Sunday, August 21, 2011

To the critics and to the supporters of Anna

I,along with thousands of others, was present at India gate in Delhi on 17th August as we heeded the call of Anna Hazare and marched to Jantar mantar sweating under the merciless sun to show solidarity with fight against corruption and discontent with the leaders. 

We were the same people who had elected these very parliamentarians and now we were marching to express our resentment against them. There were Congress supporters and there were the Saffron sympathizers and all were walking in unison.

There were youths, small children and aged people. And almost all of them had one thing in common; no one was there for Rs.150 or a piece of samosa  as it generally happens in a political rally. Nor they belonged to a particular stratum of the society or caste and class.

Equally true was that majority of them who were present there were not aware of the nuances of the Jan Lok pal bill. The only underlying sentiment that had brought them together was the common feeling of helplessness against Corruption. Period.
If it was not Anna Hazare and if it was Abdul Kalam, the former Indian president, then too people would have come out in the same numbers. It’s not about the individual as much it’s for the cause.
Anna Hazare in this 'movement' which is an expression of sentiments that resonates across crores of hearts, has emerged as someone whom the common mass can look up to in their struggle against corruption, a struggle that was always there in their life, but was not vocal enough, as it has become now under Hazare.

Cynics, spokespersons etc have said that team Anna, as they prefer to call them, have no mandate to present a bill on the part of the common mass. The mandate lies with the parliamentarians who are sitting in the parliament to represent the mass who have elected them.

It should be well understood that this is not for the first time that a bill relating to corruption has been presented in the parliament. It has been presented ten times since 1968 when it was introduced by Shanti Bhushan but for reasons different, it was never passed.
Corruption has been a part of this country ever since time immemorial. The only new change that it has undergone is that it has started coming out more in the open. The common Indian had to face corruption even before India became a market economy post 1990 and he has to face corruption even now.
Corruption has become a part of life. The other day I was interacting with a senior political functionary of a national party at his office. He told me that his party was very severe against corruption and never tolerates corruption of any form.
I being a resident of a state where his party is in power, tried too clear away his genuine misconceptions and told him a couple of names of senior bureaucrats and ministers who demanded bribe for their official work as if it was part of their salary. And I told him that I am not the only one who is privy to this fact. It’s a well known secret.
This gentleman smiled and replied. “You cannot expect every politicians and bureaucrats to be clean. There is always someone who is a cheat'.
He conveyed to me that corruption was acceptable, unless and until it doesn’t assume gigantic proportion.
And that pretty well sums up the whole political mood that flows as an undercurrent in support of corruption.
Coming back to Anna Hazare, or rather more towards his critics who feel that team Anna is converting itself into an extra-constitutional monster. They need to understand that Hazare is not drawing his strength from any political ideology. He is being supported by the mass because he is trying to remove the biggest challenge to their well being, Corruption.
And however deeply, this critics may feel, the public is not a fool. It is a bit hard for their intellect conditioned mind to digest, but that’s the truth. The day the public realizes that Anna Hazare and his team is veering of the path and losing their objectivity, they will stop supporting him.
If Anna Hazare is moved out of the whole picture, no amount of legal expertise of the Bhushans, the heroics of Ms.Kiran Bedi or the calmness of Mr.Arvind Kejriwal will be able to cajole the mass to come out on street.
The mass relates to Anna in a way they use to relate to Gandhi. And he can never become a hundred headed monsters who enjoys the love of the mass and whose backbone is the mass.
The fast unto death is not blackmail as its being made out. It’s the last resort. Before resorting to this, The IAC petitioned the MPs, wrote to the PM, and brought out Op-ed for bringing a strong Jan lok pall bill. But since Anna at that time was not the Anna he is now, no one bothered to listen to him.
The Jan lok pal bill is on the public domain and so is the version of the government. And it doesn't require a scientific mind to understand which of the two will be more effective in curbing corruption.
Surely better logical-rational sense did not prevail upon the government when it drafted a Lokpal bill that excludes all other public servants except group A, a bill that says that any inquiry into a complaint against Lokpal will be done by the Lokpal itself, a bill that offers no protection to the whistle blowers and a bill that only calls for looking into ‘higher-level’ corruption.
The reasoning behind Lokpal
The attempt by the government to present such a weak bill is a slap on the face of the public sentiments. Especially when one considers the fact that we have so notable lawyers in the cabinet and the unearthing of scams that have caused colossal lose to the national exchequer.
As for whether the PM should be under the Lokpal, I personally believe that Anna Hazare should consider keeping the PM out of the purview of this bill until he is the PM. He can be held accountable once he vacates his chair.
If a strong anti-corruption bill is there which fixes accountability and responsibility, then even a PM would think twice before acting in a way that is detrimental to his post prime minister period.
As for the judiciary it’s better not to bring the Supreme Court under its purview.
The High court and the lower court is the place where the maximum corruption takes place. Once they are made more accountable, the rare black sheep that are in the Supreme Court will have to naturally fall in place. The media scrutiny at the SC is something that also acts as an additional check and balance.
Corruption cannot be tackled easily. There are many things at stake here. And changes are always resisted. Majority of the political class have reached at their places after surviving this very society that is a maze of corrupt practises.
To contest from a small constituency of Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, one of my acquaintances, who is not yet 'corrupted' had to dole out more than Rs.50 lakhs. And he lost. Much of his funding came from corporate houses and other small leaders who were supporting him.
If he had won, then the corporate house would have expected from him favours for which he would have had to subvert the law. Similarly he would have to oblige the leaders who helped him contest the elections.
This is how the vicious circle starts.
One of the basic steps to curb corruption is to bring political and electoral reforms and implement them vigorously.
The bottom line for the critics of Anna is that he is not fighting any individual nor he is trying to become a super Indian. He is standing against something that requires a super human effort.
I am sure that future will present us many opportunities to show our cynical abilities but this is not the time to be one right now.
We always have two sides to every things. Love-hate, pro-Anna -anti Anna but when it comes to corruption there is no choice to make. And there should not be.

Anna is India and India is Anna may not be the popular sentiment but Corruption in India and India against Corruption surely is.

For all of us.

1 comment:

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