Everyone has been harping about the Jan Lokpal Bill and about Anna Hazare. Never ever have I seen such a concerted effort from the print media and the TV media for any movement. Additional impetus for this movement has been provided by the social networking sites too. Anna is a hit on Facebook and a trend on Twitter. Almost everyone has been tweeting about the Jan Lokpal Bill. Everyone has been hailing this as a second freedom struggle (Oh really!! Come on). For some, Annaji is the new Gandhi and for some, a messiah. I have been following this movement right from the days of the first fasting and I even participated in show of strength at Gateway. I understand that this movement is for the good of the country, and I join my countrymen to hanker for a strong Lokpal Bill, but let me stick my neck out and make some observations on this movement.
First, let me start with the person who is the face of this movement, Anna Hazare; I would never question his credentials. They are impeccable. He is a Gandhian who at great distress to self has always fought (in a nonviolent way of course) for the rights of the citizens. But let me question he and his team’s intention to project the Jan Lokpal Bill as one-stop solution for all the corruption problems in India. It is not. It is definitely not that. It is just a stronger bill than the one proposed by the Indian Government. The Jan Lokpal bill brings under its aegis the PMO and the judiciary and allocates the right to the ombudsman to prosecute them for corruption charges. It also proposes a higher jail term for corruption charges. In no way is this bill going to be the ultimate solution for India’s corruption issues nor would it see a turnkey implementation. If the bill is passed and becomes a law, we have gained only 30% of the ground in the fight towards corruption. The remaining 70% is going to be tough because it will require changing the collective mindset of the whole populace.
Now this is where I come to my second observation and the first part of the equation, the people who are part of the morchas, dharnas and the whole fasting thing. Let us look at who constitutes the populace who are out on the streets shouting slogans and raising their voices against “corruption.” Out of the total populace, almost 45-50% is “youth” or the Generation X or Y whatever we call it ( what happens after we come to Z- do we go back to A?), while the remaining percentage is made up of people from all walks of life including government servants, salaried employees, daily wage workers etc. Let me ask the new generation some grave questions here:
a) Would you pay money to the traffic constable to escape a traffic violation charge?
b) Would you pay bribe to the ticket collector to escape the huge fines if caught ticketless?
c) Would you pay “management donation” to get admission to the college of your choice?
d) Would you buy tickets from a tout?
e) Are you open to bribing the office staff in your college to get a look at a question paper?
f) Do you realize that you are corrupt?
If your answers to the questions (a-e) is Yes and No to (f), please go home. You should not be a part of this movement. You should not externalize corruption. You and the generations before your’s planted this seed and watered it. Now you cannot pin the blame on politicians and government officials (the obvious fruits) only. They are the illegitimate children of your actions. Face it, acknowledge the tear in your moral fabric, repair it, and resolve to never let that happen again. The fight against corruption begins with you. Understand that and BEHAVE! Candlelight vigils are fun, but do not serve the purpose unless you change; be the light that though will flicker, will ultimately cast away the darkness.
As for the other section that makes up the remaining of the protestors, the less said the better. This monster was created by your generation, join us in killing it. Start with self.
The Jan Lokpal movement has been touted as the People’s movement and I hope it remains the same. Annaji and his core team should take a very critical look at their bed partners. They should be aware of the politicians and the parties which might hijack this movement for their own benefit. The opposition, though it has been only whimpering, has tried to hijack the movement at various levels. Annaji has to come out with a very clear declaration about who is and who is not with this movement. This will augment legitimacy for this People’s Movement.
Now the industrialists - All the major industrialists have been conspicuous by their absence. They who can participate in a marathon or an art promotion cannot put their support behind such a movement is a matter of shame. Where are the Ambanis, the Birlas, the Tatas? Vested interests? 2G ? I am veering towards a Yes here. Shame.
Now the celebrities, please do not come out. This is not a bloody fashion show or a film promotion. Stay indoors. Spare us the nautanki.
Now the second part of the equation - to cast a light on what Jan Lokpal Bill would mean if passed - It asks for the prosecution rights of the PMO and the judiciary. It asks for creation of an independent ombudsman with investigations to be done by the national investigating agency. My question here is whether with creation of ombudsman with all assuming power of prosecution over the Prime Minister’s Office and the judiciary, are we laying the foundation of another institution that would one day become as power hungry and corrupt as the one we have now that we call The Parliament. Would it not become a center of corruption if not properly monitored? Who will monitor the Monitor? The bill is not clear on that. To catch a thief, are we creating a robber? Need to seriously think about it.
Though I do not support the movement in its present form as it constitutes a danger to a democratically elected institution and heralds the rise of what looks like a power hungry grapple that will break out soon, I believe in the need for such a movement to prick the collective conscience of the people and stop the destruction of the moral fabric and stop a democracy from falling into deep oblivion. I know I am being ironic here, but then I am faced with a morally and intellectually bankrupt democratically elected government who did not take the requisite steps when required and is still seen whimpering like a wounded dog, growling at intervals in a weak show of authority and strength. Manmohan Singhji is an impotent PM (I have called him this quite often I guess) and he would not be able to handle this situation. What is required here is for all the Big Three, the Governement, the Opposition and Team Anna to sit together and work out their differences for once and for all. A bill which would ultimately curb corruption (hard to kill eh?) is what should be the ultimate aim of these institutions and not display of power. Forget Rahul Gandhi (Mommy, where are you?), I hope the stalwarts in Congress whom we have grown to respect do come forward and help draft a plan to handle this issue. It is imperative that this be handled soon and handled right. I hope they are listening.