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Worrying about Anna..and some counter-intuitive stuff…

7 April 2011 1,157 views 51 Comments

As Anna’s fast unto death enters its third day (and makes it “pawar” felt), I begin to get a bit uneasy about a few things… I am somewhat disappointed and puzzled to read Anna say, that his agitation was non-political.

I am not sure this is the case Anna. It is very “political” – with a capital P. As my friend and FTI colleague Sanjeev mentioned on his blog,

…we focus too much on corruption but that is like a doctor focusing too much on the fever and not on killing the underlying malarial parasite…the solution must start with a change in electoral laws

As Sandeep mentioned (emphasis added)

Lokpal bill adds another layer to our multilayered babudom. Putting men of character in politics is the solution not passing stupid bills

And I agree with Sujeet who noted:

IMHO, if you think we can reform politics/systems without politicians’ will and support, then we’re deluding ourselves.

But I think the “last word” on this comes from Radha Rajan-ji:

Corruption IS a political issue and must be politicised and must involve political parties. Our political parties must be involved, (as must be) our parliament.

Please do not misunderstand me. I have huge respect and admiration for what Anna is doing. I salute his courage and I support his movement against corruption – but I am not sure we are fighting the right battle here

Do you think so too?

Views, thoughts and criticism welcome. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat! – Shantanu

Related Posts: Here is what a determined man can do

Notes from a Live Chat on Corruption and Notes on tackling corruption

Also read: Why Good People don’t Join Politics.  and “Supporting Anna” Thanks

51 Comments »

  • 1. Madhusudan said:

    I am a bit apprehensive as to how will the lokayuktas be elected/apppointed. and who will they be.

    If they will also be of the likes of Arundhati Roy, Barkha Dutta and similar such enemies of the nation, then we are heading towards another useless effort. How will the honest & people of strong character be elected. Lot of question marks.

    But this protest is worth doing. Atleast our sleeping countrymen are waking up to the seriousness of the corruption issue. I remember from my childhood this slogan “Gali Gali mein shor hai, Rajiv Gandhi Chor hai” being chanted so widely. I was 6-7 yes old then. but it made an impression which is still strong. though I only came to know now why ‘Rajiv Gandhi chor hai’!

    I think what Sanjeev says is right. The electoral laws need to be reformed. That’s the root of all evils.That’s where the rot starts. With current system of election and laws it is so difficult to get the good leaders into politics.

  • 2. Vinod Subramanian said:

    I think when Anna says it is ‘non-political’, the reason is he is not willing to let political parties take undue advantage of this issue… but the crux of the issue according to me is ‘corruption’ and not the lokpal / jan lokpal bill… and corruption can be combatted only if we have good ppl and newer parties entering the system and not with the current crop…

    i was talking to a girl who got selected for state civil services.. she was mentioning that though she cleared the written test she will not clear the interview as she is not financially sound to pay the officials…SHAME!!!

  • 3. K said:

    Shantanu,
    You should say it out loud. Why are you being so defensive? While Anna’s intentions may be noble, he has chosen the wrong tool (the Lok Pal Bill) to fight corruption. The inimitable Reality Check has a great post on this issue. I urge all the readers to take an objective look at this post.

    http://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/jan-lok-pal-caveat-emptor/

  • 4. Jayaraman Rajah Iyer said:

    Let there not be a frenzy to make #AnnaHazare a martyr. We need him. This (cont) http://tl.gd/9n13cf

  • 5. Suru Shivdasani said:

    ANNAJI IS DOING A COMMENDABLE SERVICE TO THE COUNTRY, OUR SOCIETY HAS BEEN “ABSOUTELY” CORRUPTED, PHYSICALY, SOCIALY, MORALY & SPRITUALY. CORRUPTION HAS BANKCRUPTED THE NATION. THE BEST BENIFIT OF THIS “ANDOLAN” IS THAT THE YOUTH OF THE NATION HAVE WOKEN UP TO THE REALITIES. LET NOT THIS “ACTION” BE HIJACKED. “MERA DESH MAHAN” POWER TO THE PEOPLE, POLITICIANS NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT PARLIMENT IS NOT ABOVE THE PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE ARE “SUPREME”

  • 6. Vivek said:

    My 2 cents:

    1) Anna Hazare’s greatest mistake is to say that this is not a political agitation.

    Twitter user @_varun_vijay keeps saying “political power is the mother of all powers”. Very true. Especially in the case of a democracy. To make a majority of those who care to vote listen to ones view and go out there and vote is a big big deal. Political Power is a representation of views, ambitions and dreams of a majority (of whoever cares). Unless you have political backing of your agitations, there is not much use.

