Independence, Freedom and a little 'Anna'
It's that red letter day again...the day when we celebrate our Independence Day. A Day to celebrate our freedom. And this year, when we are celebrating our 65th year of getting our 'freedom', the same question comes back to us... the question posted everywhere.. in magazines, newspapers, hoardings... the question of what Independence day means to you...? what freedom means to you...?
For us, the Independence has given us the right to do things our own way. Freedom has given us the choice to do things in our own way, among a variety of choices. Yes, indeed we have decided to exercise our freedom too... Obviously, I am talking about Anna Hazare and his freedom to protest, about his freedom to go on fast at the drop of a hat. I agree with his right to fast, and his freedom to protest what he thinks is wrong.
But he does he have the right to defy the Indian Parliament and continue being adamant about his Jan Lok Pal 'clauses' which the Government considers impractical? Does 'freedom' gives him the right to arm-twist the Government to agree to something which will eventually change the very basic nature of the Constitution of India?
I think, people have started seeing the futility and the silliness in this adament attitude shown by 'team Anna' and this is quite evident by the waning popularity of their campaign. My take on the whole issue is a little different. You may call me cynical, arrogant or contrarian, but as far as I am concerned, I think myself to be the multitude and would like you all to know that this is the right course.
Firstly, I would like to ask you all, as to who gave 'Anna' and his team of five including Kiran Bedi (I don't give her any importance anyways) the right to call themselves as the 'Civil Society'? By self-appointing themselves as the Civil Society members, they have killed two birds with a single stone. They have bracketed all others like Aruna Roy (Right to Information Act), other NGOs, People's Movements, as also activists like Harsh Mander (Right to Food Bill), Jean Dreaze (Right to Education Bill) as uncivil and not to be heard of. Apart from this, they have also managed to self-appoint themselves as the torch bearer of Indian democracy by dictating terms with the Government in formulating a bill and a policy decision, without even getting chosen by the people. This in itself is in gross violation of the provisions the Constitution provides. You just can't go there, be adament with your silly suggestions, arm-twist the Government which will result in changing the very fundamental nature of the Constitution.
I call their demands and suggestions, 'Silly', if not bordering on 'Stupidity', because they are ridiculous to start with. To have all the Civil Servants under its purview, as also, having investigative and prosecutive powers to the Lok Pal will amount to having a parallel administration which our Constitution does not provide for. I call the suggestions almost Stupid' or else how will you explain their suggestion of including all Civil servants (right from PM to the lower most in the beurocracy to the beat policeman to the village officer) under its purview. This will only result in another white elephant which has thousands of cases pending before it, unable to take a decision on anything, unable to prioritise what is more important a la our lower courts.
Just to explain it further, lets say, we accept the Tean Anna suggestions. How will Lok Pal prioritise the cases that are before them? Will they attend first to my complaint of the local traffic policemen charging me 100 bucks for parking my car or will they attend first to the complaint by a desperate businessman who was asked by the local officer to pay up 10000 for clearences for his soon-to-be-started soap factory? Or wil they attend to the CAG's complaint highlighting the deleriction of duty by the PMO on the award of 4G and 5G Specturm allocation. I surely want my complaint to be addressed first. I don't know what Lok Pal thinks about this problem. Or by the way, will Lok Pal investigate a complaint against a Chief Minister for literally 'playing the violin' while his state burned in a case of state sponsored communal rioting..? or Lok Pal is just restircted to financial impropreity?
Surely, the PCA or the Prevention of Corruption Act does not make any exemption about any of the members of the Parliament including the Prime Minster as well as any Govt. servant. It surely has the Legislatures, the Executive, and the Judiciary under its purview by virtue of the formers being 'Public Servants'. Perhaps, what we want is not Lok Pal, but a strengthening of the Institutions that we already have. Institutions like Elections Commission, CAG, CVC have shown us that proper,efficient and unbiased working can do wonders. We only need to strengthen these institutions instead of having another institution called Lok Pal. Perhaps, reforms on the Adminstravive Sector, Police, etc would add more teeth. Corruption has to be fought at places where it happens (where public is involved) and this has to start with the grass-roots level. De-centralise and give more powers to the local governments, involving the public at every step. Just restricting the fight against corruption within the boundaries of Delhi is a gross miscalculation and it's time Team Anna realised this.
Last but not the least, since Team Anna has all the right to protest and sit on fast, I suggest, they open their eyes a little and see the state of the nation themselves. This is a time, when the country is being consumed by the Greed of the Corporate Shark and various people's movements against forceful land acquisitions, driving away of tribal by the mining corporations etc are a case in point. I suggest team Anna to sit on a fast in solidarity with people's movements that are happening in places ranging from West Bengal (Singur, Nandigram and Lalgargh) through places like Raigargh (Chattisgargh), Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Jagatsinghpura, Kalinganagar and Niyamgiri (Orissa) and even Bellary(Karnataka) and Muthanga (Kerala).
Corruption in the public space has many facets to it, and the financial aspect is only a part of the problem. Social degradation, exploitation of the underprivilaged as also communalism and state sponsored fascism is also a corruption and would warrant more importance than the financial aspect. Let our fights against corruption (inlcuding Anna's) be multi-faceted and when that happens, I think we can celebrate our Independence day with all colors flying... (and then, may be, I can call Anna Hazare a true Gandhian too).
Picture Courtesy : All the images used in the Collage are copy-centred and is taken from photosearch.com