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Corruption in Politics - Politics of CorruptionThe Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev effe ctWhere are we headed?

Every study or survey, academic or governmental, brings out two glaring facts. F irst, that India s economic growth in GDP terms over the past decade has been as i mpressive as it has been lop sided. It has produces billionaires but it has also increased the numbers of the hungry, the sick and the illiterate and two, that as the total value of the SENSEX goes up so does the index of corruption. Higher the GDP, higher the scale and span of corruption ( GDC-Gross Domestic Corruptio n). The political class stands seriously exposed as the fountain head of corruption in India. That of course is not to say that the bureaucracy, judiciary the legis lature or for that matter the defence forces which , till not long ago, were se en to be an island in the middle of the systemic quagmire of corruption that sur rounded it, have not tried to keep pace with their political counterparts. While a section of the media has been actively partaking in the phenomenon of co rruption, another section, for motives not yet fully in the public domain, has b een hyper active in exposing corruption. Willy- nilly, a large part of the cred it for sensitizing the so called civil society and the public at large to this c erebral cancer must as of now belong to this small but influential section of th e media. As a consequence of this blitzkrieg, public mind is by now in a state o f extreme agitation. It all started at Ram Leela Ground in April. Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi were a worried lot. Will the people of India respond to their call adequately or wil l they remain despondent and cynical. Indians had got used to living with corrup tion and to participating in corruption if opportunity came their way. In the ev ent, over 10000 people attended as against 3000 expected and planned for. Enthus iastic speakers from civil society out spaced the dais and over ran the time pla n. There was a flicker of hope. Obviously, people were angry at the scale and sp read of corruption. It was pent up resentment awaiting a lead - a spark, to be i gnited. There was hope; yet. When Anna the disciplined, humble Soldier, turned social worker, turned social a ctivist, came on the scene on 5 April, people were still doubtful. They came to watch but waited. Many had not yet known this man who was but a mere foot soldie r in the Indian Army in 1965 when the hand of destiny spared his life in battle and infused him with a desire to serve his fellow humans gave him a greater miss ion in life. Anna provided the spark. It ignited the dormant desires and hopes of millions. I n quick time, trickle became torrent. Participation increased from hundreds to l acs. The movement spread world wide in a matter of just three days. By the fifth day the phenomenon was tsunami like though, not destructive but in many ways, c onsolidating and constructive. Media, barring the anti national and the subservi ent, was electrified. They sensed their chance for the largest ever TRP ratings and pitched in. A revolution was in the making. Politicians started by deflecting blame on the usual party lines. They found gho st provocateurs and conspirators. They called the organizers irresponsible non e ntities. They brought forth convoluted logic and excuses. They attempted to disc redit and divide the people. Every trick of the trade was tried. The Manish Tiwa ris and Manu Singhvis were all very clever and shameless but very scared indeed. Other opportunists tried to appropriate the movement for building their persona l and party images. The people (unfortunately, more than the organizers) saw thr ough their game immediately. For the first time television debates were not slan ging matches between the saffron and the secular, with each trying to disrupt an d outshout the other. Arguments could now be articulated and heard. Politicians

were compelled to listen. Face book, Twitter and Blogs brought the issues to the forefront of public domain worldwide. People came together physically and virtually to start a revolution with conside rable clarity on objectives and options. They knew that they were joining a long and demanding war against a wily, entrenched and powerful adversary who could b e relied upon to fight hard for every inch of space, They knew that there will b e several bloody battles ahead, before the objective could be secured. Yet, with new found hope and faith in their combined power, they appeared determined to p ersevere. The Government which had shown no sincerity in tackling corruption thus far, was forced to concede a joint panel for drafting the Lokpal Bill. Yet it hoped to c ircumvent and evade a meaningful outcome hoping that public anger and enthusiasm would soon subside enabling them to carry on with business as usual. But that w as not to be. Baba Ramdev joined the fray with a million strong following causin g panic and confusion in government. The Government tried unsuccessfully, to app ease him through flattery and to threaten him into submission. Unlike Anna Hazar e, however, Ram Dev afforded space to political and semi political social organi zations on his stage. The Government got an excuse to use the infamous saffron c ard to besmirch his reputation and credentials and ultimately used brute suppres sion in a crude effort to kill his movement. Apparently, Ramdev appears to have been diminished and compelled to seek an honourable escape route by agreeing to discontinue the fast because of insistent appeals by Shri Shri Ravi Shankar and others. The Government appears unable and unwilling to agree to a strong bill. P erhaps they have compulsions either dictated from within or from the political a nd bureaucratic classes as a whole. They have been shown to have a strong intere st in status quo indeed in corruption. Talks between civil society members and t he Government have failed with the former appearing to be more logical, coherent and reasonable. The later are now trying to consolidate political opinion aroun d their perceived shared class interest while the opposition is playing hard bal l. Will there be political congruence in favour of status quo or will the opposi tion be tempted by a perceived chance to capture power by default? Only time wil l tell. But has the movement died down? Such mass movements have their own inertia and m omentum. Inertia has held people back for six decades. Will the momentum generat ed by recent events continue to gather? Time alone will test any assumption but as of now, public anger and enthusiasm does not show any serious signs of abatin g. The Aaam Aadmi of India wants black money to be ploughed back into productiv e economic activity aimed at nation building. India wants black money stashed ab road to return as national wealth. India wants further flight of money abroad or further generation of black money to stop. India wants the corrupt to be broug ht to justice regardless of who he,she or it, is. India wants our laws and agenc ies to be responsive and accountable. India wants corruption to go and good gove rnance, to come. The cause is just, the people are restive and time is ripe for action . People appear to have found the weapon The Brahmastra of collective ac tion. The struggle shows signs of continuing regardless of temporary setbacks or euphoria. But In order to be able to wield this power constructively, people will need sel f discipline and perseverance. They will need to sacrifice parochial and persona l interest at the alter of public and national interest. Clerks will need to wor k without gratification. Business men will have to tread the straight path of re asonable profits without subverting rules and competition through bribes. charte red accountants will have to stop helping entities by helping fudge accounts. Po liticians will have to reconcile to their role as servants of the people rather than as unbridled rulers. Senior bureaucrats will have to reign in their greed f or money, power and grandeur. They will need to stop facilitating and conniving with political interests and above all, people will need to learn the imperative

