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The rising brigade of whistleblowers in India

Something in India is changing; but the change is so spontaneous that in a few years from now, in all likelihood, it will become the norm. No, I am not talking about the current issues on JNU sedition or the Jat protests that’s been rocking the nation. I am referring to the emerging entity of whistleblowers, who are taking on giant corporations, rotten bosses and corrupt government dealings.

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The proverbial David now takes on Goliath in a battle of right and wrong.

It’s heartening to see people are shedding their inhibitions and “telling” on the rot. India is no longer happy with the “chalta hai” attitude. The proverbial David now takes on Goliath in a battle of right and wrong; sometimes it’s the underdog that exposes a giant company, and quite often, it’s an honest officer or a bureaucrat that brings the rot to the public.

Two days back, the South African drug regulator highlighted major concerns over Ranbaxy’s’ folic acid tablets, which were recalled last year. The regulator has demanded a report from the parent company Sun Pharmaceuticals. Folic acid tablets are the over-the-counter vitamins prescribed for pregnant women and babies.

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The South African drug regulator recently highlighted major concerns over Ranbaxy’s’ folic acid tablets, which were recalled last year.

More than a decade back, Dinesh Thakur blew the whistle and brought Ranbaxy,  the Indian drug giant, on its knees.  Thakur, who worked as the director of research information and project management in Ranbaxy, had discovered that the drug firm manipulated data to gain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals.

Thakur also found out that Ranbaxy manufactured sub-standard or unapproved drugs to mint more money. The drug manufacturer accepted that drug safety regulations were violated at two of its plants in India. The Economic Times recently reported that Thakur is planning to address quality-related issues in the pharma sector.

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Whistleblower Dinesh Thakur (inset), who worked as the director of research information and project management in Ranbaxy, exposed that the drug manufacturer made sub-standard or unapproved drugs to mint more money.

In the last decade, the sensational murders of prominent whistleblowers such as Satyendra Dubey, Shanmugam Manjunath and Lalit Mehra had rocked the nation. The men had dared to raise their voice against discrepancies in varying fields. But they had to pay the price with their lives.

The whistleblowing system in India was very basic till a few years back, as people were unaware about its legal existence. Over the decade, companies are getting smarter in dealing dubious employees. In a stark contrast to the trend of whistleblowers meeting gruesome deaths in India, companies are now taking great care to encourage people to report discrepancy so that transparency prevails.

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Satyendra Dubey, worked as a project director at the National Highways Authority of India. He blew the whistle on huge financial irregularities in the Golden Quadilateral project. He was shot dead by unknown assailants in 2003.

Another report published in the Livemint, stated that Tata Steel has started rewarding all its employees a handsome amount of Rs 1 lakh for whistleblowing. Motor group Mahindra & Mahindra too, have set up a hotline, where employees can report on dishonest practices carried inside the company. In all such plans, anonymity becomes a big issue, and companies are taking enough care to cover the whistleblowers.

Hopefully, things are changing for better and more people are turning vigilante; digital tools, such as mobile phones equipped with camera and recorder are making the task easier.