    2) Anna Hazare’s another mistake is the tool of his agitation. Pragati did a piece some time ago asking people to discard “grammar of anarchy” as there are enough constitutional tools. Agreed. Days later they do another piece (March edition) where they say “civil disobedience lives”. This is the state of Think Tanks! Unfortunate. If Think Tanks are like this, then what about common man? Common man has minimal understanding of satyagraha and nirahara deeksha. He sympathizes with it but wouldnt dare do it. He is right. Its an insane idea. Even if viewed through the prism of Non-Violence it is inanse because political agitation need not be violent. Ex: JP’s emergency movement.

    IMO the problem is in understanding “satyagraha” and “amarana nirahara deeksha”. In fact I would go so far as to say that politicians are deliberately misusing the concept of Satyagraha and Amarana Nirahara Deeksha. Ex: Recent KCR, Karunanidhi nirahara deekshas. In this respect, another question is “if suicide is a criminal offense, then why is amarana nirahara deeksha not?”. Our law doenst seem to have an answer.

    In Anna Hazare’s case, thankfully people have taken it seriously and thankfully he is not a KCR or Karunanidhi to misuse it(and no making it political movement is not misusing it). We have to either get rid of the law criminalizing suicide of make amarana nirahara deeksha a criminal offense.

    Both amarana nirahara deeksha and satya graha are unconstitutional. Moreover, both are insult to political awareness in that country. In our case, by using these tools, activists, politicians etc are simply killing the political activism that is going to be a pledged national movement in coming days.

  • 7. Kishan said:

    Unfortunately today’s politicians being what they are, they cannot be trusted.Remember VP Singh ? He came to power on an anti-corruption plank, but he was the most manipulative type of politician. Then there was Devi Lal, father of Chautala who was turned away by Anna. He also manipulated the system to become deputy PM. Before that there was Charan Singh, father of Ajit Singh. All these three were without any principles to live by. They lived only for themselves and their families.
    But unfortunately we need politicians to work our system of governance, to provide leadership to lead the country in the right direction. Therefore we have to work on a system that brings honest politicians with integrity to the fore.

  • 8. K. Harapriya said:

    I have been watching this for the last three days non-stop and I have to say, it seems to have turned into an all round photo-op for many people, especially Swami Agnivesh, Medha Patkar, Mallika Sarabhai and various other self appointed activists (read people who have no day jobs and lots of time on their hands).

    What we need in India is not really just good government ( although that might help), but just less government. We need less government in our daily lives.

    Government should not be in any business. All businesses need to be privatized. The government’s job is to monitor that businesses obey the laws and that the public’s rights are protected. And information about all taxes collected and how they were used should be in the public domain.

  • 9. AAryan said:

    I have three concerns with this Lokpal bill:
    1. Diminishing returns by merging the CBI/ACB
    2. Lack of effective checks & balances to provide the transperency
    3. Low employment or high employee turn-over in the Govt. jobs.

    ||namO Bhaartam, namO Sanskritam||

  • 10. sumit said:

    I think the main rot lies in the British rules and regulation that still functions in India.

    I think we really need to mulls on changing some context of Indian Constitution which gives shelter to this British Rules.

    Politicians should really put Nation first.

  • 11. Seema Singh said:

    I feel that Hazare has good intentions but if this does work out.. it would be a little dangerous… won’t everyone then start holding the government to ransom through hunger strikes?? … political reform is needed but we also need the people to reform themselves… for instance see this shamelessness.. http://www.wahsarkar.com/?p=180

  • 12. Rajarshi Roy said:

    Shantanu,

    I agree with Vinod’s comment. When Anna Hazare says that this is not a political agitation, he doesn’t want any political party to hijack it because political parties across the spectrum from left to right are tainted with the menace of corruption.

    @K. Haripriya,
    The ones you are calling ‘self-appointed activists’ have had more impact at grassroots level with their work than people like you and me who are happy being armchair activists.

  • 13. yogesh said:

    Dear friends,
    As far as my understanding is concerned,hte govt is getting the glimpse of anger in the public over corruption and to pacify this anger they will surely try to bring the govt.’s version of Lokpal bill(the weaker version)which would be having small possibility of getting thru this time as parliamentarians would want to gain back the confidence of the public,But mind you here is the trick the Lokpal bill as it is, is tickle on the belly of these seasoned corrupt people (they have framed it such that it would be easy for them to get away) and once this bill is passed we would need another 42 years to bring amendments,this is why Anna is urging for this Joint committee of politicians and civilians so that the correct bill could be brought out at the drafting stage,as far as the political issue is concerned Anna is right to keep them out because then it will be the between Hand and Lotus or whatever sign it may be,this is what a common man do not want,remember public is supporting him because he is not a political person he is a clean person with no political connection this is what making the people connect to him,of course at later stage the politicians would have to be included but at this moment we need not have any politician included in this moment,otherwise masses wont connect to him.
    Jai hind

  • 14. Sumitra said:

    Here’s another insightful analysis by Sandhya Jain on the Anna Hazare issue. We don’t want NGO’s funded by the West to govern us with dubious characters. Every Indian must protest against this bill and must fight corruption in some other way.
    http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1716

  • 15. Muthu said:

    This is a trick to counter Baba Ramdev and Subramanian Swamy. The TN voters and other voters in other states should throw the Congress out for doing all this treachery.

