Anna Hazare’s Basic Flaw

Because of his reputation, because of the timing of his agitation, because of the unprecedented corruption exposed in Indian politics, Anna Hazare’s movement has attracted mind boggling support throughout the nation and across the world. It is nothing less than a Tsunami wave. But there is danger that the advantages of the movement might be frittered away. This is because Anna Hazare’s approach betrays the same flaw that has plagued Indian politics for the past six decades.

Basically the flaw arises from the tendency of Indians to attempt improvement in performance or of morality by adding a new law or an institution. Legislation cannot improve morality or performance when human error and intent are to blame. That is not to say that new laws or amendments are not sometimes required. But generally speaking when existing laws suffice to deliver results, provided there is good administration, to seek a new law or an institution for getting results is an escape route leading to a dead end. Unfortunately a new law is the first option sought by politicians. Unfortunately the Lokpal Bill was the first option sought by Anna Hazare. 

It is a curiously hypocritical trait of Indian character that people stridently protest against joining politics while their actions suggest the opposite. It is only in India that political aspirants for leadership make a huge pretence of not seeking office.

To begin with I considered the Lokpal Bill superfluous. Subsequently due to the wide public belief in its miracle impact, I modified its concept in order to minimize the upsetting of existing institutions that require only minor amendment to curtail corruption. All that was required was to make the CBI a constitutional body unshackled from the cabinet’s control.

Consider the Citizens’ Charter proposed to expedite official performance. Is one to conclude that in the normal course officials are not expected to be efficient and deliver results expeditiously? They do not do this perhaps because of corruption and slackness. Will a new law end corruption and their ability to find loopholes that circumvent rules? Why cannot efficiency be extracted from the bureaucracy? To pre-empt the Citizens’ Charter the government is preparing a grievance redressal bill. A new law will make it compulsory for officials to act within thirty days of receiving a complaint. What if a complaint can be addressed within five or ten days? Will officials have the option to delay up to thirty days?

Consider another example. A new law is proposed to protect minority community victims of riots perpetrated by the majority community. What about majority community victims of riots perpetrated by other members of the majority community? Are they less deserving of justice? This new law is being sought because of the perceived bias against the minority community by the administration? Is it seriously contended that such bias can be ended by making a new law? Cannot better administration be delivered to ensure impartiality? Do not existing laws compel impartiality of the administration? Existing laws do this, but are flouted by malafide performance. What needs to be done therefore is to ensure that bureaucracy performs as dictated by law.

How can that be achieved? 

For that, human conduct needs to be improved. I believe that not more than 15 percent of officials are black sheep actively benefiting from corruption. The rest are passive bystanders who look the other way instead of acting against corruption. It is this permissive attitude that has created a culture of corruption wherein everybody becomes a silent abettor or a minor participant in corruption in order to survive in the system. It is this facet of the Indian psyche that has created the culture of corruption. The silver lining is that the very same Indian psyche induces people to follow the lead of inspiring example. The trickle down effect of a head of state that cracks down on corruption ruthlessly would be incalculable. This trickle down effect has been demonstrated before. It is being demonstrated today as people unquestioningly follow Anna Hazare.

So what Team Hazare needs to do is make a new political party before making new laws. It is a curiously hypocritical trait of Indian character that people stridently protest against joining politics while their actions suggest the opposite. It is only in India that political aspirants for leadership make a huge pretence of not seeking office. When they do become candidates they do so reluctantly claiming to be under pressure of supporters! Contrast this with politicians in America. A candidate for President or Governor seeks office by claiming he or she is the best person for the post. In India only Morarji Desai was man enough to bluntly affirm that he was the best man to be Prime Minister.  Indian media and elite never forgave him, accusing him of being ambitious. Are the rest like blushing brides too modest to be ambitious? Is ambition and the candid passion to do what one believes would be the best job a bad thing?

Already some members of Team Hazare are at pains to insist they will never join politics. If they speak the truth they should go home and rest. Much earlier through these columns I had criticized Medha Patkar for voicing grievances only to attempt at the end of it all to seek redressal from the very politicians who created them. I urged her to enter electoral politics. The only honest way to end the huge quantum of corruption is to seize power democratically and deliver results. That is what Team Hazare should focus on. Never since Independence has the youth of the nation been so aroused. With or without Anna Hazare they are not likely to stop. Let Team Hazare chew on that.  


More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

Top | Analysis

Views: 3367      Comments: 9

Comment Dear Sir,

Regarding Ann joining politics - would like to put two points here through comments:

Referring to the aftermath of Hissar bypolls, the shouting among Team Anna members is public.
Mr Bhushan made some irresponsible comment on having a referendum on Kashmir issue (he might have done with a good intention, assuming that such a referendum would defeat any claims by separatists and Pakistan government/army/terrorist groups), however that was not necessary. With such a comment, Mr. Bhushan leveraged the good will and public influence team Anna has gathered in last few months, using this influence in any other matter is strategically wrong, such actions divert attention from their core agenda - The Lokpal and may backfire (as it happened here).

