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April 24, 2011

Page: 4/32

Home > 2011 Issues > April 24, 2011


UPA is corrupt, all politicians are not
Anna Hazare's war on corruption

IT’S dangerous to generalise corruption. All Indians are not corrupt.

A thousand motivated men and women - the Jantar Mantar crowd at no point was larger than that - cannot bring a revolution unless the people are so desperate, in a vast country like India. Nor has the country got so fed up with democracy. The real rebuff to the in-house idiot-box revolutionaries came when the people from all the poll-bound states from Assam to Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Kerala enthusiastically-above 80 per cent, voted to elect their new governments.

People defied the separatists in Jammu and Kashmir to cast 75 per cent vote in the Panchayat election. The cataclysm that the proponents of the Jan Lokpal Bill predicted is a long way to come. Big problems have a tendency to degenerate into simplistic one shot solution without really confronting the problem itself.

Every Indian is concerned about corruption. It has in the recent years assumed monstrous proposition that any campaign to root it out will gain universal appeal. The condition for this was created by the repeated exposure of huge loss to the public exchequer as a result of crony capitalism which the Manmohan Singh government has come to personify. And the relentless pursuit of the opposition to fight corruption and force the government to act has created a national awareness. Reports from states say that the major issue debated in the ongoing assembly elections was corruption, both local and national.

Anna Hazare’s four-day fast unto death last fortnight added fuel to the fire. Anna got support from all quarters irrespective of party or ideological differences, though a particular group of pro-Maoist anarchists tried to hijack it. Their cohorts in the media quickly jumped into the fray offering saturation coverage, declaring "revolution is here", "what we are witnessing at Jantar Mantar is a replay of Tahrir Square"-a reference to Egyptian rebellion against dictatorship - and painting all politicians in the black. If the politicians are so bad whom have the people in large numbers voted for? There are politicians in all parties, especially in the Left and the BJP who are honest and known for their piety and record of service. Congress is the fountainhead of corruption.

No doubt, there are a large number of politicians in India who are corrupt and who should be behind bars. But politicians are not the only category that deserves this punishment. Civil servants, health officials, educationists, industrialists and traders fall into that category. The fact is, corruption has become a way of life with most affluent class, and no section of the society is, insulated from it. That is why there is large scale cynicism in the wake of the Anna Hazare-led fast and the government’s acceptance of his demand for a Lokpal Bill. The Bill is expected to be passed before the next Independence Day.

What after that? Will the passing of the Bill end corruption? What will happen to all the corruption charges levelled against politicians in the course of last five years, when by general consensus it had reached intolerable heights? Will all the charges be brushed under the carpet once the Bill is passed? Or will the new Lokayukta reopen all the known corruption charges and ensure punishment? And what about persons like Kapil Sibal, perched in the Bill draft committee who has been trying to white-wash the biggest of all corruptions in the country, saying that it is simply a matter of interpretation?

Anna has promised to return to the Capital’s protest venue if his demands were not met before the expiry of deadline. Anna Hazare’s campaign in April was largely media-driven. He greatly benefited from the atmospheric against corruption created all over the country by the movements of the opposition and the mass awareness mission of Swami Ramdev. Anna was able to appeal to a large majority of Indians mainly for two reasons. First, the image of Bharat Mata on the venue of his fast, invocation to the ideals of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi. Second, his own record of unblemished public life and patriotic credentials. That a 72- year old, simple, rustic, villager could easily become an icon of the educated, upwardly mobile, middle class and youth, the chatteretti and elite alike shows that modern India is still moved by a clear mix of tradition, sincerity and saintliness. Our elitist, jet set politicians can learn a few lessons from Hazare’s success secret.

Unless the general level of morality, intolerance to corruption, and the character in the society are held high no amount of legislation or force can eliminate corruption. Major areas breeding corruption are too notorious. Law and order machinery, police is one of the most corrupt set up in the country. So is India’s financial and education sector. Election expenditure makes every politician corrupt. And politics has now become a career, in many cases business by another name. Unless politics become a means to serve the needy, not the greedy, politician in India will not command respect. Instead of condemning politicians as a class and democracy as a system reformers should try and redeem their lost glory.

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