Anna broke his fast, and the dam seems to have broken on a flood of articles about how the Lokpal Bill is trouble for India. Doom and gloom alternates with how we have the systems necessary, but are not using them appropriately. Many people seem to see this as an arbitrary body that would get corrupted and provide fake credibility to politicians.... and so on.
It seems the country needs healing from pessimism and cynicism before it needs healing from corruption.
What I saw happening was simple. I saw a democracy come vibrantly, gloriously alive. A democracy is the rule of the people through its representatives. The government being elected is not the sum total of a democracy. Elected representatives are one way of ensuring the representation of the interests of the people. What we saw on the streets of India this week is another.
Like any system, the government can fail, and it has failed in safeguarding the interests of the people. The people literally outvoted them on the streets this week. So far, everyone seems to be in agreement. But the concerns then begin.
It is undemocratic to have a non-elected body have power over the elected body in a government.
Unless we take a rigid stance that the only elections are those rigged up by the political parties, we can't fail to see the country VOTED that this should happen. I see this massive satyagraha as a huge vote in favour of that independent body having power over the government. And made far more effort than marking a paper and returning home in minutes to do so. The purpose of an election is to get the opinion of the people, not collect bits of paper and score points for political parties. The people literally voted against all political parties. Call it a no-confidence vote against all of them.
We have a choice right here. To be a purist of current methods of ensuring democracy, or to acknowledge the emergence of an unexpected method. It isn't going to make the slightest difference to the voice of the people, which has already spoken.
Only four lawyers out of ten
Unless the committee appointed by the people and the government is so utterly criminal that they aren't able to come up with anything legal, I don't see how this is a problem. It is the interest of the people that is the priority, while four lawyers are plenty to ensure that all is in accordance with the law. The bill is a joint effort, not separate bills by each person. The need is to have people who understand the rights and interests of the citizenry, their concerns and are familiar enough with current misgovernance to plan suitable safeguards. Four lawyers should be plenty to have a solid understanding of this in the context of our laws, if they do their jobs.
A non-elected body drafting a bill
Half that body is elected. The other half is solidly supported by citizens, as we see on TV everyday. I don't see this as an alien wildcard at all.
Father and son in the committee
It is natural for a nation paranoid about family politics to look on this with suspicion, but really, how true are allegations of nepotism? We need someone with a rock solid understanding of law and how it gets misused to look out for our interests. Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan qualify. Google them up. Being father and son on the same team is not a crime, if both qualify fair and square. We must also take into account that they both have spent considerable time, research and thought over the draft of the bill already. They are familiar with it. No matter what Baba Ramdev says, if he had been on the committee, I'd have lost faith in Anna Hazare himself and be writing about doom and gloom myself. Baba Ramdev is a good entertainer if a little infatuated with himself, and that's about it.
Kiran Bedi should have been on the Joint Committee
Okay, this is a secret hope, but I don't want that. Her strength is in enforcement. I'd much rather she were Lokpal/Lokayukta. If she were on the committee, people would be screaming foul if she got selected as Lokpal or Lokayukta later. Its best she's not on the committee 😀 Seriously, I agree completely with Anna, that the people on the committee at this stage need to be good with law. I admire that he didn't want to be there and occupy one place. It is unfortunate that he is there, but perhaps its for the best so he knows first hand what's going on. Not because I don't admire Anna, I do, but simply because his strength isn't law either. Anyway, I agree with him completely that it doesn't matter who is on this committee, there will be opportunity for concerns and reservations to be addressed anyway and it is a temporary committee.
I totally trust Anna and the core planning people. Rather than nitpick at this stage, I'm more interested in seeing what the JC comes up with.
Specific issues with the proposed bill
This is a proposed bill. It will now be worked on by representatives of the civil society as well as government. It will be examined and passed in the Parliament. There is plenty of opportunity to address areas of concern. Discarding a people's movement because you don't like one point or three is beyond childish.
Random NGO people having power over the government.
Not true. A combined body will select the Lokpal and Lokayukta, but the people selected will be among noted judges and others with a solid credibility for the responsibility they will shoulder. It is these people with a thorough understanding of India's laws who will have the authority.
