Lok Pal Bill Greater Noida Civil Society Calls For An Immediate Discussion in the Lok Sabha....Anna Hazare Anti Corruption Movement Debate organized by parichowk.com at BIMTECH Greater Noida on Sunday 21st August 2011..More
The phenomenon known Anna Hazare
By Bipin Sharma
The name Anna Hazare today rings a bell inside every Indian, cutting across all age groups, caste, creed and religion. The name Anna says volumes for itself simply because the modern day Gandhian has given a sure shot reason to each and every Indian to feel good and smile after a really long long while. Following his epic 12 day fast coupled with the assiduous backstage meticulous efforts of his team, now popularly referred to as ‘Team Anna’, the government came down on their knees, thus paving the way for a general consensus on the Anna version of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Surely a historic moment with history having been written in our Parliament on 27th August, 2011. The whole nation erupted in joy and there were celebrations, revelries all over the country as well as by the Indian Diaspora the world over. Other nations will surely be inspired to take a leaf out of the books of this great Indian peaceful rebellion against rampant corruption which lead to an unprecedented unification and integration of our country. Where do you get to see such peaceful and non violent ways of registering your protests against the system’s fallings and undoing’s. This movement promises to set a novel benchmark for other nations in times to come. Though critics and hardliners are cautioning the people that a long distance has still to be traversed before one actually gets down to the jubilation part, it’s imperative for such wise beings to appreciate that what really matters is that Anna’s one resolute and definitive step is actually a giant leap for mankind’s to come. And history and future generations will stand testimonial to this veracity. In simple semantics, the turbulent situation of the nation entailed Indians to frantically bolster their bonding and comradeship, and the ‘Anna hurricane’ was just what the doctor had ordered. The perfect panacea!
The championing movement against corruption by Anna and the entire sea of humanity will be a much needed fodder for politicians and crusaders all over the globe chiefly because they would henceforth, be wary of Anna like leaders, who with a non violent stance can rouse millions compared to dictators and authoritarians towing the hardliner and the violent stance.
Significantly, India has for long been in need of a cult figure like Mahatma Gandhi to not only redeem them from the dire levels of corruption, but also to restore their long lost faith on the prevalent system. Thankfully in ‘Anna’, people have rediscovered the same old tenors of Mahatma, who epitomised Non Violence and Satyagraha.
Having said that, I appreciate the sentiments of people when they say that Anna is reincarnation of Bapu. There’s a lot which both the cult personalities share in common foremost of all being, their simplicity, integrity and missionary zeal.
‘Anna Storm’ or simply the movement against corruption has made the common man realise his or her enormous strength, and reinstated in them that their voices of grievances would actually be heard and addressed. Not to miss, the government and the political system too have had their lessons in this entire saga, albeit the harsh way. Whilst, realizing the resounding power of the common man, the political class has learnt it once and for all that attempts to cow down the voice and plight of the common man would mean burning their fingers.
Another lesson learnt has been to keep off from any sort of ‘divisive politics’. This because the masses are all aware that it is not communalism, but ‘rampant and deep rooted corruption’ which really has been crippling our country, the economy and our outlook. It’s time to bid adieu to all sorts of divides and bury the hatchet by looking towards the brighter times. Gratuitously casting aspersions on the secular credentials of such movements and their torchbearers is absolutely ridiculous, and would pose great deal of encumbrances in the ‘fight against corruption’.
Anna’s historic August fast that has earned the sobriquet ‘August Kranti’ now has indubitably catapulted the never say never die crusader’s status to glorious echelons, in fact, placed him at the altar from where his large than life image is bound to leave the other living legends absolutely awestruck. For giving a country of 1.2 billion a newly found ray of hope, he is already being hailed as a ‘living legend’ who truly deserves to be conferred the country’s top most award ‘Bharat Ratna’ for his selfless contribution in the field of social reforms. Owing to his relentless spirit and passion with which he has gone about galvanising the massive crowds of the largest democracy in the world, this simpleton from Ralegaon Siddhi today undeniably enjoys more adulation than even the legendary sportsmen and Bollwood thespians of our country who are often hailed as the ‘Demi Gods’ of the tinsel town with a huge fan following.
My nephew immensely moved with this movement articulated, “Anna Hazare is a rage, because of his name which if bifurcated into two parts, needs to be read as “Ann” meaning food, and the other as “Hazaaron” signifying thousands. Both words when integrated go on to constitute a defiant campaigner who not only possesses the resilience to defy the mighty and the powerful, but has that remarkable trait to allure thousands and millions’ towards his social crusades and reforms through peaceful, non violent ways. That said, this is what makes Anna such a cult figure today for people of all age groups and social status.”