  • 16. Muthu said:

    Headlines ” Sonia requests Hazare to withdraw fast”. Within 4 hrs , Hazare thanks Sonia for requesting him to end fast. This is drama of very high order. This is just to hoodwink the corruption. Why are these personalities in the Drama

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/Hazare-will-inspire-Indians-to-fight-corruption-Jennifer/videoshow/7897014.cms

    I just cannot understand this Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. A Nut case Guru.
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/Hazare-is-the-voice-of-millions-Sri-Sri-Ravi-Shankar/videoshow/7901463.cms

  • 17. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Pl watch: Incentives for Immoral Behaviour by Milton Friedman

  • 18. Aditya Nayak said:

    Hi B. Shantanu,

    Really liked your post. I have compiled a list of top 15 posts on the issue and I included yours too. Here is the link:

    http://www.adityakumarnayak.com/2011/top-12-resources-on-anna-hazares-fast-corruption-jan-lokpal-bill/

  • 19. K. Harapriya said:

    @Rajarshi: Speak for yourself. Don’t presume to know what I do or the impact it has. And as for “activists” like Mallika Sarabhai, exactly what has she done other than drag Narendra Modi’s name into every issue?

    The problem with most activism in India is that it is consists of short term solutions and knee jerk responses to problems without any kind of deep knowledge of the complexity of issues.

    This Anna Hazare activism is another one. Yes, we definitely want to fight corruption. Yet, here we have a bunch of people who claim that that a new bill needs to be place, whereas we already have excellent institutions , like the CBI, which are capable of doing the job of investigating corruption and fighting it. That fact that they have failed in some respects means we need to fight for them to be strengthened and independent of government, not necessarily to create another institutional body.

    As far as activists forcing the passing of a law, that is actually a subversion of democracy. The government is elected by the people, whereas these activists were not voted into their positions. How dare they claim to speak for me and every other indian?

  • 20. K. Harapriya said:

    The Jan Lokpal bill seems very dangerous. What the activists want is an institution independent of government which can investigate all branches of government and take legal action. Yet the members of this body are not elected to their office, but selected from an elite group of “intellectuals”. Do we really want the likes of Swami Agnivesh, Amartya Sen , Arundathi Roy to sit on this body and harass elected officials?

    Check out the bill.
    http://ibnlive.in.com/news/comment-is-the-jan-lokpal-bill-the-answer/148521-3.html

  • 21. Malavika said:

    The anti corruption cause is right, but I am not sure this bill would do it. This bill places way too much power into the hands of those who are not elected by the people of India and are ‘chosen’ by the Goras. How would this help India’s cause?

    First the members to the Lokpal should be elected at least not appointed. If they are appointed what is the guarantee that these Jan Lokpals are not subverted, just like Judiciary and CBI.

    We should look at institutions that are working fine like CAG and perhaps increase the independence of these institutions. Further CBI should report to the select members of Parliament, based on the proportional representation, by the top three national parties not every one. Like it is done in US, where opposition and ruling party members form a committee which oversees intelligence affairs(JPC??).

    The judges for the Supreme Court must be approved by the Parliament, so corrupt people will not get to be SC Judge. It is shocking that some like Dinakaran was ‘chosen’, there should be transparency in the selection process for high profile appointees like Judges, CVC and ECs. In other words we need institutional reforms and strong independent institutions.

    I am just throwing some ideas hoping that there will be more discussion.

  • 22. Devesh Pant said:

    Anna Hazare needs to be supported for the simple reason that what he is proposing is already working in places like Sweden and Hong Kong to name just two that one knows of. The little one knows about an effective Ombudsman is that it has done wonders to almost eliminate corruption in the above two countries.

    Transparency International lists the Scandinavian countries are almost devoid of corruption. How do they do it? Why not replicate it? One is sure Team Hazare has gone into it so is better placed to put such an effective Ombudsman in place. Regarding Anna Hazare it’s a gut reaction from a non-egghead who has started from “doing the little things right”; you redress injustice to just one sufferer you do enough – “A journey of a Thousand Miles begins with but a single step”. That’s better than a lot of “eggheads” talking their heads off about better “systems”. “Systems” apply to inanimate machines even if it is IBM’s Watson. We don’t want such “systems”. We want a decent human being to head the “model Ombudsman” of Team Anna Hazare. Let him be human, warts and all; if he is a good man he will never err deliberately.

