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The Anna protest causing the Congress to respond with confusion. What next ?




I am right now watching TV, and there is this huge demonstration ongoing at India Gate, with people gathered there in large numbers. These are people demonstrating in favor of Anna Hazare, but in actuality, they are protesting against corruption that is widespread right now. It is not the huge amounts of corruption that is being seen in mega scams such as the 2G scam, the amounts spent in the CWG planning, and many others, but the amount of money that a person needs to spend for even regular activities such as their interaction with the local municipal authorities. An apt example of this is the description of a person having to spend money for getting the registration of their baby, for registration of their marriage, for education, for their passport, driving license, all the way to having to pay money to get the death certificate for their relatives. The feeling of helplessness that comes due to these interactions is incredible, and when you see a person promising some sort of hope, you can expect people flocking to such a hope. And when this hope comes in the form of Anna Hazare, a former soldier who has a high reputation for integrity, simplicity, and who has taken on politicians in the past, you have a recipe that could literally shake the Government.
The Government has tried several measures to try and control the situation. It has tried to stain the reputation of Anna Hazare and his men, it has claimed that any such experiments with the usage of civil society in drafting bills is a failure, it has claimed that the Government is indeed dedicated to defeating corruption, it has claimed that once the law is before Parliament, then others should not have the need to raise such protests, and of course, it claims that what Anna Hazare is doing is contempt of democracy, since Parliament is the center of the representatives of the people. Let me try and take these one by one.

– That Anna is corrupt based on an old report by Justice Sawant. In a report from many years back, it was alleged that out of the money from the trust run by Anna, Rs. 2.2 lakhs was spent on his birthday party. However, there are no further allegations, and the Government of the day did not pursue these charges even though Anna was an enemy of the Government since he was protesting against the corruption indulged in by the ministers.
– Interaction with civil society is a failure. The Government has claimed that it is only the Government that is empowered to create bills, but that does not prevent people from protesting against the nature of a bill. It is the duty of citizens (who are dedicated to the country) to protest against laws that do not get the desired effect. Further, the Government has itself formed some of its most money spending laws based on the advice of the NAC (which is also a group of unelected people that the Congress President favors). Further, if you read articles of the time that the Government – Civil society was working on the Lok Pal Bill, the apparent arrogance of the ministers was incredible.
– Government committed to defeating corruption. For anybody following various cases in the past, this is so laughable (if it was not so tragic and harmful to the country). Most of the major cases ongoing now are because of court supervision, media highlighting, and public pressure. On its own, the Government denies everything, and claims that there is no corruption. Even when acknowledging corruption, the Government claims that it cannot prevent corruption.
– Parliament is supreme. This is one of the biggest statements that the Government has been making in recent times. From the statements, it almost seems like that the Congress wants to claim that there is a dictatorship of the Parliament, and the people, who empower the Parliament, have no say once a bill is in front of Parliament. The constitution starts with ‘We the people ..’, which essentially means that it is the people who are supreme, they are the one who elect the current representatives in Parliament, and they are the ones who can bring down the current members of Parliament.
The basic point is that the current Lokpal Bill that the Government has piloted in Parliament is flawed, since it excludes a huge section of the babudom from it. It does not include the officials to whom one has to pay the everyday bribe, it does not include those levels who manage to pilfer money from the huge money schemes such as NREGS, the proposed Food Safety Bill, and so on. What is the point of having a law that cannot handle effectively the corruption that a normal citizen faces ?




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