Wednesday, August 10, 2011



August,15th  is our Independence Day. August,16th, Anna Hazare is starting yet another Fast, in his yet another Independence movement, for independence from Corruption.

There is now a Jan Lok Bill drafted by Team Anna and there is a Lok Pal Bill drafted by the Government representatives on the Panel. The Government Draft is now the official draft tabled in the Parliament (to which the Team Anna’s draft is enclosed as Annexure) and is now with the Standing committee of the Parliament.

Even as the draft is with standing committee - Huge Scams of corruption are rocking the country – almost every day. The stand of Politicians is becoming more and more indefensible with each passing day of scams and unfolding corruption. And yet, it looks as though that we have not even scratched the tip of the iceberg.

There is too much of Political and administrative corruption in India. This much seems to be a settled Fact. Therefore, the need for a strong Lok Pal  can not be denied at all.

There are actually 2 strong reasons why corruption of this magnitude prevails in Government services.

1.    There is no strong, independent, determined mechanism that can check corruption of this magnitude

2.    Indian Education system and Social system is not creating the required levels of Integrity, to avoid corruption, in the first place.

In my view – both causes are equally responsible for the monumental corruption that sweeps across India. Many times, corruption is very brazen and shameless and happens right on our streets and in open offices with scores of onlookers. Yet, the corrupt officials and corrupt Politicians are just not worried or afraid in the least.

Today, thanks to a vibrant media and advancing technologies – a small fraction of these cases are caught on video cameras and aired on TV channels etc. Yet, No one is afraid or worried. Because, the number caught is infinitesimally small. Not even 0.1%. So, the rest of 99.9% are confident of not getting caught.

It is an alarming and sickening situation – one that gives a huge Justification for any one to pick up the cause and start crusading against the corruption.

Team Anna has picked up the fight in right earnest – and sees a strong Lok Pal as the remedy for this monumental corruption. Having seen the Lok Pal as the remedy Pill against the disease of corruption – I feel, team Anna is not able to look at any thing else.

There are existing institutions designated to fight corruption and they are doing their jobs admittedly unsatisfactorily. But, what do you do with them?

Every department and every organization has a vigilance wing to fight corruption. What do you do with them, when Lok Pal comes. In any case – why are they unsatisfactory – against rampant corruption. They must be overhauled thoroughly – and effective checks and Balances introduced in them.

All organizations are admittedly not equally corrupt. Some are definitely much better and some are definitely very corrupt.

In some institutions – where corruption should not at all be – there corruption is very High. Like the Police. Like the Educational Institutions. Like the Hospitals. Like the Taluq offices. Like the Panchayats.

It would be absolute insanity to decentralize all powers to Panchayats – and expect corruption to go. In many places, Panchayats are the most corrupt institutions, right now.

I remember a funny story of the Sri Krishna Deva Raya days. People of the capital were all ordered to pour pure milk into a huge vessel kept at the four roads crossing – so that a huge celebration can be organized for the same people, whom the King considers as the most virtuous, non-corrupt, truthful best in the world. From morning, there were huge queues before the vessel and everybody poured Milk into the vessel. At the end of the day, the king and his court jester cum poet, Tenali Rama, whose idea it was, go and take a look into the vessel.

They were surprised that the vessel was full….of….. pure water!!!

Everybody thought, everybody else was pouring pure milk and his own contribution of pure water will go unnoticed.

This was several centuries back. Even assuming this incident to be a slight exaggeration - from that day to this day – is it not a fact that most of us are pouring pure water (of corruption) where pure milk (of ublemished service) is called for?

We are. This is my strong belief.

But the remedy must start with Education. Unless education system turns out Individuals with strong integrity and truthfulness – every other measure will only be a measure based on fear and punishment – and not integrity. But, if Educational institution itself is collecting Black money as under the table fees from students – the whole edifice falls flat. Students are exposed to unabashed, monumental corruption, exactly where their integrity must be built on rock solid foundation.