    Anna Hazare has seen death at close range. He is a soldier; his survival during course of battle was Providential. So he celebrates life by serving the living – “Old Soldiers never die”. Let him lead, let this intrepid man “soldier” on so stop carping; least from those who have never personally seen the horrors of war. Remember, “Dwamimah purusha vyagraha Surya Mandal bhedinoh, Parivagrah yag yuktasyo rane chabhi mukhoh hatoh!” [Look up Lokmanya Tilak’s Gita for this shloka as also its correct Sanskrit version and meaning- also don’t forget Lord Krishna flays “eggheads” for their propensity for inaction in the face of evil]

  • 23. B Shantanu (author) said:

    This piece by Dr Pratap Bhanu Mehta has made me seriously re-think the whole idea…Some excerpts from Of the few, by the few: …
    But in a functioning constitutional democracy, not having one’s preferred institutional solution to a problem accepted, does not constitute a sufficient reason for the exercise of such coercive moral powe (as fasting unto death)

    …the demand (for Jan LokPal Bill) is premised on an idea that non-elected institutions that do not involve politicians are somehow the only ones that can be trusted. This assumption is false.

    Most of us are as aghast as any of the agitators about the evasions of government. But it does not follow that creating a draconian new institution that diminishes everything from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Supreme Court is a solution. The net result of a “Lokpal” will be to weaken the authority of even other well-functioning institutions. No agitation focuses on sensible, manageable reform of representative institutions; all agitative energies are premised on bypassing them.

    The demand that a Jan Lokpal Bill be drafted jointly by the government and a self-appointed committee of public virtue is absurd. Most of us sharply disagree with elected government on matters even more important than corruption. But no matter how cogent our arguments, it does not give us the right to say that our virtue entitles us to dictate policy to a representative process.

    In an age of cynicism, Anna Hazare is a colossus of idealism. His sacrifices should cause all of us to introspect. It should be in the service of self-transformation, not a vilification of political processes..(but)it is a dangerous illusion to pedal that badly designed new institutions will be a magic wand to remove corruption.

    All they will do is promote wishful thinking and distract from the myriads of prosaic decisions that will be required to get a better politics.
    ***
    Comments, thoughts?

  • 24. Dinesh said:

    I am a great fan of HUMAN NATURE.
    How have we as humans deluded ourselves that laws, systems, constitutions, institutions, etc are much better than living,talking human being (Anna Hazare) who has shown character and grit in issues related to corruption?
    The following quote by Margaret Mead comes to mind.
    “Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals.”
    If Lokpal Bill could be gamed into being a Draconian Law as many are pointing then probably we need such Draconian laws to take on Asuras who have successfully gamed the current system.
    Let us concentrate so much power into hands of Anna Hazare that even a simple act of sneezing by Anna should send chills down the spines of Pawars, Rajas, Kalmadis.
    Just as in case of Wikileaks, everyone is hammering on the *possible* misuse of this Bill but no one is concentrating on the possible and obvious benefits. If we, Indians, are so distrustful that even the BEST OF US cannot be trusted with such high concentration of power then I think we deserve such level of corruption.
    Why are we so fearful that in near future Anna Hazare or another notable personality would turn themselves into rogue elements. What makes one fearful that such appointed Lokpals would actually subvert their positions to perpetrate corruption.
    Wouldn’t Media criticize the dubitable actions taken by Lokpals? All the arguments that hold for checks and balances wrt to current separation of executive/legislature/judiciary should also hold for the institution of Lokpal.

    Why are we so interested into getting the BILL perfect in every aspect the first time? Let us give Anna a chance to prove himself right rather than drill holes to sink him.

  • 25. Malavika said:

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Indians should grow up and not put faith entirely in one person, that too unelected. There should be checks and balances to power. Why should anyone trust likes of Agnivesh( a hindu baiter) more popular with Goras than Indians. Now he praises the Patron Saint of Corruption (Sonia Maino)

    “Later in the evening, Swami was already singing paeans to the Government and Congress president Sonia Gandhi saying issues of who heads the committee and notification had become secondary.”

    http://www.dailypioneer.com/330169/Sharp-differences-in-movement-over-spoils.html

  • 26. Ashish said:

    The JAn Lokpal Bill is definitely something that we should look forward to. But again we have had many such institutions like CVC, CBI, PAC and somehow over the years they have failed to deliver in that case how will bringing in new bill help. Why do we have to blame politicians for everything? First of all we chose them to represent us, secondly it a problem with culture, corruption has become a part of our culture till we dont become a responsible Indian and on top of that the society becomes Citizen Based Society , nothing is going to change. Temporarily this strong public support might be able to create fear in the mind of our politicians but again some or the other loophole will come and they will again exploit the same bill.

    Still I have high hope from the bill :)

  • 27. Jayaraman Rajah Iyer said:

    There’s a way out within the ambit of our Constitution as well giving due respect to the will of the people. It is by ratifying United Nations Convention Against Corruption [UNCAC] that will be binding on the Government once they ratify it having been a signatory to UNCAC since 2003 like other signatories of 140 countries.India had not ratified it unlike 90 other countries including Pakistan.