Well this solitary exposition by my nineteen year nephew embodies the buoyancy and the emotions of countless youngsters and teenagers like him who seem to reckon that Anna holds the key to the jeopardised state of affairs owing to the unabated spate of scams and frauds which seems to be a complete travesty of the whole system.
I have often heard people born after Independence (1947) moaning how much they miss having contributed their bit in the epic freedom fight struggle against the tyrannical Britishers. Well as luck would have it, the Almighty and the destiny have been extremely kind in bestowing them almost a similar once in a lifetime opportunity. The only distinction being that it is a fight not against any oppressors, but an endemic named ‘graft’ which has created such a big divide and a whole deal of mistrust towards those wielding power.
The ubiquitous movement against deep rooted scourge of corruption in the society has been astoundingly peaceful, yet thunderous in its appeal in the sense that it has remarkably resonated the voice and grievance of every common man who has for a long time been grappling with the contentious issue of inflation and price rise. The ‘Annastorm’ or the Anna wave has not only helped unify the world on a grave subject namely corruption, but it has helped instil enormous fear amongst the habitual graft ‘acceptors and givers’. The very fear of being caught red handed would deter a considerable majority. Even the average IQ man on the street was wondering about the government drafted Lokpal Bill which was an all out toothless one, and thus a complete eyewash since it had nothing on the platter to curb the most serious menace engulfing the entire country today.
Though meetings did happen between government and the civil society members, nothing emerged as the government drafted their own version of the Lokpal Bill by doing a volte-face on their earlier assurances as alleged by Team Anna. Since it was in stark contrast to the Jan Lokpal Bill version of Anna and his team, there was palpable discontentment. Thus lead to the announcement of the August 16 indefinite fast by the veteran Gandhian. Many in the government simply dismissed as a ‘damp squib’, while some launched a scathing personal rhetoric attack on Anna. With the ruling party chairperson away from the action scene in the most turbulent of times, it needed just one blunder mistake of getting Anna and his team arrested on the morning of 16th August, 2011 to bring the wheel of misfortunes and disrepute to a full circle for the Congress Party.
There was ubiquitous and spontaneous outrage throughout the country over the high handedness shown in muzzling the voice of the protestors by taking them into preventive custody. The media amplified with almost a 24x7 coverage of the entire saga as they too sensed a clear wave of public empathy in support for the civil society that was earnestly striving to cleanse the system of all its muck.
Eventually better sense prevailed with our seasoned parliamentarians acceding to the just demands of Anna thus marking a new chapter for the Indian Democracy. The movement has already got itself etched in the golden letters for more than one reason. Besides the fact that the much awaited strong version of the Lokpal Bill is soon going to be a reality on black and white, the other astounding truth remains that the country would take no time to unify and form an endless human solidarity chain on issues of common concern and urgency. Quite justifiable, when it’s actually the people’s unflagging support that ensures them a prestigious berth in the Parliament or the Legislative Assembly with a thumping majority.
Personally speaking, I have staunchly believed that you no longer remain a loser even in defeat if you accept the verdict graciously. Simply put, if the politicians have had to face a lot of heat in the recent times, the best recourse is to gracefully hand the victory shield to the people’s court which would thus aptly do the balancing act for the presently bedazzled and beleaguered political heavyweights. Further unwarranted utterances on the intent and role of the civil society would only make matters more intricate.
Why do people in Shingnapur in Maharashtra have since time immemorial been keeping their homes unlocked simply because they know that the wrath of Shani Dev will instil profound fear in the minds of burglars and dacoits. No exaggeration, to equate the Shani Dev fear with that of the Lokpal. A strong bill will deter the habitual bribe takers and givers from indulging in such unlawful escapades.
Having remain glued to the marathon 12 day fast of Anna, one is also reminded of the yesteryear Dev Anand classic ‘Guide’ where a small town tourist guide goes on to become a guru for the entire village reeling under a severe spell of famine.
Whatever said and done, how many times do you get to see parents of new born babies naming children after the leaders in these modern times. With a record number of parents recently naming their newborn’s after this indefatigable tornado named Anna, it clearly proves this man surely is an exception to the rule!!
No wonder, we have a reason to heave a sigh of relief .....
India comes of age
By Bipin Sharma
These are surely amazing times, something unprecedented that the aam junta of Hindustan has been witness to in the recent times. Quite true, the insinuation is towards the castigatory moves against the scamsters and the sinisters who not only indulged in an all out loot fest, but have also caused a great deal of harm to the imagery of our nation on the global arena with their shameless acts of corruption.
