Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Beyond popular outrage
मैं मानता हूं कि टीम अन्ना ने भ्रष्टाचार रोकने के लिए एक सार्थक शुरुआत की है. मैं अन्ना के मुद्दे और आंदोलन दोनों के पक्ष में रहा हूं और आगे भी रहूंगा. मेरे कुछ मित्र इस विषय पर ज़रा हटकर सोचते हैं. एक आदर्श लोकतंत्र की यह शर्त है कि वहां जितना महत्व समर्थन के लिए है, विरोध के प्रति उतना ही सम्मान होना चाहिए. हमारे विरुद्ध सोचने वालों के भी अपने तर्क हैं और अपनी चिंताएं हैं. वरिष्ठ पत्रकार विशाल दुग्गल इस मुद्दे और आंदोलन के विरुद्ध तो नहीं हैं, लेकिन अलग ढंग से सोचते हैं. अब जब इस पर हल्ले का माहौल बीत चुका है, मेरा मानना है कि अगर हम वाक़ई भ्रष्टाचार मिटाना चाहते हैं तो इन मुद्दों पर भी सोचा जाना चाहिए. श्री दुग्गल का पूरा लेख आपके विचार के लिए:
इष्ट देव सांकृत्यायन
Corruption today has seeped into the vitals of India’s body politic, acquiring frighteningly menacing proportions to the extent that any fresh disclosure of a scam has ceased to shock the people any more. What has accentuated the citizens’ growing disenchantment with the system is the connivance of top functionaries -- holding high offices -- in perpetuating the uninterrupted saga of institutional turpitude. The prevailing mood in the nation is an agonising quest to find ways and means to somehow stem the rot, which is threatening to undermine India’s rising political, economic stature and clout in the world.
Pertinently, the relentless anti-corruption movement launched by Anna Hazare-led civil society to set up Jan Lokpal has captured the popular imagination. The campaign has struck a sympathetic chord, as manifested in the protagonists of the anti-graft brigade finding positive, even larger-than life, projection in the media. However, the moot point here is that the whole issue of the scourge of corruption requires a dispassionate analysis and a vibrant public discourse. For, corruption is a too complex and serious issue to be resolved through an outright emotional reaction, as it runs the danger of the root cause getting drowned in the cacophony of mass protests being graphically captured on multiple media platforms.
Hazare's protest assumes significance in the wake of the deluge of corruption cases in the recent times, exposing the cracks in the political and administrative edifice of the country. With fires of corruption cauldron extending beyond the likes of Suresh Kalmadi and company to singe the intensely articulated image of a ‘suave, urbane and progressively-minded’ Delhi Chief Minister, while not even leaving the office of the Prime Minister beyond reproach, have brought into focus the open and shameless plunder of the national exchequer.
Also when the DMK leader and the former tainted telecom minister A Raja defended his allocations of 2G licenses by stating that the telecom policy was pursued by his ministry while constantly updating and apprising the Finance Ministry and PMO, the highest office of the land couldn't escape criticism. Clearly, the current UPA dispensation cannot wash its hands off the scams rocking its regime by unfailing regularity, by simply finding scapegoats.
While the nation is aghast at the sheer magnitude of corrupt practices afflicting the government and political machinery, there is also something that goes to redeem the pervasive darkness. As a matter of fact, the instances of the misdeeds committed by the high and the mighty have been brought to light and then pursued with uncompromising pace by few other institutions of the same mode of democracy, which has been exploited by sections of bureaucracy and political class.
The government's own auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), has been performing its constitutional duty with aplomb in bringing to light the grave lapses and transgressions in matters of governance, be it the taint of venality surrounding the Commonwealth Games or the controversial allocations of 2G spectrum. Then, the judiciary too has severely dealt with all the high profile corruption cases brought to its cognizance.
Not surprisingly, we find the major protagonists of the fraudulence tales scripted in the recent past, cooling their heels in jails, far removed from the cosy ambience of their lives, hitherto submerged in depths of sickening luxury. All this cleansing, though limited and yet to reach a sense of finality, can be expedited further by setting up the institution of Lokpal to mitigate, if not remove, the institutional flaws that have come to afflict the country today.
Of course, there is a crying need and justification for having a really strong and effective Lokpal. At the same time, we should not be oblivious to the fact that the so-called functioning anarchy that India is being projected to be, is not void of positive features like the Right to Information Act and robust institutions like CAG, Election Commission, CVC, and on top of it the courts, which have been functioning in a no-nonsense manner, preventing the country’s slide into the recesses of a failed state.
Sadly, anyone with a different view on Hazare-led anti-corruption drive runs the danger of being misconstrued as a PR person of the establishment. However, my submission is to have a Lokpal which functions within the country's democratic political culture and strengthens and co-operates with the other aforesaid untainted institutions in waging a relentless war against corruption.
It needs to be debated whether it will further serve the cause of fair play and justice, if we set up a Jan Lokpal over and above other anti-corruption institutions. Notably, a provision in the draft of Jan Lokpal bill requires that the CVC and the CBI's anti-corruption unit be scrapped and merged into the Jan Lokpal, which will combine the roles of investigator, judge and prosecutor.
The projected Jan Lokpal, if and when it comes into existence, would be the most powerful institution in India, having under its purview even the conduct of the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India. Will it be feasible, nay desirable, to entrust the Jan Lokpal with this humongous task, even before the proposed system of supreme ombudsman has run some course to become a tried and tested institution?
The Indian media, in its propensity to create a spectacle, has seized upon the opportunity of applauding Hazare’s anti-graft campaign. Through extensive print and audio-visual coverage, it has been relentlessly capturing the audience’s euphoria of participating in a ‘revolutionary struggle for true freedom, post-independence. Tragically, instead of acting as a platform for a serious, rational and substantive public discourse on the scourge of corruption, including a debate on the potentially authoritarian text of the Jan Lokpal draft and the inflexible posturing of Team Anna on it, the media has chosen to float along the current of emotional upsurge against corruption.
Faith is far too precious an emotion to be reposed in pontiffs of morality and integrity, occupying exalted planks but we the people have always allowed ourselves to be swayed by gurus, godmen and avowed champions of public good, purportedly on a mission to cleanse society of decadence and evil. Though it would be unfair to draw comparisons, the raging controversies surrounding Swami Ramdev - as evident by his political ambitions, investigations into the working of his trusts, coupled with the dubious background of his crony Acharya Balkrishnan -- have contributed towards diminishing his hallowed stature.
One shudders to think about the tragedy when people discover that some of the crusaders against felony may themselves not be above board. Before the masses take to a blind following, it will be a good idea to pause and analyse whether it is all worth it; whether their present day idols are anywhere near attaining the self-effacing heights of Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, or Jai Prakash Narayan.
The groundswell of nationwide support to Anna Hazare’s crusade reaffirms the power of people’s will in bringing about a revolution. But there also exist apprehensions with regard to the uphill task of sustaining this revolution. For, it would require extraordinary skills, expertise and unalloyed integrity to manage the institution of a supreme ombudsman vested with absolute powers, chartering its own course, independent of the constitutional mechanism.