“Be the change you want to see “

India is one Huge country . We are a country of argumentative indians . Everyone has an opinion on everything . And because of that argumentativeness , what finally comes out of a debate in this country is generally the right choice .
We have an imperfect , yet beautiful democracy . We elect our representatives who make laws for us and who run the country on a daily basis . We gave them certain privileges because running a country of 1.2 billion is not an easy task . They come back to us (atleast) every 5 years to seek our permission to carry on in office . We have the choice of giving them that permission or denying them that permisson .

 We have a constitution .  It is the longest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world, containing 450  articles in 24 parts, 12 schedules and 96 amendments, for a total of 117,369 words in the English language version. Our constitution gave us ,among other things , the right to freedom of speech and expression and that to protest against something we don’t like . It gave us certain duties to perform for the betterment of the nation as a whole and consequently for our own welfare . These duties are mere moral obligations , not legally enforceable . Which means , even if you didn’t do any of them , no one can take you to court . That is the beauty of our constitution . It gives us all our rights and leaves it to you whether or not you want to do something in return for the country .

We have a system of parliamentary demcracy . We set up a loksabha and a rajya sabha . Our Loksabha and our Rajya sabha . Inside , our representatives debate laws , amend laws , make laws and basically run our country for us . Contrary to popular belief , chair hurling and abuse exchanging is not what happens inside parliament . The proceedings in parliament are telecast live on Loksabha TV so that people know what is happening inside the walls of parliament . Nowhere else in the world is such a facility available for citizens . The debates that happen are of high quality , of substance , of grit and determination to get the best possible solution to whatever the subject . The critics will call all debates politically motivated and biased,  but , if out of that political motivation something good comes out , is it bad ?

There are corrupt politicians . True . But there are those who genuinely concerned for the nation and who are doing great work . How did the corrupt ones get there ? Somebody voted for them . Somebody gave them the numbers to get there . I hear SO much talk about money power winning elections . Ask yourselves one question . When these corrupt people bribe voters into voting for them , shouldn’t the voter reject the bribe and vote for the right person ? Isn’t that bribery ? If the voter took a bribe , shouldn’t he go to jail for it ? That voter is as guilty as the passport office clerk who wants money to clear your file . Infact more so because the passport clerk asking for a bribe is harrassing only one person , the voter’s vote on the other hand ,sends that candidate to parliament , where he will then decide the nation’s future .

Corruption is a menace . Think about it . If you were patient enough , better still if everyone was patient enough , can we get our work done in a government office without paying a bribe ? The reason you paid a bribe was because you felt , in your wisdom , that too much time was being taken to get a simple file passed . Say we were all patient enough . How long will they hold your file ? How long will they hold all our files ? If you showed up everyday at that office and waited patiently for your turn , eventually it will get done . If everyone did that , it would become the norm . Overtime , the waiting time will reduce once the clerk realises that no matter how long he made everyone wait , NO ONE will pay him a bribe . But those words are crucial . No one should pay a bribe . The Gandhian way of protest is not hiring a posh Mumbai ground for 7lakh rupees and making a 74 year old man fast for 3 days . The heart of the Gandhian way of protest was non-violence and patience . That virtue called patience is the most rarely found trait in people nowadays .

” Be the change you want to see in the world ” . It’s the most important message the father of our nation left us . Try getting some work done without paying a bribe . It’s not easy . It’s a struggle . But that is what our fight is against . The sense of satisfaction you get when you know that you did not pay a bribe is extraordinary !

The point of this post is simple . The current system is bad , probably rotten , destroyed ,mutilated . The easy way out is to run away from it and call for a “participatory democracy “and what not. But what we must do is to make the system work . Force it to work . Clean up the system . Years of corrosion has made the system the way it is today . No one ever said that this fight against corruption was going to be easy . It is going to be a struggle but if 1.2 billion join hands , nothing is impossible .
The lokpal bill will be a useful tool in this fight . But let us not make it our trump card . Lets us not overestimate the lokpal and understate our own roles in the process .

We must be thankful for the democracy we have , for the constitution we have ,for the rights we have, for the freedoms we enjoy .At the same time, we must be aware of  the duties and the responsibilties  that come with that . Let us not be naive and think of the lokpal as the game-changer or think of a group of 5 people to be the agents of change . 1,180,274,332 proud indians are the agents of change . 1,180,274,332 are the ones who will make a difference . That is our trump card . The power of the indian people . That inherently indian trait of a strong will power to make a change , that single-minded determination that brought the british empire to it’s knees . That is our trump card . That should be our trump card !

Lokpal Bill : The whole solution or just a part of it ?

Starting from where I left off in my previous post ( http://dudurudh.blogspot.com/2011/08/i-have-not-so-far-blogged-my-opinion.html#more ) , there has to be some way to tackle corruption and if the lokpal is not the complete answer to that , what is ?

The problem with this agitation led by Anna Hazare has been the creation of this notion that if you don’t support Anna and the Lokpal bill , you must be pro-corruption , anti-development , and neck deep in corruption yourself , which is why you are afraid of the lokpal bill . That is not the case and the sooner more people realise that , the more answers we will get to the question of how to stop corruption . The lokpal bill is not the last straw in the battle against corruption . It’s not that the lokpal is not going to help . The mass agitation for it is a significant step, a crucial step  that has shaken the government and told them that the people are angry , fed up and disgusted by corruption and the inabilty of this government to do anything to counter corruption has fueled that anger further .

Tell me . What is it that affects the common man more? The fact that he has to pay a bribe to get his passport , driver’s license , railway ticket , ration card and all that or the extremely large amount of money wasted at the commonwealth games and so on ? Let me be clear . Both are equally bad . But the former affects every one of us more directly . Is punishing the guy who asked for a bribe  more important or is it more important that you don’t have to pay a bribe at all ? Yes the bribe taker should be punished but is’nt prevention better than cure? The major argument is that a strict law will deter the wrong doers. There are stern punishments for murder and rape too. That has not stopped murders and rapes, has it?

