Saturday, April 9, 2011

Against Corruption and Against Anna Hazare!

Let me make it clear at the beginning, I oppose the Jan Lok Pal bill and the politics of hunger strike as much as I oppose corruption and misgovernance. 

Anna Hazare may have become a hero in the eyes of people overnight but what he is doing is unconstitutional. As Mr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta said “The morality of fasting unto death for a political cause in a constitutional democracy has always been a tricky issue. There is something deeply coercive about fasting unto death. When it is tied to an unparalleled moral eminence, as it is in the case of Anna Hazare, it amounts to blackmail”.

He is derailing and hijacking the democratic process. This is a mockery of the constitutional procedure. It is extortion. He is definitely not Mahatma Gandhi and even if he was considered as one, the government in India is an elected government and not a foreign rule. 

Civil society? What is that? Aren’t we all in it? And we all vote (or so we proclaim). So if they people whom we elect are making the laws, isn’t it already the civil society that is drafting it? Plus, random individuals drafting legislations can be a dangerous. We cannot make an exception to the constitution because once we start doing that, we open the flood gates. No one knows how this can be used as a precedent for any other moral/immoral propaganda. Whoever it is, however mighty, he or she cannot be allowed to bypass or subvert the democratic institutions in which law making authority is vested by the Constitution. The ‘civil society’ wants to draft the legislation. Well, the ‘civil society’ is drafting it. our elected representatives are drafting it. In a way, all legislations can have a ‘jan’ added before it.

Also, if you are interested in drafting laws then become a politian. Get elected. Anna Hazare and his inner circle are portrayed as populist leaders, so it should be too hard for them to win elections, right?

The Jan Lok Pal bill is not a solution to the problem of corruption. It risks making matters worse. Hunger strikes are not the right means to promote a policy agenda in a constitutional democracy like ours. The promoters and supporters of Jan Lok Pal and the public agitation to achieve it are profoundly misguided. Their popularity stems from having struck a vein of middle class outrage against the UPA government’s misdeeds. That doesn’t mean that the solutions they offer are right.

If the Jan Lok Pal presides over the same system that has corrupted civil servants, politicians, anti-corruption watchdogs, judges, media, civil society groups and ordinary citizens, why should we expect that the ombudsman will be incorruptible?

I personally think that the Jan Lok Pal bill gives the Lok Pal a lot of powers. It’s very dangerous to give so much power to a single institution that too one which is not exactly a representative of the ‘civil society’.

Also, what if the Lok Pal goes corrupt? Who will guard the guards? By giving preference to Nobel prize winners in the committee are we putting more trust in the Nobel committee than our elected representatives. Btw, did you know that Yasir Arafat has received a Nobel Peace prize? Think about it.

I am not just pointing fingers. I think that there are better ways to reduce corruption. The most simple way to do it is, vote for the right person. It all begins there. If you vote properly then people who you think are honest will come to power and draft your legislations and try to clean your corrupt administration.

Second, propagate for reforms. Political, economics, police and educational. If reforms are implemented successfully then there is no need for a revolution.

There is no need for a revolution in India. We still have out democratic and constitutional setup. We have all the laws. We need better implementation and awareness. This can be done in a systematic way and without any hunger strikes.

To all the supporters of Anna Hazare, I have some questions.

Where were the holders of candles, wearers of Gandhi topis and hunger strikers when the offices of the Chief Election Commissioner, the Central Vigilance Commissioner and even the President of the Republic were handed out to persons with dubious credentials? If you didn’t come out to protest the perversion of these institutions why are you somehow more likely to turn up to protest when a dubious person is sought to be made the Jan Lok Pal?

Inspite of my obvious stand against the way Anna Hazare is going about it. I do like a few things that have happened because of him.

People are finally thinking about how to solve the problem of corruption. It has been a very successful awareness propaganda. The discussions which were being done behind closed doors are now being discussed on public forums. The ability of Anna Hazare to mobilize so many people in different parts of the country is amazing.

I would like to end by quoting Dr. B.R. Ambedkar from his Constituent Assembly speech.
“…we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.”

