Finally, this week someone decided to be a bull in the china shop and nearly sank the smoothly sailing ship of corruption in India. Congratulations to Anna Hazare, the Gandhian social activist, for having the moral courage to battle the Indian government for the benefit of civil society.
His strong protest against government’s lip service to fight corruption by passing the diluted Lok Pal bill got the desired result. His fast until death decision and public support made Indian government buckle under the pressure. After 90 hours of fasting and protesting non-violently as per Gandhian methods, he won. The government decided to meet Anna Hazare’s demands. He is one of the few leaders in India who can full this off. Visit his site http://www.annahazare.org/ to read more about him.
To me, his victory indicated two things. The Lokpal or Ombudsman Bill was not receiving the desired attention from over four decades. It was first proposed in 1966 and since then has been presented in parliament on a number of occasions but without success. With the government’s agreement to present it in this monsoon session of the parliament, we might see some progress against corruption. It is definitely a good first step and we need to keep the momentum.
The second aspect is that it has shown the Indian youth the power of a non-violent protest and showcased Gandhian principles. Presently, with terrorism increasing and social values deteriorating, youth perceives aggressive action as effective action. As a society, we need to start thinking differently and have the moral courage to take tough decisions to root out corruption from society. Anna Hazare led the way and we need to follow through.
In this week’s roundup, I am covering three posts presenting divergent viewpoints on anti-corruption crusade.
The first post -Anna Hazare, Lokpal Bill and the Red Brigade is from Ullas Sharma’s Blog. Mr. Sharma is presenting a contrary view to public’s enthusiastic view. His belief is that this civil society protest is harmful to democracy and maybe subjugated to meeting political parties agendas. While we may not appreciate a cynical opinion, when our emotions are on the upswing, it is always good to listen to diametrically opposing view to keep our feet on the ground and heads out of the cloud.
The second post showcases that corrupt are successful in India because of the public mindset. Daniel Goleman (author of Social Intelligence) will be hard-pressed to explain how a society considers associating with corrupt people as socially intelligent behavior. Indians are mute spectators of crime and corruption. In an Indian’s view, Spinelessness plus Greed equals Practical Thinking. Multiply this with other dysfunctional behavior and thinking and you will have the definition of an influential person in Indian society. Ratan Datta in his blog post – “Anna Hazare - his crusade against Corruption, his fast & Lokpal Bill” brought out the core problem of corruption mindset of Indians. He has forthrightly stated that a law will not help if public accepts and encourages corrupt practices and behavior in daily life
Not to miss the humor in the situation, Jaspal Bhatti with his Nonsense Club was at his satirical best. He initiated a project for building a Corruption Devta (god) temple in front of parliament. He protested for common-man’s right to be as corrupt as politicians. He stated that government should remove barriers that deprive a common man from reaping the rewards of corruption. Read his interview in webindia123 – Bhatti joins Hazare crusade; to raise ‘Temple of Corruption’ in Delhi. Mr. Bhatti with his usual panache has very delicately hit the nail on the head.
There is no doubt that corruption is on the increase. It is also true that we need to nip it in the bud. But I am not too sure the way to go about it is the introduction of the Lokpal Bill in the form envisaged by the social activists lead by Anna Hazare.
1. They want that anyone from the civil society may be appointed as the Lokpal and not necessarily a judge from the Supreme Court, which means that any of these innumerable social activists that are creating ruckus at the Jantar Mantar will be eligible for the position of a Lokpal.
2. They further demand that the prime minister’s office and his council of ministers be under the purview of the Lokpal. It is true that PM and his council of ministers do fall under the purview of the Lokpal but with the exception that on matters of public order or defense the Lokpal’s jurisdiction will not hold. Hazare and his men want a blanket access to PM and his Cabinet.
3. They also want that the Lokpal be allowed to take suo moto cognizance of issues pertaining to probity for those in office, which means that there shall be no filters and that any issue purportedly about graft from secondary sources should be enough for the Lokpal to institute an inquiry. The current proposed bill allows any notice of graft be first presented to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha who will then decide whether the case is fit to be pursued by the Lokpal. This is to avoid frivolous and baseless charges being pursued by the Lokpal. But this does not impress the civil society and they want that this be done away with.
4. They want that the civil society appoint the Lokpal and not a committee of ‘corrupt’ politicians including the Prime minister, the speaker of the house and the leader of the opposition.
2. Anna Hazare - his crusade against Corruption , his fast & Lokpal Bill !! (via Rattan Datta’s Blog)
Whether Govt. accepts Anna Hazare as Chairman of the joint panel who would draft the bill or not ,whether public representatives have a say or not how will the Lokpal bill in any form affect the greed which propels us to adopt corrupt practices ?
Do we have the courage to oppose people who are corrupt in the family, in the Company we work for, in the neighborhood, in the club, the association we are in? I have not seen too many do that? We attend fancy wedding receptions, cocktail and dinners hosted by our friends, neighbors and associates fully knowing , he or she cannot afford this from legitimate source of income. We do not say anything because we not want to unpopular or attract wrath of people with money power.
I wish Anna Hazare wins and UPA Govt. is made accept Anna Hazare’s condition and the Lokpal Bill is drafted the way people think it should be done and Bill is passed without any change. Let the civil society have the satisfaction of achieving something great. Let the Civil society believe at least a few days that corruption will be curbed by the new Bill. I promise nothing will change, because “we the people” are corrupt. The situation cannot be changed by any bill or law. We need to have change in heart.
The ‘newly invented’ ‘god of corruption’ will be set up in the temple. “Those who are indicted in corruption cases, if they pay obeisance at this temple regularly for 11 days, will be acquitted of the charges against them,” Bhatti said. Bhatti appealed to artistes to design ‘corruption devta’ for installing in the temple. He said he is also persuading Padmashree Nek Chand, creator of Chandigarh’s famous rock garden, to design the ‘deity’.
‘Temple of corruption’ will be a place of worship equally sacred for those who are green horns in the field of corruption and are caught and those who are veterans with billions stashed away in Swiss banks.
“We are demanding from the government to allot us a permanent place in front of Parliament for the corruption temple,” Bhatti said.
I had on Anti-Corruption day last year written a post “International Anti-corruption Day -Way Ahead for India“. The post covered the steps required to be taken to fight corruption by government, public and business enterprises. Some of my opinions were validated in this civil society crusade. Felt good about it. Share your opinion here- according to you what are the ways we can fight corruption in society?