That is where we need to think beyond the lokpal . Look at the root of the issue and solve it . Why do we have to pay a bribe ? To get some work done fast .A certain process that otherwise takes weeks gets done in days or hours when a bribe is paid . That tells me something .That it is infact possible for that process to get done that fast . Why does it not happen  ? 
Well , the officer at the office will take his own time to work on it . Be patient enough and weeks , months later, you’ll find your work is done . Like in courts around the country , government offices have a lot of backlog . Files are simply not cleared fast enough to be able to clear new ones . Efficiency therefore is poor .
When you go to a government office , you are in a line . You are way behind the poor farmer who was there 2 weeks ago to get his land registered . Now by the time his file gets cleared , its going to be 2 more weeks . Consequently , yours will be cleared only months later . That is the reason for the delay.

But say you bribe the guy at the counter . He’ll clear your file ahead of the others . Basically you cut the line . Infact , there is no line at all . You bypass the line ! Sadly , the poor farmer is still stuck there because he can’t afford a bribe . And he has to wait for longer because there are more people who will get their files cleared by paying bribes .

It’s what they call a gap in supply and demand . The solution therefore , lies in recruiting more officers who will inturn clear more files , which will inturn reduce the backlog which will inturn reduce the time you need to wait for your passport or driver’s licence  and inturn make the whole process a lot more efficient and someday , hopefully , that farmer will get his work done too .

Now where does the lokpal get involved in all this ? It does not actually . Where the lokpal really needs to create an impact is at the higher levels . Things like the 2G scam and CWG scam . Let the lokpal investigate and prosecute the guilty in those sort of high profile cases . It reduces the burden of the lokpal , maximising it’s efficiency too . And instead of recruiting more people to work under the lokpal , you can simply add them to existing offices and make the whole system more efficient .

And what happens to bribe takers that will exist after all this ? The lokayukta at the state level is more than capable of handling those cases . The Lokpal does not need to bother about it .

This is just an opinion . It’s what I feel really has to be done . To implement this , it takes a strong will to counter graft . The government may have the will , it has failed to show it . And that is where I will be critical of this government . For not showing that will .

 I don’t have the support of 5000 people at some ground and thousands others everywhere else . So this opinion like the many, many others  will just vanish into  miniscule nothingness infront of the pseudo greatness the lokpal has acheived before even having been tried , tested and proven  .

Team Anna – A critique’s view

I have not , so far , blogged my opinion about any major national issue that’s been in the news . I always wanted my blog to stay politically correct !

But this issue of corruption , how to fight it , who should fight it and the lokpal bill and everything associated to it has become a matter of a great number of national debates . Kisan Baburao Hazare , the man known by the name Anna Hazare and his method of protest and the sheer number of people supporting him , and his recent confrontations with the government . All , initially appealed to me . Someone has decided to take it upon himself to clean up the mess that corruption has created and the people of the country were rightfully putting their might
behind him . I was behind him too .

That , however , has changed.

The media calls them Team Anna : Kisan Baburao Hazare , Arvind Kejhriwal , Kiran Bedi ,Prashanth and Shanthi Bhushan .

They took up the issue of a certain bill that was waiting to be passed for a very very long time . The Lokpal Bill . To set up an authority to look into allegations of corruption against government officials . The government agreed to table the lokpal bill . But Team Anna claimed , probably rightly so , that the government draft was inept , toothless , and outright useless in tackling corruption . They demanded that a joint commitee be created with members of civil society and government to draft an effective lokpal bill . 9 meetings later 34 out of 40 suggestions put forth by team Anna were accepted . Since I am no expert , I’ll reserve comment on the rights and wrongs.

By now Team Anna has a large following . Thousands of Indians , fed up with the menace of corruption , came out on the street in support of Anna Hazare . Most of them , like me , with no knowledge of the fine details of the lokpal bill . All , just happy that the fight against corruption , now had a face . Anna Hazare . The second Mahatma Gandhi . The modern day freedom fighter . The man leading India’s “Second War for freedom ” . But what Anna was crusading for now was , the acceptance of his draft bill and his alone . He and his supporters forgot one very important rule of democracy . It’s a country of 1.2 Billion , you simply can’t assume that all of them agree with everything you do ! There were other NGOs , social activists trying to bring their version of the lokpal to the government much before Team Anna .  Their opinion is as valuable as Anna’s . He , his team and his supporters have not thought about that . Is that fair ? Is that democracy ? Is a hue and cry in the name of a protest in public more democratic in anyway than a silent opinion expressed directly to the government ? No .

The bill was then , tabled in the parliament . The parliament inturn , as is procedure , sent the draft to a standing commitee of the parliament . That is where it stands . That is where the matter should end .
It did’nt . Kisan Baburao Hazare declared that if the Bill was not passed by the parliament by the 15th of August , he would go on a fast unto death .
Seriously ? I can understand setting deadlines for issuing passports and ration cards . But for parliament to pass a bill ? A serious bill ! It has to be discussed . It has to be framed and it has to be passed . The parliament also , incase everyone forgot , has to discuss a whole host of other issues . Price rise for example . And as if all that work was not enough , there was a debate in parliament about Anna Hazare .

Everyone has an opinion on this sudden outburst of public emotion . I have one as well . I am certain not everyone agrees with me .

 Is there a solution that can effectively end corruption ? Absolutely ! Is the Lokpal bill or the Jan Lokpal bill that solution ? Well , not really .

What is the solution then? More on that next time !