Anna Hazare – a struggle well begun!

Anna Hazare’s fast goes on now almost indefinitely and the government doesn’t seem to budge. There is a critical mass required to move those in power, it is known as making them uncomfortable or rocking the boat, which is yet to happen. The movement to book the top level corrupt is a populist one and perhaps there is no parallel one in recent times. If one considers the Cultural Revolution a class fight, then this is not yet near it and will fail to address lower level corruption if we let the big ones go. The Ombudsman system works very well where there is respect for law and the law has teeth. So the clean up action is going the wrong way! Decisions of the adalat must be enforceable, so till this is guaranteed we will be watching tamashas of every kind. I call this a tamasha as it is now attracting the rich and famous; the media doesn’t stop giving them coverage.

Anna Hazare, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Baba Ramdev are highly respected members of the community, and to some  they represent a Hindu angle. A  Gandhian is basically a secularist.  Arundhati Roy’s remarks on Anna Hazare not being a secularist are misplaced. Likewise the Deoband is not supporting it because of religious reasons. The whole matter has nothing to do with religion. Corruption is a secular activity and we need to book those who indulge in it. I can see the movement being scuttled by such remarks and patronage of celebrities. It has to be a political movement supported by parties as it has to make it eventually to the parliament, so if Anna Hazare has been propped up by some party, it should be welcome.

The movement will be a great success and can go viral in several countries, depending upon the outcomes of the dharna, not the bill itself. Once the government accepts and changes the laws it will need to be revisited to see the culpable booked. It is a very long and tedious journey that has well begun. Education is the key to making society really free, not empowerment without education. I wish we have movements to make every citizen become a matriculate, achieve 100% literacy. Then laws will have meaning and there will be empowerment of the common man. Successive governments have failed to achieve this goal, perhaps deliberately.

There is laudable website called: www.ipaidabribe.com which has worked to get awareness on the subject of corruption. People can vent their experiences of being harassed by officials to pay bribes. It is a great way to let off steam and gain popular support. The website and Hazare’s movement are extensions of the same pent up emotions of the public who are harassed, but can get no relief.

 It needs a 360 degree clean up. Corruption is like rust, it never sleeps. If eternal vigilance is the price of security, it is also that for corruption. This I hope is the beginning of this eternal vigilance.

Transparency International has results published every year. In a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the cleanest, India stands at 3.3 and needs to climb 6 more rungs to be the cleanest. Checkout this site: Transparency International Results (it is a perception) and you will see the most corrupt countries get the most aid. The point is that international benchmarking could possibly have a motive and our struggle is relative to our own environment. Corruption be-gets corruption, just like money. It serves some to be corrupt at higher levels, unless we have laws that follow some international ones on corruption in all sectors. India is woefully lacking in those areas, eg laws don’t apply to private sectors, to overseas deals etc.

Corruption is a very relative term. How do you expect the poor Government employees to cover the gaps in inflation or cater for their old age without a social security system? I am not suggesting one as I believe it has not been entirely successful the world over and will only lead to more corruption amongst illiterate masses. In the presence of high consumerism the ordinary wage worker and low salaried government employees get left behind. Corruption at this level affects the common man and this cannot be addressed by booking every petty official who seeks a bribe. I feel that they need to be paid a good salary before charged for bribery. The salary structure is skewed and colonial in nature generally putting it into antiquated classes, it is an inverse pyramid and needs to be a flat structure with fewer bands.  A baksheeh should not be confused with a bribe. Don’t we tip in restaurants?

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