With some of the swindlers cooling their heels behind bars now, it signifies the beginning of a ‘new era’ for the country that once earned the sobriquet “Sone Ki Chidiya”. This has to be perceived as the Victory of India, with due accolades to the colossal efforts of the two indispensable components sans which this novel chapter would have never seen the light in the very first place. These are firstly the ‘people’s power’, and secondly the exemplary role of the ‘Indian Media’ which has set astounding benchmarks for times to come. In particular, the unstinting efforts of Arnab and his team that have lead from the front in this epic war against the cancer of corruption, and in a way, directly or indirectly galvanised the entire media fraternity in their own special way with their resoluteness in unravelling scams of the highest magnitude before the public eye. Albeit the war is still far from over, the long awaited beginning has certainly been made against the influential power wielders of the country that call the shots and hold the upper hand.
My way or the highway
Both these factors namely the power of the common man and the media have truly supplemented each other in the sense that it has been their unspoken, lethal alchemy that has clinched the battle for the innocent masses in such turbulent times. For this, these two ‘factors’ deserve a standing ovation for their steadfastness, grit and relentless pursuit for bringing the guilty to books. While the big fishes might still be roaming free, going by the startling turnaround of events in the recent times, the day is not far when these high profile bunch of crooks too would have a great re-union with their old fraudster pals (read ‘partners in crime’) who are presently lodged inside the high profile Tihar jail.
Augurs well for a society that has since time immemorial been plagued by the menace of graft and money laundering. On one side, you have the honest tax payers money going down the drains, and into the pockets of such rogues, and on the other side, you have the mind blowing price rise and the never ending inflation woes. Consequently, one can do little in such an eventuality except moan the state of crumbling government machinery and system on the whole.
While the government spokespersons have often gone on record to reiterate and elucidate that those daring to hold the system to ransom in a parliamentary democracy shall be sternly dealt with, what they fail to discern is that they too are not out of the purview of this diktat.
With too much water having flown under the bridge, people and the civil society are right in likening the present day anarchical situation to that of the 1975 Emergency Period. Why are our seasoned politicians intentionally feigning to be oblivious of the marked distinction between democracy and dictatorship?
Our thespian netas seem to have learnt no lessons from the recent uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Syria where the people’s power turned the tables on the long ruling dictators and their autocratic ways. Expecting the 21st century gizmo and gadgets flaunting society to toe the line of the leaders that fail to address core issues is simply preposterous.
Thanks to the media again for giving the impetus to the ever so pertinent issue of ‘black money’. Again it won’t be imprudent to be optimistic of restoring the stashed illegal money from safe tax havens overseas now that the matters have reached the crescendo. People believe that ever since the issue started gaining momentum, it has begun sending jitters down the spines of the culpable coteries.
All said and done, the prevalent wave sweeping all over the length and breadth in the new age India seems to be keen for a new constituent body comprising die hard crusaders, RTI activists , civil society, and undeniably, the free and the fearless fourth estate.
Sometime ago, a senior ruling party leader was heard saying in response to the April 2011 fast unto death agitation by the indefatigable Anna and his team at Jantar Mantar, “We have been democratically elected by the people, so you can’t really thwart us”. Well, going by the massive crowds that congregated in April at Jantar Mantar, and then in August this year at Chhatrasal Stadium, outside Tihar Jail, it takes little to deliver the final verdict on who the final winner is. If our MPs have fought their way to the august house of the Parliament with a good victory margin, the nationwide support which ardent crusaders like Anna have managed to generate, have simply stolen the sheen off from the others in the fray. The winner at the end of the day are the one’s enjoying the stupendous mandate of the general public, the ‘aam aadmi’, and in the Round-II of the defiant Anna vs Government battle, the former has won it hands down, and that too with an emphatic thumping majority. What makes the victory all the more significant is that the entire movement against corruption has remained by and large a non political one. It would be foolish to brandish the mass movement as a manipulated, orchestrated one simply because it’s just not possible to inspire such a huge number of crowd into the struggle for ensuring the fructification of the popular people’s Jan Lokpal Bill.
The ruling coalition that boasts of myriads of politically correct intelligentsia should have sensed the popular public mood and perception. Alas that was not to be, since destiny too so desired to be paving the way for a much needed ‘renaissance’. This resurrection in turn, promises a fresh lease of life for countless of Indians who have been reeling under a massive spate of corruption tainted government. The outpouring of the masses in great numbers on to the streets for vehemently registering their protests against the intolerable shady deals and kickbacks is actually a much delayed move and gesture. This because, the truth remains that an earlier retaliation would have prevented huge losses to the exchequer. An enormous proportion of the precious wealth would not have got iniquitously frittered, thereby leading to the execution of many a key public welfare projects.
Our government must be reminded of the timeless proverbial, “Fools rush in where angels dread to”. Simply connoting that anything done in haste by them at such a vital time can prove utterly detrimental. There was just no need to press the panic buttons in the Anna Hazare case. By getting him forcibly arrested, the government has indubitably landed itself in a big time embarrassing position which will go on to seriously tarnish the imagery of the party and the government. A substantial populace of the country has already been antagonised by the high handedness antics of the men wielding power and those holding top notch posts.
