Apr 18, 2011

Corruption, Hazare, Lokpal and reality

5th April 2011, marked a day in the calendar of India for the attempt to revotunalise Indians by the great deed from the man who has almost spent his entire life fighting against corruption. Yes I talk about Anna Hazare. The reason I put this blog is not to praise or criticise his efforts, but try to emphasise on those points that always triggered a debate from people defending it or opposing it. Over the next few days I am going to make several posts around this and target a few of the critical learnings that should be extracted from this whole episode. This is also my way of explaining my critics on a valid point they are not able to catch up yet.

To give a bit of a background when I tweeted and argued over the content of the Jan Lokpal bill and my opinion that some of the demands Mr. Hazare made are un-realistic, I faced heavier criticism from some of my folks, something that I believe is going to come in the way no matter whether you are Anna Hazare or Mahatma Gandhi or a comman man like me...

So first lets begin with what those issues are..

1. Is this really War on Corruption? The Jan lokpal Bill? Is India really against corruption?

Well after the fast was initiated by Anna.. a few hundreds started pouring emails, media boxes, tweets and Facebook posts asking and demanding support for India Against corruption. There were other bunch who took candle march, street protest, support fasts etc.. However what disappoints me in this whole episode is the fact that everyone who talked about corruption blamed it on Politicians. It's not new I understand, someone has to be a scapegoat for someone's deeds... but then corruption is not really restricted to politicians only is it? I have never heard a word where people say that a common man can also be corrupt, when he tries to pay off a small amount to get his thing done from the government office. Well because what triggers the volcano is never looked at, what is always seen is the aftermath of the volcano.. so the volcano of corruption is simply finding a scapegoat called "Government" or "Politcian". So are politicians,officials the only people spreading corruption? I think everyone reading this knows the answer.. NO.. Off all these guys who are shouting against corruption not corrupt themselves? I read a few funny tweets on this.. one was like

"Hypocracy ->; Person tweeting against corruption does that from the pirated copy of windows"

isn't it funny enough? Well ask those guys who try to produce fake degree's to get jobs, fake bills to evade tax, pay agents to get documents faster, hide real estate costs to save money on Tax and Stamp duty, produce fake travel bills to get the LTA allowance blah blah blah.. I am sure the list will go and become a unreadable book. Anyways the point is not that who does corruption here.. point is will this Bill solve our issue? I am not a real cynic out here.. I am just trying to pose my concerns.. if corruption is not thrown out by majority, we will never be able to free ourselves.. You get a Jan Lok pal Bill or any other. So to conclude this part... Unless the human soul within us become a Anna Hazare.. we are not going to be able to fix the problem of corruption... [To those who felt I was criticizing Anna, this is the best gesture I can give to show how much I respect for what he is doing]

Now.. why I think Anna is fighting a wrong battle? I have to say this is not war on corruption.. it is a war on people in govt to get something done that can so-called stop corruption. And here are my points that I will elaborate in the next few blogs on how it will not.

1. The issues I think are problematic with the Jan Lok pal

A. Doubts over the selection process. If people of Indian origin and winners of Magsaysay ward are going to select the lokpal committee who is accountable? In general when there is a issue [Terrorism, price rise, economic trouble] we hold the government (members elected by people) accountable for the issue, in this case who from this so called civil society should be held accountable?

B. How will corruption be tackled? There is no significant theory demonstrated in the Jan Lokpal Bill

C. If your trust on Court, Police, Army, CBI, CVC is so less, and since you are creating another power house.. what is the guarantee that the same lack of trust will not be faced by the Lokpal office?

D. Why is it restricted to Officials and Politicians.. why is the scope and jurisdiction not laying hands on corporates?

E. What if every citizen starts filing complaints against each other? Will the lokpal office not be busy scrutinizing false complaints?

F. People who are not using the governments RTI, Grievances readdress .. what is the guarantee they will use Lokpal?

G. Members who drafted the bill and who are going to be a part of the lokpal office, if they are civil society members.. how are they accountable and liable to us?

H. Why did it take some of the members of the current draft committee to wait since 1969 to revise this?

There are many more questions on why this battle is a wrong battle to fight, a few of them here:

1. Sue Motto : How will it help to ensure that there is no dictators rule followed here?
2. How will investigation and sentence come in such a short time? 2 months - 2 years
3. How will un-biased behavior be expected from Lokpal draft committee?
4. What is the reality behind getting it passed or not?
5. Which public offices do not come under jurisdiction of Lokpal?
6. Will the Lokpal office be under RTI?

Many more questions are unanswered and I am sure as time passes the questions are going to be echoed more fluently by many of those who currently stand blindly on supporting this cause. I also want to mention in clear that the Lokpal or the efforts to bring Lokpal are not criticized for the sake of being cynics, they are criticized due to the form they are in.


2. Shouldn't we cure the disease, instead of fever?

I am not sure if many of you are aware but what Bill Gates Foundation is doing is said to be that it is trying to Kill Malaria and not trying to build hospitals so that the patients affected by malaria can be cured. Read here. Now if we go by the simple logic we need to figure out a way to stop corruption, not ways to find out how to Punish the corrupt..

Here is a glimpse of what needs to be done to put try catch on corruption. Of course this is not all and many reasonable and serious thoughts needs to be given on some of these things..

A. Electoral Reforms : A big multi value jargon. In simple words put a few checks and conditions on :
1. Qualifications to contest elections
2. State funded campaigns
3. Development accountability for MP's
4. Remove the Defection law (Originally drafted by one of the members of the current civil society group). If X party issues a whip, a member of the house either has to vote for the party or face a defection motion making him in-eligible for the post he is holding. While switching parties to form government should be blocked, it is necessary that the MP's vote for what they think is right.
5. Compulsory voting? I am not sure how we can achieve it though.
6. Recall rights : Currently we have very difficult process to recall an elected member. If we need the corruption elements to be seized we need this to be made clear and easy.
Lot more......

Constitutional Reforms:
1. Currently our Constitution holds a split of executive, legislature and judiciary as our prime systems while judiciary is highly independent. Legislature gets the maximum control over the entirety. So thus government controls execs / institutions except court. This needs to be changed so independence is achieved in all 3 sects and the powers are equally distributed.
Lot more... the biggies must think of this.

I am sure while many who have initially voiced there strong opinions over (Jan) Lokpal Bill are now going to come back and question its fruitfulness... not far as I already see... Mr. Hazare himself claiming that the conditions to get the Bill passed by 15th Aug can be eased after the first meeting that was held on 16th April. I am sure the reason is clear... its not a easy thing to just put this bill in place and he realize it now.

For the rest that will come over this blog, stay tuned....