Friday, April 08, 2011

I support the fight for a corruption-free India.... do you?

The past few weeks have seen upheavals follow each other. First came the barrage of scams and scamsters in the Indian scene, and while India was busy getting disillusioned with almost everything from politics to sport to industry, a 26 year old immolated himself in Tunisia, setting off a snowballing domino revolution of sorts. The revolution spread from square to square toppling Governments, creating unrest across the middle east. Last checked, Tunisia and Egypt had toppled leaders, Libyan Gaddafi was at his rambling best and now Syria, Bahrain and Yemen were also joining the revolt bandwagon. Not wanting to feel left out, our own country too is debating, wondering, and getting charged up about an all-out war on corruption!

I, personally am a huge fan of people movements, akin to Munshi Premchand stories where the protagonist, who all along having been ill-treated by the 'mean Britisher' finally turns around and hits his 'master' with a stick! Gandhiji's Satyagraha which formed the basis of winning India independence from British rule is the starting point. More recently, Justice for Jessica was a classic case where miscarriage of justice was brought out to the open and people fought for the blatantly smirking Manu Sharma to be booked for cold blooded murder. So, non-violent populist protest movements are not new to India. In Tunisia, ages of despotic rule despite simmering resentment, perhaps reached a tipping point and the youth's self-immolation was the trigger the already incensed nation needed to break free. And Tunisia, perhaps was that precedent, Egypt needed to set her revolutionary wheels in motion. Yes, the current Middle Eastern revolutionary spree is nothing short of a fairy tale - one small event sets off a 'Facebook' revolution of sorts and manages to topple regime after regime. But the issue is, not all fairy tales have predictable endings! Like say, in Egypt, people now are suffering from revolutionary fatigue, the army that took over comes across as an equal, if not a bigger devil in terms of human rights violations, the economy is in a shambles, tourism is dead, and the void looks alarming, to say the least.

Why am I bringing this up here? Well, Anna Hazare's current movement is my trigger for this thought. The slew of scams that India has seen does make me feel rather ashamed to say that I belong to this country as it stands today. I've almost forgotten the look of the newspaper without a scamster headline screaming at my face. Winning the ICC World Cup perhaps helped salvage some pride, though the up coming Indian Premier League (IPL) brings back memories of blatant frauds and scams of less than a year ago. The way scamsters and Indian politicians work hand in glove is disgusting, to say the least. I know for a fact that a greater part of the Indian youth has lost faith in Indian politicians. No doubt, democracy is lovely, the freedom to choose who governs me is excellent in concept. But, given the kind of people I see ruling over me, I feel that I'd be happier being disenfranchised! It is election time in Tamil Nadu, and laptops, TV sets, gold, clothes, money are being promised to all and sundry. Protesters are being harassed, thrashed even and the brazenness of it all makes one's blood boil!

Having an independent entity oversee the moral uprightness of people who govern us, looks like a plan that can deliver us from such disgrace as what faces us in India, today. The fact that the Lokayuktas would comprise upright, respected members of civil society is a shot in the arm. The fact that they would have rights to press charges and prosecute any wrongdoer who might be in power seems most necessary. The fact that those in power cannot protect their own, hopes to ensure no more Jessica Lal cases, or instances of Marie Antoinette, steeped in arrogant power! It is a new model, where we want a stand alone entity apart from democratically elected leaders, put in place by us, to keep a check on those who govern us. The old, existing model has clearly failed, as there was the office of the Central Vigilance Commissioner, appointed by Parliament to check corruption, which, as it turns out, was toppled as the CVC himself was kicked out for being corrupt in a palm oil scam!

So, why not try the new model? Maybe those who govern us, need a higher power that governs them, because clearly, depending on a conscience and God is a non-existent concept vis-a-vis Indian politicians. No doubt, this is not a panacea. In my humble opinion, I would perhaps be happier saying I am an Indian if such a body did come into place, and did manage to keep a tab on the corrupt corridors of power in India.
This revolution is not a be-all and end-all. But it is not a trigger happy FB revolution, either. If not for anything, I, like scores of Indian youngsters, want to give this concept a fair chance. So, my bit for this movement starts with 'Here' is what you need to know about the current Anna Hazare movement for enacting the Lokpal bill.