Lokpal bill debate now a war of egos

by Akshaya Mishra  May 31, 2011 10:43 IST

#Anna Hazare   #Jan Lokpal Bill   #ToWhatEffect  

The negotiations over the draft Lokpal bill has hit a dead end and another round of street show and aggressive posturing from the civil society groups is on the cards. This time the sympathy for them would be marginally less; the government discredited as it is, of course, won’t be the beneficiary. Blame it on overkill. The civil society representatives are using threat as a negotiation tool and frittering way the advantages they had by pushing their agenda unreasonably hard.

Firstpost had argued earlier that a confrontational approach won’t yield concrete results neither would the sweeping judgment that all politicians are corrupt. Any movement for change must co-opt the principal players into the process and not go on antagonising them endlessly. The country still has honest and highly capable politicians who should be made part of the change, not merely its spectator-victims.

The representatives of Anna Hazare appear to have opened the battle on too many fronts at the same time without dwelling deeply on the consequences and practicalities. Reuters

The efforts of the civil society in addressing some of the most pressing problems facing the country are laudable but it may not be the case with the solutions they offer. Its approach reflects a deep-rooted suspicion for all institutions – the judiciary, the legislature and the bureaucracy. But the fact is India for all its weaknesses is a rather well-governed country; it’s not a functional anarchy as economist-statesman Galbraith would believe.

The credit for it goes to the honest within the system. Any movement for change should respect them and accept the inevitability of the much-maligned ‘system’ too. It’s ultimately about people. It’s difficult to predict at this point that whoever mans the institution of Lokpal would be absolutely incorruptible. Worse, what if he gets into ego tussles and interferes in the functioning of other institutions? It’s a bit far-fetched at this moment, but all institutions degenerate over time and land in similar problems.

What the country requires now is remedies within the system not outside it. It’s possible. The Election Commission has proved it repeatedly. The efficient 2G scam probe conducted by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate under the Supreme Court’s supervision has proved that institutions have their inherent strengths. Allowed the space and freedom, they will work. Now that we know the option is available, why not petition the apex court to monitor probes of serious cases? It’s a burden on the judiciary but a remedy could be worked out.

The root of corruption in politics is election funding. It is huge money. Even if the top leaders of all parties are honest, they will turn a blind eye to corrupt means adopted by others to generate funds. All acts of political graft have tacit acceptance from the leaders. Why can’t the civil society focus on this singular problem and work out a solution? The institution of Lokpal will catch corrupt politicians but will not address this basic problem. That’s no solution.

The representatives of Anna Hazare appear to have opened the battle on too many fronts at the same time without dwelling deeply on the consequences and practicalities. The battle over a genuine issue is taking the shape of an ego war and getting a touch of the personal. Over-enthusiasm could be self-defeating sometimes. Even if they manage to arm-twist the government over the bill and get what they want now, they might face bigger problems in getting the bill passed in Parliament. With their inflexible approach, they won’t have any elected politician backing them and that would be sad indeed.