By : Arpita Deb
When I first heard the term “Whistle Blower”, alike every other ignorant being , I thought it’s a game to entertain kids, game indeed it is, as “Whistle Blowers” take the fun out by exposing any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, dishonest, or not correct either private or public. Sounded interesting to me and being an extra inquisitive individual, my super excited mind started gathering more information on this subject. My R&D led me to discover various facts which I think many of us are unaware off and should know. The term whistle-blower was coined from the word “whistle” which a match referee uses to indicate any illegal or foul play in a game.US civic activist Ralph Nader first used this phrase in the early 1970s to avoid any negative connotation with words such as “informers” and “snitches”. Whistle Blowers are torch bearers and initiators who provide first-hand information about any wrong doings and are the center point of any scams and controversies. Edward Snowden, Linda Tripp, Satyendra Nath Dubey are a few names that many of us can relate to.
Edward Snowden the name that shook America and the world in 2013 was an employee of the American National Security Agency, a former CIA employee cum government contractor who leaked classified information from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).His information unhooked many global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyes with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments. The revelations caught the attention of the media but Snowden had to take refuge in Russia in an asylum after departing from the USA where charges of theft of government property were conferred on him. A subject of controversy indeed, Snowden , a whistleblower, has been a topic of fueled debates over mass surveillance, government secrecy, and the balance between national security and information privacy. A hero or a traitor, still remains a mystery for us.
Linda Tripp a former White House staff member was a whistleblower who was a key figure in the Monica Lewinsky scandal that scarred the reputation of the then US President Bill Clinton whose colourful romance with a 20 something Whitehouse intern was flashed publicly . Tripp passed on the information that she had to the media and even made them aware of the existence of the famous “Navy blue dress” Lewinsky owned with soiled contents of Clinton’s semen. Her revelations created a rampage worldwide and forced the President to acknowledge his affair.
Closer home, Satyendra Nath Dubey, Project Director in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) at Koderma was a Whistleblower who tried to expose the unethical means of money laundering in the Golden Quadrilateral highway construction project. His allegations cost him dearly as he was murdered in Gaya, Bihar in 2003 which created shock waves across the country.
It takes a lot of courage to speak up and act against something wrong. Whistleblowers in this regards can be branded as unsung heroes fighting against the evil menace of the society. But as every action has its equal and opposite reaction, whistleblowing can be an ethical menace if implied in an incorrect way, after all who would want a gossip aunty in the office backbiting against everyone in the office. On a serious note, the fate of whistleblowers are not always bright. More than 40 Whistleblowers of the famous Vyapam Scam have been found dead, key witness in the rape case against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu was shot dead by unidentified attackers, 9 witnesses have been attacked so far of which 2 died. The list is endless and there is a strong need to give protection to whistle blowers in India.
Countries like USA, Canada. Australia and UK have implemented strong Whistle Blower Protection acts giving protection to such individuals but in India keeping past instances in mind, it seems truth would rarely set you free, it might land you behind bars Or even dead. The call of the hour is to ensure Whistle Blowers are provided protection to prevent the truth from dying. We are still awaiting for the amended “Whistle Blower’s act 2015” to kickstart. The lack of a strong Act prevents many people to blow the whistle, not only because of fear of retaliation, but also because of fear of losing their relationships, work and life. For a country that prides on its fight for truth and enlightenment where “Satyameva Jayate” “Truth alone triumphs.”) is a mantra adopted as the national motto and inscribed in script at the base of the national emblem, it’s a shame that people who are the bearers of truth are not protected.