The need of the hour was to flow with the tide chiefly because being in tandem with the civil society team would have earned the government not only enough brownie points to sail itself through the rough weather, but also shielded it from an all round flak. As luck would have it, a few grossly erroneous decisions not only lead to widespread chorus of angst against them, but caused an unbelievable outcry throughout the country. None, but the government is to be solely blamed for their undoing’s and miscalculations. As goes the saying, “It’s never too late in the day to make amends”, the big think tanks of government should now get their acts together if they wish to restore their lost pride by not only accepting the current public sentiment, but by redeeming the pious institution of democracy in its actual element. The heads should start rolling now, for it’s a ‘now or never situation’ failing which the government would find itself completely cornered and lurched by one and all.
16th August, 2011 will go down in the books of history when Anna Hazare along with other members of the Jan Lokpal got forcibly arrested. This D-day will play a pivotal role in determining which way the country would eventually go, towards ‘Satyamev Jayate’ or ‘Mithyamev Jayate’.
Whatever might be the outcome, the inevitable facet remains that the countrymen exasperated with rampant instances of corruption, shams, scams and subsequent cover-ups, can no longer bear the trauma and brunt any further agony, which is why they have resorted to hitting the streets for expressing their deep anguish. One would be a disillusioned fool to expect people following the “My way or the Highway” diktat lying down”. No ways!
The cheering news, on the contrary, is that the onus now rests with the people’s court, and it will not take a lifetime to expect a corrupt free, economically prosperous nation, one that will have zero tolerance towards graft and ill gotten deals. Certainly no mere wishful thinking!
Those in power should get going by revising their outlived strategies, and ensue it by shunning their egos for embracing the notion of extending the olive branch to crusaders who enjoy the overwhelming mandate of the nation.
The matter needs to be urgently addressed in the wake of the fact that any further delay might not only lead to more tumultuous state of affairs, but precisely speaking, result into catapulting and transforming the ‘War against Corruption Movement’ into another historical Freedom Fight type of Struggle.
I cannot resist humming a catchy one liner playing alongside, “Anna mein hai dum, Vande Mataram”.
A Critical Look at the Misinformation in the Media About Anna Hazare and the Anti-Corruption Movement....
ByA K Anand
There has been a lot of concern expressed by pro-government media and armchair so-cal led intellectuals on the need to follow parliamentary processes, the need to respect the constitution, etc., when it comes to Anna Hazare's anti-corruption fast. These are but some of the red herrings floated in the media by various people. Let us look at all these.
What follows is fairly long, but covers a lot of ground, so it cannot be helped. It is necessary to clear all the misinformation that has been carefully spread by the government and its media agents around the anti-corruption agitation.
Let us look at the fallacies that have been carefully spread by constant repetition in the media by various people:
1. Anna is Being Unconstitutional
Anna is not saying that we will establish an agency that is beyond the law or the government - indeed, with an agency of the scope of lokpal, only the Govt. has the resources to establish it. Anna is merely putting pressure on th e government to enact a law in the manner he and millions of others see right. There is nothing unconstitutional or morally wrong about this. It will still be parliament that passes the law. In a parliamentary democracy this is quite common and accepted. If parliament passes Anna's Jan Lokpal bill, it will be a constitutional act.
Conclusion: Just because Anna pressurized the Govt. to pass the act DOES NOT MAKE IT UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
2. Anna is Blackmailing Govt; if Govt accepts Anna's arguments, it would set a Dangerous Precedent
Today, Mr. Ashwini Kumar, Minister of State, stated that if the government adopted Team Anna's bill under pressure from the hunger strike, it would be "the end of constitutional democracy."
Really, Mr. Ashwini Kumar?
Let us look at just some of these past legislations to see if this is really the case, and if our c onstitutional democracy has ended because of them:
a. Formation of Andhra Pradesh: Potti Sreeramulu goes on hunger strike in 1952. Govt refuses to consider his demand. Sreeramulu dies, and this is followed by 4 days of rioting and destruction of property, including shops on Mount Rd. in Madras. Under this pressure, Nehru creates the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Indian democracy survived.
b. 1965 Anti-Hindi Agitations in Tamil Nadu. Government wants to introduce Hindi as national language. Riots erupt in Tamil Nadu. Govt. forced to withdraw its act and say that both English and Hindi can be national languages. Again, a show of force and violence compelled the government to pass a bill.
Indian democracy survived.
c. The Assam Accord of 1985, famously advertised by former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, was forced by a long campaign of the All-Assam Students Union and the All-Assam Gana Sangram Parishad, including the Nellie massacre, in which 2191 Bangladeshi immigrants were brutally slaughtered. Again, a gun was put to the government's head, and it came up with a law protecting Assamese "Sons of the soil."