But there is another side effect of this - Mr. Anna Hazare had to distance himself in public on statement made by Mr. Bhushan, and he even called those statements 'wrong'.

In another development simultaneously, Mr. Hegde, who is core member of team Anna, criticized Mr. Kejariwal (another team Anna core member) for taking stand against Congress publicly in Hissar bypoll.

While, I see it all right to call in public to defeat Congress - that would put the required pressure on UPA to bring Lokapal (which they will never bring otherwise, and thus India is going to lose another chance to start recovering from the illness of corruption) , , , there was no reason for Mr. Hegde to publically criticize Mr. Kejariwal. Mr. Hegde probably does not see the movement through strategic needs, probably he is still confined in his 'judiciary way of doing things', he may understand that the fight he is in is a political fight.

These two incidents have put the shouting between team Anna members in public.

What kind of confidence this brings among mass for team Anna ? Now Congress can easily explit the situation to their benefit (to defeat Lokpal), and they will try to in next few weeks.

Referring to the above point# 1, we can see how good Mr. Anna Hazare is in leading a team. When core team of a handful of people can not be disciplined, how will he run a party ??
It is only a few months since team Anna started working in front of large mass - only a few months and this is the state of the team.

Forming a new party and joining politics is not a good option for Mr. Anna Hazare, he is likely to fail if he does so (he may consider joining an existing party though, if at all he wants to get a post).

He should stick to the method he has used and be focused on the agenda he has in hand till the objective is achieved.

Now, one can imagine, what kind of hardships and challenges a right leader with right intentions will face in India - if he runs a political party with an ambition to win enough seat so that he/she can come to power.
He/She must tackle and handle a large number of greedy selfish co-workers, party workers, supporters, while he may have only a small ‘right’ people. Because, Indian political system calls for corruption, any political party who strictly bans corruption by party members/supporters, will not win even a handful of seats.

And if such leaders compromise here and there in order to achieve the ultimate objective for the nation, should media criticize him/her on every steps he compromises on ?

Had Mr. T.N. Seshan shown firm ethics and allergy to corruption, I am sure he would not have become Chief Election Commissioner (the then Election Commissioner, when Election Commission had only one election commissioner), and then election commission would still be a puppet of the ruling party (had Mr. Seshan not redefined them).

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
15-Oct-2011 15:07 PM

Comment My Dear Friend, it is easy comment. If people want to criticize they must keep an alternative. Since your alternative is to create a new politicial party, it is not that easy for a person like ANNA as it needs huge funding without giving room for gossip. What Anna did is a great task, he just induced the sleeping minds of the youth, who will surely perform if someown backs them. A person of that age to take initiative is really appreciable. One unfortunate thing is the Government is so adamant, sometimes arrogant towards fulfillling the objectives of the government. Instead of resolving the issue of corruption, they want to punish the whistleblowers. If the politicians are honest and ANNA's fasting would have given greater results. Our ruling party is tougher and violent somtimes rude compared to britishers. Even Gandhi's principles will not work with these leaders like Chidambaram, Pranab, Sonia, Renuka, Manish, Dikvijay and others who blabber something to divert the attention of the people from main objective of the government. GOD BLESS INDIA and its innocent people.

05-Sep-2011 02:19 AM

Comment i agree in the UK, the current conservative government has already learn from the mistakes of the previous administration. new laws and bills are not required, when it is policing and correct administration of existing laws that is required. if the existing laws are not respected, then the new law will not be either.india is a democracy and rule is by ballot and referrendum, not by mob.that is the major distinction between the 'arab spring' and 'indian spring'. team anna have to demonstrate a mandate, and that can only be done by either referrendum, or by team anna forming a political party and seeking the peoples mandate to legislate.on a practical level, the only way the bill can be taken forward is by seeking support of opposition and splinter groups within the ruling coalition, calling for vote of no confidence and holding fresh elections with team anna at the helm

Dr Sapan
03-Sep-2011 04:03 AM

Comment Dear Shyam Shetty,

Black Money:

The moment Anna Hazare starts campaign to declare black money abroad as govt property and starts demanding it should be brought back to India with disclosure of names of account holders, he will become number 1 enemy of Congress, UPA and many parties.

Currently, no, 1 enemy position is being held by Baba Ramdev (who, because of his aggressive style is relatively easy target for 'manipulated' media).

Why Anna will become no. 1 enemy if he takes up black money issue: because that will immediately ruin political career of most of the big fishes, it will also means those big fishes will spend years in prison, it will mean removing money power from those powerful politicians, it will mean end of world to those big fishes.

It will be catastrophic to European economy too, which is already in turmoil, so they may indirectly help big fishes in this fight.

Whereas, Lokpal will be brought rather under preassure with some loopholes so that those big fishes remain intact in more constrained world now on.

Everythig on earth will be done to discourage and derail black money issue.

