On the Lokpal Bill and the current state of affairs around it

Disclaimer: All views are my own.

Dear Government of India: I kindly request you to not to oversimplify the state of affairs in our country right now. The current state of affairs over Jan Lokpal Bill is a complicated issue. And it can’t be solved when you put yourself in a combat mentality mode. Your ministers and managers have failed to address this issue systematically and creatively. You haven’t acted like the ones who are in control of this nation. As a citizen of this democratic nation, I strongly believe in a civilized discourse which can be summed up in a single statement – “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. A civilized discourse between you and opposition along with the members of the Jan Lokpal Committee is the need of the hour. Instead of laying down conditions over the number of vehicles that should have been parked at JP Narayan Park; the number of days the fast should go on; which doctor will examine Anna Hazare’s fitness, etc – and most importantly offering justifications for these conditions – I really don’t see the political will and unanimous support within your parties to discuss the various aspects of the Bill in the public domain. What is stopping you from inviting scholars and leaders across India to put forward a framework for a “public debate” over the Bill across India? Haven’t Pranab Mukherjee invited the participation of corporate honchos across sectors to recommend growth strategies for the Nation? Why can’t you publish reports / critiques on the Bill with the help of eminent editors, policy makers and thinkers of this nation?

Dear Prime Minister of India: Sir, I respect your intellect, knowledge, track- record and capabilities. Truly you are one of the most respected economists and think-tanks living in this part of the world. But Sir, why don’t you personally take charge of the situation? Why don’t you demonstrate your true leadership qualities – especially the ones you have shown during the period of liberalization of India? What are the forces that are stopping or controlling you? You could have avoided reading out the list of requirements aimed towards the Delhi Police. We expect something more from a person like you. Your wealth of experience and knowledge has to show results in times like these.

Dear Anna Hazare and all the key members of the Jan Lokpal Committee: there is absolutely no questioning about the intentions and plans you harbour to get rid of corruption in this country. Hats off to all you guys to systematically awaken the ‘citizen’ in India. It is the hallmark of democratic societies to express its protest and it has the right to do so. Your efforts and planning in order to mobilize hundred thousands of Indians is truly applaudable. But, why can’t you show some patience and start encouraging a civilized discourse within the various factions of the society rather than demanding a result within a 15 day period? How can you hold a government to ransom in a democratic nation over a Bill that grants an insane amount of power to a certain ombudsman? Has any democratic country in the history of this world seen such a proposal for massive shift of power and administration? Gandhi looked upon fasting as the last moral resort. What gives you the moral right to assert that yours and only your version of the Bill must be passed? This country operates on the system of governance that is based on the principle of majority opinion prevailing in policy and lawmaking and that majority is determined on the floor of legislature. What kind of ideological fundamentalism are we promoting? Haven’t we, as a nation, voted for our politicians? Also aren’t we individually responsible for the economic growth of this nation? If trade-unions and government employees and the labour force in general start supporting you on the streets – who takes blame for the sheer economic loss of productivity?

Dear Opposition and respected leaders of the BJP: I totally agree with statements like “the prime minister is the tallest political functionary in the country” and “Do you have the political will to fight corruption? You have to say, sir, I have the authority and moral stature as the prime minister and evolve that will. Only then will you win back the confidence of this country”. These statements were made by Arun Jaitley. But what stops you from taking the lead and acting as a catalyst between the government and Anna Hazare’s team? If there has been two contending drafts of the Bill, why can’t you constructively partner with Anna Hazare’s team and re-introduce the Bill in the Parliament? Its sad to see that you are one of the most clueless and helpless Opposition this country has ever produced!

Dear media: I appreciate the extent to which you guys go in order to present news to us citizens. You guys also have a deadline to meet and a balance sheet to be adhered to. But 24 x 7 news-reporting is both a curse and a blessing. I’m totally convinced that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi would not have become ‘Gandhi’ if he operated in a world of 24 x 7 news. Its in our nature to be biased and yes its difficult to take a neutral stand in a country where politicians own stakes in news channels. But can you control the urge to stop continuous and filmy style of reporting news? I can’t even think of a single news channel or media entity in this country that did a non-stop and continuous tracking and reporting of the 10 year old fast of Irom Sharmila! I don’t see non-stop coverage of farmer suicides and corporate scams. Why this blatant bias? We don’t want to know from which Gate of Tihar Jail is Anna Hazare being released. We don’t want to listen to the same old banal topics you keep coming up with for your discussion oriented talk shows every week. How can you make a difference? And most importantly how can you force to make all the parties – the government, the opposition and Anna Hazare’s team – to see the real and bigger picture of the chaos and lack of will around this issue?

Dear citizens of India: I see rallies and crowds around me. I asked 5 people why they are participating in this rally for lokpal bill. Everybody answered “To fight against corruption”. I asked them again – how is the lokpall bill fighting corruption? Nobody had any clue! Youngsters on the streets are not understanding the nature of the problem and are blindly showing emotional support to rallies where songs are being sung, fancy dresses for children are being organized, candle light vigils, etc. I urge all of you to read more about the Lokpal Bill. Read more about the constitution of India. Read more about lawmaking and lawmakers. This is not a second independence movement. Just because Anna Hazare has cleverly chosen to fast after the Independence day and is a Gandhian by nature & practice – we should not forget that our first independence movement was against an autocratic and colonial government who ruled over us. There is a lot of difference between Independence echoed as the basic right of freedom against the one dubbed as the fight against corruption where a government has been elected by us in the first place! The problem of corruption cannot be solved in 15 days with the help of a fast. It will only  be solved if we take a collective stand against it in our day to day lives… when we stop giving bribes… when we risk our lives and file RTIs and take corrective steps. Also, in the larger and collective interest, lets “try” not to mock our politicians, leaders of the opposition, Anna Hazare and his team members. Let’s also “try” not to pitch the existing situation in this nation as “us against them”. Let’s also “try” to build conversations with real people around this issue and encourage public debate. Remember the rule: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. And finally, if we can’t do anything, let’s “try” to shut the fuck up. Silence also has a role to play here. Thank you.

Suggested reading:

One: Major differences between Lokpal Bill 2011 and Jan Lokpal Bill (Anna Version)

Two: Reign of the Tin Men

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~ by rb on August 21, 2011.

2 Responses to “On the Lokpal Bill and the current state of affairs around it”

  1. Very well written, dude! Its almost like you took you the words out of my mouth! Well done.

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