Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Is the Booker prize winner right this time?

Yesterday I was reading excerpt of what Arundhati Roy spoke on a talk show where she was elaborating on her article that was published in the Hindu in which she had severely criticised Anna Hazare for holding the parliament to ransom during the recent anti-corruption activism at Ram Lila ground.
I had first met her as a curious teenager in Bhopal at the British library in somewhere 2001-02 when she was there to promote her book.
And then as I became a part of a law school my gray cells started working and with time I became critical of her views. The prime reason for this was her views on Kashmir and on naxalism.
Till yesterday I have never been impressed by her arguments and writings. 

And I would not have probably been writing this if I would not have read the transcripts of what she said on the talk show yesterday.
One thing that caught my mind was her assertion that two very key members of Anna Hazare movement, Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia had received 400000 pounds from the Ford foundation. She then goes on to say that NGOs run by Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia are indirectly funded by the World Bank.
Now if this came from someone else and was directed against Arundhati Roy we would have quickly pounced on her and termed as a stooge of the world bank.
But since this was said by her, majority of us including me have taken it as one of the many barbs of a "pseudo-intellect' mind. 

But this time she has raised logical objections which need to be addressed.
The Bretton woods twins , World bank and the IMF are no saints in their own right. Even though they are helping out stagnating economies develop and developing economies move up the ladder, the accusation of they being a face and hand of the West particularly USA and Britain is not new.
In the era of globalization, they act as a financial arm of the west which comes before the military might when the situation is ripe  for arm twisting.
Critics would contend that there are thousands of NGOs who are surviving on the grants of World Bank. That is not an issue. 

The issue is whether, the IAC team is in some way playing in the hands of these institutions. It will be a bit hard to think otherwise, especially when one takes into account the huge grant that comes bundled when you are dealing with the World bank and like. 
The role that the NGOs plays, especially in a developing country like ours is unimaginable. The stakes that they have to deal in India is enormous, so it is but natural that like any other logical business model they too will seek ways to protect and multiply their assets.
In this context the fact that the Janlokpal bill covers only government funded NGOs and exclude privately funded NGOs assumes a serious and interesting proposition.
IAC supporters say that bringing in all the NGOs under Lokpal will lead to arm twisting of the NGOs by the government. Isn’t that a silly argument?
If we go by that logic then the same should apply to the executives too. Won't their arm be twisted?
Doesn't the Janlokpal bill calls for a strict redressal method to sort out any illegal 'arm twisting’? Since it does, then naturally the NGOs who will be covered under the Janlokpal too can use the same option to seek redressal.
It’s no secret that NGOs that number in lakhs are a safe haven for embezzling funds. There are thousands of NGOS that exist on paper only and act as a bank account for many private and government officials. And not all of them seek government funds.
What Roy has said this time needs to be looked at seriously. Even a broken clock is correct twice a day. Arundhati Roy, I concur with you. Only this time.
For all of us.

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