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
01-Sep-2011 15:22 PM

Comment The very title, Anna Hazare's Basic Flaw, suggests our negative approach, our herd mentality, and the resultant democratic anarchy. How about, "Anna Hazare's New Avatar" as the title meaningfully connecting him with his followers and later injecting ideas in the main body of the story? I am sick of hearing about inadequacies and flaws in nationalist campaigns ushered in by Baba Ramdev, Anna Hazare, and others prounounced chiefly by their opponents to mislead the gullible Indian masses. I guess the Jan Lokpal Bill is just the beginning in the second freedom struggle. I agree with Rajinder Puri when he says, "Never since Independence has the youth of the nation been so aroused. With or without Anna Hazare they are not likely to stop."

Prem Silhi
31-Aug-2011 06:49 AM

I think Anna Hazare Team, instead of forming a joining political party they must concntrate on bringing black money from foreign banks, bring about Constitutional amendments for calling back wrong doers and inefficient legislative members, to make CBI an autonomous body like Election Commission (outside the clutches of politicians) , improve the judicial systems by creating arbitrators,discourage false claims, punish those who file malicious claims etc. They must be guided by the experienced honest people. One need not be in power to do National Service.. As Dinesh Kumar said people become corrupt when they get power.

Shyam Shetty
31-Aug-2011 01:11 AM

Comment Agree on every count.

30-Aug-2011 23:16 PM

Comment Dear Sir,

May I beg to disagree with the suggestions in article.

Joining Politics:

15 years back, BJP aspired to come to power on the same issues. That was the 'party with difference', elites were joining it from all the streams - defense, bureaucracy, academics, social domain, intellects and so on. NRI's were almost unanimously supporting. North India was sweep. And indeed, the party was best suitable among other available alternatives.

After attaining power at center, it started with bold steps - nuclear test which every other PM in Indian history avoided, firm stand on terrorism, economic reforms, relentless efforts to improve foreign relations and image in the world and what not. Then the PM started voicing 'zero tolerance to corruption', a lot of talks happened over that then.

Where did it end ?
The BJP silently accepted the practicality of corruption in India.

There must be some compulsions behind the newly elected BJP's inability to eradicate corruption from India, especially when most of its leaders had clean image.

Why Anna Hazare's team will deliver better than BJP, if this newly suggested party comes to power ?

I can figure out some observations - the newly elected BJP would loose support from grass root level workers if key workers' were not favored - someone wanted transfer of his relative, someone wanted some contract, someone wanted something else ...
The lowest party offices will see hardly any workers if their needs are not fulfilled. I know a few party workers personally, they are devoted as party workers ONLY and ONLY for personal gains (does not matter which party). If their master (the next level leader holding some position) creates an understanding that the party worker's favor can not be done because corruption is not allowed, the workers will stop wasting their time and energy.

Then comes the election. Does not matter how much clean and honest you are. If you can't spend money like your opponent you can win it UNLESS you are a charismatic leader like Vajpayee. How many charismatic leader a party can get, certainly not 263.


Although it is democracy where people elect rulers, but that does not make the top job easy.

Today, India needs very strong ruler taking bold steps. Our enemy neighbor need to be frightened of such a leader. Instead, today they frighten our ruler with ease. We need bold steps in many areas - system reformation, education, health services, agriculture, manufacturing, technology & development, cultural heritage, transportation. We can name a topic and it needs some bold transformation. Does Anna Hazare team carry the qualities to deliver such a leadership ?

It took BJP to take help of Ayodhya issue to muster support among voter class.
Otherwise the 'aam aadmi' does not understand who is upto what and whom to vote for. Honest people do not get votes for their honesty. Kalmadi got elected (despite his not-so-good image) from relatively educated electoral base - Pune. And Govinda won agsinst Ram Naik from Mumbai because he was an actor and not because people believed he was a better Loksabha member than Ram Naik. This is how people vote in a democracy.

And India is not exception in such a voting pattern at all, or else, why would Clinton hire semi nude gorgeous girls to campaign for US president elections ?
Assuming that people will vote Anna Hazare’s party because he promises corruption free India, is wrong at first place, given the history of voting pattern. Second, even if a leader having strong desire to root out corruption comes to power, he will not be allowed to do so because of the democratic party compulsions, otherwise Mr. Vajpayee would have done it 11 years before.

At the same time, if voter class’ moral character is high, they would tainted leaders and will prevent their returning to power, which is also not the case.

So, we are left with two options:

either to have a great leader that changes whole system by his own thrust (netizens in India favor Mr. Modi as PM only because of this sense among them)
to perform some surgery in the system and implant a device that checks further deterioration – which we call Jan Lokpal now a days. When Jan Lokpal comes, it will deter the top politicians and will serve as an excuse to lower cadre politicians and party workers on why their favors can not be done by top ministers.

Then we can hope to create a ground for heroes to jump in and transform the system as needed to build Modern Bharat.

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
30-Aug-2011 13:21 PM

Comment Anna Hazare’s movement has attracted mind boggling support throughout the nation and across the world. It is nothing less than a Tsunami wave.
Very True

Devi Nangrani
30-Aug-2011 12:52 PM

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