Nancy Choden L.
Much has been said, written and discussed about the Lokpal or Jan Lokpal bill, call it what you may, in the past few months. The movement was relegated to the background in between May and August but the past two weeks have seen ‘Anna mania’ splashed all over the headlines, print media and our daily lives. As a young and budding researcher of the present generation, I do not claim to represent the views of my counterparts, what I am going to discuss hereafter should be digested as an individual opinion and not otherwise
In the August 22nd, 2011 issue of The Hindu, Arundhati Roy’s article on “I’d rather not be Anna” struck a chord with me. As I read the article, I nodded in part agreement and part thinking mode. While I have tremendous respect for the man leading the anti-corruption campaign, here is why I’d rather not be Anna as well.
Our country has been facing various hurdles both in the pre and post-independence era. Corruption, in the wake of the numerous scams that have tainted the UPA government in recent times, takes the top slot for the biggest challenge that the world’s largest democracy faces today. A recent poll (I’m sorry I seem to have lost details of the said poll) showed how the citizens think that elected representatives, followed by bureaucrats lead the pack of corrupt people. Only a mere two per cent accused the corporate sector of the same. While democracy has its own lacunae, we must remember that corruption is but a social evil and, to add to that, no single act of law can be enough to eradicate it. Had that been the case then untouchability, which was abolished in 1950, or child marriage or female infanticide wouldn’t be a matter of concern today. But they still hold an integral position while drawing the country’s socio-economic development programmes.
A social evil doesn’t hold its entity in a separate body or group. We are all part of it as we are the society. So far the whole debate has centered on those taking bribes, but what about those giving it? Morality should come from within us. To me, it seems, our basic argument is “You correct yourself, and then I’ll follow.” Every time we don’t ask for a bill/cash memo, it is a deviation from state norms. Even paying over and above the prescribed rates to the local taxi driver is a form of corruption. The problem manifests itself in our everyday affairs. Why then are we pointing fingers solely at those in power?
Constitution is supreme and the parliament is the machinery through which rights and duties outlined in the former are safeguarded by the custodians. Parliament cannot circumvent, even if it is for a good cause. If allowed to have its way, the current movement might set a negative antecedent for the future. The immediate issue that needs to be addressed is not corruption but of much needed electoral reforms. A wrong representative is more dangerous than no representative at all, and that is precisely what has happened today. It is a known fact that the criminalisation of politics has been going on in the country for a long time. What’s more, those contesting seem to win by huge margins. It is no wonder that discussions in the parliament focus more towards disrupting the peace and order of the house, rather than participating in constructive debates. When we see such theatrics at display, we have only ourselves to blame. The proclivity to elect leaders on the basis of direct or indirect, immediate or long-term gains is omnipresent. Political parties, on their part, try to gain political mileage out of every issue.
And then we have a new genre of hooligans riding high on the Anna wave. While the Gandhian starves to realize his dream of a corruption free India for fellow countrymen, all sorts of fanaticism has replaced the sanctity of the movement. ‘I am Anna’ has become a brand name, girls looking upto the ‘Anna diet’ for weight loss alternatives, Nehru caps are back in fashion etc. These should be a matter of choice, not force. Therefore, I see no wrong in a aside while the latter tried to don a Nehru cap on the star. He had no reason to do so. Another worrying incident involved the suicide of a woman in Maharashtra. While reports suggested that the family was suffering from financial difficulties, the cause for her death, as revealed in the suicide note, suggested she had given up her life in support of Anna Hazare.
Skepticism aside, with the ‘Sense of the house’ resolution on Lokpal being adopted on all the three sticky demands raised by Anna, namely a Citizen’s Charter, Lokayukta in states and including the lower bureaucracy under Lokpal’s ambit, it is time for India’s ombudsman to start a process of reforms in the country’s administrative and educational system. It is a great victory for Anna, for democracy and for the people of India. However, one must remember that this is the means to an end, and not an end in itself.
About the author:
Nancy C. Lhasungpa is a research scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Is Delhi Police friendly towards the people of North East states?
August 29, 2011 at 4:10 am
Questions to you Madam:
1. Why does ‘brand Anna’ frighten you? Only the corrupt need be frightened. Are you one of them?
2. Fasting in many Indian communities is an age-old health-related practice. Although you may want to argue that fasting is related to religion, the religious occasions only serves to regularise and calendarise the event so that there is a rhythm to it. Perhaps fasting is not one of your practices, hence you find it so unacceptable. Girls doing the ‘Anna diet’ are far better of than girls doing some so-called no-carb, low-carb, much-carb, many-carb nonsense. Are you against the practice of fasting?
