As the days pass and independence day comes closer, debates are heating up about Anna Hazare’s stand on a fast again on the day after ab0ut key demands not being included in the draft of the bill tabled. For those who missed it, the Joint Committee was unable to cooperate and ended up with two separate and drastically different drafts for the LokPal Bill. The “Team Anna” version was completely ignored, so essentially, the government seems to have led the country through a nice song and dance, and let the anger die, and did what they wanted to do, without respect for the people.
This has led to furious public debate, with many perspectives loosely clubbed as for or anti Anna’s version of the LokPal.
I see stands mostly consolidated, with few people having changed their minds from when the protests happened. What I do see is increased amount of very concerning and condescending attitudes directed at Anna and co by those opposing their version and vice versa.
Disclaimer: I am making a stand in support of “Team Anna” because that is what is in line with my ethics and my thought process.
A few thoughts:
- Why should I trust the government’s version of the LokPal Bill? They drafted one banning female foeticide post which the sex-ratio has worsened. They drafted the RTE (April Fools Bill) post which admissions to primary schools dropped. Why should their version be considered a better idea at all for the country? Particularly when it unfairly bypasses another with oppositeviews?
- The government has consistently blocked any process attempting to demand accountability on the subject of corruption. Recent investigations and arrests happened when the court took suo motto notice and ordered the investigations. They are still avoiding any accountability of anyone – Shiela Dixit for example. Anna’s earlier protest was defused with agreement and then sabotage of collaboration. Personal lives of team members were discredited. Baba Ramdev’s protest was physically assaulted. Their draft of the LokPal Bill keeps the Prime Minister out of the authority of the LokPal, even as fingers of investigations have started pointing at the PMO. What about all this indicates that they want corruption gone? To me, it looks like given half a chance, they want all these things ignored.
- So far, it is only overwhelming pressure that has been able to get attention to fixing wrongs. It is entirely unrealistic to expect the country to keep protesting each misconduct or for the Supreme Court to constantly be intervening. There is no indication that it will get addressed without pressure. The JanLokPal in my eyes provides the voice of the country. Keeps up the pressure. Holds power to investigate, punish. In other words, the cat to these rodents.
- In theory, an opposition that functioned could have done this, but our political system is so bloated with egos, that most attention is spent in power struggles rather than the country. This accumulation of scams has happened while we had an opposition, so that is the model that isn’t working as efficiently as it could either.
- There are those fear mongering that the JanLokPal not being elected and having power over the PM is unconstitutional. Then our Supreme Court is unconstitutional too. I don’t remember electing a Judge. The government is supposed to be elected, not everything related with the running of a country. The JanLokPal is irrelevant to the routine functioning of the government. No reason why he should be elected.
- Some are arguing that the surveys showing 75% people voting in favor of JanLokpal are flawed because a third of them have actually read the bill. Then, our elections are flawed too, because even lesser people actually know all there is to know about the people they get elected – witness our current situation. Plus, a third of the people knowing the bill is actually a fantastic statistic – how many people know details of other bills in the country?
- One very concerning comment came up about Anna Hazare’s fast – that enough is enough, and the government shouldn’t be blackmailed by him, and should force feed him if needed. I think this idea is beyond flawed, and the concern is that an influential thought leader in the country makes it. I see this as the beginning of extremism among thinkers – the ultimate decay. Very, very bad news for country, if this isn’t a stray comment. It is flawed for a few very simple reasons.
- The movement has the power to bring the government to its knees, not because of fasting, but because there is massive people’s support. Without that, you could let Anna starve to death, and no one would sneeze. These people aren’t going to be happy about a peaceful protest being arrogantly sabotaged. At best, it would simply result in more peaceful protests – that is likely even planned. More seriously, it could send frustrations out of peaceful mood countrywide and not only bring the government down, but a lot of other good things with it. Regardless of stand on Lokpal, it is foolish to assume that a high handed action like this would have no response at all – or a weaker response. Not with the amount of power already visible in the movement.
- There is the minor matter of people fasting in support. How many people and in how many places can be dealt with like this, and how will failure to do so impact the government stand further.
- If, in the unlikely event the government succeeds, it will have demolished several fundamental pillars of democracy in the process. In saving the facade of democracy, real democracy would be sacrificed. Amazingly naive idea from a think tank.
- The government has finally given permission to hold the fasts and it reminds me of how prostitution is legal in India. Having sex for money is legal, but you can’t approach customers, run brothels, or pimp. Similarly, Anna Can protest, but not have a crowd exceeding certain size, 50 (!) vehicles, no loudspeakers, only 3 days, want guarantees that will vacate on 18th, etc etc. In other words, we aren’t stopping you, but we think you are shit, and we’ll do all we can to make your life a misery. The reasons are absurd too – concern for public facilities and convenience? Since when did the government even register these? Will they not use loudspeakers for their own functions? Or does sound travel differently for them?
- The other fantasy being promoted is that the JanLokPal Bill being passed as it is is the demand. Not true. Like any other bill, it must go to the Paliament where representatives of the people will debate it. By rejecting it outright, what has the government actually done with regard to the Joint Committee? Basically, it has shown its own agreement to be a farce, like other things about their response. The JanLokPal Bill must reach the Parliament and debated. The fact that this needs to be protested for speaks volumes of the integrity of the government and its agreements, because the Joint Committee being formed should automatically have led to this, even if there were differences and separate outputs.
- People who think this is still unconstitutional need to ask themselves why being constitutional is an expectation from the common man of India, but not the custodians of the constitution itself. How is it unconstitutional to challenge a government that is clearly not fulfilling their responsibilities?
Frankly, sad as it seems, I think I know how this story goes. This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The people will prevail, but the government has power, and no compunctions about coloring outside lines. People will suffer because they elected these people to represent them.
I also am very cynical about this seeming stupidity of the government. I don’t think they are unaware that needling the protesters unnecessarily will only cause escalation, yet that is all they are doing. I get a feeling that the government might want to do an Indira Gandhi and make things explode so badly that an Emergency is announced, and they get the get out of jail free card – literally. Using the Emergency as an excuse to quell protests as well.
There have been several instances where the government has knowingly acted in a manner very likely to inflame people. That worries me, because there is no good interpretation – either they don’t care, or they achieve something by making people go out of control.
I think the most important thing now is to stay on track, stay insisting on the result of the Joint Committee being presented in its entirety – both bills or the Team Anna version at least.
…And to not be provoked into anarchy…