Friday, 29 July 2011

Support Anna Hazare

To say that corruption is endemic in India would be a gigantic under statement. Besides the various plans to tackle this epidemic, the formation of a Lok Pal body seems to be the most effective. As we are aware that social activist Anna Hazare sat on a fast at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to force the government to act decisively on the appointment of a Lok Pal. Anna Hazare's fast, which garnered huge public support, forced the government to act on his demands. After various rounds of meetings between team Anna and the government, no consensus was arrived at and it created some degree of acrimony. The basic of point of difference was that the government opined that Anna's Lok Pal draft would appoint a body of people who will be omnipotent thus undermining the authority and functioning of the government and the parliament while on the other hand team Anna declared government's draft as an attempt to appoint a toothless Lok Pal. The government, after much deliberations, has come up with a draft of the Lok Pal bill which it intends to present in the upcoming monsoon session of the Parliament. As expected, team Anna has out-rightly rejected the government's draft calling it a cruel joke on the nation.

Prima facie it seems that team Anna is right in slamming the government's draft. There are various aspects of the draft but I will touch on a few important points. Not only the PM and the judiciary are out of the purview of Lok Pal but more importantly all the government servants are also set free. I think the decision to keep the government employees out of the ambit of Lok Pal is totally unacceptable. Almost each one of us has had a first hand experience of the corruption among the various babus. Right from getting an electricity connection to even getting a death certificate, nothing can be done without greasing the palms. The whole bureaucracy is so designed that corruption can thrive unabated. Everyone has his share of the booty therefore no one ever complains. Honest officers end up getting frequently transferred or they are left with no option but to quit. The existing anti corruption laws have been woefully inadequate to check the problem since almost everyone has a vested interest in keeping the corruption pot boiling. For common people like us, a strong Lok Pal, having investigative jurisdiction over government employees would have come as a huge relief. But the government by keeping the bureaucracy out of purview of the Lok Pal has clearly indicated that it just doesn't have the moral courage to stem the rot.

Anna Hazare has declared that he will restart his fast from the 16th of August and I think all right thinking Indians should support him in whatever way possible. Systematic corruption has not only caused huge losses to the exchequer but also has severely dented the international image of India. Today the corruption figures run in to thousands of crores and can we really afford it when we have a third of our population going hungry? The anger among the people is brewing and the government in it's arrogance feels that they can do a Ramdev on Anna Hazare and fizzle out his campaign. I think if people present a united front then the government can be forced to act. Such blatant attempt by the government to protect the corrupt and dismiss the people's voice with utter disdain should be resisted at all costs.  

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