Monday, August 22, 2011

CORRUPTION IS TERRORISM – 3: The multiplier effect of One Anna

It is no longer necessary to state that Corruption is Terrorism. The evidence is out there for all to see in the all-too-frequent obituaries of RTI activists, the indictment by the Lok Ayukta that finally ended the brazen hang-in-there tactics of BS Yeddyurappa in Karnataka, the brutal mauling by cops of a protest group that surrounded the motorcade of Union Lam Minister Salman Khursheed and - needless to say - the ludicrous arrest of Anna Hazare under asinine technicalities on August 16, 2011.
The Corrupt are scared. With good reason.
1. They are in a minority, even though it appears otherwise. The average citizen of India is more a victim of corruption than a perpetrator - though there are as many shades of grey as there are shades of compulsion.
2. Their protection stems from acts of either omission or commission from the top echelons of political and administrative leadership in the country - and such leadership is progressively being held accountable
3. History has shown that when the people of India unite with clarity of purpose, neither Empire or Exchequer have been able to sway them from their path.
So what are the Corrupt doing as they are slowly pushed into a corner?
1. They are casting aspersions on those that seek an effective anti-corruption mechanism. Fact is - those who are truly corrupt would never want such a mechanism.
2. They are raising technical and procedural issues, and pointing to parliamentary procedure. These are the same voices that hardly attend Parliament. The same that offer cash for votes.
3. They are creating Standing Committees that are skilled in the art of dilatory tactics when it comes to effectively prosecuting corruption. Without naming names, let me ask whether each of the Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for the Lok Pal Bill the following questions and see what they might answer:
a. Have you - or any immediate family member - ever been convicted or accused in a criminal case? (a YES should ideally disqualify you from being on this Committee)
b. Does the party that you represent have a clear policy on whether or not to offer electoral seats to criminal elements? (a YES would indicate urgent need to see a psychiatrist for episodes of delusion)
c. Have you ever influenced any appointment of a government servant for consideration in cash or kind, or the transfer of an upright government servant who has inconvenienced the corrupt who may have been under your direct or indirect protection? (a NO would be really nice to have - I do believe, perhaps naively, that we still have elected representatives who represent so-called traditional Indian values and ethics)
What Anna Hazare and his followers are seeking is just this: accountability and transparency in governance, and a mechanism to not just punish the corrupt but to put the fear of Allah, Vishnu Bhagwan, Shivji, Waheguru, Ahura Mazda, God or whichever higher power one believes into those who consider taking any corrupt action. I bet that it is not just the 50,000-odd who showed up at Ramlila Ground and India Gate who would like to see this happen, but the billion-plus semi-disenfranchised and largely disenchanted Indian electorate. Therein lies the multiplier effect of One Anna. Taken to its logical conclusion, it is worth many trillions ("lakhs of crores") of rupees that sit as ill-gotten assets in the lands, houses, jewelry and overseas banks of the Corrupt.
The problem is, though, that Terrorists have no religion. This has been said many times over. the Corrupt have no religion, either. Another parallel?
Let me ask this:
Can we petition each elected representative to take a clear stand on whether:
A. They support the Government Lokpal Bill in its current draft
B. They support the Jan Lokpal Bill in its current draft
C. They would like specific contentious clauses (and they must specify which ones and why) in the Govt Lokpal Bill amended along the lines of the Jan Lokpal Bill.
There are no right and wrong answers - but let our elected representatives put it in writing so that the electorate can take an informed decision about them, and their political parties, at the next polls.
And if they refuse to put it in writing, let us assume that their answer is either A - or that they are part of the nameless, faceless Corrupt.
I believe 2% of India gives the remaining 98% a bad name.
But then, perhaps I am an idealist.

1 comment:

Nivedita said...

I am pretty much in agreement with all that you have to say. My only concern is the Civil Society becoming a power onto themselves.

What could you suggest that keeps them from becoming perpetrators of crime themselves?

Yes, it seems too far in the future but that is exactly what Voltaire, Rousseau and Rousseau must have thought before and also at the start of the French Revolution... but you see what become of it after the initial few years.

I recall reading 'tale of two Cities' by Dickens and picturing an absolute chaos post the revolution.

I of course belong to that sea of humanity who suffers at the cost of this 2% but I also recall how I bent rules to get my passport by paying Rs 7500 when I had to travel for a vacation to Singapore. Why? Had I not got a Passport in like 3 days instead of the tatkal 7 days, I would be losing some Rs 15K on my ticket. Isn't that perpetrating corruption?

So the current euphoria notwithstanding, I am deeply fearful of two things:
1) The future composition of 'civil society' and the danger of it getting dictatorial

2) The need for soul searching by people who pay bribes (more than those who take them)

3) Finally, the need to bring in far reaching systematic changes in laws and rules so that rules just can't be bent at will

I am all for Anna. He along with CJI Kapadia, Vinod Rai (CAG guy), and the current CBI director are doing India a great favour!

My 'umble views... best, Nivedita