    In the corrupt state we are wallowing now, there are two major players – 1. Corporate & 2. Government.

    I am on fast forward today since 6 AM. I just heard the news: Hazare announces ‘jail bharo’ after govt rejects demands. I also heard about Singhvi announcing why it is not possible to issue a Govt. notification. This logjam can be broken by both the parties by issuing a notification to ratify UNCAC and the logjam is broken then and there. Lokpal Bill will become part of it and not the other way.

    By Article 13 of UNCAC Participation of Society, Civil Society has to be brought into discussion table before a Lokpal Bill is passed. UNCAC Article 6 – Preventive anti-corruption body or bodies ensures a body is headed by the Supreme Court judgment on Thomas, CVC case. UNCAC Article 8 – Codes of Conduct for Public Officials ensures every public official is assessed by UNCAC, by UNCAC Article 9 – Public Procurement and Management of Public Finances every project is monitored. UNCAC Article 12 ensures UNCAC applies to Private Sector. UNCAC therefore will have the double edge of correcting both the government and the Corporate.

    We can move forward by ratifying UNCAC that Kofi Annan when releasing it as UN Sec. Gen. said: QUOTE: “Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.

    This evil phenomenon is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor—but it is in the developing world that its effects are most destructive. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a Government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign aid and investment. Corruption is a key element in economic under-performance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.” UNQUOTE

    How true it is for India! Isn’t it?

  • 28. Dinesh said:

    “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” – Sir Winston Churchill

    http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mindboggling/entry/cbi-s-2g-chargesheet-explains-why-anna-hazare-is-on-fast-unto-death

  • 29. Kumar said:

    Exactly reflecting Dr.Jayaprakash Narayan of Loksatta advocating and making people realize the need of the hour though late hope not too late.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwqAFW2BBIc (Telugu)
    Kumar,Tokyo,Japan.

  • 30. Vidhya said:

    My 2 cents. This protest only looks fishy, and solution to corruption cannot be subversion of democracy.
    I think political corruption can be better addressed by forming a good vote bank, which will vote for only those with a clean history. All those protesting corruption along with Anna Hazare, can instead form a vote bank with clear principles.

    Vidhya

  • 31. K. Harapriya said:

    Let us wait for it to go thru parliment when we can see the real fun. And even if it is passed, it can still whither away from Supreme Court intervention . One point I still don’t get. The panel has 5 members from government and 5 members from the “civil” society. Who chooses the 5 from civil society? Is there some referendum on that?

    The problem for the aam aadmi is not the thousands of crores siphoned off by Karunanidhi and his many wives and kids. It is the fact that every instance of dealing with the government, whether it is getting a death certificate or a land deal or even simpler matters like a driving license, one is forced to pay a bribe. (I paid one to get a legal name change). And one doesn’t play ball with whichever bureaucrat is sitting in office, one’s job is not done.

  • 32. Prakash said:

    Strengthening democratic processes is the only sensible way to go. Good you quoted Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s article. The discussion till that point was rather stale and boring. Fast unto death etc. are coercive tactics. They won’t help much in the long run.

    What really worries me is the emotional nature of the present initiatives. Democratic norms have been trampled dozens of times in last 10 years. Congress has virtually got a free hand in making whatever appointments she wished to make and nobody (from general public) ever raised an eyebrow. What was Anna Hazare doing when Maharashtra governors and chief ministers were shuffled randomly to suit the political objectives of Congress? How come people support Anna Hazare about some demands the benefit of which is not clear? What is the basis for believing that demanded tweaks of the Lokpal bill will end or reduce corruption? (I guess there is a simple answer. People love moral stuff much more than the procedural.)

    Your reference to ‘Men of Character’ similarly points to an attribute of a subjective nature. I doubt whether there are any men of character or there ever were any. Instead of looking for (wo)men of character, it is best to look for systems that have inherent checks and balances.

  • 33. trueq said:

    Iain Buchanans revelationary video relevant to what is happening.
    See how he clubs secular, civil society etc as the new word paradigm to cheat the indigenous population. This he delivered in Malayasia.

    http://vodpod.com/watch/4752781-iain-buchanan-the-role-of-evangelicals-in-us-imperialism

  • 34. Mohini Puranik said:

    Hello Sir, I totally agree with you. And very thoughtful discussion here. I have objection against the hunger strike methodology. I have expressed the cons here. http://narayankripa.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-only-hunger-strike.html Why only Hunger Strike? My vision is on the cons of Hunger strike. and what should be else , going to put soon. I totally agree with articles.

