Politicians cutting across all parties have a similar approach when confronted by any crisis or problem. They refuse to recognize the truth. They refrain from addressing the problem. And they seize upon a comforting and fraudulent solution. Their solution inevitably is of course to make a new law whenever a problem hits them. That is why by far the world’s longest Constitution introduced by far the largest number of amendments and new laws.
Corruption is a problem. Many scandals involving corruption were created in recent years. Why did this happen? It happened because governance failed to check corruption. Why did governance fail? It failed because authorities failed to implement the laws and procedures required to ensure probity. Are there not laws to prevent corruption? There are all the laws required to prevent it. Are there not institutions to ensure that these laws are implemented?
There is the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to monitor all government expenditure to ensure that public money is not misspent. There is the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to keep a watch on official deals to identify and check violation of law. There is the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate all cases of suspected corruption.
Despite this corruption continues. Obviously all these institutions armed with all our laws are failing to deliver. Politicians should question why. Instead they have all endorsed the proposal put up by social activists to create a Lokpal which will be a new institution to check corruption.
Who will appoint the Lokpal? Some of the very people who could conceivably be investigated! To whom will the Lokpal be accountable? To the very same people who could conceivably be investigated.
Is this not collective insanity?
Why would the Lokpal succeed when CAG, CVC and CBI have failed? If the implementation of law by these institutions cannot be ensured why will Lokpal bring results?
Rioting is another serious problem. Communal rioting is a specially damaging problem. There are laws against incitement, instigating violence, causing hatred between communities and actually committing violence and killing. Despite this riots occur. Sometimes these riots are communal. That makes it doubly bad for the politicians because it affects their votes from the minority community.
To check all rioting, violence and killing it is the task of government to identify wrongdoing and punish the guilty. That is not done. So what have politicians decided? They want a new law for Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence for which a Bill has already been prepared. The purpose of the Bill is to protect possible victims of violence committed against all minority groups and provide them adequate compensation if it occurs.
It is most desirable that such victims of targeted violence should be compensated and rehabilitated. But should that not apply to all victims regardless of which community or group they belong?
Not surprisingly this anomaly has been seized by a BJP think tank intellectual Mr. Rakesh Sinha. He has published a paper pointing out all the contradictions and illogical assertions of the Bill. He argues that the proposed Bill discriminates against Hindus who might also conceivably suffer from violence perpetrated by a minority group.
The simple question that he has not asked and which merits attention is: If there is a riot between two Hindu groups on say a property dispute, should not the provisions of the proposed law apply to victims of such violence if they are innocent? Is group violence to be classified in different categories?
Well, if our politicians think about this problem I am sure they will come up with their solution. They will make one more new law to protect victims when Hindus riot against Hindus. What they will not do of course is to introduce the systemic reform required to ensure effective governance. If they do that they will not win quick votes in an election. They will merely make the nation progress under improved governance. Does any political party want that?