Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Corruption, Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev and more...

Corruption: The word on everyone's tounge these days. We are in a primary stage of the mass agitation against corruption. But what corruption is actually?

Corruption can be of many types, political corruption, police corruption, corporate corruption etc. But all of them actually mean using of power in a wrong way, or in the wrong direction. The most common form of corruption in India, is the bribe. It is everywhere, and now so common that it seems nothing new to the people of the country. Not only the officials are openly asking for it, but the people are willing to give too. Why? For a simple reason, to get your work done. And what if you don't pay? You're work wouldn't be allowed to be complete and they will try their best to stop the work from completion so that in the end you are convinced to fill their pockets, un-lawfully and un-officially. 
Many people defend this allegation on the country for widespread corruption that India stands in the 33rd position at the 'corruption' ranking, and is not even in the list of 'Top 20 countries having highest bribe payers index'. Sweden, Canada and Australia being at the top in the list of highest bribe payers index. But to all of them, I've got only one thing to clarify. In this whole list I would consider these three countries to be the best and to be the safest. Why? This is because as this list is based on the number of cases of bribe and corruption reported and officially recorded. At least, in these countries, the cases are recorded and are due for trial. But in India, a large part of the cases go un-noticed.  According to the study conducted by the Transparency International, more than 15% of the Indian population had first-hand experience in giving bribe to the officials to get into public offices. 

 So, what can be done about this? Answer is 'Lokpal Bill'. The basic idea of the lokpal bill is borrowed from the office of ombudsman, which has played a major role in checking corruption in many nations across the globe. The lokpal bill is intended to give common man the rights to directly censure his/her elected representative. Lokpal bill was first presented in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1968, and was then passed in 1969 but could not get through the Rajya Sabha consequently. The bill was reviewed in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and most recently in 2008.

Recently, Kisan Baburao Hazare, or popularly known as Anna Hazare, a Padma Bhushan awardee, had started a fast unto death for the demand of passing of the Lokpal Bill. He was supported by a huge crowd for a protest at the Jantar Mantar. After the 98 hour long protest, the government had issued a 10 member Joint Committee Of Ministers and Civil Society Activists, including him, to draft an effective Lokpal bill. Thousands of young protesters helped this issue gather a lot of steam. The lokpal bill is to be presented in the monsoon session of the Lok Sabha and has been given an un-official
deadline of 15th August, 2011.

However, the draft prepared was way different than the Jan Lokpal bill.

Draft Lokpal Bill (2010) Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's Ombudsman Bill)
Lokpal will have no power to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public. It can only probe complaints forwarded by LS Speaker or RS Chairman. Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.
Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body. Its part is only limited to forwarding its report to the "Competent Authority". Lokpal will be much more than an Advisory Body. It should be granted powers to initiate prosecution against anyone found guilty.
Lokpal will not have any police powers. It can not register FIRs or proceed with criminal investigations. Lokpal will have police powers. To say that it will be able to register FIRs.
CBI and Lokpal will have no connection with each other. Lokpal and anti corruption wing of CBI will be one Independent body.
Punishment for corruption will be minimum 6 months and maximum up to 7 years. The punishment should be minimum 5 years and maximum up to life imprisonment.

Lokpal will not be a monopoly for particular area.

Regular meeting are held between the Joint Committee Of Ministers and the Civil Society Activists which are full of compromises. 

Anna Hazare, was then joined with Ram Krishna Yadav, or Swami Ramdev or populary known as Baba Ramdev. He is given the credit for bringing yoga to each and every household in the country. But since the past few months have been heavily criticized after he showed his will for coming into politics. He was then joined by the Late Rajiv Dixit, in his Azadi Bachao Andolan and Bharat Swabhiman Andolan.  Apart from the corruption, another issue was taken out was that of the black money deposited in the foreign banks. He wanted the government to take action and bring back this money and declare them as national assets. 

The total amount of black money deposited in foreign banks by Indians is unknown but an estimate by R Vaidyanathan, a professor of finance, estimated a total at Rs. 7,280,000  Crores or $1.4 trillion. A large part of this huge amount comprises of the money from bribes. This is when 44.2% of the total population of India lived under $1 a day. Such huge amount is being directed towards the other countries for their betterment in a time when their own country needs it the most. And so, Ramdev wanted this money to be bought back to the country and used for it's right purpose. 

