Saturday, April 9, 2011

Why am I not rejoicing today

Some are calling it 15th August revisited and some are clling it awakening of new India. Congratulatory messages and smses from people who suddenly have found their ‘conscience’. But as an aspiring young leader, am I rejoicing? No, I am not. And I have my reasons not to rejoice.

To start with, let’s look at the entire movement against corruption. Today Anna Hazare is the face of India against Corruption and treated as if he has already won the war against corruption. One question to ask is was this a fast against corruption or was it a fast just to push himself and his team on the Jan Lokpal Bill Draft Committee? If it was a fight against corruption, why was no action demanded on people already accused yet free like Sheila Dikshit, Kalmadi, Pawar, Vilasrao, Kanimozhi etc? Why did Anna agree only when the government gave him a commitment to pass the bill in June and allowed him to nominate people from the so-called ‘civil society’. I will not get into details of the people nominated or their ideologies or even their dirty acts at some times. But I am forced to ask if only the people nominated make a ‘civil lot’. Where is the inclusivity that these ‘civil society; members love to ask for every time? Why no woman in the committee, why is the committee feudal with a father – son duo in it? Do these 5 represent the voice and wish of entire India? Why is no attempt made to take views of all those common people who joined the movement?

There is also a larger constitutional question. How are we in last few years allowing unconstitutional bodies to frame policies and laws? It started with the National Advisory Council. NAC’s regular turf war with Manmohan Singh and his ministers has ensured that governance goes into a cold storage. The state of inertia hurting Indian economy today is because of this turf war. Now do we want to create one more entity made up of similar activists and put further brakes on development? This is not to say that India does not need a law which will allow complaints against PM and his group of ministers. We need a law which is strong enough to punish wrong doers at higher levels. The Lokpal Bill passed in LS during Vajpayee’s time ensures the above. The new demand is to let the social activists be a part of this entire process. It also creates a Frankenstein. The porposed Jan Lokpal Bill can be extremely draconian if used used with an agenda. This is fraught with dangers as ‘civil society’ in India is still at best a bunch of politically motivated good speakers who push their masters and funders agenda. Also there is a tendency seen in this group and that is to take a view which does not agree with the majority class or caste. Not that majoratism is the way democracy should function but to always act as if majority is wrong is also dangerous. So while the Lokpal Bill as per what NDA had passed should be the starting point along with necessary steps to keep it out of government pressure and control. The immediate need of the hour is to strengthen the existing institutions and bring it out of government pressures. A movement is needed to ensure sanctity of the CVC, CEC, CBI etc. It’s the undermining of these institutions that has led to rampant corruption and corrupt going scot free. On its own passing Lokpal Bill will not solve the problem. It will need comprehensive set of reforms at all levels to ensure that agencies create work efficiently and in an unbiased form.

So while I would thank Anna Hazare for a couple of things. One is to bring the fight against from a political domain to the social domain. So far only the opposition parties were leading this fight against the corrupt UPA. For the first time, the society also joined in. Another aspect to thank Anna for is that his movement ensured that Congress does not escape under the fog cover of WC win and Indo-Pak thaw. It ensured that post WC, the focus is back on corruption and the government’s inaction on it. But at the same time I am not rejoicing because no major breakthrough has been made yet. What Swami Agnivesh and Arving Kejriwal are showing off as victory is nothing few unconstitutional, unimportant crumbs. As long as the process of punishing the guilty of CWG, 2G, Dewas-Antrix, Cash for Votes, Wheat Scam does not move towars logical finish, the India against Corruption is just a nice dream to have.

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