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THOUSAND VOICES AGAINST CORRUPTION

THOUSAND VOICES AGAINST CORRUPTION

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Published by Firoze H.
Anna Hazare is a 72-year old disciple of Mahatma Gandhi who sees himself as a moral crusader, whose purpose is to expose corruption by India’s politicians and bureaucrats and holding them accountable for their misdeeds.
Anna Hazare is a 72-year old disciple of Mahatma Gandhi who sees himself as a moral crusader, whose purpose is to expose corruption by India’s politicians and bureaucrats and holding them accountable for their misdeeds.

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Published by: Firoze H. on Apr 12, 2011
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04/12/2011

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AnnaHazareisa72-yearolddiscipleofMahatmaGandhiwhoseeshimselfasamoralcrusader,whosepurposeistoexposecorruptionbyIndia’spoliticiansandbureaucratsandholdingthemaccountablefortheirmisdeeds.Sofarhehasbeenlargelyunsuccessful;unabletobuckapoliticalsystemthatwinksatfinancialwrongdoing,buthekeepspluggingaway.HislatestbattlecenteredonaproposedLokpal(Ombudsman)Billinparliamentthatseekstocurbfinancialirregularitiesandotheractsofomissionandcommissionbythegovernment.TheBilldraftedbythepresentgovernmentwassowatereddownsoastobevirtuallyineffective.Toprotestagainstthis,Hazarerecentlywentonahungerfastuntodeath,eventuallyforcingthegovernmenttoacceptcivilsocietyrepresentativesinthecommitteeformedtodrafttheLokpalbill.Hiseffortreceivedoverwhelmingsupportfromthepublic,particularlythemiddleclass.SohowdoesonedescribeAnnaHazare?Isheamoderndaysaint,oranopportunistwhohasseizedupontheprevailingmoodofdisgustandfrustrationamongasectionofIndiansociety?IsheanaïveidealistseekingtoimplementGandhianprinciplesinanerawhentheMahatmahasbecometotallyirrelevantinIndianpolitics?Willthethousandvoicessupportinghiscauseeventuallytranslateintomillions?Onlytimewilltell,butifIwereyou,Iwouldn’tholdmybreath.TheHazare“movement”gainedmediamileagebecausethe“revolutionaries”werenottheusualsuspectsseenatpoliticalrallies;andmoreimportantly,becausetheywerearticulateenoughtoprovidesoundbites–nomatterthatmostofthewordswereutterlypredictableandinane.ThedayAnnaendedhisfast,hismiddle-class“warriors”wentintoparoxysmsofecstasy,proclaimingthattheyhadwon.Theywereabitfuzzy,however,onwhatpreciselytheyhadwon.Yes,theyachievedtherepresentationofafeweminentcitizensonthecommitteetodrafttheLokpalbill.Theyseemtohaveoverlooked,however,thatourministersandbureaucratsarepastmastersatformingandcontrollingcommittees.Moreover,thecommitteewillhaveequalrepresentationfromministersandcivilsociety.Intheevent,asisquitelikely,thegovernmentandcivilsocietyholdopposingviewsonspecificprovisions,whowillbreakthedeadlock?Thegovernmentisquitecontentbecauseequalrepresentationcouldeasilytranslateintostalemate–andforcingadjournmentafteradjournmentismeatandpotatoestoourpoliticians.Onethingwecanbereasonablysureof–ourpoliticianswillneverenactanylegislationthathasthepotentialtoputtheminthedock.OnerecentexampleistheclarioncallgivenbyCongressPresidentSoniaGandhiurgingCongressChiefMinisterstogiveuptheirdiscretionarypowers.Itwasanastutepoliticalmove,sinceitwouldhaveforcedOppositionCMstogoonthedefensiveandtiethemselvesinknotstryingtoexplainwhydiscretionarypowerswereessential.Quitepredictably,however,eventheCongressCMshavebelatedlydiscoveredthatabrogationofdiscretionarypowerswouldimpingeontheir“sovereignty”–andsotheissuehasdiedanationaldeath.Neverforgetthattheraisond’êtreofenteringpoliticsinthiscountryistomakemoney;andgivingupthepowertoallotflatsandplumpostingswoulddryupamajorsourceoftax-freeincome.IbelieveHazarehasaskedtheLokpalcommitteetodeclaretheirassets.Thismayinvokeafeel-goodfactor,butisalargelymeaninglessexercise.Countlessministers,forexample,havedeclaredassetswhichshowamulti-foldjumpsincethetimetheyassumedoffice.Buthardlyanyhavecaredtoexplainthesourceoftheirnewfoundwealth;norhavetheybeenaskedto.CriticsofHazare’scrusadehaveselfrighteouslydeclaredthatinademocracy,ourelectedrepresentativesaresupreme;andthattheirrightscannotbeusurped.Butwhat“democracy”arewetalkingabout?Theoretically,the“people”arethemasters.Butdothepeoplegettodecidewhowillstandforelections?Dothepeoplehavethepowertodebarcriminalelementsfromtheelectoralprocess?Whatsortofdemocracyisthiswherethepeople’schoiceisblatantlyinfluencedbythefreebiespoliticiansdoleout?Andoncethecharlatansare“elected”,theyarevirtuallygiv

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