Sunday, June 5, 2011


Corruption has always been a problem in our society, primarily due to bad systems, poor enforcement of the laid down law, and an ineffecient & overloaded legal system. Systems have been bad because of a demand and supply mismatch in every conceivable product or service, and the reason for this mismatch was that the government controlled (either through quotas or direct control) everything from railways to airlines to telephones to sugar to kerosene to name it.

On commissioning in 1973, I booked a Bajaj scooter - I had to wait for 9 years to get delivery of this scooter. This was considered normal then. Telephones were given out only by the government and thus most Indians  never had telephones - the ones who had them were people of 'status' and/ or had links with someone in government. . Thanks to Rajiv Gandhi and Sam Pitroda, the telephones became a means of communication, rather than as a status symbol.

Privatisation of various sectors has directly benefited common Indians or the 'aam aadmi', but has meant a loss of control for the government. Successive governments controlled the economy through quotas and through this means also generated 'private revenues' for funding the elections for the party. This has been a big malaise all along, but has acquired much greater proportions now, and that is the reason for the people's reaction from all across the country to citizens movements initiated by Shri Anna Hazare and Swami Ramdev.

It is a known fact that political parties need funds to fight elections in any democracy. In case the system of generation of these funds is not transparent then this becomes the starting point for corruption, as in India. A transparent system created through effective legislation can prevent corruption in the system, and this is a crying need for a democracy like India.

Logically speaking all political parties, specially the opposition parties, should be happy to legislate this, because then the party in government will not have an unfair advantage of its position. However, none in our political class want the system to be transparent, primarily because of the opportunity this inbuilt corruption mechanism gives 'elected representatives' to make 'personal' hay too, while the sun shines, even if they are not in the ruling party.

The ruling party or coalition benefits the most, but the others 'not in power' are also taken care off. Government starts welfare schemes that are designed to be 'leaky'. The real beneficiaries get very little of the service that the scheme is designed to provide. The real beneficiaries of these schemes are the so called public servants 'netas' and 'babus' - the inrease in the net worth of the individual legislators and babus, which is totally out of sync with their known sources of income, is a worthy testimony to this fact.

It is indeed sad that we have criminals lodged in jails who can fight elections, win them, and then ensure that they take full advantage of their position, as also the inefficient and overloaded judicial system. Anna Hazare proposed Jan Lokpal bill is a step to prevent/ demotivate criminals from opting for politics for their personal agenda of staying out of the reach of the law of the land.

Swami Ramdev's 'jan andolan' against black money was a step in the right direction. I donot agree with the all the methods adopted by the Swami, or with all the issues that he put forward, but the issue of black money is vital to every Indian. I also believe that the Swami had a personal agenda, but the issue of black money is bigger than the personal agenda of the swami. I am convinced that a vast majority of Indians support the swami on the issue of black money stashed abroad. Why then is the government reluctant? Does the government have something to hide?

The manner in which the government reacted to the peaceful protesters at the Ramlila grounds in Delhi is indeed a sad day for our democracy. I have heard Kapil Sibal say on occasions that the government is very powerful. Yes indeed it is - it derives its power from the Constitution of India, that we the people of India have given to ourselves. The power that the government has, flows to it from the ordinary citizens of India, through our Constitution. Kabil Sibal being a lawyer should be familiar with this. In case the people of India want an effective legislation to curb corruption then the government has no business not legislating it. Successive governments have failed to do any thing on this account. Now when there is simmering discontent among the people against this scourge, the government is still trying to drag its feet. Why?

The reason given out for the police action is that the assembly of people could have been targeted and something untoward would have happened. So true. Wasn't the government aware of this before the 03rd of June. Why were effective steps not taken in time to ensure that this congregation did not take place. It could have been prevented - there was enough time given for the government to react to the 'just' demands. Negotiations were done in an 'opaque' manner. This did not go down well with the people - both Baba Ramdev and the government representatives are to blame for this. The issue of corruption is important for the people of India, and should be tackled in a transparent manner. Private deals are not desirable on national issues - they always raise suspicion about the deals.

Lastly, the government is powerful because 116 crore Indians stand behind it, through their written Constitution. This government which is 'by the people', 'of the people' should work 'for the people'. In case the people of India feel that 'black money' is a big issue, and rightly so, then the government should take all necessary steps to ensure that this issue is resolved through a transparent legislative process, and in a time bound manner. It does not take very long for the government to bring in legislation that benefits the elected representatives. Why then is it taking so long to get effective legislation that curbs the disease of black money that hurts the country's economy and its citizens?

The actions of the government and its ministers  in the last few days reeks of arrogance, when I hear them talk on TV - the people of India deserve better, and specially on an issue that our political class has permitted to go totally out of hand.

I donot belong to any political party or ideology, but am convinced that our elected representatives, specially the ones in government, need to treat the ordinary citizens of India with due regard and respect, not only during election time but everytime. Lathi charge and tear gas on innocent peaceful sleeping Indians, including old, women, and children, and that too at midnight is a sign of weakness, and great arrogance.

I am reminded of the famous saying that says, "Power Corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Have we the people of India given absolute power to our elected representatives, in so much as that they do not even recognise us?

Jai Hind.