Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Anna Protest and more

Since most people do not like to read entire blogs and love to quickly pass judgements. Here is quick one on my stand. I do not support Lok Pal Bill presented by the govt, neither do I support Anna Hazare teams draft of Jan Lok Pal (and yes I have read both). I do agree corruption has to be killed and feel there are other ways of doing it alongwith a Lokpal which is neither lame nor draconian. I completely support Anna's right to protest and fast. But I do not support the self righteousness and holier than thou attitude of many of the protestors. Hamam mein sab nange hain.

If the nation has come to a standstill it is mainly because of the events in last one year where India has seen monumental corruption and absolute breakdown of governance. The government has been criminally arrogant and remarkably stupid in its handling of the crisis. To start with they indulged Anna to such a level that they decided to ignore Parliament and other political parties in the drafting process. They undermined the authority of the Parliament and today they accuse Anna Hazare of same. Well, Anna Hazare is not answerable to the Parliament and nation but this government is. After the indulgence came the show of utter ruthlessness and arrogance in form of midnight crackdown on Ramlila Maidan injuring women, children and old. They took it to the highest level by resorting to undemocratic methods to prevent Anna Hazare from fasting. They muddied the waters further by personal attacks, insults and namecalling. If there is a case study on stupid governance, this has to be it. Add double standards to that and you get an unmanageable crisis. Govt needs to stop treating NAC as a holy cow while reasing other civil society as commodities. It needs to ensure that henceforth Parliament is the supreme law making agency in the country and no Anna or NAC will be allowed to change that.

Coming to the Lokpal Bills. There is no denying that India needs a strong Lokpal Bill. But as the name says it has to be a Pal of the Lok (people). Which means the Lokpal can neither be draconian nor it can be a lame duck to be misused. Both the drafts, Govt and Anna Hazare team, have many loopholes in them. While Govt draft is completely useless in terms of its jurisdiction, it also has all probabilities of misuse due to the nature of formation process. On other hand, the Jan Lokpal is so rigid that it can suffocate governance and development. One has seen the negatives of activism overreach. So what needs to be done? Well to start with, there is a need to bring in the PM, Ministers, Bureaucrats, MPs under the bill but keep Judiciary out as it can hamper justice deliverance. On the other hand, care has to be taken to keep strategic decisions like security, defence out of the ambit for obvious reasons. The formation of the Lokpal has to be done taking executive, judicial class in confidence. Govt cannot have singular right to dictate the members of Lokpal. CJI, Leader of Opposition have to be a part of the selection process.

But will the Lokpal Bill in itself solve all the problems? Answer is a resounding a NO. What is needed is a series of reforms in form of police reforms, judicial reforms, elecoral reforms and citizen reforms to end the menace of corruption, These are needed to remove the red tape, the delays in decisions, corruption in courts, delays in justice delivery system, criminals in Parliament and overall systemic changes needed. While the first three are debated, I will speak about the last one and that is reforms in citizen behavior. No longer can people be allowed to be morally and financially unethical or unbothered about corruption and just abuse political class. Citizens have to exercise their voting rights sensibly and also ensure clean behvior themselves which means no giving bribes, being whistleblowers, no faking bills to save taxes and abiding by law of the country.

India is at the crossroad. How each pillar of democracy behaves will decide which path we take.