Therefore – eradication of corruption in education and including appropriate curriculum at all stages of education to inculcate strong integrity  in the students is our TOP PRIORITY that brooks  no delay what so ever.

If you ask, where is this whole stink of corruption in the country emanating from, I would say – it is from our education Institutions – from one omission ( to include appropriate curriculum) and one commission ( by itself becoming corrupt, that too with students). Instead of tackling these glaring issues – our Ministries are tinkering with  minor issues like substituting marks with grades and so on. I would appeal to the Central and State Education Ministers to address these 2 issues on TOP PRIORITY BASIS. If these are tackled now – in next 10 years, corruption will come down significantly – even without much Policing measures.

Police must fight corruption. But, if police is one of the most corrupt institutions – where will Public go? Police is not only corrupt, but also cruel and violent. We are not blaming the Police specially. There are some Gems of personnel among the Police. But, it is the system – where there are no checks and Balances and where existing checks and balances have failed miserably. Here also – most people are pouring water – where pure Milk is called for. It is our age-old problem.

We now find that – British Police, from whom we say we borrowed the system, do not touch a single under-trial in the name of investigation. But, here we are, torture seems to be our only method of investigation. Lathi charge and firing are our only methods of dealing with even peaceful agitations. I don’t know how, ladies, children, very old people and those who have no connection with the agitations always die in Police firing and lathi charge. Huge changes are called for in our Policing system – not just their salaries and amenities – but huge attitudinal changes. The Government in Power does not matter. Whoever comes or goes – the Policing system needs huge change.

Ditto – for Hospitals. How can you have doctors removing organs of those who come for treatment? How can you have clinical trials of unapproved medicines on unsuspecting Patients? How can you have systems where the Patient is not given an iota of proof of what ails him, who did what investigation, what medicines etc? How can you have hospitals where deaths occur – but where proper investigation of the cause of death does not occur at all. Dead, means – Take back. We are no more concerned. So unconcerned are hospitals in India. Many Hospitals are very unsatisfactory in their functioning. And yet, we should admit – Doctors are a lot better than other corrupt Institutions.

Panchayats are supposed to be grass roots functionaries catering to our needs. There – the common man is supposed to be the master! This is the biggest myth. Huge corruption occurs in Many Panchayats. Roads which are not there at all – are shown as laid, repaired, or re-laid. Tanks, which were dug in some King’s time – are shown every year as de-silted etc  - all just on paper. In many Panchayats, NREGA is a source of huge corruption. It is a distribution of money to those shown on the rolls and to those who are distributing. Again, people are pouring pure water, where pure milk is called for. Whom to blame? Blame all collectively.

It is not the case that we, Indians are inherently and totally  corrupt. Not so. We are deeply humane too. But, our moral fibre has been waning in the last 6-7 centuries. Many people are after easy money. The main point is – people who are after easy money try their best to come to power and control the reins of power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is very true of India. People who are non-corrupt have very little chance of entering into the portals of power. And, they don’t try.

Another important factor is – as a society, we are afraid of condemning the corrupt – either because, he belongs to a powerful family, or belongs to our caste, or our family of relations or our Political Party and so on. The Political debates that occur on our TV channels expose this weakness of all of us, in each word spoken. No Political Party admits to a single fault unreservedly.

The very first verse in Bhagavad Gita illustrates precisely this problem. The whole Maha Bharat war was on account of this one weakness of all of us.

My People vs Them!

Most people support “My People” even if this, my people, are extremely guilty. We do not support “Them” – even if They are honest, virtuous, non-corrupt and not-guilty. Lord Krishna condemns this attitude (of Dhritharashtra)  unequivocally and exhorts Arjuna to fight Adharma. It is ironic, that even in the Maha Bharat days – people who sided with Adharma (Duryodhan) were much larger in number than those who sided with Dharma (Pandavas).

