannot continue in perpetuity.

    Now because of the reservn , I am affected seriously. I lose out on school/college admissions to lesser marks. I lose out in promotions to those less efficient and perhaps corrupt.

    With all his brilliance and well to do family, why did Raju prefer caste based reservn…. And not opt for regular promotion all through??? He got admitted as SC. Why??~

    For all his good sense , he felt his SC card was help him thru his career and his intention to use it shows that he had no qualms in holding on to his label.

    Why did he not surrender his SC status at Director or at officer level……When an option is ON in banks and govt services. Milk the cow as much as you can….was his attitude.????

    The very fact that he flaunts his SC is evidence that no matter what the system does to help his ppl out, they wud clamour for more and try to keep the others out.

    Why are politicians not going to govt hospitals for treatment???
    Why do SC not HV separate colleges for themselves with no marks limit but only SC/ST certs.???
    Why are some well-off families cornering reserve benefits over 5 generations???
    Why is the benefit not getting spread out evenly????

    Why HV SC constituencies, where others are forced to vote for them? And then pride that they represent the SC??

    Why admit them to Engg/medical courses at subsidised fees with just 1 or 0 marks….when others with 80 or more are left out ???

    This argument that they were victimised hundreds of years ago… neither here nor there. Ambedkar and Raju himself came up under the old system…..albeit caste ridden.

    The fault is their mindset. This must change and for that laws must change.

    Mumbai DT 27/4/19

  14. EVR PERIYAR fought for Antidiscrimation, and social justice and fought for Tamil Nadu which is successful. Now we can see Tamil SC/BC ARE EMPLOYED in the USA and everywhere . There is no reservation in the USA for SC/BC.
    With such 69% reservation and reservation since 1925. Tamil Nadu is best managed and ranks within top 3 states in india. In North where social justice is lacking and States dominated by Uppercastes, the administration is worst and development is poor. Why merit failed those North indian States?
    The top schools and colleges are managed by Christian missionaries. Most of these educational institutions are managed by the the SC/ST and BC, whio were converted Christians. Most of the so called elites were taught by these underprivileged people. Those teachers were treated hither to either as untouchables are sudras but they could teach all of us and make us good educated citizens INCLUDING the so called self proclaimed meritorious people
    Merit is conveniently abused. If opportunity is given to all of them, everyone has the inherent merit that needs exposure to an enabling environment and thats what reservations are all about. Let us stop all these selfish cry against reservations. Let us help to enable all of us to grow together to make India the Great!!!

  15. This year 2019 topper Kanishka kataria is an SC too. I hope one day he wont face the same paradox.
    And OC s have got their reservations now. Dont know why they didnt oppose it.
    Well off OC women too enjoy women reservation with caste tags in their names and speak ethics.
    Time is ripe for the OCs to introspect their forefathers cruel acts of shame continuing in disguise.

  16. Hindu ostriches don’t want to see reality.This same experience is shared by all S.C.andS.T.officers belonging to any department of the government.These officers should stop calling them Hindus.

  17. At first officer like Raju should raise voice against cast biased entry in the post like IAS.There should not be any discrimination amnong lower caste and higher caste people in thd entry level also.But unfortunately officers like Rajus are silent about this! Some people always looking for undue advantage.When they are not getting undue advantages, they start shouting.Raju is not an exception of that!

  18. It’s a mental disorder of society.The people who mentally think they are of supperior breed like dogs breed,spread the poison of casteism.The virus is spread since thousands of years.The mughuls, Portuguese,British all ruled India bcaz of this disease.Yet today in modern and educated India the people are suffering from this mental disorder.
    Elaj karao bahi apna apna app log sawarna hou aur koi achut ye superior vala viras nokalo Bhai aur Bharat ko aur barbad hone se bachao.Ye swaminarayan wale,I am from Gujarat so I know the position of dalits in villages of Gujarat.The swami’s of this sparaday do the anchoring and tell the better way of living in UTube .Instead they must popularise the way of eradicating caste hatred which their follower still spread.They must say that Swami Narayan means my Swami my Lord my master is Almighty God and like wise all peoples almighty is Same Narayan the one other is my brother and stop looking with the glass of casteism.

  19. Till the time you follow their instructions and remain subservient to them, you will not be harmed and may even tolerate you while giving promotion too. But the moment they come to know that you are are true Dalit in thinking, they will try very hard to stop you from going forward using entire Govt machinary as being done in Mr Raju’s case.