Indian democracy survived.
d. In 1986, the Bharatiya Kisan Union, led by the firebrand leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, agitated against the Government of Uttar Pradesh to protest rising power rates by conducting a dharna against the Muzaffarnagar power house. The dharna was called off only after the power rates were lowered. (This was only one of several such agitations that Tikait conducted).
Indian democracy survived.
e. The autonomous region of Bodoland was also the result of an armed struggle by the Bodo Liberation Tiger Force (BLTF), which ended in an accord in 2003. Again, a gun was held to the Government that an autonomous region for the Bodos be carved out. This was not the result of petitions sent to parliaments, peaceful negotiations, etc.
Indian democracy survived.
f. In 2007-2008, the Gurjar community of Rajasthan started a violent agitation that involved road and rail rokos, tampering with rail tracks to cause derailments, and bandhs to pressurize the Rajasthan government to accede to their demand for a special caste status. Finally, Vasundhara Raje, CM of Rajasthan, agreed to their demands. (It is another matter that this has not solved the Gurjar agitation.)
Indian democracy survived.
g. Finally, on 29 November, 2010, K. Chandrasekhara Rao went on a fast-unto-death to agitate for the formation of Telangana. There were strikes, violence, and a general shutdown of the Telangana region for several days. KCR stopped his fast only when the Union Home Minister at the time, Mr. P. Chidambaram, made a statement that the Indian government would start the process of creating a separate Telangana state. Again, a gun was put to the Government and the Govt. agreed to the demand. (Again, it is another matter that Telangana has not been formed
yet - but that is not the focus of this discussion. The Govt. agreed to the demands, which they had rejected before, and the cause of this was the pressure exterted by the agitation.)
Indian democracy survived.
So, isn't it rather strange that the government and so many pseudo-intellectuals keep claiming over and over that if the Govt. agreed to Anna's Jan Lokpal bill, it would mean the "end of Indian democracy", and that this would "create a dangerous new precedent"? Mr. Ashwini Kumar, aren't we being a tad too dramatic?
Conclusion: There is no permanent danger to Indian dem ocracy if the Govt. agrees to draft the Jan Lokpal bill because of pressure from Anna Hazare and civil society. There is also no danger of setting a new precedent - the precedents are already there.
3. It is disrespecting parliament and the constitution to say that parliament should not put the bill in front of a standing committee and that parliament should pass the bill in 4 days
Last night I downloaded a copy of the Indian constitution and went through it. There is no mention of the words "standing committee" anywhere in it. There is also no mention of how short is too short a time to consider a bill. Indeed, there have been countless times that the Indian parliament has pushed through 15 bills in 4 days, etc., when it suited them. So Anna's insistence that the Jan Lokpal bill be immediately tabled in parliament is neither disrespectful of the constitution nor is it unprecedented in parliamentary practice.
< div>Further, in Indian parliamentary practice the standing committee is not mandatory, it is a device to discuss a bill if enough is not known about it. In this case, there is no need for a standing committee because the issues are well-known. That doesn't mean there should be no debate on it. It can be directly debated on the floor of the parliament - just that there is no need to have this delaying tactic of a 3-9 month standing committee process.
What seems more like the case is that no one likes to lose face, and if the govt. agrees to Anna Hazare's demands, they would lose face. Instead of saying that simple truth, they are covering up with smoke screens like "end of Indian democracy," "danger to the constitution," "disrespect to parliamentary process," etc.
Conclusion: There is no disrespect to the constitution or parliament in Anna insisting on a fast passage of the bill.
4. Anna and his team want to push through this bill without any debate
Anna's proposed Jan lokpal bill has been out in the open for 8 months. The reasoning behind the bill has been publicly explained by them and debated all this time. The bill has received intense scrutiny and discussion in the media over this time and the team has received 1300 suggestions from various people that they have incorporated into it, according to Arvind Kejriwal who stated this in an interview on TV with Karan Thapar. The current version of their jan lokpal bill, according to Arvind Kejriwal, is the 13th. In contrast, how open has the govt's bill been? Did they consult anyone except themselves? It is clear to everyone except those who do not wish to see that Anna Hazare's people are open to valid criticism of their bill and are willing to change the draft if a valid objection to it is raised. It is the govt which has taken the "my way or the highway" app roach, not interacted with the people of India, and simply thrown Anna's draft into the trash. Critics of Team Anna also do not realize (or do not affect to realize) that the Govt. had invited no debate on its bill, in contrast to the Jan lokpal bill which was in the public domain and which was inviting comments from anyone concerned for months. It is only after Anna started his fast that the Govt. even agreed to have people give in their feedback on the bill (with their 15 day period offer).
But curiously, people who are quick to criticize Anna Hazare on not allowing debate are completely silent on the fact that the government would have passed their bill with no feedback from any citizen had Anna not intervened.