That day to this day – this is our problem. We can’t get over the “MY People” Syndrome. We can’t appreciate the virtues of “Them”.


Having dealt with some of our inherent weaknesses, I now come to the Lok Pal Bill

A strong Lok Pal Bill will be one of the important mile stones in this fight against corruption – if and when, it is achieved.

Therefore, the fight by team Anna has the support of large sections of people. I, for one, whole heartedly support the fight. Minor differences in my perception not withstanding.

I have heard Arvind Kejriwal (in his discussions with Karan Thapar) that team Anna is open to any meaningful change in their Draft. This is quite  a welcome attitude.

Now, let us look at the significant parties to this Lok Pal Bill :

1.    Parliament is the first, foremost and supreme Body, which must formulate, debate and approve the Lok Pal Bill.
2.    The Ruling Party, the Congress, is the one to introduce the Bill, pilot the Bill and seek approval for the Bill.
3.    The major opposition Party, the BJP, is the one, which, along with other opposition Parties, needs to point out lacunae in the Bill, seek amendments thereto, get them accepted / voted and then either vote for or against the Bill.
4.    Team Anna – is successful in crusading for a strong Lok Pal Bill and get five of its nominees on the Lok Pal Bill Drafting committee. But, finally, the Government nominees have recommended almost the Government draft only to the Parliament, which has sent it to the standing Committee. Team Anna is carrying on its crusade outside Parliament – by fixing Aug,16th for a Fast by Anna Hazare.

So, the fight for a strong Lok Pal continues. The stand of each of the opposition parties is not yet clearly known. The stand of the Congress must be taken as its official Bill.

Now – what are the lacunae in the Bill and in the fight?

This Blog had advocated inclusion of at least 2 Parliament members from opposition parties into the Panel. This was not done. Government and Team anna should both have taken sufficient initiative in this respect.

And, the moment, the draft Bill was introduced, as with other Bills, this Bill also was sent to standing committee, without discussion. All this has ensured that opposition views are not clearly known.

Second – Team Anna should have co-opted a few MPs also in its fight against Corruption. After all, Democracy is represented by the Parliament and its members.  No one can say – they do not represent people. Had this been done – Team Anna could introduce even a Private member’s Bill in Parliament, to counter the Government Bill, in a full fledged manner, get it circulated, get it discussed, and then send to the standing committee. It would have been a huge advantage for the Bill.

Third – inclusion or exclusion, or conditional inclusion of PM under Lok Pal, in my view, is not its most important provision. If all Ministers are covered, the noose is tight enough for the PM also. In any case – I also believe that PM is a High office and should not be drawn into frivolous investigations on complaints of all and sundry. I feel – a petition, by say, 50 MPs, or some thing like that must be a pre-condition for dragging PM before the Lok Pal. So, Team Anna must always look for a third, more acceptable alternative like this, so that Lok Pal becomes a reality – and with reasonable strength. Else, the country, will become a laughing stock, with PMs attending before Lok Pals every alternate day.

So – is the case with Judiciary. Leave the Judiciary under a Judicial Lok Pal. Let us not undermine Judicial independence. Today – it is not Parliament or Team Anna which is fighting the real battle against corruption. It is the Supreme Court. Let us not undermine their independence.

What is more important is bringing Anti corruption investigation wings of CVC, CBI and the administrative vigilance wings in each organization under Lok Pal. I do hope – Team Anna and Parliament concentrate on them. We wish all success to Team Anna in its crusade against corruption.

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1 comment:

  1. People who are non-corrupt have very little chance of entering into the portals of power. And, they don’t try. - SO true. I sometimes think of entering politics myself but I fear that no one would let me rise to power.

    But more importantly, I completely agree with your arguments about the need to reform the education system of India. I wish I could bring some policy reforms in this regard.

    Also, the police bit is completely right. There is so much I want to do, but don't know where to start.