of refusing to offer bribes for gain and resist bribing for convenience. We all will need to learn to say no to black money in all our dealings as buyers or se llers. We will need to demand our rights and fight for them where necessary. Be prepared to pay the cost of eradicating corruption. The last will be painful at times but unless each citizen leads this assault on corruption individually and the elite lead by example, the objectives, howsoever laudable, will remain elusi ve. Having said this, let us pause to seriously look at the problem. The problems co nfronting India lie rooted in our democratic system and practices. Our party sys tem, our electoral system, politics of parochialism, caste politics, vote bank a ppeasement, family and dynastic power houses, politics through patronage, cronyi sm; the list is long. Those maladies are the root cause of symptoms like poor go vernance and corruption. These are the maladies that will need to be placed unde r the surgeon s knife. People want the constitution to be amended or even re- writ ten, if necessary. Considering powerful interests vested in status quo, and limitations imposed by our representative democracy and the coercive power of the state, there is need to seriously evaluate available and practical instrumentalities to carry forward the popular agenda for systemic reforms. Corruption free India is not the agend a of politicos, bureaucrats and business thugs. Certainly, not of the Congress, definitely not of the DMK, BSP, SP, Marxists, Chautalas, AIADMK, MDMK, NCP, RJD etc. Not even of the BJP, Shiv Sena, JDU,TDP,TMC etc. But it is the singular and firm agenda of Anna, Ramdev and the common man of India. Can major systemic cha nge be expected through constitutionally available means? Can the system take on the plethora of problems, all together or should we stick to incremental strugg les aimed at tinkering and tweaking individual laws or rules? Mahatma Gandhi struggled to free India from the British through Satyagrah and ma ss support from the people but the government responded with divisive policies, suppression and atrocities. The then government did not want any one to fight fo r freedom and those who dared were taught a lesson at Jalianwala Bagh. People of India are now fighting against this establishment for a corruption free India A ZADI 2, through Annas and Ramdevs. This Government appears to be following in th e foot steps of the British Government. People are drawing a close comparison be tween Jalianwala Bagh and Ramlila Maidan. When the British denied Azadi through Gandhian methods, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Bismil, Chandra Shekhar and ultimately, Subhash Chandra Bose came forward to fight them, the revolutionary way. The mess age is clear. If India has to be free from corruption, this struggle will need t o succeed, the Gandhian way if possible, the revolutionary way, if unavoidable. People of India can be trusted to opt for the former and to go a long way on tha t road. Yet, the Government and other politicians, by their obduracy may well in vite the later. Choice will ultimately have to be exercised by the Government. It is not difficult to imagine the possible course events may take if dialogue and good sense fail to reign them in. Is Satyagrah and fasting a viable instrume nt of change today or is a revolution inescapable, practicable, desirable and ma nageable? Do we have the leadership either in Indian polity or in the civil soci ety to keep mass anger under reasonable control and the mass energy chennelised on constructive lines? Shall we depend on the chance that the movement will thro w up sane and sanguine leader/s or should there be an attempt by vulnerable, con cerned and worried members of civil society and such politicians and statesmen a s have not yet been subsumed by the system to put their heads together and bring forth leadership to provide direction and guidance to the movement? After all, they all share national concern about the existing state of affairs and themselv es share a strong vested interest in reforming our errant democratic systems. I also find it difficult to believe that India is bankrupt in leadership or that a ll our politicians are devoid of national interest. This is not the battle of An na Hazare or Baba Ramdev. Nor is it a battle against Sonia Manmohan, Yaduarappa, Raja, Radia, or Amar Singh or against the Congress, the RSS ,BJP,DMK or BSP.

The best option is for the grand old party to itself appropriate this reform age nda with all sincerity. I am sure there are leaders in the congress too who want to see India banish corruption. They may yet decide to forsake narrow self inte rest and sycophancy. Coming generations will reward them with perennial gratitud e. Perhaps a Maha Yagna with this prayer on the lips of every Indian will be a good thing to attempt in true Indian style.