Conclusion: Team Anna has allowed plenty of time for debate on the bill - and are willing to let parliament debate it further as well. They only object to the delaying tactic of a standing committee.
5. Team Anna is too much in a hurry - can't you wait 15 days?
The issue is not about 15 days. Of course, Team Anna and the people can wait 15 days, even 3 months as some have suggested, if the Government were serious. The issue is not 7 days old. It is 43 years old when you consider when the first lokpal bill was introduced in parliament. The Jan Lokpal draft that Team Anna drafted is 8 months old and the Govt. has not taken it seriously. It is 4 months since the April fast of Anna at Jantar Mantar,after which the Govt. promised Team Anna it would look seriously at their suggestions - only to produce a bill that completely rejects the spirit of Anna's jan lokpal bill, by making the lokpal an instrument of the government rather than a watchdog and by rendering it toothless. It is in the of all this that one must understand Team Anna's refusal to consider the 15-day period for other proposals considered by the Congress.
That it is a delaying tactic was further confirmed by Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi, when he said yesterday that the 15-day period is only for allowing other proposals to reach the committee; then the standing committee may take 3, 6, or even 9 months to finish considering all the bills. So clearly, the Congress is buying time, and hoping that by cooling off people for several months, they can reduce the intensity of the movement.
Furthermore, the demand by the govt. for more time to "study" the bill is unnecessary. There has been enough study of the bills. The government has already had 4-5 intense meetings with the civil society people to discuss each and every detail of both bills, so at least the principals involved in the discussions with Team Anna are intimately familiar with the Jan Lokpal bill. That itself proves that the demand for more time to study the jan lokpal bill is bogus. It is time for parliament to take up the jan lokpal bill on the floor, discuss it in detail in an honest way, and pass it, only making changes if something is obviously wrong and if there is potential for misuse of any of the provisions. If you are serious, you don't need a lot of time to pass a bill. If you are not serious, all the time in the world will not make a difference. This is why Team Anna is trying to force the issue.
Conclusion: Team Anna in not in too much of a hurry. It is only pressing the issue because the govt cannot be trusted if Team Anna agrees to a delay.
6. Anna is not Allowing a National Debate - Won't That make the bill better? Won't debate in Parliament make it better?
Surely it will. Nobody is denying that, and Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan have made it clear in interviews on several TV channels that they are open to modifying the draft. A debate in parliament, if conducted in good faith, taking Anna's bill as a base, and then modifying it suitably, will, I am sure, not be objectionable to anyone in the Anna camp. But the government's bonafides are questionable. Given the past behavior of the govt., one cannot be sure that they will not simply dismiss all its provisions when it goes to parliament.
One must also seriously ask if MPs will willingly agree to provisions that say that they can be investigated by an external agency when they currently enjoy immunity. Who will vote against themselves unless you put pressure on them? This is a parliament of which 18% of its members are either convicted of very serious crimes like murder and rape or facing such charges. Will they willingly agree to be investigated by an external agency as mandated by the Jan Lokpal bill? The govt.'s bill gives them the safeguard that only their own colleagues in parliament can investigate them, which is a great relief for such people bec ause they can then rely on party politics to save them.
If the government can assure the people publicly that it will try to honestly debate Anna's bill in good faith and not dilute it for their own ends, I think the people and Anna will agree. But consistently, the govt. has never struck a conciliatory note.
There is also the issue that the removal of immunity of MPs would require a constitutional amendment and that can take time. So be it. Let the government give an assurance that this will be done, and I am sure Team Anna will not mind the extra time. But what the govt seems to want is getting extra time with no strings attached, no commitments. No one who is protesting for a cause can accept such terms.
Conclusion: Team Anna is not against debate and would be willing to debate things even further, if conducted in good faith.
7. Anna is an extremist and d ictator: he makes statements like "Lao ya jao" and is forcing his views on parliament
Anna is trying to bring in change to a reluctant government. A show of intransigence, coupled with a show of support, is necessary to bring the govt. down from its high horse and make it willing to compromise. When you go to the bazaar in India and are willing to pay Rs.40 for an item, you don't immediately put your best offer first. You will typically ask for the item for Rs. 20; the shopkeeper asks Rs. 60 for it, and finally you settle for Rs. 40. Look at what Anna's stubbornness has achieved so far. Had he not gone on fast in this way, had he not refused to leave Tihar Jail when he was arrested, would you see the millions of Indians going on the streets demonstrating in support?
Compare the tone of the government a few days before August 16th to their tone now. Before this started, the govt. was publicly insulting of Anna and his team, and incredibly smug in their dismissal of him - now all that has stopped. Would this have happened had Anna had been polite, meek, and just talking nicely to the govt.? He tried that for 4 months and look at the insults he got from Manish Tiwari, Digvijay Singh, and the like.
