Hopefully, this will be my last comment on the Anna Hazare movement and the Lokpal Bill. I have already written fourteen articles on the subject. I have questioned its wisdom, debunked its efficacy, and suggested amendments to its proposed structure to make it practicable. If the Lokpal institution as being envisaged sees the light of day it will compound confusion to create total chaos of the system and governance. It will drive the last nail in the coffin of Indian democracy. Consider the genesis and evolution of the Lokpal movement.
Corruption had become rampant and brazen in India. Protests against it grew in public discourse and in the media. The establishment was forced to take action. The courts responded handsomely to expedite investigations undertaken by the CBI on major scandals involving the government. The Commonwealth Games (CWG) scam, the 2G Spectrum scam, the Hasan Ali money laundering scam, the black money in foreign bank accounts scam, the Adarsh housing scam – indeed a host of scams and exposures hit the government simultaneously to rock the establishment.
At the height of the public frenzy aroused against corruption the Baba Ramdev movement and the Anna Hazare movement against corruption erupted. Both leaders successively held public demonstrations and fasts. All public attention got diverted to the huge rallies and fasts conducted by these leaders. Eventually Anna Hazare’s movement overtook the Ramdev movement in public perception. Anna Hazare’s demand for a Jan Lokpal became the central focus of public attention and debate. Its shape, structure and scope became the subject of fierce debate involving Team Hazare, the government, the opposition and mainstream media. Attention from the ongoing major corruption scams was diverted to virtually fade away.
This public inattention seems to have infected the judiciary. The progress of the court cases related to these scams became markedly tardy. Whatever happened to the 2G case, the CWG case, the Hasan Ali case, the Shungloo Commission’s report and other issues that had gripped public attention? These all seem to be forgotten. Instead, there continues to rage a fierce debate in parliament and outside it about the provisions of the proposed Lokpal Bill.
In other words, either by design or through accident the entire Lokpal controversy has proved to be a huge diversion of national attention from concrete corruption cases that were progressing with admirable speed before the movements started but are now limping to a halt.
Whatever its public posture and alarm expressed over the threats leveled against it by Anna Hazare, the government secretly must be gleeful. Its shameful corruption record is being obfuscated by the meaningless arguments related to a proposed new institution which is in its concept silly to the point of being idiotic. India has the world’s longest Constitution. It has a plethora of laws to address corruption and institutions to pursue it. The Comptroller Auditor-General (CAG) overlooks all public spending to ensure public money is not misspent. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is empowered to order investigation in any transaction that appears questionable. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been created to investigate all such cases of suspected corruption. If corruption continues to thrive it must be ascertained why these institutions fail to deliver.
The answer to that is simple. The CBI is administered by the government. This renders all CBI investigation against government’s corruption suspect.
The accused is directing the probe against itself.
The solution is equally simple. Make the CBI a constitutional body like the Central Election Commission that may function autonomously and is accountable to the President. The snag that worries politicians is that this would give the President’s office real responsibility beyond its titular role as practiced. That would open a can of worms because in fact the Constitution invests the President with real responsibilities and powers that have been ignored since the days of India ’s first Prime Minister who distorted the character of our written Constitution beyond recognition.
The President already has a much wider electoral mandate than the Prime Minister. The President is not directly elected by the people. Nor at present is the current PM directly elected by the people to parliament. By introducing a minor change that would not disturb the basic structure of the Constitution the President can be directly elected by the people. I shall not reiterate the two small minor amendments that would achieve this because I have written about them earlier. By rectifying the implementation of the Constitution to conform to the aims of its founding fathers Indian governance would improve. Cohesion and order in our federal polity would revive.
