Friday, December 30, 2011
Anticorruption Bill 2011 Postponed Again
The New Bill 2011 to fight corruption in India (the lokpal) has been an eagerly awaited non event - since the past sixty years! After Anna Hazare's hugely popular fast was ended with the government promising Anna that they would discuss the bill in the monsoon session of parliament in 2011, everyone had started hoping it would ATLAST become law. Unfortunately from the monsoon session it was carried forward to the winter session and at the last minute the Congress balked and backed out. "Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley also said that the government had choreographed chaos to dodge a vote." (see http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Lokpal-Bill-put-to-sleep-at-midnight/articleshow/11298043.cms)
Here's a short, award winning video on how corruption isplayed out in, and affects, India..
In any case, the government's version of the lokpal (anti-corruption bill) was weak. This is what an editorial in a respected Indian newspaper, "The Hindu", had to say about it."The Centre, which has retained administrative control (read: promotions, transfers, etc.) of the CBI via the Ministry of Personnel, knows better than most that he who pays the piper calls the tune.".
One of my previous posts explains the problems in the present anti-corruption systems of India and the role of the CBI. Here's ten different people who've answered the following question - "why do many political parties in India question CBI's credibility from time to time?"
All ten seem to agree that the CBI is used by the party in power to keep the opposition at bay:
Here's what I think the current government is scared of: An agency that polices the Congress plays right into the hands of the opposition. There are too many in the Congress and its coalition who've been tainted by corruption. Some of these politicians are influential. To have any of them under the scrutiny of an independent anti-corruption committee is to weaken and maybe even topple the coalition (UPI) government. The Congress is not about to jeopardise its hold on power.
The main opposition is the BJP - a right wing Hindu party. They would try their utmost, and probably succeed, in destabilising the ruling coalition. We all know there's corruption in those corridors too, apart from the non-secular politics they practice.
How does one eliminate the cancer of corruption then? What choices do the people have when neither party is free of corruption? when individuals from both treat tax payer money as their own?
One option would be to look out for a third alternative to the current government+coalition partners and the opposition - perhaps an independent, someone totally new and inexperienced :-( BUT starting on a clean slate.
We'd have to wait till 2014 for that and we don't know what laws the government would try to push through before that to protect individual, influential looters.
Here's a suggestion from the former director of Infosys, Mohandas Pai - a split in the CBI - the wing that takes care of the opposition to government, and the wing that takes care of corruption. This is what he says:
Is there any merit in the Team Anna argument that the CBI should be brought under the Lokpal?" is as follows: I don't think that the entire CBI can be brought under the Lokpal. The CBI is a huge organisation whose investigative capabilities are used for so many things other than fighting corruption. At best you can put 50 or 60 CBI officers on deputation with the Lokpal. However, if the CBI is under the government and the government is the prosecutor, there is a clear conflict of interest in prosecuting government corruption. I believe the CBI should be autonomous in any case.
Which brings me to Team Anna's option: "India Against Corruption" (IAC) want an anti-corruption bill with a lot of teeth. They've drafted the Janlokpal bill. Team Anna’s demands include total independence of the CBI from the likelihood of government interference. Till team Anna came on the scene we knew about corruption in politics but we didn't know how these greedy individuals got away with siphoning off for themselves, what belonged to India and Indians. Team Anna made a lot of effort to expalin the loopholes in the anti-corruption systems.
IAC has shown us we need not feel so helpless - that we can, and must, agitate if we think the government won't bring in a strong anti-corruption bill. Government BY the people isn't only voting every four years and then letting those voted in have a field day looting India. I know lobbying is too hard and won't show results immediately. But if you believe there is rampant corruption that affects the ordianry people of India, it is worth making the effort.
There are some who feel team Anna's version of the bill would give too much power to the 9 member committee who would control the anti-corruption agencies. Arvind Kejriwal, from team Anna says that is a deliberate attempt to mislead the people; that the 9 member committee wouldn't have the power of impeaching anyone - just lodging the fir - the first information report. The impeachment procedure would remain unchanged and would be through the courts. (Listen from 2 minutes and 27 seconds of this Youtube video.)
I wonder what our cynics think of the version the government has put up - that bill, for starters, declares the government will pick the team that will police them. What's more, that team will be beholden to the government for promotions and transfers etc according to the newspaper editorial above. How can they not toe the government line? Also, what credibility does the government have now, after scuttling the bill again and again? Till we have a law to prevent or punish corruption, we've seen proof that they will continue looting the money Indians pay for India's safety, security, infrastracture, progress and the environment.
Everyone hopes the people of India win. We hope their hard earned money and taxes are used to benefit them and not greedy individual politicians. To make that hope a reality means making your voice heard. And whose voice is heard loud and clear? A billion lone (armchair) voices or a billion strong force?
My hope is that the eyes of the WORLD are trained on the non-violent movement. That can happen if more of us join the protests, making it clear as team Anna does, that our protest is against corruption - not against any political party.
Follow team Anna and India Against Corruption as they unfold their action plan once more.