Anna's public stubbornness should be seen for what it really is: a negotiating tactic. I am sure he is willing to negotiate with the govt., but do you really expect him to announce that on national TV and reveal his hand when the govt has not made any conciliatory overtures? But his team has made it clear that while they are willing to negotiate, the negotiation is about issues like implementation, etc., not about corruption or about leaving some people out of the ambit of the bill. I think this should be viewed as reasonable; the aim of the lokpal is to eliminate corruption; how can you negotiate on corruption? The govt. continues to be stubborn and sound like a stuck record; but I don't see commentators talking about how the govt. is behaving in a high-handed and dictatorial manner, and how it completely is ignoring the wishes of the people!
Conclusion: Anna's tough stance is a negotiating tactic - he will be flexible if faced with an honest offer.
8. If the Govt. agrees to Anna on Jan Lokpal, then tomorrow any crackpot proposal (say, a bill making women second-class citizens) can be pushed through by a determined group of people by going to the streets and going on a hunger strike.
This argument is completely disrespectful of the people of India. The people of India are rising up for a noble cause - eliminating corruption. They are not going to do that for every issue. Have they done it for any issue before? If you wanted to pass a law making women second-class citizens, how many people will come on to the streets? Hardly anyone. Give some credit to the people.
And give some credit to Anna Hazare. Do you think any Tom, Dick, or Harry going on a fast will get this kind of public support? I am not fan of Digvijay Singh, but I think he got this one right when he warned Baba Ramdev on the eve of his fast: "Don't think people will support your fast the way they did Anna Hazare's." And that turned out to be true. Ramdev was thrown out of Ramlila by a very high-handed, arrogant action by the government; how many people stood up for him? So there is no danger of this tactic being used every few months by anyone and everyone.
There is no danger of hunger strikes becoming the norm of the land in bringing in new legislation. It all depends on the issue and the leaders involved. I am not saying this cannot happen again - surely it can - but it takes something special for millions of Indians to march on the streets. I certainly don't see that happening for ever y single issue in the land. Given that this situation is so exceptional and given that the moral high ground does belong to the people, it behooves the government to respect the will of the people.
Conclusion: There is no danger that every law in India in the future will be a coerced one through hunger strikes.
9. Anna doesn't represent everyone. Do 10 lakh (1 million) people on the street represent 1.2 billion?
This is one of the most spurious arguments used. Most surveys of people's opinions are based on much smaller samples. When a bill is proposed that would hurt the interest of a specific group or agenda (you name it - Jats, Gujjars, OBCs, Maharashtrians, Tamils, Oriyas, women, children, price rise, reservation) - you have a political party that takes it up, uses 1000 armed goondas to create a ruckus in the country, burns buses, breaks shopfronts, enforces a bandh that people have no choice but to obey at the risk of death or bodily injury - and the govt. backtracks, saying it has to respect the will of the people, when in fact it has only respected the will of a few hundred or thousand armed goondas.
In contrast, here lakhs of people from every stratum of society are marching, in a nonviolent movement, and the government will say they do not represent the people. Is this not hypocritical and contradictory? Doesn't this suggest that the government chooses to reward violence and punish restraint?
Furthermore, turn on Indian TV and see the interviews with the participants in the marches and rallies and no one in his or her right mind will say these are not ordinary Indians from every segment of Indian society.
Conclusion: Anna Hazare represents the will of the majority of Indians.
10. Jan Lokpal is a draconian bill, the Agency thus c reated and the Jan Lokpal at its head will be a law unto themselves/himself
This argument either reveals that the people who are making it have not read the Jan Lokpal bill and the Govt. bill, or are hoping that the average person hasn't. A careful look at both bills quite clearly reveals that it is the Govt.'s bill that will create an agency that is a law unto themselves and has a huge potential to abuse its power, while the Jan Lokpal bill puts a lot of checks and balances to make sure the lokpal cannot act arbitrarily. Specifically, on the issue of complaints against lokpal staff, the Jan lokpal version asks for independent bodies in each state, composed of retired judges, bureaucrats, and civil society members to investigate the complaints, whereas the Govt. lokpal bill only asks the lokpal itself to investigate complaints into its officials.
The "draconian" charge probably also stems from the fact that the Jan Lo kpal bill is a bill which actually gives the lokpal some powers, whereas the govt. lokpal bill is completely toothless.
We had a Lokayukta under the current law in Karnataka, and look at the problems. Santosh Hegde was only able to indict Yeddyurappa and the Bellary brothers; he could recommend action against them, but he could take no action against them. Has the govt. taken any serious action against the Bellary brothers? No. The govt. lokpal would be only as powerful as Santosh Hegde was under the govt.'s bill. So you empower a government body, and the anti-Anna folks starts screaming "draconian." Would these people rather have the Bellary brothers roaming freely and looting the country at will, as they are currently doing?