Instead of this simple reform that would reclaim the true spirit of our written Constitution and effectively curb corruption, and indeed other violations of law, the government and parliament are blundering towards enacting a Lokpal that would wreck democracy. Mr. Arvind Kejriwal on behalf of Team Anna said that an autonomous CBI would be worse than CBI under the government. “To whom would it be accountable?” he asked. He did not pose the question about the proposed Lokpal’s accountability. In Karnataka the findings of the latest Lok Ayukta have rubbished those of the preceding Lok Ayukta. So which Lok Ayukta should we believe is correct? What do Team Anna members have to say about this? It is being contemplated that the Lokpal would be appointed by the PM, Leader of Opposition, Supreme Court Judge and eminent citizen much in the manner of the CVC’s appointment. The Lokpal would be removed through indictment by at least 100 MPs after which the Supreme Court would consider the allegations.
For addressing corruption cases the CVC, the Lokpal and the CBI would all intercede at different phases of investigation to deal with these. This would immensely complicate if not altogether paralyze effective investigation of all corruption cases. There is a demand that all laws should be approved by gram sabhas across the nation. There are over 500,000 villages in the country. Will they all have a say in the enactment of law? It is not necessary to delve further into the structure and shape of the Lokpal as it is evolving. Suffice it to say that the debate seems to exhibit collective insanity of our political class. Like frightened chickens the politicians of all parties are endorsing an unworkable Lokpal Bill for fear of losing votes.
Team Hazare has yet to provide a shred of evidence that it will sway voters. In the Maharashtra civic polls close to Anna Hazare’s habitat Mr. Sharad Pawar’s party and the Congress both fared well. In the Hissar bye-election the expected winner was victorious. Politicians need to muster courage and confront the ill conceived and destructive Anna Hazare movement. It seems there are no real politicians left in the country. They cannot think for themselves. They are led by mainstream media. Perhaps it will require a section of civil society to see through this hollow, spurious anti-corruption movement to successfully counter it by launching a genuine political reform movement.
Comments on this Article
The Kkangress strategy to fail current LOKPAL movement:|
(the moderator may reject this comment as it names a few TV news channels)
After observing yesterday's debate on the 'method' of Lokpal movement agitation by Anna Hazare on TIMES NOW and few other channels, the following is the trend emerging.
1. TIMES NOW in 9PM debate, put inside studio, 4 persons in opposition of the 'method' of movement and 1 person favouring the movement on veido conference, while 2 were consulted on video conference. They all questioned and opposed 'the method' of the movement, while not discussing the issue at root. Well, Indians should be happy to note that LOKPAL and Black money agitations did not take shape of agitations in Egypt, Syria, Libya etc, an average Indian's situation is worse than citizens of those countries due to misrule.
Later, the same channel in a video conference interview with varun gandhi, tried to highllight (by repeating the same point again and again) BJPs stand against quota in Lokpal on religios lines.
The sme channel and same anchor gave very positive coverage to the same movement in April (1st movement), then questioned it a bit in August (2nd movement) and now it is almost cornering.
All this efforts on the channel ONLY TO PRESERVE THE CORE VOTERS OF UPA (because the whole discussion did not make any sense logically).
2. While NDTV tried to suggest that the Anna's supporters are now 'getting tired' of the movement.
3. While public opinion is being given 'a desired shape' on the movement, the parliamentarians will be busy today arguing and counter-arguing only to convey to citizens outside that a 'consensus' is not getting formed.
It must be equally 'rewarding' as a top politician, to be a top news anchor or to be in management of a big TV new channel !
WHY LOKPAL MOVEMENT CAN FAIL - THE REAL REASON|
We have seen almost an year of activity on Lokpal bill movement, it first started with PM & President being given suggestion through letter on forming Lokpal by Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev and others.
Subsequently, Anna Hazare sat on fast twice, the second agitation in August was large and hot.
A lot has been written about Lokpal on this website.
So far, the movement did not succeed (and I hope, wish & pray it will succeed).