  20. Everything indian revolves around caste. People unfortunately even today carry a grudge against dalits whom they wish to confine to menial jobs. But officers like raju have proved it time and again that merit is not something the dalits lack when he cleared it in 1st attempt at the age of 22. They may deny him his due share but what will they do when tina dabi and kanishk kataria come in the fray for secretary appointments (both were air 1 and are dalits).

  21. I wonder that an IAS Officer of 1985 batch had feeling of being Dalit still when he could not secure elevation. This can happen with anyone.

  22. Whenever there is problem it is blamed on caste or religion. Has Print investigated about the real cause for denial of promotion ? If it turn out to be so the persons/ institutions must be taken to task.There are many non SCs who are denied promotion due to bad record or even due to conspiracy. But the conspiracy is not due to caste or religion but due to vested interests. The officer concerned was smooth sailing for 25 years and all of sudden he blames it on caste discrimination. Please come out of that victim mentality and fight for your rights like the general candidates. If you do not do this you will never live like a normal person.

  23. He is absolutely right. In my opinion, each and every govt. Officers/officials belong to sc/st/obc community not only facing such kind of problem but also bearing hateful remarks. Let the officer belongs to sc/st/obc community competent and may have selected under general category till retirement he should be ready to face reserved category tag and discrimination at every stages and forum.

  24. Does any fraction of this system descendant of an evil set-up to rule over captive populace has a mindset that isn’t sick. Sorry, when in seat of power, they are all the same: a class with perceived divine powers to maintain its hegemony over other arms of administration leading in effect to be crony to the de jure powers. They get conscious only when the system reveals its true villainy nature, opaque, unresponsive and blind to reason, rationale and all variants of virtue.

  25. It is shocking to say the least that this chap is a “dalit”! Since when Sikhism had a caste system? Same also applies to SC / ST who convert to Buddhism and still getting reservation benefits. Just like Sikhism, Buddhists too does not have caste. When SC / ST converts to Christianity and Islam are not allowed reservation benefits as these religions do not have castes, then same logic applies to Sikhism and Buddhism. It is time the general category send their children to competitor countries like China, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, etc., and help them to go ahead in medicine, IT, nuclear, space, missiles, architecture, engineering, etc. Let these politicians and the non-general categories get 100% reservation and make this country compete with Burundi, Nigeria, Syria, Lima, Lesotho, Uganda, etc.

  26. Caste bias is there in all walks of life in the indian society.
    In the villages, schools,colleges, IITs,scientific institutions, and omipresent.

    It is being practised since last thousands of years.Our religion gives legal sanctity for this.

    • Hinduism never gave sanctity or else Ravana wouldnt have been Bramhin and Hanuman and Valmiki wouldnt have been worshipped as Saint and God . This is a Pure case of Beauracratic Politics . Calcutta Police commissioner was Biren Saha a SC person . CBI ADG was Upen Biswas who arrested Lalu Yadav was an SC . UP police DG is Sulkhan Singh Backward Caste . Many many upper caste IAS officers are denied top post due to Bearacracy Lobby politics . Vishnu Bhagwat said he was denied Top Navy chief position as ge was Not a Punjabi . Does that make any sense? Is Arup Raha Airforce chief a Punjabi ? Was Shankar Raychowdhury Army Chief a Punjabi ? Crying the caste Is a Usual thing when people are denied due to performance or Simple Bearacratic politics .

  27. Even on such a high post people like jagmohan sir, still believing that caste based discrimination was a myth…If such n educated person took such a long yrs to realise what would be the condition of poor Dalits…Pathetic sir…Please from nowonwards do good to our community…Jai bhim

  28. I don’t understand why is the reporter is in so much hurry to publish this news even without taking response from vigilance commissioner on this regard.This article could have been published after listening to mr chowdhury.lets listen to all the people why only some? Again how does Mr Raju know that ,if it’s true ,it’s because of caste only??????

    • The incumbent took legal action and Delhi
      H C ordered to settle the matter in 2 months time. If this is the fact, why the PMO and other organs of the govt are waiting? Mr Raju has the right to be Secretary as he is eligible. If he is promoted to the position of Secretay, he deserves for it, what is the harm to others?

  29. Mr. Raju is a thorough gentleman. Right from college days he has maintained high ideals inherited from his learned father. He seems to have carry forward these ideals in to his service as an IAS officer which might have earned the wrath of some bigger shots. It is sad that virtuous people rarely get the recognition they deserve whether in recruitment , promotion or extension. He is a valuable asset to Govt. Of India which are rare to find.

