Monday, August 15, 2011

Jan Lokpal vs Govt. Lokpal

Dear friends,
On the occasion of India's 65th birthday, I was keenly looking forward to a PM who would rise above the pettiness of his government and party and make a grand gesture of reconciliation to the civil society members. This especially after they had demonstrated over the last few months the widespread support their draft had amongst the intelligentsia. I personally am among the few who have read both the drafts and realized the clever game played by Pranabda Sibal Chidambaram cabal. Very cleverly they have defanged every bit of the snake venom an effective Lokpal would have been able to inject into the corrupt system that we have in the name of governance and rule of law.
Our country today has reason to be proud of its democracy, however, we need to understand that our system has many flaws which need correction. Politics and politicians of all parties with exception of perhaps the communists have become a professional exclusive club, where familial lineage, money power, caste and community are the main factors determining electability and in these circumstances no ploitician is ready for a Lokpal which can stop corruption effectively. So in this situation, I am certain that the government and opposition will play a sinister game of "lack of consensus","disagreement on wordings" etc. etc. to defer and put into cold storage any bill, effective or otherwise. I am also of the view that Anna Hazare and his team cannot claim exclusive rights to represent the masses. The complexity of the issues precludes the possibility of a referendum too as the issue is not of a simple yes or no on a single point of reference. On the positive side the members of the civil society drafting group have impeccable credentials and expertise. Besides, they have not just opposed something without attempting to use all democratic means to engage with government. They have offered reasonable solutions. If there is a fault in Anna, it lies in his intemperate language, often bordering on arrogance along with his immaturity. The mud flung on them has not stuck but government is smugly confident on account of their two major strategies. They know that public memory is short, and they only have to wear out the opposition with committees and delays, after which a cynical nation will go about its business as usual attitude. This strategy is time tested and proven to work as in the issue of terrorism or woman's reservation bill.
However, this time i feel that the Government has underestimated the nations determination to root out or at least reduce corruption to tolerable levels. Anna Hazare and his team have shown that Governments can be made to yield to public pressure, but the question is weather they can out last government's delaying tactics? The way forward for both the groups is to have wider consultations and instead of egos coming in the way seek a reasonable middle path. Have a Lokpal, see how it works and amend and improve the institution on the way.
Vispi Jokhi

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