To add to all this, such people also add, rather patronisingly, I might add, that the intention of the bill is good, we are all against corruption, but the bill is misguided. If anyone says th at the net effect of what they wish to happen is a toothless bill, then I must question the part of the previous statement that says that they are against corruption.
Conclusion: The Jan Lokpal bill is a bill that provides the lokpal with needed powers. It is not draconian. It also has checks and balances to make sure these powers are not abused, which the Govt. lokpal bill doesn't.
11. The lakhs of people who fill Ramlila grounds, Freedom Park, Azad Maidan, etc., really don't know the issues involved.
This might have some truth to it, but then I would ask: do you think the hundreds of students of Osmania University, who caused so much disorder in Hyderabad in Nov-Dec 2009 on the Telangana issue, knew all the issues related to the formation of Telangana? Do you think they all knew how much money is currently going to the different districts, how much to Hyderabad, how much to Guntur, ho w much to Adilabad, how much to coastal AP, etc., that they actually feel there is an injustice to Telangana? I bet the answer to that is that less than 1% of the students actually knew what they were agitating for. But they placed their confidence in their leader, K.Chandrashekara Rao, and trusted that he had done the analysis and concluded correctly (according to them) that Telangana was being discriminated against (whether that is true or not is not the subject of this discussion).
This is what happens in any agitation. A few leaders study a situation, are convinced that a course of action needs to be followed, express their point of view in summarized form to their supporters, and the supporters take up the cause on behalf of their leader. It is the same with any agitation. Compared to the normal standards of agitation, I dare say that the people who are agitating for the Jan Lokpal are a. much more aware of the issues than in any other agitation, and b. sincerely involved in the agitation.
By the latter, I mean the persons involved genuinely care, as opposed to many agitations which are carried out using mercenaries to cause disturbances and violence. A lot of people are placing faith on the integrity and scholarship of the leaders of the anti-corruption agitation. Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, the Bhushans, and Kiran Bedi have earned that respect out of a lifetime of living an exemplary life.
Conclusion: The people in the anti-corruption are more aware of the issues than are the participants in most protests in India.
Guys, there is a lot of misinformation going on in the media, and even well-meaning citizens are being taken in by the anti-Anna hype. I know this is a long article, but there has been so much anti-Anna rhetoric on all these points in the media that I felt compelled to clear the mists of misinformation floating ou t there. I request you to circulate this as much as possible so that the misinformation can be countered!
Who is Anna Hazare?
Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare, born on 15th January 1940. An ex-army man. Fought 1965 Indo-Pak War.
What’s so special about him?
He is recognized for his contribution to the development of Ralegan Siddhi, a village in Parner taluka of Ahmed Nagar district, Maharashtra, India.
This village is a self-sustained model village. Energy is produced in the village itself from solar power, bio fuel and wind mills.
In 1975, it used to be a poverty clad village. Now it is one of the richest village in India. It has become a model for self-sustained, eco-friendly & harmonic village.
This guy, Anna Hazare was awarded Padma Bhushan and is a known figure for his social activities.
Really, what is he fighting for?
He is supporting a cause, the amendment of a law to curb corruption in India.
How that can be possible?
He is advocating for a Bill, The Lok Pal Bill (The Citizen Ombudsman Bill), which will form an autonomous authority who will make politicians (ministers), bureaucrats (IAS/IPS) accountable for their deeds.
It’s an entirely new thing, right?
In 1972, the bill was proposed by then Law minister Mr. Shanti Bhushan. Since then it has been neglected by the politicians and some are trying to change the bill to suit their theft (corruption).
Oh.. He is going on a hunger strike for that whole thing of passing a Bill! How can that be possible in such a short span of time?
The first thing he is asking for is: the government should come forward and announce that the bill is going to be passed.
Next, they make a joint committee to DRAFT the LOK PAL BILL. 50% goverment participation and 50% public participation. Because you can’t trust the government entirely for making such a bill which does not suit them.
Fine, What will happen when this bill is passed?
A LokPal will be appointed at the centre. He will have an autonomous charge, say like the Election Commission of India. In each and every state, Lokayukta will be appointed. The job is to bring all alleged party to trial in case of corruptions within 1 year. Within 2 years, the guilty will be punished. Not like, Bofors scam or Bhopal Gas Tragedy case, that has been going for last 25 years without any result.
Is he alone? Who else is there in the fight with Anna Hazare?
Baba Ramdev, Ex. IPS Kiran Bedi, Social Activist Swami Agnivesh, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and many more.
Prominent personalities like Aamir Khan is supporting his cause. Actually, the whole India, infact Indians all over the world are supporting the cause.