Jai Hind!

Related Links:

P.S. : I have freely quoted/used material from the above mentioned articles.


  1. According to me, sometimes you have to start from the unreasonable, and possibly insane, to get to a middle ground; rather than start from the reasonable and get pulled to the other extreme.

    Its like bargaining: Take an example, where a guy wants to sell you something for Rs1000, which by most standards, is highly priced. You start bargaining at 500, and gradually you settle at 750.

    On the other hand you may be too stubborn at the fact that 1000 is way too much and you will pay nothing at all (assuming that item has to be sold to you). Unreasonable yes, but by and by, the price gets to 300, which, is a much more reasonable middle ground.
    More and more people use this approach and the guy feels that he should reduce prices instead of fighting with unreasonable customers all the time.

    I feel that the whole Anna Hazare thing has come to that. Fasting unto death, suo moto powers, and other unreasonable things are like paying 0rs for a product.

    At the end of it, the middle ground will me much more reasonable than previous situation, or what was asked for by Anna Hazare and his supporters

  2. Dhaval:

    I agree to your bargaining analogy. It is good if they do that. The Government tried to do that by making a joint committee.

    What happened?

    The Jan Lok Pal supporters refused to budge on even a single point. They were adamant on passing the Jan Lok Pal Bill without amendment. This is the kind of behaviour that cannot be called reasonable.

    Also, the Jan Lok Pal Bill is dangerous. It will do more harm to the country than good. Check out its details. It's kind of scary. It's almost like they are planning on a second government.

    And now with news that the Government has accepted all their demands, I am shocked. I don't know what this country is coming to. :|

  3. I agree with both of you.
    The positives about the whole movement is that it is making a big impact. And this is extremely important as far as awareness is concerned. It is good to see that people are coming out to the streets to support something other than cricket. The event of the last 4 days has added insult to injury for the UPA government and their popularity has taken a big hit !!

    But yeah, the Jan Lokpal bill if passed, it going to create big problems in the future. It would be like a dictatorship.

  4. I agree with your points here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    It seems like you are missing a few points though.

    They actually started to table Lokpal Bill in constitutional way. First lokpal bill was tabled in 1968. But there were politicians who were going to pass a bill that would make their own hands in check. It never passed since then till date. There are 6 versions of lokpal bill I guess and not passed you can check on govt site.

    The version of the bill Anna Hazare and supporters wanted to pass was tabled this year also and UPA govt agreed with a modified version of it. If you will see the modified version, you yourself can identify how they want to weaken the bill and powers of lokpal and reduce the punishments to the accused. Ref.:

    These are the two reasons I think are enough for 72 year old and deeply concerned activist to go on fast unto death. There was no other way he could find to get "the thieves to make a decision to get a police station in their area."

    One more thing is that there is not like they demanded for their version to pass there will be 10 member committee 5 from Govt and 5 from Anna's side and if you want to see all the dignitaries are truly honorable for this task.

    About unbound powers to a committee and their credibility to be uncorrupted. -- There is no assurance anywhere to have an uncorrupted PM, CM, President or supreme court judge or anyone even though they are elected by people.

    With a lokpal committee, there is a responsibility on a few heads and with transparency in process and RTI, there can be ways to have watch on the lokpal than checking 100s officers and MPs. There is somebody in charge and bound to answer people of the country. Atleast will make lives of corrupt people hard even if the lokpal is corrupt.

    There can definitely be some flaws but it seems really positive. And as you said bringing people together out in the fields is a big thing.

    In conclusion, I think you should reconsider your thoughts against Anna Hazare. He is not one of the babus who unnecessarily sit on fast and crazy frustrated people with obvious bias to Gandhigiri just found reason to naarebaazi. It is quite a journey for him as well. And as he said while breaking his fast that, this is just a start. The fight against corruption has just begun. Lets see how it will shape up now.

