Monday, April 11, 2011

Anna Hazare is right. Jan Lokpal Bill is wrong

Anna Hazare is right in his anger against corruption, but he is wrong in the remedy he seeks for it — the Lokpal Bill.

Corruption thrives in the country because there is little or no implementation of the existing laws. And for that you need honest people in the right places. It is naive and even stupid to believe that laws can make men honest. Laws are meant to act as deterrents. But you need honest and good people to make them effective.

Hazare and his group of self-righteous middle-class moralists are, of course, justified in fighting corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. It would perhaps make people aware of the issue and throw out corrupt politicians. They, however, cannot do much about career bureaucrats. Also, their efforts are hampered because all political parties have corrupt people. It is like throwing a crook and bringing in another.

Honest people who say they cannot fight elections and win them because they do not have the muscle or the money to withstand the bloody electoral arena are speaking the truth. But they are unwilling to go among the masses and win them over. When they do not get elected in the first attempt or even in the second attempt they often turn into cynics. You can hear them saying, “people do not deserve honest people like us”, and launching a tirade against corrupt politicians.

The problem with Anna Hazare is more serious — he wants to bypass all democratic channels. If Parliament is bypassed and NGOs — they may be honest with learned people — want to draft the country’s laws, it raises serious questions about the legitimacy of democratic practices.

It is a legitimate moral weapon to keep politicians under pressure, but moral blackmail is not. And Hazare is doing just that. But he is not the first. Jayaprakash Narayan used the same tactic in the 1970s and took the country to the brink of anarchy while giving Indira Gandhi a reason to impose Emergency.

Every poll verdict since Independence shows that the people of India have tackled corruption to the best of their ability and within the ambit of choices they have. If Anna Hazare and his band are willing to pick up the gauntlet and challenge corrupt politicians in elections, people will vote with their feet.

Does Hazare have any faith in the people of India? Or is he a prophet who believes that his job is to raise the moral alarm and it is for the people to either do something or just ignore it. In that case he must not try to arm-twist the government.
Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr in DNA. More Here

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