Are we heading for an Anna-rchy?
Nuzhat Aziz, Editor Mid DAY, Pune, India
A day after the country celebrated its 64 years of independence, a 74-year-old man from a small village called Ralegan Siddi shook up the nation with what he termed as ‘the second freedom struggle’. What fueled the spirit of millions across the country was his indomitable belief that this was a fight against corruption. It was termed as the Jan Lokpal Bill. While the message spread like wildfire and did not take time to ignite the imagination of thousands, there are divisions even with this uniting cause. From the social networking sites to people on the streets, all were chanting the same mantra: ‘I am Anna’. And this was the educated opinion maker masses. And the movement was not just restricted to the Ram Lila grounds where Team Anna has been camping for the last 12 days. The voice was heard in every part of the country. People were out on the streets with placards and posters. Whether those thousands actually knew what the Lok Pal Bill was all about, whether they understood the salient features that were opposed to the government draft bill was another question altogether. All they knew was that it was a fight against corruption and it was time to cleanse the system and the country.
And while all this was gaining momentum, there were several discussions and arguments over the method of Anna’s protest, his right to protest, his version of the Lokpal bill and whether or not the people have a part to play in the law-making or if we are being unconstitutional and trampling upon the rights and duties of the Indian parliament.
Terming Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal Bill “impractical and complicated”, noted social activist and National Advisory Council (NAC) member Aruna Roy had written in a column in one of the leading dailies in India that “giving widespread powers to an unelected body is a threat to democracy.”
And while the question is still debated upon, people are still out on streets protesting and supporting Anna in his fight for what can be termed as “my way or no way”. From opposition parties, social activists, Godmen, working professionals – each one seem to have their version and opinion. But is it possible to have a complete pure cleansed system. Is there something called a utopian country? If we are trying to go in that direction, then let’s start from the grassroot level instead of the top of the pyramid. Agreed most of our politicians are corrupt. But we cannot possibly override the parliament and hold the country to ransom. Instead of holding the placard and bunking office and showing our solidarity for the Jan Lokpal Bill, let us STOP paying bribes to get our work done. Let us not take the easy way out – pay money to get things done out of turn, pay money to jump the queue. If we agree to do all this, then we can dream of a utopian country. Because all we need is a strong Will, not another Bill. What is the guarantee that a Lokpal Bill will cleanse the system? If there is a discrepancy in it, will we float another bill to control the existing one? Remember power corrupts and absolute power corrupts even more.
And while we are still debating, I am not against Anna or the Lokpal Bill, but as my many like-minded colleagues would agree, it is important to strengthen the existing committees like the Judiciary, CAG and EC rather than fight and float another bill. Because I fear this method and debate will not end here… this seems like just the beginning.