This refers to the editorial “The way out” (Aug. 23). It is time both the UPA government and Team Anna adopted a give-and-take approach on the Jan Lokpal Bill. The government should show the political courage to withdraw the Lokpal Bill and initiate a constructive dialogue with Team Anna. At the same time, Anna Hazare should agree to withdraw the provisions which are unconstitutional. The ultimate aim of both groups should be to create a Lokpal that enjoys administrative and functional independence.
The editorial is the best possible commentary on the Lokpal impasse. It looks like the state is just waiting for the problem to go away, which is unlikely to happen. As time passes, the risk of a setback to the dialogue process increases. One hopes the government realises that the Lokpal, if passed, will be a historic piece of legislation — a landmark that will do our nation proud.
Ambedkar & Anna
I agree with the views expressed by Sukhadeo Thorat in the article “Ambedkar's way & Anna Hazare's methods” (Aug. 23). Adopting unconstitutional means to stop unconstitutional practices is also unconstitutional. How can a person use an authoritarian practice to ask a group of people to end a wrong practice? Has Team Anna exhausted all constitutional avenues to find a solution to the deadlock over the Lokpal Bill?
I agree with Mr. Thorat that the Lokpal Bill should be debated carefully by all sections. The process may take time. But let it be done carefully and with the knowledge that there is a possibility of some implementers themselves becoming more corrupt than some of our present-day legislators, police officials, and guardians of law. The anti-corruption issue has already been politicised. In our country, corruption takes many forms. It is all-pervasive and does not spare even places of worship. However carefully worded and inclusive the Lokpal Bill is, where is the assurance that its guardians will be non-corrupt? Our freedom fighters were noble but, today, freedom is the most abused word as is democracy.
India is a mature democracy with a strong Constitution that provides for a number of ways to protest against injustice. Mr. Hazare is no doubt a man of integrity. But he should respect the Constitution and the law of the land.
Constitutional methods can be adopted against only those who have a sense of moral responsibility. The UPA government is not willing to take responsibility for the corrupt acts of its own Ministers. The nation wants an anti-corruption law that makes everyone accountable and can punish anyone, from a Prime Minister to a bureaucrat, found guilty of corruption.
When Team Anna followed the constitutional process — negotiating with the representatives of the government on the joint drafting committee, meeting the members of all political parties, etc. — the consequence was a toothless Lokpal Bill. Is not, then, the government responsible for making the common man lose faith in constitutional methods?
The article is critical of Mr. Hazare's methods of agitation and urges him to use constitutional methods like Dr. Ambedkar did in the 1920s and 1930s. But what accountability have the so-called constitutional authorities shown in all these years vis-à-vis corruption? Revolution does not conform to a system. And India needs a revolution to save it from corruption.
K. Sathya Sai,
Mr. Thorat offers an interesting insight into the constitutional methods of protest. But some situations demand drastic action. The Lokpal Bill is aimed at fighting corruption. Are not Dalits at the receiving end of corruption too? Is it not a problem faced by all Indians? The Jan Lokpal Bill, too, has a provision to take care of frivolous complaints.
It is not easy to be Anna (“I'd rather not be Anna,” Aug. 22) who has become the collective conscience of the people. Arundhati Roy's argument that the Jan Lokpal Bill, like Maoists, seeks the overthrow of the Indian state is unjustified. The Bill is, by no means, draconian. A strong law is necessary to curb corruption. The state has worked all these years only to increase corruption. The scams unearthed in the last two years should put all Indians to shame. Ms Roy has also pointed out that Mr. Hazare has said nothing on other issues of concern. There is no need to speak on or take up all issues in one go.
The contention that Mr. Hazare's movement is aimed at overthrowing the state is unwarranted. Mr. Hazare has led a crusade against corruption for over three decades in Maharashtra. The present political circumstances have catapulted him to the centre stage of national politics. That the de-politicised middle class is in the forefront, mobilising masses for a strong Lokpal Bill, is a pointer to the charisma of the social activist. He is right in bringing into prominence the menace of corruption which is responsible for all the ills of society.
Ms Roy chides Anna for not taking up issues like Singur, Lalgarh, SEZs, Operation Green Hunt, farmers' suicides and many more, suggesting that he should distribute his attention. This is just what the UPA government would prefer. She also argues that the movement will not benefit the ‘830 million people living on Rs 20 a day,' forgetting that it is graft that has sustained, nay exacerbated, this inequality even as we enter the 65th year of independence, by relentlessly siphoning off funds meant for the uplift of our brethren.
Mahua Kar Chowdhury,
The other side
The article was quite illustrative and informative. It projected the other side of the coin. The thinking that “I am the king and my word is statute” is dangerous to the very idea and survival of democracy. Unless people's mindset undergoes a change, Lokpal or, for that matter, any statute will remain only a paper tiger.
Ms Roy deserves praise and support for expressing her honest opinion, unmindful of the reaction of crusaders against corruption. One is reminded of what Frank Moraes wrote in Witness to an Era . Rabindranath Tagore was not enamoured of the civil disobedience movement of 1942. He was a giant of an intellectual who had the courage to say what he felt about civil disobedience.
The class background of those supporting Mr. Hazare speaks a lot about the real motives of those backing the movement. He has perhaps been hijacked by those for whom mouthing slogans against corruption is fashionable for the time-being. One is tempted to say that most of those hanging around him wouldn't think twice about doing something not so legal if it suits them.
S. Ananthi Selvan,
I agree with Ms Roy that while Mr. Hazare's means may be Gandhian, his demands are not. The thinking “I-am-clean-and-all-others-are-corrupt” is hypocrisy. All of us are corrupt in one way or the other but we blame politicians and bureaucrats for corruption. A young man present at the ‘Anshan' in Ramlila Maidan admitted to giving bribes but said he has never had the opportunity to take a bribe. In fact, he said he would accept bribes if they could lead to his prosperity.
Are we thinking about the aam aadmi when we talk about the Lokpal? What about corruption at the grass root level — at the patwari level, the panchayat level, the pradhan level, the tehsildar level, in ration shops, police thanas, etc.?