Having read so much on Lokpal movement and Lokpal bill and having watched so much news coverage and analysis on the movement, I have arrived the following CAUSE, due to which the movement will fail (if it will fail):
THE INTENTION OF ELECTED POLITICIANS IS NOT AT ALL TO CONCEDE TO THE GENUIN DEMAND FOR A LOKPAL. THEY ARE READY TO GO TO ANY LOWS OF ETHICS TO DERAIL THE MOVEMENT. WHILE THEY WILL APPEAR TO BE LISTENING TO THE MOVEMENT'S DEMAND, THEY WILL PLAY ALL DIRTY GAMES, THEY WILL MAKE THINGS COMPLEX, SO COMPLEX THAT AVERAGE VOTERS WILL GET CONFUSED TO THE EXTEND THAT PEOPLE GET TIRED OF IT, THEY WILL BUY ALL MEDIA COVERAGE ON LOKPAL USING THE BLACK MONEY ABROAD TO BRING DISTRACTED VOTERS BACK INTO THEIR FAVOUR.
The reason for possible failure of Lokpal movement is not that it will create an institute parallel to the office of President, it will fail because the elected politicians are more shrewd, unethical, immoral and lacking patriotism THAN what most elite of this country think of.
The manner in which minority reservation is introduced within Lokpal bill supports the above understanding.
If the above understanding is true, then we don't have anything to lose by Lokpal movement, we have only to gain. Because, those handling administration are hopeless. They can neither provide a better furtue of us nor to out next generations. They can initiate problems for future and will ensure more problems for our next generations to come.
It may not be the best solution, but it is one of the practical solutions available today for Indians to have a better future tomorrow. TRUE, like CVC and CEC, we may have an independent Lokpal that works according to pleasure of the PMO or President of Congress, but at least we can have hope that tomorrow another person will occupy the post who will expose big scams in public and clean the system at top and thereby paving the way for suitable to come in (which is not possible in current system).
This comment specifically names a news channel - TIMES NOW - so if moderator wants to reject the comment, he can ...|
An observation from yesterday's new analysis @9 PM on Lokpal:
- The anchor got some people to discuss "MINORITY QUOTA" in Lokpal pannel.
- The news correspondent described (between the show) somewhat in this manner - 'why BJP is drawing itself into the issue of religious reservation in Lokpal panel, they should focus on main issue'
Well, it's in national interest not to have any reservations on religious lines. And BJP did it right in national interest by questioning it and opposing it.
(BJP also had mentioned it's objections on other provisions of proposed bill, such as bringing CBI corruption branch under Lokpal)
The correspondent almost suggested that BJP was playing on religious grounds !!
Second, the TV channel itself discussed the minority reservation, instead of discussing the broader issue that the Congress and allies (and probably opposition) have played a game to bring irrelevant clause such as reservation in Lokpal ONLY TO DELAY OR DERAIL THE LOKPAL BILL PROCESS.
When media is on sale, the citizens of this country are set to receive such news coverage - not surprising at all. Thus, opinion of all voters of ruling alliance are 'preserved'.
How can democracy function properly when mass opinion are formed by such biased coverage DAY IN AND DAY OUT REPEATEDLY ?
If one remembers how big TV channels reported the first phase of Anna Hazare's movement in April 2011 and how they picturize the same movement now can provide a clue - how they mislead people to serve their indirect masters:|
April 2011 (during and after 3 day fast by Anna got momentum and govt. agreed to form a pannel to draft Lokpal bill):
- Indian democracy is getting matured now (because people are now expressing their wishes strongly through such movements)
[and I observed people saying on the same line - India's democracy was strengthening !!]
After August 2011, the same media suggests:
- Is the method being adopted by Anna Hazare is ethical and democratic ?
- Can Anna dictat the goventment to bring some law ?
- This is serious damage to our democracy, parliament is supreme and no one else should decide what laws should be made !!!
[and I observed people saying on the same lines in their own words Anna Hazare's movement is not democratic, it's a blackmail !!]
They (media) can say anything in a way that convinces mass.