Fact for you Madam:
The ‘hopeless’ man did not force a cap on Salman. He merely wanted to present it. Any person with an iota of decency would have merely rejected the cap if he did not want to support the movement. Getting your bodyguard to hit the presenter on the chest amounts to assault and battery, i.e. a criminal offence.
Now finally, either give some examples of hooligans riding high on the Anna wave.
It seems your state tried to pass a law banning protests in Sikkim. Did you support that one as well? If not, why not? Is your elected legislative assembly not supreme?
August 29, 2011 at 11:20 am
Madam we do not require you as another Anna. The likes of people like you and Arundathi like to attend the seminars conducted by ISI.
If you start becoming Anna than Anti Graft legislations will never be strong and Effective. People like you like to think “HATKE” to prove that you are some very different personality and that you have a very special extraordinary ideas and principles.
Annaji deserves the BIGGEST appreciation from all of us and we have some Anna in us now.
August 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm
Wow. I seem to have triggered some wrong reactions.
I am certainly not frightened by ‘Brand Anna,’ infact I am so in awe of what Anna has achieved for us. The bill has been pending in the parliament long enough and it was time for someone like him to lead the way. My article is just giving an alternative viewpoint; that maybe we should also work towards correcting the system at our end as well. And by fasting I do not mean the religious fasts that you speak of, I meant the zero size phenomena that is unhealthy for girls trying to pursue it. Regarding the hitting episode, I was merely suggesting that it might have been triggered due to other reasons. It was a massive crowd after all. We should be supporting the movement with our will. Ignore the star if all he cares about is promoting movies. And finally Anna himself has been advising protestors from indulging in hooliganism but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears (http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2011/08/26/the-thin-line-between-activism-and-hooliganism/).
As I mentioned, we’ve had a very IMPORTANT victory and now we should work towards realizing a corruption free India. It is the means to an end- and all of us need to be a part this means.
August 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm
To begin with,this is a very good and a logical article.The review taken out is very much appropriate.Every issue is basically backed by pros and cons.What I got of this reading is that “jan-lokpal” should not just be understood in a short term i.e. anti-corruption.We have to know about the crux underlying this bill. And here I assume that the fellow participants are quite aware of such a transitive document.The readers should not draw a conclusion by emphasizing on the “Title” of this article.The points drawn out is about the implementation and the functioning.How effective is this bill going to prove ??? So,there lies our focus.This article appeals as the other side of a same coin.It’ s delightful to have such a massive movement with immense participation based on a productive issue. But,such knowings show us a bigger picture.As a responsible citizen,our duty is not only to go with the wind blindly.It’s very important to know about the direction of the wind. Everyone of us is with Anna. Only few blessed personalities like him could initiate and evoke such a movement. And as he remarked,”It’s a win of the people”.But, awareness can’t be neglected. Altogether,this is a commendable piece of work. Just that, this should be read with an open mind and a positive outlook. – SATYAMEVA JAYATE !!!!!!!!
August 29, 2011 at 8:49 pm
To begin with,this is a very good and a logical article.The review taken out is very much appropriate.Every issue is basically backed by pros and cons.What I got of this reading is that “jan-lokpal” should not just be understood in a short term i.e. anti-corruption.We have to know about the crux underlying this bill.The readers should not draw a conclusion by emphasizing on the “Title” of this article.The points taken out is about the implementation and the functioning.How effective is this bill going to prove ??? So,there lies our focus.This article appeals as the other side of a same coin.It’ s delightful to have such a massive movement with immense participation based on a productive issue. But,such knowings show us a bigger picture.As a responsible citizen,our duty is not only to go with the wind blindly.It’s very important to know about the direction of the wind. Everyone of us is with Anna. Only few blessed personalities like him could initiate and evoke such a movement. And as he remarked,”It’s a win of the people”.But, awareness can’t be neglected. Altogether,this is a commendable piece of work. Just that, this should be read with an open mind and a positive outlook. – SATYAMEVA JAYATE !!!!!!!!
August 29, 2011 at 8:59 pm
great article really !!
but when u mentioned that we all are part of corruption..yes u r right..i think there are two situations in which u get corrupt or get involve in corruption giving..when we pay high auto fairs or get a driving license by unfair means its because we have to..we dnt have a choice..but when a telecom minister steals 1.76 lakh crore thts abuse of power..yes we need to chnge our mindset..yes we ourselves need to change..but reforms must start from the top..not from the bottom ..lokpal will do exactly that.