  • 35. Khandu Patel said:

    Only Hindus will claim they are not political as if the politician is some special speicies. Responsibility for involvement in the political process comes from citizenship which attaches both rights and obligations, I emphasise not just rights but also obligations. Anna,s activities in leading the movement has put it on the agenda of the citizen as a concern for redress for redress by the political process. His fast unto death was specifically because of his gripe on the issue of the corrupt elements meaning politicians et al high jacking the issue. Indian politicians give politics a bad name, so much so that Hindus will describe themselves as non-political. The Hindu religion gives Hindus an easy escape from the heavy duties of being full alive. It does not suprise me that the same has happened to the political space. In India the whole public space is dominated by thieves and scoundrals. The public mobilisation has forced a government back down. The Hindu citizen needs to fully embrace citizenship to ensure that such thieves and scoundrals have no place to hide. I hardly think they are at this point quaking in they shoes.

  • 36. Dinesh said:

    Very Nice Article in Support of Anna Hazare : http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=TOINEW&BaseHref=TOIM/2011/04/11&PageLabel=11&EntityId=Ar01100&ViewMode=HTML

    1] It is a bit curious that so many commentators have re-discovered their belief in the democratic process as delivered by our existing political system after having railed at it systematically for many years. To argue that only elected representatives have a right to political action and that all inputs about governance must be channelized through elections is an extreme position to take.

    2] Many intellectuals praise French Renaissance retrospectively but they fail to recognize one when its happening live :P

  • 37. Malavika said:

    I am really glad netizens are looking at this bill critically. The need of the hour is to have institutional checks and balances in the system, having one unelected group lording over rest of the citizens should bring a shiver down our spine. The need of the hour is have transparency in the selection process of CVC, SC Justices, EC’s etc.

    @Dinesh
    “To argue that only elected representatives have a right to political action and that all inputs about governance must be channelized through elections is an extreme position to take.”

    who else do you trust? Why should we trust Rockefeller Foundation(which gives Magassay awards) to look after Indian interests. The whole idea of railing against certain unfair/unjust practices is to build a public opinion for change. Without the hue and cry first raised in BJP held Karnataka Corrupt Dinakaran would have been a SC Judge.

    So, the need of the hour is to have a transparent and accountable plurality of systems. There are no short cuts to good governance.

    Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

  • 38. Srini said:

    Shantanu, a bit late to comment on this but I have been quite confused about what my views on the topic were. Now I think I have a point of view and would like to share it.

    On one hand, we have a public outcry against corruption, something that every Indian would support. On the other hand is the outcome that is sought. I have been very uncomfortable about the latter.

    Here we have a large group of people (well-intentioned, in this case) that have come together to protest… there is nothing wrong with sending out strong public feedback to the Government. What I find strange is that the demand is not for the Government to act against the people responsible for acts of corruption, nor is it to strengthen the (existing) institutions that are responsible to control this menace. What is being demanded is a specific piece of legislation as if it would solve the country’s problems. Not only that, and this is what I find more problematic, that a new precedent is being created about how such legislation is prepared. Such is the state of the current Government that it let itself be blackmailed into accepting these conditions… although, I suspect that the Government was happy for this welcome distraction from the real crusade against CWG and 2G scams, and they have essentially bought time for several months, now that people will focus on this Bill (and somehow hope that it is the panacea for all our problems).

    I support what you are doing and what Lok Satta is doing because you have shown that intelligent people, who are generally against politics, can take active interest in matters of politics and eventually aspire to become part of the political process and seek to represent public will. I find it morally and constitutionally wrong that a hunger strike by one person can cause a legally elected Government and Parliament to do something that they were not willing to. Shouldn’t we now be more scared of this Government? That several thousand people protesting in Delhi and elsewhere can cause it to change its mind and (partly) hand-over constitutional authority of drafting legislation to unelected “civil society” representatives? From a process perspective, how different is this fast from the one carried out by KCR demanding a separate state for Telangana? Tomorrow someone else will use a similar process to demand reservations for a certain caste or community, or want to secede from the country…. as you know it is not difficult in this country of 1.2Bn people to mobilize ten thousand people or even one lakh people for a “cause”… we see that happening everytime there is a “political rally”

    What stops the Government from listening to such “public will” and “civil society” representatives having created this precedent?

    I see the outcome of last week as actually a failure for Indian people, not a victory. It would have been a victory if all political parties had actively taken up the issue of corruption and made promises to weed out the corrupt from their parties. It would have been a victory if all the parties had come together and agreed to convene a special session of the Parliament to debate corruption issues and come up with practical and time-bound solutions to address the issue. It would have been a victory if the judiciary had been instructed / requested to deal with all corruption cases in a time-bound manner. It would have been a victory if the Government had agreed to let go of any administrative control on the institutions (like CVC, CBI, etc.) that are responsible to monitor such issues. Last week was just one more episode in the unfolding Indian soap opera…

    I hope I do not come across as cynical here. I am sad that the nation got carried away last week, just like we often do for periods of a week or so. We are treating this battle like a 20-20 match, with the accompanied dramatics and entertainment. What is required is the resolve, patience and technique for longer- term, sustainable change. I find Dr. JP’s statement highly appropriate in this case… The Answer to “Bad Politics” is “Good Politics” Not “No Politics”

  • 39. B Shantanu (author) said:

    A thorough and somewhat disturbing analysis of the proposed LokPal Bill by a lawyer.
    Pl do read.