When such a tool is available for sale and available for use, why government should fear about 2G scam, black money, CWG, Adarsh housing, illegal mining, etc. etc. ?
The point I am making are as follows:
1. It is the media that gives importance to one issue and cold shoulder to another deserving issue that should be highlighted.
2. The common man is highly influenced by media talks, afterall the common man has no other place to source information or opinion from.
3. Therefore, had Anna Hazare movement was not present at all, some other issue would have been used to cover up 2G scam, CWG scam, black money etc.
3A) We can see what happened to black money issue, it is equally important if not more, to be discussed in media, the movement has potential to shake Indian politics, it has every merit to be supported by who-ever-want-to-have-a-better-future-for-himeself-andhis-family. Yet, the movement is subsided by the same media.
Yes, a possibility that the movement is being used to create more confusion among mass and therefore save the govt is a possibility.
But Anna Hazare has intention to serve purpose of the corrupt people is a doubtful speculation only - with the information available in public.
If Mr. Puri has some additional credible information that is not available in public then it is different scenario.
Interestingly, none among the allies of UPA threatened to remove support despite two big movements, unearthing of so many big scams and a total misadministration by the central govt.
Either they have fear of losing something if they do so, or they have some carrot that looks sweeter than serving the national cause.
The fact that all the scams of more than a few lakh crores have receded to the background under the blitzkrieg of Anna campaign gives rise to the suspicion whether all the Anna show is stage-managed by the ruling party.
During August 2011, when Anna Hazare movement was heating all over the country from Metros to villages, I travelled through train - reservation and general class to central India. Every second person was supporting Anna Hazare. I talked to many people from different places as I travelled.
To my surprise, the same people, especially lower economic class, condemned Baba Ramdev, accusing him of being fraud, dishonest and moved by personal ambitions solely. They even mentioned that the Baba takes thousands of rupees to give blessings to anyone who wanted !!
I am sure the people interested in writing and reading current affairs in India know what Baba Ramdev is up to. His methods may be aggressive and he may be exaggerating with some dramatization, but one must be sure about his integrity to the nation and the genuine cause he took up the matter for.
This is further evident from the treatment he received from govt and subsequent baseless media report of ED notice to him.
Yet, people declared him a fraud as early as in August.
Something must have happened between June and August 2011, that his public image got damaged.
If one observes Ramdev's coverage on news channels and local print media, then it can be understood well.
I even noticed some labor referring to some wel-to-do person for whom he works, the his opinion were based on the views of that reference (who adopted the opinion from cheap news channels).
The media portrayed Baba Ramdev as BIG BUSINESSMAN, running business of thousands of crores. This itself did rest of the work, as businessmen are considered corrupt and Self centered in India. Any Sadhu is EXPECTED to be penniless in this country if he is to be considered with good intentions.
Although, there is genuine cause behind establishing Patanjali Yog Peeth and Divya Yog Pharmacy, which generate revenue of more than 1000 crore, although the quality of medicines are good while their prices are much less than other brands - people and news experts like to neglect this fact.
All this detailed observation is placed above to suggest HOW POWERFUL OUR MEDIA IS, AND HOW MUCH IT IS MOVED BY BIG FISHES RULING THIS COUNTRY.
I am sure Anna Hazare can be nailed with similar ease, we already saw (direct) efforts from unknown powerful entities.
And if Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare can be marginalized by moving public opinion against them, why 2G scam can not be settled with equal ease ?
So, I advocate that Anna Hazare was not needed o settle 2G scam issue and to save big fishes from getting hit by 2G scam.
Neither Anna Hazare’s absence could have nailed those BIG FISHES in the scam nor his movement seems to be an effort to subside 2G scam. It is the media, driven by the same big fishes, that used it to move public attention on Lokpal from 2G.
If Lokpal movement was not present, then they could have chosen the next suitable topic to discuss in media.
We had Bofors scam 2 decades before, public anger ousted Congress yet the real culprits were not nailed, why could have it happened the other way this time?