I would think that except for those at the top end of the population spectrum constituting less than one percent of the population, everybody is affected with this malaise and has been a victim of it in varying degrees at some point in life. Almost everybody who I have met has an unpleasant personal experience to share.
It is in this regard that Anna’s “India Against Corruption” movement came as a much required relief and brought with it a great hope for all the Indians. It was thus no surprise that there was an instantaneous outpour of emotions and response from a common man when the movement staged its demonstration in August in Delhi. It literally caught the imagination of everybody who has suffered at some point or the other and was ably supported by media-both print and more so by the electronic media by publicising the event 24/7 during its entire duration. The response was unprecedented. Ramlila Maidan, the venue seemed to be a sea of people from all walks of life and it was almost as if anybody who had suffered the wrath the bribery wanted to be present there to show solidarity with the movement against corruption. The response, so huge and unimaginable, caught the organisers (of India Against Corruption) by total surprise.
And this to me was the beginning of the fall of this movement. People’s anger and ire which was instantaneous and which was against corruption, was taken as a symbol of individual grandiose and popularity of those leading the movement. The movement, which was supposed to have been a faceless mass movement – where the sheer force of the masses and the pressure it brings along with could have unshackled any system out of its lethargy and systemic rot, became an exercise of individual glorification of few individuals where they started treating themselves as mass heroes and others with utter contempt. It almost has come to an extent that they have assumed upon themselves the role of being the “sole representatives” on the issue of corruption. Everybody has to necessarily speak their language (basically agree with whatever they say and whichever way they say) and any differing or dissenting voice on the methodology, issues and processes is treated with such hatred that such a voice is almost ostracized and boycotted. Such differing voices are almost made to sound like villains. Its “either Anna way or no other way” or “either Anna way or you are corrupt” philosophy that these individuals manning the “India Against Corruption” have adopted that has taken the steam off the movement. This group is just not willing to listen to any other version of “Lokpal Bill”. Whatever they say is “patthar ki lakeer”! As a result, some of the saner voices , including Aruna Roy & Nikhil Dey have distanced themselves from the so called movement. This is not all, some of the core committee members of IAC including Rajendra Singh, the Raman Magsaysay award winner have distanced themselves from the movement. Does that make them corrupt? The problem lies somewhere else.
Key proponents of IAC, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi have made it look as if their version of “Jan Lokpal Bill” (whats the difference between ‘jan’ and ‘lok’ ?) will be the panacea of all corruption and all the ills that come along with. And thats how they have been projecting throughout. The basic issue is whether it will be the panacea of all corruption? The greatest damage, the trio (Anna, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi) have done is that they are exploiting people’s anger and frustration against corruption, by giving them false and unrealistic hope of the Bill being the solution to contain all the corruption. It will not be the case and nobody knows better than the trio. Worst still is the likely blame they are going to attribute on the bureaucracy and the delivery system on the failure rather than addressing the basic issue of corruption. The problem of corruption lies elsewhere and no amount of policing can contain it. We are ingenious enough to devise newer methods to overcome provisions of any legal provisions.
The answer to me lies in (i) having systemic improvements in delivery mechanisms of the services in a manner that minimizes human interface. The online facilitation of services which does not require any human interface can bring in lot of transparency and thereby minimize corruption. Also (ii) a major answer lies within each of us. As they say, it takes two to clap. Corruption exists because there is a giver, however forced or unwilling. Can we go on justifying corruption on the compulsions of our circumstances? If we all decide to follow rules and be mentally ready to pay the fine/penalties if we flout them, half the battle is won. How many of us look for short cuts whenever we jump the traffic signals and happily bribe the traffic constable for over-speeding, or violation of rules? There might be delays or unnecessary delays initially but if all of us decide to be a part of this cleansing drive, things will ultimately fall in place.
It’s very easy to look elsewhere and blame everything on politicians and babus but is it that simple? Is Politics or Babudom the only breeds that are corrupt? Is there no corruption in corporate sector, among NGOs and in formal and informal sector? If we are talking about removing corruption and holding people accountable, why not talk of all such sectors ? Its like this – we don’t want to talk about ourselves and our acts of omission and commission whenever we are a party to corruption when it suit us but we would like to blame politicians and bureaucracy for all our ills. They are the favorite and most easily available targets waiting to be whipped. Is it fair? Is it not closing our eyes to the reality? I remember when somebody asked Anna as to why he doesnt contest an election, his answer was that he will never win because voters can be purchased. Now, my question is, where lies the answer? Are politicians alone to be blamed? It's much more deep rooted and we cant take as easy route out by blaming everything on politicians. Why arent we willing to look into the societal dynamics and the complex Malthusian perspective on deprivation and resulting desire to seek a short cut in everything we do?
|Kiran Bedi mocking politicians|
|What's Gandhian about it?|