Also, there were few more demands which were demanded by Ramdev. The first was the withdrawal and  de-monetizing of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes, provision for death penalty for those found guilty for corruption, access, monitor and disrupt payment gateway servers enabling corrupt people to mange money in tax havens, disabling operations with any bank from a tax haven company and to scrutinize accounts of people having credit/debit cards of foreign banks without any foreign work/relation.

Of these I found the demand of withdrawing the two currency notes to be absolutely absurd. I mean, ours is an economy which needs such denomination of notes. They have been introduced for a purpose by the government, and that's not for bribes. If there is corruption in your country, you don't actually stop printing notes, you start checking corruption. His demand shows Coward-ness, If there is corruption, it doesn't mean that demonetizing the currency noted would remove the corruption from the country. One should actually make sincere efforts to remove the corruption and not the currency itself!
And another reason they gave was that US had a maximun denomination of $100. And so we should also have Rs. 100 as the maximum. I would just like to remind him that $1=Rs.44.75. That means $100=Rs. 4475. And so, what he said was totally point less.

For his demands, Ramdev went for a one day satyagraha protest at the Ramlilla Maidan. A large crowd of over a lakh people gathered. Everything was going good, but then things started getting bad. At late night, the police broke out in the maidan and started to lathi charge, blow tear gas and other such activities which resulted into many people lying in the hospital. The reason? The government thought that a meeting of such a huge amount of people at that point of time was not safe for the law and order of the city. Also, there are claims that Ramdev did not had the right permission to organize such an event from the concerned office.

The police had come to arrest Ramdev, but to seek shelter he disappeared among the women, Changed his clothes to salwar kameez and then escaped the ground. At about 3:30 AM, he was found walking through a flyover and was then arrested and flyed to Dehradun.

After this what happened was way different that has happened before. The whole topic of corruption was side-layed, and politics and word game came into picture. Allegations of Ramdev that how could a sanyasi wear salwar kammez, did he had the permission to hold such a huge event?, If he was doing a satyagraha why did he had to run away?
The opposition party took this as an issue and seeked answer from the ruling party, which obviously had no answer. There was all kind of non-sense political statements each try to undermine others and gain popularity for themselves in this issue. Even those who didn't had any connection with this whole thing, came and gave this statement without any reason. The whole matter had shifted. In between the ramlilla maidan and the political statement, the whole agenda of this had been lost. It had now become an issue of Why did Ramdev wore a salwar kameez? and not about the main aim-Corruption. 

Also, there was a huge difference in the crowd of the protest by Anna Hazare and that of Ramdev. 90% of the poeple in the crowd by Ramdev were farmers and 99% of the people didn't knew the meaning of inflation. Talking about corruption and black money infront of such a crowd is totally use-less. While that of the crowd by Anna Hazare comprised of young protestors who wouldn't usually take down into streets.

It is not that corruption is only in our country. Every country has corruption. Even the developed countries had this phase of corruption, but they have passed through this phase. Each country faces this challenge and so are we.

In my view, we can't say that the lokpal bill is the ultimate solution of corruption. Or the protest at the Ramlilla maidan was. Corruption, in true terms, would end only when the officials and the people of the country would want a better and prospect India. These laws would just make it difficult for the officials to be corrupt. But still, if the people are willing to give them bribe there is nothing that can stop them. Corruption would stop only when the people know their rights, they are willing not to give bribe at any cost, even the officials are un-willing to take bribes, and do their work with honesty and modesty. We not only need the enactment of the Lokpal bill but also a change. A change in the mentality of the people. A change in the mentality of officials. A change in the minds of the people that their work can be done without bribes. A change in the minds of the officials that working through bribes they are being the enemies of the nation and would never reach a stage of internal satisfaction. A nation can only prosper when there is no corruption and the people of the country feel themselves in save hands, this can only be achieved when the people of the country and the officials, both think for the benefit of the country first, and then for their own benefit. What we are doing is not for the nation's prosper, but for our own prosperity, and that's the reason that the country's prosperity has come to an stand still.

Stand for your country. It needs you.

Source for Statistics : Nation Master

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