  • 40. Sumitra said:

    Please read Radha Rajan’s analysis and the NGO connection. The NGO connection is making this whole thing a shady affair.

    http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1722

  • 41. Malavika said:

    “The draft Bill is nothing more than an Uber Ordinance trying to force Parliament to enact it into an Uber Law in order to make the NAC the de jure power of the nation. With such totalitarian powers at its command — equivalent to wielding Emergency-style powers without invoking an Emergency and without needing parliamentary endorsement for any action — Ms Sonia Gandhi and her coterie will elevate themselves into the ranks of awesome leaders.

    One admires the breathtaking audacity. The only institution they dared not touch (in the first instance) is the Armed Forces. One shudders to think of our fate should they ever acquire powers to meddle with national security.

    Since this proposed Hyper Government of NGO-Kings must be selected and validated by a hyper-elite club, the proposed selection committee inter alia includes: The chairpersons of both Houses of Parliament; two senior-most judges of Supreme Court; two senior-most Chief Justices of High Courts; chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission; Comptroller and Auditor-General of India; Chief Election Commissioner; Bharat Ratna award winners (a ruse to include foreign nationals like Amartya Sen who managed the mysterious academic credentials of Mr Rahul Gandhi); all Nobel Laureates of Indian origin (possibly the Chemistry laureate with an American wife); and the last two Magsaysay Award winners of Indian origin (whose contributions to society were hardly known till they received the stamp of approval from the Rockefeller Foundation).

    Interestingly, the claim that the ‘Jan Lok Pal’ draft compares with the powers of the Hong Kong ombudsman is untrue. The Hong Kong ombudsman has no powers of prosecution; he merely submits a report to the Chief Executive; and is appointed by politicians. Actually, no country in the world permits civil society nominees to initiate prosecution against citizens, and judge and punish them. It decapitates the constitutional separation of powers. Ms Sonia Gandhi must explain why she wants such powers for a band of moral pretenders owing allegiance to her.”

    http://www.dailypioneer.com/330967/Its-a-civilian-coup-d%C3%A9tat.html

  • 42. Malavika said:

    Eminently sensible article by Tavleen Singh. We should be asking if the proposed cure is worse than the disease.

    “Some seemed to have been inspired by the recent revolution in the Middle East. They babbled on about text messages and social media sites having brought about a ‘people’s movement’ without noticing that in India the people have the right to vote. Every five years they choose who they want to represent them in the Lok Sabha and in their state assemblies. It is the job of these legislatures to make laws for the country. It is not the job of sanctimonious activists.

    If they had bothered to read the draft that Hazare’s Leftist advisors have drawn up, they would have noticed that its worst flaw is that it is anti-democratic in the most frightening way. It is not an ombudsman that it seeks to create but a despot with the powers to investigate, judge and punish anyone he suspects of corrupt practices. So if some NGO type of Leftist persuasion were to decide that his local MP was spending his constituency allowance on a project that did not benefit ‘the masses’, he (or she) could complain to his local Lokayukta and organise a raid on the MP’s property and order his arrest if he decides that public funds are being misused. It is not just officials but private citizens who will be under the Lokpal’s purview.

    This is the way of totalitarian countries like China. It is not India’s way but you would not know it if you had been watching our news channels last week. One famous TV anchor became a sort of Lokpal himself by haranguing a Congress Party spokesman on behalf of ‘the people of India.’”

    http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/774100/

  • 43. B Shantanu (author) said:

    From Hysteria will not end corruption by Tavleen Singh: “…anyone who thinks a despotic Lokpal is the solution is deluded, naïve or an NGO.”

  • 44. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Thought-provoking comment on LokPal Bill from P Sainath: Pl do watch (thanks to my friend Ram of RangDe.org for pointing me to this)*

    P.S. I do not agree with all that he says…

  • 45. AAryan said:

    P.Sainath articulated it very well.

    Herewith are some excerpts from the “Second independence movement”

    This “fast until death” worked which proves that India is not free yet in a true sense. The citizens of India are still deprived of the freedom what the Indians deserved even after the Independence. The citizens cannot resolve their issues with the governance system with the proper reasoning clearly indicates that there is a fundamental problem with the Indian society and its educational system. It will be foolish to talk that India will be a super power in the future without looking into the aspect to fix the fundamental problem with the democracy we have in India.

    ||namo Bhaartam, namO Sanskritam||

  • 46. Geeta said:

    Jab Bhi koi acha karna chahta he to sale ae politics vale bich me aate he!
    Good job. Thanks for sharing!