Judge, jury and executioner
Not true again. The proposed process gives right to take up concerns suo motto, initiate investigations, prosecute and punish, but that doesn't mean that they wake up one morning with a whim to axe a certain figure. It is simply autonomous power independent of political interference. Investigations, prosecutions, punishments are still separate processes and these will be defined with care, or of course will be questioned into being defined before being passed.
We could have fixed existing systems.
So why didn't you? It is easy to criticize something happening and say that something else would have been better, but if it truly would have been better or possible to do, wouldn't it have happened by now? This is like criticizing someone for offering tea rather than something cold on a hot, thirsty afternoon. You could have made something cold, but you didn't, did you?
Anna Hazare is getting some award worth a lot of money
So? Shouldn't he? If these people think it is some kind of corruption, think of what all those Bharat Ratnas and Padmashrees mean. Anna returned one of those rather than sacrifice principles, but let's not talk of that.
Anna an ex-truck driver in the Army, with a talent for sitting crosslegged for long periods of time.
If that is all that this so called intellectual sees in Anna Hazare, he's got bigger problems than what the country is up to, because he is an example of the problems the country faces.
Fasting is a form of terrorism
So is starving a country to its grave by stealing its vital resources. It seems the government has a problem with those that it doesn't starve going on a fast. The millions fasting from lack of food while their theft goes on unconcerned is not a problem. One terrorist killing another seems poetic justice. Funny, no one is in a hurry to drag the government into an anti-terrorism court.
The issue I really see here is that the democracy purists are out of their intellectual comfort zone.
Another issue I see is that there seems to be a lot of contempt for Gandhian methods. This has nothing to do with democracy and is a lot of intellectual masturbation. At the end of the day, it isn't a method that won the day, but the voice of the people. Most of the country was high on anti-corruption energy. The fast was a rallying point, not the reason for people to speak up. Don't believe me? Check out all the vast quantities of words spewed out in these days to see if anyone actually wrote about protesters feeling hungry.
I must admit that the fast was a great idea, because it naturally adds an element of urgency to the protest, which frankly is much deserved terrorism if at all it is terrorism if we consider the existing Lokpal effort marinating in its own sauce for 42 years.
Democracy, Jackie Chan style
What happened was the street fighting style of democracy. Messy, hands on, unpredictable, but very, very real and devastatingly effective. It upset a lot of people who like their democracy tidy and along established lines. Sterile, where concepts like corruption are met with procedures and improved procedures and people are secondary. This messy, sweaty sea of humanity is beneath these people's civil standards. They appear incapable of being wise and seem bound to do something stupid, because these people have never trusted their own instinct, so they don't imagine it is safe for the country. Breaking beyond the norms of established law making seems to have become undemocratic. The people went for what they wanted. I think it is a celebration for our nation that what was essentially an elite club of politicians or another niche of NGOs and activists became a matter of participation for all. Democracy doesn't get more participative than this, and bill or no bill, that itself is a cause for celebration.
Like Jackie Chan fights with the umbrella in his hand without moaning that it isn't a samurai sword, it is time for the doom and gloom club to see that the Lokpal Bill is our umbrella. Its not a Samurai sword, which probably would be better for fighting, but the point is that it is what we have to save our skin. Corrupt politicians being dealt with through existing means would be wonderful, and on paper, we should have been able to do it, but it is beyond evident that this idea works only on paper. Rather than moan about the perfection of the Samurai sword, the time is one of using the umbrella to achieve objective.
It may be argued that one doesn't make a career out of fighting with umbrellas and a less than perfect law will not last the distance once the initial hysteria wears out. But that time is not now. Right now, we need to fix a lot of wrongs on the corruption front, and its urgent. By the time we come to a point where we can evaluate, we don't know what will happen. Perhaps our umbrella will turn out to be good enough. Perhaps we will throw it away and find a sword, or the leg of a table. If nothing, we will have learned valuable, hands on lessons from this umbrella, which will bring effectiveness to further evolution as well.
The past is gone, the future isn't here yet. The present is happening, and its vibrant. Many things could go wrong, but so far, things have gone gloriously right!