  30. At least he has realised finally that Caste (garbage) is in the blood of Hindus which they never want to purify..
    Why Dalits want reservation even after 70 years of independence?
    Because, Hindus are in top positions (Politically, Economically, Socially, and in Administrative positions) and they are very biased species on earth and very discriminative.

  31. Caste is stark reality in India and who is responsible for it is known to all , worst is the people who profess it day in and out, claims its not existing. In India everything is planned /decided based on caste only. Had there been promotions in Group A class on caste basis then why only 2 from reserved category are secretary level officers in central Govt. Reality is , well planned fraud/ biasism mechanism exist which derails the officers like Raju, simply being envious of thier talent and abilities apart from being casteist. It is well known fact that reserved people had to suffer either for biased annual reports or toughest postings or for vigilance enquiries like Mr Raju mentioned, cause khulam khulaa bandar bant takes care of elite itself.
    Nowadays Biasism not limited to SC/ST is percolating down to OBCs also. So called elitists / talentes manage by hook and crook postings and promotions and become masters for sermonising other hard working and honest officers. This is basic reason for India not coming up the way should have been. Bureacracy is in the hands of only upper castes or Brahmins then how come justice can he expected with the larger group. People having different opinion than Mr Raju here should marry their sons daughters to SC ST so that they dont have the need to avail reservations in India . By the way this year civil services topper is SC applicant . Does any one have to say about that.time will tell upto which level he is allowed to reach by elite. Regarding general caste people have to in foreign for jobs ..just cause of redervations in india is laughable statement made..fellow need to know a lot

  32. Firstly there is no reservations in Group A except at entry level ….. Even after serving the Govt for long years, the concerned officer has not understood the nitty gritty of Govt rules… How the general category govt servants feel when they are overlooked for promotion in Group B and C cadres and reserved candidates got promotion before them without having the calibre and only caste to show…. Now SC/STs also vying for reservations in promotion which is totally biased and against the constitutional provisions ….. Only provided by the Govt in 1995 in order to get their brownie points of SC/STs, the reservations in promotion is hell bent to not only further downgrade the govt services but to further downward moral of Group B and C cadres…

  33. The print has been came into existence just to cover dalit related news only. Or else they try to give dalit angle to the news so that caste system remain alive in everyone’s mind and whole blame goes to Hindus for creating such caste based divide. But ironically u people seems to give more attention to create huge gap nd hatred among Hindus by doing so. Ur allies are also working same way by giving communal angle to the news. U people really got a theme based job from ur akas to demean India nd spcly Hindus. Stooge media.

  34. In our system caste continues to exists from village to cities so discrimination based on caste happens at each and every stage from birth till death. Will it ever end?

  35. Reservation based on caste should be eliminated. Also at election time such issues should be raised for political benefits.

  36. Caste discrimination is always there. Even though I do not belong to backward caste, I know how decision is made in promoting backward community persons. Vigilance is used to bring out a small mistake in decision making in the department directly on not favoured officer and ignores serious malafide decision made by favoured person. It’s all big game there on top. Better lay low for a comfortable retirement or else “they” make life miserable. But it is very brave to taken on these guys. Best of luck.

  37. G Suresh you are just making up a story. Reservations in promotion has been discontinued since 1992 in Indra shwaney case in Supreme Court. So how come you have had numerous instances till now. Don’t just make up stuffs. Try to understand the underlying ailment in our society and comment. We all want progress for the country.

  38. Such type of stands are generally becoming common to get the sympathy & get the benefit.

    We are giving him so much place in news & importance as a big matter but Whether the same coverage & importance can be imagined in India for a Non Dalit Person.

    There could be many such cases in even Dalts and Non Dalits but blaming the others for not get promoting is a common thing now a days. Someone who is Dalit gets limelight & others won’t.

  39. It is not definately thing of past ask students who give exam and have better ranks but does not get admission due to their general caste.Only option left for them is to go abroad and serve countries they deserve hardwork does not win always caste and catagory wins sad but true.General start telling your children after studying you will be discretionary because some son or daughter of dalit IAS will have advantage over you.

  40. I have been in public service for close to 4 decades and instances are too numerous to quote when I was passed up for promotion because someone had a reserved status and he had a free pass to get ahead. Well fact of life. It did hurt though. But with all this the out of turn promoted guy still had a chip in the shoulder. Like the guy here. Had a free pass through out his life yet he feels discriminated. Typical. It appears over a thousand years his grandpappy was discriminated. So I have to give him way and he still has the right to complain.

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