    Jay Hind

  5. Though not a staunch Lok Pal Bill supporter, I do disagree with your line of thought wherein you are making a monster of a man whose only trying to bring in something he believes in. I mean, isnt that what democracy ensures...why shouldnt he fight for a cause he believes in.! why should you look down upon him and praise high of Mahatma Gandhi who almost had the same strategy to get things done.!! he was popular, he fasted and turned tables....,so is Hazare doing it..!!He too votes, he too has the right of opinion and if he thinks that Lok Pal Bill can make a difference, so it be!! Atleast he is not demanding something like Prohibition Law. Instead of saying, How can one man try and interfere with the legislator's powers, you can look at this way: One man stood for it and has done it.!!

  6. rekha:

    imagine a country where everyone wants to stand up or their rights with hunger strikes. It will lead to nothing but a chaotic society. I do also agree that there was probably no other faster manner to get a committee to sit to draft a Bill. But the fact remains that the Bill is also not infallible. There is corruption to such an extent that there seems no end to the means and methods of corrupt practices which have been aptly displayed in the end of the previous decade. And as Edward Acton said - "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". There lays no guarantee that the stand taken up by the people and followers of Hazare will last as long as corrupt officers are there in the country. And such activism is a walk on a knife. One slip will lead to disaster and chaos. Anna Hazare has tread carefully till now... lets hope he continues to do so.

    @ Apoorv - good post.. i agree with you on certain points.

  7. Hari,

    As I mentioned in the very beginning of my comment I do not support Lok Pal Bill as such, coz if there were such clean men to be found, they would be doing their jobs pretty well being CVC chaiman, etc..!! What I differ from is the light in which apporv presents Anna!! I mean @ the end of the day I do want to see people standing up for once in this country...coz they just stopped doing it a century ago.!!

  8. Rekha:

    I am not making him a monster or anything. I have just stated facts. If I wanted to portray him as a monster then I wouldn't have praised him at the end of the post. Don't compare him to Mahatma Gandhi. He is not even close. There is a difference between fighting a foreign power and having no constitutional machinery to fall back to and extorting from a democratically elected government. Anna is asking for something which is much more dangerous than the Prohibition Law.


    I think the quote about absolute power is perfect to explain the situation.

  9. Can we be sure that Anna Hazare is the man who should lead us?

    Check the link and then decide.

  10. I agree with you when you say the way Anna Hazare went about it wasn't right and it sets a bad example to people...Do you mean to say that the bill won't set things right?
    I respect Anna Hazare for at least making an attempt and stepping up to the ocassion. Maybe his method was incorrect...But don't you think implementing the bill is better than having nothing at all in hand??
    P.S- I haven't followed the issue properly so I might be incorrect somewhere...Apologies for that..I haven't even read the draft of the bill..apparently it's out online...??

  11. The way of Anna Hazare going on hunger strike to compel the Government to adopt the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by his team is not the right approach. The Constitution of India has given the privilege of making laws only to the Parliament and the state Legislature as enunciated in Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India under Article 246. In other words only the parliament or the State Legislature has the prerogative to enact laws and none else.

    Keeping in view the above fact, Anna Hazare’s demand is childish, immature and unjust. Today Anna goes on fast; tomorrow other such Annas will come out like mushrooms to create anarchy and chaos.

    Anna is unlawfully provoking the mass and appealing the innocent people to join his cause. To provoke the people for illegal demands is not only unjust and illegal but is immature and childish. Anna many a times contradicts his own words. Once he says something then after realizing that what he said was not right, he recants. This has happened in the case of Gujarat. First he praised the development of Gujarat then he recanted. Once again he did the same mistake. He compares himself with Mahatma Gandhi and also says that he can speak the language of Shivaji. This seems that Anna speaks without thinking or is not faithful to his soliloquies. It is not the voice of Anna but the voice of his coterie coming through his mouth.

    Anna Hazare’s way to stick to his demand that Government should adopt the Jan Lokpal Bill intoto is like putting the Gun on the head of the Government and get the work done.

    Justice Sawant Commission’s report has clearly declared that, “The expenditure of Rs. 2.20 lacs from the funds of the Hind Swaraj Trust for birthday celebrations of Shri Hajare was clearly illegal and amounted to a corrupt practice.” If one wants to read the entire report one can click on this link.
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