When Anna Hazare walked towards the Ramlila Maidan, he knew he had knowingly/unknowingly sparked off one of India’s biggest movements against anything. This fight however, is against the gravest of ills afflicting the country today, Corruption. Like a pandemic virus, corruption has infected every facet of Indian life, from the water we drink, the roads that we travel on and even to the ubiquitous mobile phone. It was but a matter of time before the tolerance limit of the common man was breached and the revolution to begin. However, every revolution has its detractors and naysayers and this one is no different.
So in an attempt to discredit this renaissance, here are some of the gems gifted to us by the Government and some of my fellow countrymen/women.
According to some of them the Jan Lok Pal, as Anna Hazare proposes, will become a
The other awesome theory by the party in power was
The second theory is so preposterous that even the thought of discussing it is blasphemous. However, there are some opinions which make the first theory look like a realistic possibility. I am just taking some of the points raised by a blogger who I also believe is a member of the print media.
This gentleman says, Anna Hazare is wrong and Lok Pal is a bad idea. He has raised a few red flags in the Jan Lok Pal bill. I will try to rebut all his arguments and try pointing out, why he may not be correct. (The original blog is here: FAQ: Why Anna Hazare is wrong and Lok Pal a bad idea). I am quoting what he said verbatim so that there are no accusations of foul play and misquote.
Point 1: No, (Lok Pal) not only is unnecessary, it will make the problem worse. Corruption in India arises because of too much government, too many rules, too much complexity and too much ambiguity. Adding one more, huge, powerful layer to an already complex system will make the system even more complicated. Complexity creates the incentives for corruption–both on the part of the bribe giver and the bribe taker.
Mr Acorn, the Jan Lok Pal, as envisaged by the civil society, does not intend to add a another layer to the already complicated system. It envisages to create another mechanism all together. The Jan Lok Pal and the subsidiary Lok Ayuktas are designed to be new institutions created exclusively to combat the cancer of corruption. It aims to merge the existing anti-corruption mechanisms under a single umbrella to create a one stop shop for any corruption related grievances. Once the Lok-pal is instituted, anyone who wants to complain about corruption in any government office has to go to the Lok Ayukta/Lok Pal. How complicated is that?
Point no 2: We don’t need a Lok Pal at all. Making existing constitutional institutions—like CAG, CVC, CBI and the Election Commission—more independent will serve the purpose equally well. If we have been unable to prevent the politicization and undermining of these institutions why would we be able to prevent the Lok Pal from being politicized and undermined? If we can prevent Lok Pal from being politicized and undermined, why can’t we restore the independence and credibility of CAG, CVC, CBI and the Election Commission?
Yes Mr Acorn and then do what? CAG is a constitutional body, without any powers of investigation and prosecution. All they can do is audit and submit the report to the Parliament. Give them as much independence you want, but under the constitution of India, that is all they are supposed to do. The election commission’s job is to conduct elections and they are doing a damn good job of it. Why do you want to increase their burden? and the CBI investigates everything from a murder case in Delhi to the high profile 2G scam. Do you want to overload their already full plate? And as far as the CVC is concerned, it is like a king Cobra, but only defanged. If I remember correctly former CVC chief N Vitthal put up the names of all the offenders on the CVC website. Did it lead to anything? All I know was that the website was shut down. Come on Mr Acorn.
Also Mr Acorn, what do you mean by more independence? Give the CAG prosecution powers? Give the Election Commission authority to investigate corruption? Let us see, then according to you, we have 4 bodies investigating corruption in the Government. I really do not know, how four ‘independent’ arms of the government is better than one independent arm which is an amalgamation of all the four?
Finally, You raise the point of the Lok Pal being politicized and all that. Yes, if given a chance our beloved politicians will politicize their pet dogs. Which is where the checks and balances and the provision of a collegium comes into the picture.
Point 3: The problem with Jan Lok Pal is that it’ll make the problem worse. Does anyone seriously think we can hire tens of thousands of absolutely honest officials who will constitute the Lok Pal? Who will keep watch on them? Maybe we need a Super Lok Pal, and then a Hyper Lok Pal to watch over the Super Lok Pal and so on…This isn’t sarcasm, this is the logical extension of the Lok Pal argument.
Not if you select the collegium correctly. Three Judges of the Supreme Court, Two MP’s nominated by the ruling party and two from the opposition, Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Vice-President (Let him do something other than giving speeches and managing the Rajya Sabha) can form a collegium who can become the Board of Directors supervising the functioning of the Lok Pal. They will also nominate its CEO and deal with complaints against the Lok Pal members and its officials. So now, we have a supervisory body, giving a modicum of power to the elected member without compromising Lok Pal’s integrity and autonomy. I am not saying the above option is correct, but we can explore and find the right approach. After all Dhoondne pe to Bhagwan bhi milte hain (You can even find God if you look for him).
The point that you raised about the manpower needed to run the Lok Pal (or rather the lack of it ) is the most ridiculous piece of argument Mr Acorn. The bill says the Jan Lok Pal will be formed by merging the CVC, Vigilance wings in all the Government departments and the Anti-Corruption wing of the CBI. So it is not as if the recruitment has to start from scratch. Mr Acorn, also let me tell you one more thing. Do not discount the existing vigilance departments, they put fear of God in the govt servants, but cannot go far because of the statutory limitations. Give these men the necessary freedom and the environment, which is what the Jan Lok Pal intends to do, and they will work wonders. (CBI and 2G scam, remember)
And to secure the future expansion, introduce a new service under the UPSC. Call it the ‘Indian Regulatory Service’ and recruit youngsters directly to it and train them. Give them ranks equivalent to their IPS counterparts and the man-power problem for the future is addressed. Follow the same policy to recruit the Lok Pal’s constabulary.
