I am (not) Anna….

Jan LokPal bill

Anna hazare campaign

All of you have shown shocked indignation at my sudden turnaround this time around for the Anna Hazare Campaign. Many of you have even wondered have I finally lost it (many feel it’s coming for a long time), and many have wondered have I suddenly started supporting corruption? The answer to all is a NO. Yes, the last time around I vehemently supported the movement and did my bit for it, but this time around something has changed.

So what has changed? Let me first start with the fact that yes, today corruption is one of the biggest problems plaguing the nation and its a problem which needs to be solved immediately. But I have issues with the solution suggested.

So let me first start with solution suggested. The proposed Jan Lokpal Bill has the following suggestions

1. An all powerful body will be created who is non-political and is a power unto itself. The Lokpal can investigate anyone, can tap phones, can issue rogue letters to anyone. But it cannot prosecute or can (confused as two interviews of Kejriwal said two diametric opposite things)

2. If the LokPal turns rogue anyone can go to Supreme court and complain and try and get them removed. Complaints against Lokpal staff will be handled by independent boards set-up in each state, composed of retired bureaucrats, judges, and civil society members

The premise behind this Jan Lokpal Bill is that all our politicians are corrupt, all our bureaucrats are corrupt, all our judiciary is corrupt. Hence the need for such a public outcry, and such drastic measures.

So if the first premise is true (and it is mostly true), let me ask who is this so non-corruptible and non-corrupt person available with us who can shoulder such a massive responsibility, as to head the same? And what makes us so sure that having such absolute powers will not corrupt them? There is no answer.

Now the argument put forward is that for the first time, we as an ordinary citizen can go to the supreme court and complain and get a corrupt Lokayukta person removed. Now from what I recall our 60 year old democracy has given us a similar right to remove people at least in the political circus and that is far easier than going to a court.. And they in turn can remove the corrupt officials too. Now, if we have so far not shown any kind of inclination to remove the key corrupt politicians in a far easier format, what makes us think that suddenly we will care to go to a Supreme Court to exercise our right? And even if we want to, has anyone ever entered a court? Entering a court is one of the most horrendous experience one can go through, so to expect a citizen to exercise that right is foolhardy.

Now let us go the the practicality of the situation. Today we are complaining that our work does not get done till we pay a bribe and this should stop. And it is most honest statement ever. Let us imagine a situation where you need an address proof. Sadly none of the current mechanisms are good enough to get you the same without any fuss. What do you do? Find someone and pay him a bribe and get the work done, cause end of the day that proof is needed. So who will go and complain in this case? You, cause your work got done. or the person who took the bribe? Answer is neither. So how does Lokpal curb this corruption?

So what will happen once this LokPal bill comes? It says we will arrest, prosecute and put the corrupt behind bars. So what does our corrupt do behind bars? Simple, it colludes with the police, bribes them and enjoys a life of luxury behind the prison gates. And who will complain then against that corruption? The police? Or the man behind the bars? Neither. So how do you handle corruption here? If the response is the Lokayukta can take suo moto action, well then so can the courts. And if courts can go corrupt so can Lokayukta.

Now, let us go to the biggest part of this Lokpal. Apparently it cannot prosecute anyone but can only investigate. Now if the assumption is all our bodies from Judiciary to Parliament are are all corrupt, just how will this LokPal at all help us cause all it has it is investigative powers and prosecuting bodies can always set them free. Is this entire fight just to create a body of impeccable detectives? (Now this point I am confused about as just heard another interview of Kejriwal in Loksabha TV where he said lokpal can prosecute whereas in NDTV he claimed the opposite). Now if it is that the Lokpal can prosecute the solution is even better. The Lokpal can prosecute the judiciary and the judiciary can prosecute the Lokpal – A CLASSIC CASE OF YOU SCRATCH MY BACK AND I WILL SCRATCH YOURS OR YOU MESS WITH ME AND I WILL THEN MESS WITH YOU

When the Anna Hazare campaign started last time around, the campaign was against corruption – a cause many of us support (different case in point that most who support it are themselves corrupt to the core) but this time around the campaign has moved to bringing only Jan LokPal bill. It’s like asking people to unite against terrorism (a cause I assure you, will draw much larger crowds than what we see now), and then say the only solution is to pass the draconian Pota Law, and this is what people have gathered for. Sadly this is how the entire concept is being hijacked and the reason why this time I have refused to support the movement.

There are other reasons also why I am against the movement this time. The earlier time the movement was to debate the Jan LokPal bill. Sadly this time around, maybe cause they have tasted blood (seeing the crowd support), they have changed their tune and it is now only his bill which is the right bill. As much as I agree that the Government bill is a complete useless one, the fact is there are other views also coming into the picture which can be debated and discussed. But the Anna team refuses. This clearly shows an attitude of arrogance and dictatorship, something which is against our basic constitution. Besides it can set a dangerous precedent as many have pointed out and tomorrow someone can come out on the street and ask for anything citing this movement as an example. I know many will argue that we the citizen’s are smart and won’t support a wrong cause, but the fact that we are not is amply proved by the fact that we still could not vote out one corrupt politician.

So is this entire movement unjustified? Answer is NO.. We are thankful to Anna Hazare for bringing this debate to our coffee table and ensuring the Government does pay heed to the woes of the common citizen. Without this movement it would take another 50 years before such a bill was even discussed (though the RTI bill is a case in point that civil society can push such bills without a mass movement, but nevertheless). But now it’s time to get off the high horse and actually try and solve the problem. Let the movement be such that we have more accountability and better systems in place so that taking bribe becomes an impossibility. Punishment is certainly no deterrent to corruption and will not save us. Prevention will. So let us all unite this time to come up with a solution which prevents corruption, and not just punishes once the act is done.

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