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


Suraj Menon said…
Prashaanth Menon: babuetta I liked your article.. as u said let them open their eyes little more.. we will hope they will start new Lok Pal.
Shaan Menon said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaan Menon said…
@Suraj mmm.. consensus to arrive at a bill that is workable and practical is necessary!!!
Bobby Abraham Mathew said…
Shaan - Good article and you brought the other side of people gathering against the parliament. yes I do partially agree with you. Here the problem is People Lost or losing faith in parliamentarians who run the biggest office of this country, though its been elected by almost 60% of the Population. But Corruption is the root cause of other bills not reaching the beneficiaries,

To a certain extent, Kiran Bedi herself has been a victim of corruption and discrimination. You can see most of the people who has come for Anna is from Youth or discontented Indians or mostly "AAM ADMI who has suffered corruption in any part of their life.

Let this fight be against the Parliamentarians who can be directed by people Power not by anything else, this for the sanctity of parliament - we all Know India is one of the most corrupt state.

But I feel somewhere the entire process is hyped by Media and is been getting hijacked to somewhere else where reason of fight is forgotten. I feel its becoming or projected by Media as a Fight between few parliamentarians and few people.

finally apart from this, we may go through for understanding what are the differences between Jan-Bill and Govt You can see the Govt Bill is definitely a Mockery.

Lets all Stand Up for India.
Shaan Menon said…
@Bobby thanks.. you liked..and thanks again for your forthrigh opinion... feedback is always welcome..and it feeds me...

will have to give you a point by point reply.. time not permitting me right now... but one thing i want to say.. is Kiran Bedi was never a victim of discrimination.. its the way she made herself out to be...! she projected an image of her.. as a victim of discrimination... during the appointment of the Delhi Police Commissioner... at that point of time, she tried to self-appoint herself (something these people are doing now) as the delhi police commissioner.. ! Ultimately...such appointments are the prorogative of the Govt.. and not.. agree with me or not..! all senior appointments of the Govts are done not through seniority.. but by a selection which comprises of the PM, the top ministers and the opposition leader...!

I've indeed gone thorugh.. the two drafts of the lokpal bills.. not wikiversion.. but the comparitive study done by the Hindu Newspaper.. well. there are differences.. but you cant call it a mockery..! and we have only read the fine print.. or the highlighted part.. we have not read both of them in its entirety.. nor have we read our constition and other laws like Prevention of Corruption Act and the provisions which i think is quite enough to deal wiht corruption, provided these institutions work correctly and efficiently..!

last but not the least, like a couple of my friends made me remember, lokpal bill is about prosecution of the corrupt and how to deal with the corrupt.. and not about how to prevent corruption.. lets not throw the baby with the bathwater...!
Shaan Menon said…
another thing.. i always believe we need to confront corruption at the place where it happens.. and its in the lower level.. by including the PM or the CJI in janlokpal, we wont eradicate corruption, we would still have to pay the exortion money to the local policeman.. we would still pay the higher amount of MRP at the super-store.. that is where corruption lies..and to mitigate that..we need to take resolution ourselves that we wont pay bribe.. i think if all the people assembed along wiht anna do that.. we would eradicate corruption by a whooping 75% just by a simple estimate..! isn't that enough to make our country better..?? but we wont do that.. because. we still want our driving licenses delivered at our home without going through the tests...!
Anamika Nagpal said…
Agreed our netas are corrupt, but then why do we Indians vote for such corrupt people?
Answer - Becoz we vote on the basis of who will benefit me first, then my caste, then my religion.but never on the ground of what is morally right.
We will never have a corruption free society as long as we are corrupt as individuals. Our netas are from within our society and reflect the corruption and selfishness of us as a people....
It will take generations to eradicate corruption from India . India needs dictatorship we have too much freedom to do anything we please..
from grabbing public land (most of the people just try to encroach upon the land around their own house is't that corruption).. Its a mind set we need to change most of us have that greed to grab whatever comes for free..We can be free of corruption only when we will be able to remove this greed from our-self.. and Lokpal is not a solution for this
Shaan Menon said…
@Anamika Nagpal Fully agree with you:-) it's us individuals who have reform themselves first. Having said that the lok pal is about how to prosecute the corrupt and not whether it can prevent it or not. In all the hullabulo this fact was lost somewhere. apart i was being more critical about the way the campaign was going about.
Manish Menon said…
yess... very much agree to what you've wrote, "Team Anna" should look into the fact that how implementing Lok Pal will help?


how to prevent corruption.. rather than catching the corrupt.
Suraj Menon said…
Prashaanth Menon: babuetta I liked your article.. as u said let them open their eyes little more.. we will hope they will start new Lok Pal.
Shaan Menon said…
@Manish very rightly said.. !!! how to prevent corruption.. thats the moot question we should ponder over...!
Shaan Menon said…
@Suraj mmm.. consensus to arrive at a bill that is workable and practical is necessary!!!

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