Just want to add that if you spent as much time on seeking a solution to the problems as you did on extending the argument, you wouldn’t have even raised this question. And on a personal note, I am also against the collegium as proposed by Anna Hazareji and the civil society members, but the issues as you can see can be overcome.
Point 4: Of course we have the right to protest peacefully. But it’s not about whether we have the right or not. It’s about are we using that right wisely. (You have the freedom of speech but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to blast Eminem using a loudspeaker at 2am in a residential district.)
As Ambedkar said while introducing the Constitution in November 1949, once the Constitution came into force, we should avoid all non-constitutional methods like protests and satyagraha, for they are the grammar of anarchy. If two persons go on fasts until death for two opposing reasons, we cannot decide the issue by allowing one person to die first.
Fast until death is political blackmail. It is a form of theatre engaged in to coerce the government into doing something that the agitators want. Whatever may be the cause, a single person cannot be allowed to dictate laws to the whole nation.
Let us examine why this protest is happening in the first place. First, the Government proposes the Lok Pal bill and then makes the present Agriculture Minister of India, the Chairman of its drafting committee. Now unless you are an ostrich or a toddler or a Norwegian, I am sure you know the credentials and the qualifications of this particular gentleman.( If not, read this). Let me give you an illustration if you don’t have the time to read the link. It was with the blessings of this gentleman, a certain 39.8 acres in Yerawada, expanded overnight to 398 acres(And it is not due to Thermal expansion, that much I can assure you). So when you have a person of such caliber authoring the only bill designed to stop his ilk, you are bound to get frustrated. In most of the other countries, this is what would have happened
But then, Anna being the Gandhian that he is, started the first part of the agitation and dare I say, rightly so. That resulted in the civil society members being invited on the drafting committee in the first place. And of course the exit of the aforementioned gentleman.
Now, when you invite a certain set of people on a committee, you imply that you are ready for a discussion. However, our esteemed ministers of the government called them, served them tea, coffee and samosas and took their suggestions promising to incorporate them in the final version of the bill.However what came out was an entirely new and a radically different version, opposed unanimously by all the civil society members. Naturally when the person you slighted is guy named Anna Hazare, this had to happen.
Perusing the government bill, we can conclude that the the person most likely to be punished under this bill, will be the poor soul who actually had the guts to complain. You know what is actually worse than the absence of a bill for corruption, the presence of an absolutely hopeless one. Let me list out some of the salient features to enlighten you on its hopelessness
1. The term corruption is not defined
2. It says the Lok-pal selection committee shall regulate its ‘own procedure for selecting the Chairman and Lok-pal members and shall be ‘Transparent’. No mention of how it will be done and how transparency will be maintained.
3. No protection for the whistle blower.
Won’t go into details of this, but will guide you here. Just a glance shows how meticulous the civil society Jan Lok Pal Bill is and how arbitrary and shoddy the government has made it.
Mr Acorn, you say once we have the constitution and the parliament we should not resort to, what you term ‘Grammar of Anarchy’. So by your argument, if the Government passes a bill which Legalizes Sati and the Khap Panchayats would you say, it is the wish of the Parliament and as it is contingent to the constitution of the country you will not do anything? If you agree, then I believe you don’t have the right to comment on the bill in the first place.
And your last argument about the fact that any Tom, Dick and Harry will be able to arm-twist the government into accepting his/her demands if Anna Hazare’s agitation is a success. All I will say Mr Acorn, that going by that statement you assume the average Indian Citizen is a fool and will support anything. This movement is as big as it is, only because of the voluntary (Stress on that word), vehement and the wholehearted support of the average Indian Citizen (read Common Man) and I am confident he /she will not come out in droves for any other human being, making your argument redundant.
Point 5: It is entirely possible to oppose the UPA government’s politics and policies, while recognizing that it is the legitimately constituted government of the country. Individuals and parties might suffer from a legitimacy deficit because of flagrant corruption, but the Government of India as an institution remains the legitimate authority to make policy decisions for the whole nation.
Mr Acorn, but what if they take the wrong decision? Don’t tell me you will go to courts, abide by the law etc etc. It is, frankly BS. I was a fresher, out of engineering college when 26/11 happened. Now I am an IT guy with a work-ex of almost 3 years, and Kasab is still not proven guilty, and as you like logical extensions, presumed innocent. Our judiciary takes more than three years to prove a guy who killed 100 people in cold blood, and was photographed with an AK-47 in hand, guilty. What hope do we as common citizens have in the judiciary? If you want another example of our inefficient judiciary, take the Jessica Lall case. Would the lumbering wheels of our justice system moved in that case, if not for the intense public pressure against the judiciary? Going by your argument, If this protest is illegal, then so was that one.
You know why the government, successive ones at that, have become so corrupt. It is because they thought the daily grind of survival will ensure a common man does not have the time for things like protests and agitations. However, the flagrant corruption of parties and individuals as you put it, has percolated so deep down the psyche of a common man, that today it has overridden his desire for survival. What you are seeing Mr Acorn is an volcanic outburst of all the pent up anger of the Indian citizens. They can no longer see the wanton rape of our beautiful country. And they don’t care about constitutional procedures and statues. They want results. And the they includes me.
I am not saying all the members of the Lok Pal will be honest, there will be a few black sheep there. But the Jan Lok Pal, If allowed, punishes even one babu/MP/Minister, it would have achieved more than what our present system has done in the last 60 years or so. And that for me and dare I say,most of the citizens, counts as success.
I guess Mr Acorn, you have a rebuttal for most of the concerns you raised. But I have kept your ‘Reforms 3.0’ Idea for my next blog. But I must say, you have a sense of humour when you suggested liberal economy equals less corruption. But that is for another day.