Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Big Lokpal Logjam

As I write, the news is coming in that the Lokpal bill will fall and get deferred, once more. While we are novices and incapable of understanding the nuances of drafting legislation and its constitutional validity or otherwise, we realize that all the parties in this issue have violated the KISS (Keep it simple Sir) principle.
The basic question is corruption and underlying it is man's greed which is seemingly insatiable. So the simplest and most effective solution to the problem is to live for others, acquiring wealth to acquire basic comforts and needs and giving the excess to others or holding wealth as a trustee and custodian for our less fortunate brethren.Where there a bribe demander, there is a giver and behind their action is often a desire to acquire something out of turn or something undeserved. So the simple mantra, is to reduce ones needs and live unselfish lives.

What do we get instead? A popular group of self styled representatives of civil society activists professing to be Gandhians, but far removed from his methods or ideals. Their intemperate utterances, intolerant views and inconsistencies, reduced their credibility and negated a lot of the good work done. The sneaking suspicion that they were acting on behalf of someone else did not help too. However, Anna and his movement has let the genie out of the bootle and nothing can stop the idea of the Lokpal and accountability of public servants. Also team Anna must learn the most important lesson from their mentor Mahatma Gandhi that good ends can never be achieved by bad means. The Government on its part has come out of this fiasco  as a confused dithering entity, at best lurching from crisis to crisis. They can also be accused of diabolical cunning and plotting to undermine and destroy all attempts to give a strong Lokpal bill to the nation, while wearing a mask of showing positive intent. The cynical use of minority quota and reservation is really a ploy to not allow this bill to go through and is evidence of the rulers playing political games at the expense of the people they claim to represent. Lokpal is an office of selection and the best among the best should occupy this office and no other consideration should come into the selection. However, I see some merit in trying to give representation to all sections based on reservation criteria if suitable candidates are found. The opposition also has double standards, and could have voted in favor of giving Lokpal a constitutional status, as that could have enabled even a weak Lokpal to acquire fresh powers through legal methods much like T.N. Seshan did with a weak election commission in the past. The BJP also opposed the Lokayuktas or state Lokpals on grounds which were at best technical and this went against the assurances given in Parliament that Lokayuktas will be part of Lokpal bill. The Laloos, Mulayam Singhs and Mayawati BSP groups all were puppets banked upon by the political class to destroy the bill, which after all could potentially dry up or curb the avenues of corruption for our netas. Laloo was the only man who "honestly" admitted the political classes discomfort at passing a law which actually threatened to undermine and expose themselves. The political class in unison proclaimed their right and supremacy to enact laws, but forgot to mention that their rights and power came from the people they represent. So in totality is it a case of "already seen" or "already done"? or can we derive some positives?

I feel that there are many positives to be derived. The acknowledgement and engagement of the rights of civil society and people in the direct process of law making, even with flaws and aberrations is a huge positive of this movement. However, the government must listen and respond to the peoples aspirations and listen to all sections and not merely to the ones who make the most noise. While groups like NCPRI and Loksatta party had suggestions often better than the Jan Lokpal bill, their views were not given the amount of consideration that the loud mouthed team Anna were given. This movement led to the passing of the judicial accountability bill, whistle blowers bill and citizens charter bill. Many civil society experts see these as far reaching reforms.

In conclusion, the solution to this logjam is really very simple, it lies in the ability of all of us to overcome greed, desires and live unselfish lives. For every corrupt person there is a corrupter and if we resolve not to give a bribe or take a bribe then we can have a corruption free society. We live in an imperfect world and there is no perfect solution to the problem of corruption in India. However, we owe it to team Anna that we have reached thus far and won a few battles. The war is not yet over and it will take many more battles, sacrifices, hardship and struggles before we can reach at least closer to a corruption free India. 
Dr. Vispi Jokhi

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