  • 47. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Reading Swaminathan S Aiyar, Lokpal not enough, we need radical reform:

    But don’t assume that those arrested will actually be convicted, or that it will produce clean politics and business. That did not happen in earlier corruption scams that shook the country. The anti-corruption campaign of Jayaprakash Narayan in 1974-75 toppled the Chimanbhai Patel government in Gujarat and contributed to Indira Gandhi’s defeat in the 1977 general election, yet within a few years both politicians were back in power unscathed .  Maybe stronger evidence will turn up as the case proceeds, but even that may not be a clincher. Remember Sukh Ram, telecom minister in 1991-96 ? After his party was beaten in the 1996 election, the United Front government raided his house and caught him red-handed with crores in cash, stuffed into suitcases or wrapped in bedsheets. 

    Maybe stronger evidence will turn up as the case proceeds, but even that may not be a clincher. Remember Sukh Ram, telecom minister in 1991-96 ? After his party was beaten in the 1996 election, the United Front government raided his house and caught him red-handed with crores in cash, stuffed into suitcases or wrapped in bedsheets.

    But it took no less than 13 years for the courts to pronounce him guilty, and impose a very light sentence of three years imprisonment. Sukh Ram has appealed against the verdict. He is 84 years old and looks certain to die of old age before exhausting all appeals.

    Given this history, don’t expect too much of the CBI in the 2G scam case. And don’t get too excited about the Lokpal bill because even a strong Lokpal’s decisions can be appealed to higher courts, which are dogged by long delays.

    A Lokpal is not enough. We need a major overhaul of the police-prosecutor-judicial system . There is no space in this column to go into the issues involved, but without this the 2G scam will peter out like so many before it.

    That apart, we need self-cleaning systems that automatically reduce corruption in the first place. One such, which i have long advocated, is a law providing that all criminal cases against elected legislators at the state or central level should get judicial priority over all other, and be disposed of within two years.

    Today, many crooks enter the legislatures to stall cases they face. But once electoral victory means that their cases automatically get top priority over all others, crooks will keep out of elections altogether–electoral victory will accelerate rather than stall their legal headaches.

  • 48. Seema Singh said:

    Nice read about Anna’s congress party here http://www.wahsarkar.com/?p=380

  • 49. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Excerpts from Strange exemption for NAC by Team Anna by Kanchan Gupta
    …Which does not mean that corruption must be legitimised, but like any war, the response has to be calibrated: A witch-hunt is not the best way to isolate and punish individuals who are corrupt, nor should an un-elected entity have powers that place him or her above scrutiny, as is being demanded by Anna Hazare and his faction of ‘civil society’. If there were a Big Brother keeping a watch over the system, the system would simply stop functioning. No Minister would take any decision as no decision can ever be absolutely correct; any decision, no matter how well-intentioned and reasoned it may be, can be contested and challenged. No bureaucrat would process files and recommend a particular course of action, no matter how unbiased and fair it might be; every recommendation can be given a spin that puts a question mark on the intentions and integrity of the person putting it down on paper.

    Curiously, while damning every holder of public office, neither Anna Hazare nor his army of the self-righteous has suggested the inclusion of the National Advisory Council as an institution or its chairperson and members as individuals in the list of institutions and individuals over whom the Jan Lok Pal would keep a stern watch and whose activities would be subject to close and public scrutiny. The exclusion doesn’t make sense because the NAC is funded by tax-payers; its chairperson draws her salary from the public exchequer; and, its members draw their allowances from the consolidated fund of India. Why, then, shouldn’t the NAC be brought under the purview of the Jan Lok Pal? Are we then to assume that this extra-constitutional authority shall continue to enjoy extraordinary privileges even after the appointment of an all-powerful ombudsman?
    …Is the exclusion of the NAC from the Jan Lok Pal’s watch then a case of ‘civil society’ standing by ‘civil society’? Or is it because the NAC must remain accountable to none?

  • 50. Satender Rawat said:

    Doing agitation is not a way 2 remove corruption …first v have 2 ourself stop participating in such activities…stop criticizing others including political parties..check ur own conscience…

  • 51. B Shantanu (author) said:

    From a brilliant post by Nitin Pai:

    This episode should remind us, once again, that there are no short cuts or miracle cures to fighting corruption. The populist demand for the Lok Pal comes with a thinly disguised contempt for constitutional processes and legal niceties. Attractive as it may appear to the outraged, once you destroy the latter, you lose the basis to distinguish the legitimate from the illegitimate, but with powerful inquisitors at large. It is a far better idea for us to insist that watchdogs and prosectors match their zeal with competence, humility and meticulous attention to legal processes.

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