Saturday, April 9, 2011

Anna Hazare- The Relevance and The Myth

For about a week now, all the electronic media and the print media have been sieged of Anna Hazare and the movement led by him. There is hardly anything which has not been spoken or written about this historic event. I shall also have my take.

It has been really refreshing to see a true Gandhian suddenly take national center stage. More reassuring has been the fact of spontaneous public support world wide in favour of his crusade, the support that kept on multiplying exponentially with each passing day. As many people put it, the dead souls had, out of nowhere, got some air to breathe. The joke of a government that we are having had no option but to bow to the pressure of the civil society. Kapil Sibal, though, did show his class once again by telling the nation that the PM and Sonia Gandhi had been magnanimous in giving in. I doubt if anything could be more ridiculous, specially in the background of the utterances made by the Congress leaders in public when the movement had just begun. The people of repute questioned the propriety of the recourse taken by Anna Hazare and many still question the legality of the demands and acceptance of same. They again tend to forget a simple thing that propriety, law or any such thing dear to these people had died a natural death in this country at least three years back, if not earlier, when 'cash for vote' scandal took place in broad daylight and the perpetrators continued to rule. Even otherwise, I for one couldn't fault even the slightest the method adopted, stand and decisions taken or the utterances by Sh. Anna Hazare. The relevance of Sh. Anna Hazare and the activists with him namely Ms Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal is historic that they could galvanize a helpless people into a very potent force and make them realize the power they posessed. If they continue with the good work and don't allow themselves to be disintegrated through rift among themselves, as egos of these people and designs of political rulers are likely to cause, people continue to support the issues to be taken up by them, the corruption within society which is so deep rooted and pervasive begins to get eroded - then it will be a miracle and these people will be worth their weight not in gold but diamonds or platinum. (Unfortunately as I write these lines, the fissures have started surfacing already. I do hope that better sense will prevail and well meaning people (Baba Ramdev in this case) will not utter unnecessarily or act in a way that would weaken rather than strengthen the movement).

The issue now being addressed is enactment of a potent law to punish the corrupt in high places. Already we have umpteen laws and institutions supposedly for the purpose. Problem has not been absence of the arsenal to deal with the malice but the use of that arsenal. Have not supreme court judges or even CJI's been known to be corrupt? Have not Presidents been known to be totally ineffective? Have not Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers been known to have continued in office through dubious means? Not being able to make use of existing laws correctly and to enact and throw up more and more laws and institutions in an attempt to overcome inherent inefficiencies and weaknesses can not serve much purpose and will largely be self deceiving. The people have come together with right spirit but for a specific cause that is just a myth. I can say so with authority out of my personal experience in last one year or so as brought out in my earlier postings. The rot is so deep rooted and wide spread now that no medicine can substitute the need for a major surgery.

Let me be clearer. I brought out the annual loss of more than Rs 5000 crores of public money and daylight victimization of whistle-blowers to the personal knowledge of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the PM, almost all members of Lok Sabha, and a few distinguished members of Rajya Sabha through a letter months back. No one has bothered and the top bureaucrats, many of them respected and considered honest, are allowing the loot to continue and the whistle-blowers to be victimised, with impunity. That too when the PM and the UPA chairperson publicly announced that whistle-blowers must be protected. In an article titled 'Pelf and Pilferage' in The Statesman about a fortnight back, Mr. Shiv Karan Singh brought out with facts and figures how leakage of lakhs of crores of rupees was taking place in public procurement in India. I doubt if anyone, including the self -patting media at large looking only for scandals, has bothered to bother. Neither will the purported Lok Pal bother as it will be dealing with cases of individual corruption and will have to do nothing in much more lethal cases of systemic corruption. And how effective can a few Lok Ayuktas be in a country of 1.2 billion where almost every0ne in position of power is corrupt and/or doesn't mind allowing corruption all around? And there are lakhs of such powerful 'corrupts' who will always be keen to bail each other out.

So what Sh. Anna Hazare and company are pursuing - tackling corruption through 'Jan Lok Pal' Bill - is a myth, but the popular uprising they have caused against corruption as such is no mean achievement.

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