August 31, 2011 at 7:30 am
I think there was no other way of convincing the government(non voilently) then FASTING. A joint meeting with the representatives of the government failed and the Government was going to place its own version to the parliament without resolving the six core issues where there was significant differences of opinion.
In a situation like this, what can a group on non political people who want the government to come up with a strong and effective Lokpal do? given that all the opposition parties were alos not clearly taking ther stand. Voilence is not an option as everyone knows, what are other options? Nothing!!!! So the best option was to Fast.This fasting cannot be compaired to some ladies fasting to gain a good figure or certaion religious fasting to invoke the blessings of god which are all for individual gains, Annaji’s fast was for the benifit of the whole country and i see nothing wrong in this.
People like Aruna, Arundhati etc came in picture later on when Annaji was successful in gaining the support of the masses and the government was cornered for a dialogue. Opportunistic, ain’t it???
Had it not been for the movement started by team Anna, Aruna and her likes would never have come to the picture. They were very passive and could not even convince the standing committee and they did nothing when the standing committee did nothing.
So lets not criticize even a small bit when someone has done what we can never have other then to support him. People like Aruna, Arundhati may go on saying what they want now.
Let us do our part now and try to be honest and follow some basic principles against corruption, be it in monetary form or favour or otherwise.
@Madhubanti, you need not worry about Sikkim, take care of your own state(whichever). Our government has absolute majority in the parliament but still they sensed the mood of the people and withdrew the so called “draconian bill”. This is just an example of governance in Sikkim.
September 2, 2011 at 10:46 am
I think this is a beautifully written article where the author has expressed her views honestly, which is quite appreciable. I would partly agree to your opinion that just a bill passed can’t remove corruption from all the levels in India. Citing an example of untouchability etc. you stated that the laws against them could not abolish them practically. But, I believe, JLP and RTI are much significant acts, as RTI has already proved from some of its results. They are on a national level and, are very much in front of the eyes of people concerned and there is less hiding from the national stage. However, the ways used to achieve the edition of the Jan Lokpal Bill were not absolute. They were trying to force the executive to bend their knees and forcefully enforce the laws which could, as you mentioned, set a negative antecedent for the future. But, at the same time they tried to fill the same lacuna existing in a democracy by giving some power to the ‘aam aadmi’. I agree with you that its upto the people and their conscience to eradicate corruption from the roots, as ultimately we are the ones initiating it. If the youth start realising a no-corruption life, then the future of the country will be free from corruption, as the youth is the future or the next working generation of the country. But then, why are we just pointing fingers on those who are at the receiving end of money or the ones in power. It’s clear, because of the quantity. An ordinary man cannot swindle away hundreds of crores. This kind of money taken away can make a couple of great institutions like IITs and IIMs etc., or a highway, or some hospitals, or playgrounds and what not. Also, the people at the power are supposed to be the role models. They are the representatives of our country. Yatha raja, thada praja (people follow the ruler closely), is an age-old saying, which tells us how corruption instils in the deep roots through the ones in power. Therefore, I say that the JLP is not whole and sole to curb corruption. But, it’s at least an initiation which brought the fight against corruption on a national stage and made civil society realize some part of their role as in the decision making process. Very truly said, one must remember that this is the means to an end, and not an end in itself.
September 5, 2011 at 6:28 am
No denying the fact that brand “Anna” resonated with the citizens of this country on the issue that we all cry foul about. However, Anna’s means to meet the demands could not be resonating universally. A case in point: the author of the piece. What I feel is that the piece is one of the many perspectives on “I am Anna” campaign of a thinking citizen while not being averse to the cause that Anna stands for. As far as Lokpal Bill is concerned, it is a maze of constitutional underpinnings. As such, there is so much at stake for the constitution itself to be tweaked. But for certain individuals from ‘Team Anna’ arguing their stand by quoting the opening lines of the preamble to the constitution of India – “We the people…” without any follow up gives me a sense of an amateurish understanding of the Book which has sustained India as a nation for all these years. In Parliamentary Democracy like ours supremacy of the people is a given. No question mark hanging over it what-so-ever. But it has to be understood here that supremacy of the people is through the elected representatives of the parliament and not the people in some Ramlila Maidan! Finally, to question the author if she is frightened of brand “Anna” and question her integrity is tantamount to proclaiming Mr. Hazare as the supreme entity vis-a-vis anti-graft. Well, this is not the case at all. Like ‘I am Anna’ resonated with scores of people around the world, ‘(why) I AM NOT ANNA’ will resonate with scores of people around the world too while not in anyway forcing a question mark on the integrity of those entities.