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M.G. Devasahayam

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M.G. Devasahayam , a former Army and Indian Administrative Service officer, is an economist, soldier, and administrator, with a distinguished career spanning over five decades and direct and first-hand experience in the working and ethos of the Indian Army, the IAS, the public and private sectors, the political system, and Non-Government Organisations. Devasahayam holds an MA degree in Economics from Loyola College, Madras, and taught there for one year. Commissioned in the Indian Army in 1964. Participated in Aid to Civil Authority in Tamil Nadu (1965), the Indo-Pak War (1965), and Counter-Insurgency operations in Nagaland (1967-68). He moved to IAS in 1968 (Haryana cadre) and worked in several senior positions in government including District Collector/Magistrate of two Districts, Divisional Commissioner, Head of Departments (Transport, Urban Development, Excise & Taxation), Chairman, Electricity Board, and Secretary to Government. In the Corporate/Institutional area has been Advisor, Ashok Leyland Ltd; Director, Sterling Holiday Resorts; Advisor, PSEG (Global) and Chief Consultant, IIT Madras Research Park. In the Voluntary Sector has been Managing Trustee, Citizens’ Alliance for Sustainable Living (SUSTAIN); Associate, Alliance to Save Energy (USA); National Consultant, Sustainable Chennai Project; National Consultant, City Development Plan, Chennai; Faculty for Power Sector Training Programmes and Convener, Forum for Electoral Integrity. Devasahayam is a prolific writer, contributing Op-Eds, lead articles, articles and columns to many newspapers and magazines on a range of topics including Governance, Civil Services, Urban development, Environment, and Politics. He is author of the following books: India’s Second Freedom - An Untold Saga ; JP in Jail-An Uncensored Account ; JP Movement, Emergency and India’s Second Freedom , and A Drop of Love-Memoir of Saint Teresa. He was closely associated with the leader of the anti-Emergency movement, the late Jayaprakash Narayan (JP), and Mother (now Saint) Teresa.  As District Magistrate, Chandigarh, he was JP’s custodian during his Emergency imprisonment [1975]. By keeping JP safe and alive during detention he had played a small part in restoring India to democracy in 1977. While at Chandigarh, Devasahayam had worked closely with Mother Teresa for about 6 years and was instrumental in the setting up of the ‘Home for orphans, abandoned infants, dying destitute and mentally retarded’ [Shanti-Dan] within the city and a sanctuary for lepers outside. Devasahayam is presently settled in Nagercoil and is Convener, Forum for Electoral Integrity, Chairman of the Pan-India People’s Parliament for Unity & Development, and Chairman of Naam Kumari Makkal , mentoring the ReBuild Kanyakumari Movement. Awards:   Military: Samar Seva (War Service) Star; General Service Medal with Bar; Civil: Loyola Alumni Lifetime Achiever Award. (Platinum Jubilee-2010).

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Jayaprakash Narayan: An Idealist Betrayed

The imposition of the Emergency in June 1975 by Indira Gandhi led to a general uprising across the country under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan

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The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act - A Genie that Needs to be Bottled

Nearly 60 years after it was passed, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) remains a piece of legislation that evokes sharp responses. At the

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Kalaignar Karunanidhi: Defending Democracy during Emergency

One of the high points in the political life of the late former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, was his opposition to the Emergency. The ch

Issue Brief 9 Front Page
Governance by Fear in Tamil Nadu: A Template from Thoothukudi

Thoothukudi, in southern Tamil Nadu, found its place in recorded history preceding even that of the State’s capital, Chennai. Famed as one among the world’s ancient seaports documented by the likes of Ptolemy, it is now in the news for all that can go wrong in the dynamic interplay of the state and citizenry, industrialisation and the environment, and governance and public interest. On May 22, 2018, police opened fire on unarmed demonstrators who had been protesting against a copper smelter plant, which for close to two decades was mired in controversy over its impact on the environment, public health, and the manner in which the state was seen as siding with corporate interests overriding public concerns. The police action on the 100 day of the protests went down as an emotive experience in which public voices were stilled by bullets, governance was all but abdicated by civil authorities, and, in a seeming response to the popular outcry, the smelter, run by Sterlite Copper, a subsidiary of Vedanta, a global mining conglomerate was shut down. In this Issue Brief , M.G. Devasahayam, former Indian Army and Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, puts together the pieces and focusses the spotlight on the failure of state mechanisms, leading to the government resorting to “Governance by Fear.” Drawing from his experience as an administrator and soldier he points out the serious flaws in the handling of the entire issue by the political leadership, executive and the judiciary. He dissects the order under Section 144 CrPC and exposes its illegality, draws attention to the procedural blunders and the disproportionate role played by the uniformed force of the State, and the manner in which what started out as an expression of collective dissent ended in a tragedy which claimed the lives of 13 people and the limbs of many more. The Issue Brief also delves into the growing trend of the seemingly democratic state becoming brazenly autocratic to facilitate the “ruling oligarchy grow richer while their less fortunate brethren suffer and starve” a sure sign of the State not being governed as per the mandate of the Constitution of India. Click to read this Issue Brief (HTML)

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Governance by Fear in Tamil Nadu: A Template from Thoothukudi

Thoothukudi, in southern Tamil Nadu, found its place in recorded history preceding even that of the State’s capital, Chennai. Famed as one among the w