Anna Hazare: A Wannabe Reformist?

I’ve been keenly observing the developments in the Anna Hazare vs. Govt. of India squabble (pardon my insensitivity) over the Lokpal, these past few months. I took my time to decide whose side I was on but fortunately or unfortunately, I couldn’t make up my mind and my current stand is neutral. Having said that, I have been critical about the methods adopted by the Anna Hazare camp to intimidate the govt. into accepting their terms and conditions. Where do I start!

The very fundamentals of a democracy are being maligned by a group of individuals who call themselves the people’s representatives. Make no mistake, I’m all for the cause, I’ve been subjected to harassment by corrupt govt. officials quite a few times and I have paid bribes as well to get things done. This does anger me and it even makes me want to retaliate against the law-enforcers, but then I stop to think, what good is that going to do me.  Similar emotions make this cause so much more closer to the people’s hearts that they (wish to) see an emancipator in Anna Hazare. But what happens when the leader of a movement is stubborn, ill-advised, unbending and a wannabe reformist? Well, the masses shadow the leader blindly neither understanding the actual grounds of their protest nor caring to venture deeper into the root of the problem. This could only lead to one thing – Anarchy.

I was watching an interview, with Nandan Nilekani on NDTV the other day, and I feel he made some very notable points. Two pertinent arguments that stood out for me were:

  • Will constituting an ombudsman body under the ambit of the Lokpal bill help prevent corruption?
  • What sense does it make to add another layer to an existing legislative structure, which would (as per the Jan Lokpal Bill) supersede the already setup government institutions to prosecute and penalize the corrupt officials?

To briefly add my views to the arguments above, I don’t see the point behind electing a government and paying their salaries from the country’s coffers when they’re actually acting as mere puppets to a supreme statutory body like the Lokpal. It’s not possible that only people in power are corrupt, they were common people like you and me before, weren’t they? Why are we not trying to fix the issues which lead to people in power being corrupt? I didn’t know Gandhi, nor am I very familiar with his work (except for what I’ve read in textbooks) but I’m sure picketing and unreasonable demands is not how he would’ve gone about finding a solution to this issue. While you ponder over that, please watch Nandan’s full interview below.

Further to the points above, I’ve been asking myself the following questions but I haven’t been able to make any sense of it:

  • Why not instate the people with the so called ‘clean records’ into the govt. to begin with?
  • Why don’t Anna Hazare and some of the prominent backers of the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement form their own party and run for the elections?
  • If we chose our governments through elections, why shouldn’t we follow the same while choosing members who’ll form the Lokpal committee?
  • If this is a people’s movement, why am I not being asked for my views? Who decided that the draft put forward by Anna Hazare and co. is in my best interest?

These are just a few of the hundreds of questions that I would like to jot down here but I’ll refrain from doing that 🙂 Perhaps, for you to understand where my questions stem from, you need to go through some of the key differentiators between both versions of the bill, as shown below.

Key differentiators between the Jan Lokpal and Govt. Lokpal
Key differentiators between the Jan Lokpal and Govt. Lokpal
(Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Am I confident that the govt. will act on its own and take corrective measures to eliminate corruption? No. But, that’s where the common man needs to step in and demand for the govt. to act on its promises or even make suggestions for reforms, through proper channels keeping in-line with the laws laid down in the constitution.  Keep in mind that we’re the largest democracy in this world and it’s no negligible task to keep it up and running. Any action we take needs to be prudent and practical and in the best interests of the country.  The govt. on the other hand cannot take the people of this country for granted and will have to go about doing their job with dignity and should instill trust in the minds of the common man. Sending Anna Hazare to Tihar (that’s of-course what he wanted!) was idiocy, same can be said about the manner in which they engaged with Baba Ramdev. My view on the Ramdev fiasco that unraveled at the Ramlila grounds a few months back is that the govt. took an irrational step and that it could’ve acted with a bit more restraint. I’ve no respect for Ramdev or his cronies; I believe they’re a bunch of conniving rogues who’re out to make a quick buck.

Finally, I realize that my views are not along the lines of the popular sentiment and hence let’s all agree to disagree. But I hope both the govt. and team Anna Hazare stop taking each other for granted and that they let go off the ‘My way or highway’ thought process. Let there be structured and fruitful talks, let there be consensus, let there be no corruption, let there be no opportunist politics, let there be no violence, let there be no mulishness and let there be peace and prosperity! I leave you with this video clip that talks about Anna Hazare’s past and why his colleagues despised him, I’m not sure how much of it is actually true but it’s definitely worth a watch!

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