Thursday, April 7, 2011

Go Anna Hazare Saab - The One Genuine Act Of Public Service This Century

I was suddenly drowned in news about Anna Hazare's fast against the government's slow and meaningless reactions to the Lok Pal Bill. I had no idea that such an Act existed and that there were deliberations about it. But what can one expect from our leaders who have made this entire country into such a sham, especially in areas like containing corruption, making public servants and public money accountable, making elections more transparent, making the administration more transparent just to serve their own interests. Yes, there have been changes and some signs of progress, but it has been far too slow, far too much in the interests of a few and the majority of the mass is still struggling.

Elections are funded primarily by slush money, mostly unaccounted. That every one knows. It would be interesting to see how much parties declare as having actually spent and get a sting account on how much has actually been spent in buying votes. In Tamil Nadu the other day one enterprising revenue official by name Sangita (may her tribe increase) recovered over 5 crore in cash lying on the top of a bus! Talk of politicians wealth in Andhra alone goes upward of thousands of crores and it is funny that they talk of thousands of crores in such trivial fashion. the race is between each of them to earn more than the other, to may the position pay. So they earn in dubious fashion, spend in the hope of getting a position from where they can misuse and manipulate the system to fill their coffers. To get reelected they need votes so they buy the votes, or give so many freebies to sections and make them dependent for life. These sections are addicted to freebies and it is the greatest injustice anyone can do to another. Governments go bankrupt as they fund these subsidies (Andhra has given many such) and tax the ones they have by the throat, the middle class which has everything accounted for. The poor is exempt and the rich is exempt.

Industrialists fund the leaders in the hope that they get some largesse in terms of policy or some favours like the 2G scam and many other corporate scams. There is no doubt that much of the money that comes to the politicians, apart from the stuff that they amassed illegally which is for private use, is from industries. It is then no surprise that once the party comes to power they bargain for good positions and make the money on public funds. Companies benefit, and many industrialists who have no patience to run around the Ministers have become Parliamentarians themselves. For public service?

The beaurocracy is unshakeable and also cannot be got at. Only in recent times we have heard of the amazingly corrupt IAS couple who had crores of rupees in cash at home. But they are only one couple. Go and see any IAS or IPS officers house and you get an idea. No one can build these kind of houses with the kind of salaries they have. And most of them are above the law. They are almost always politically affiliated or they know too many secrets. So everyone keeps everything within - the beaurocracy, the industrialist, the politician. And in recent cases, the judiciary to some extent. Somewhere in these sections of the public lies the maximum amount of unaccounted wealth and it is common knowledge.

However we cannot get at them. Most corrupt public servants are normally ignored unless they get too greedy or act out of line. When governments get vengeful they start action and even that may go nowhere because even if all the investigating agencies find them guilty, there are some other people above them in Ministries and other places which can be easily compromised, in fact most times party to the same crime, who have to give permission to proceed against them. Why? God knows. Actually we know. So they cannot be sentenced or punished. It is like a gang of thieves who have retained the right to loot and also retained the right as to who to punish - which is normally not their own. Punishments are only for the small fry - the clerk who has been bribed 50 rupees, and so on.

What the Lokpal Bill does is make everyone accountable - from what I gather. Which is being met with such resistance from the government that it is shameful. Why two days - do it NOW! Unless of course you have something to hide - which I am sure everyone has. And make no mistake every single political party has a share in the pie, every one has a stake and every one will become answerable. But since they have to make the law they will not, because they will have to go to jail. So they will resign some obscure committee, arrest some junior officer, beat up some youngsters, throw mud on Anna Hazare and his band and do all that is within their control to stop this Lokpal Bill from being brought out in the way it should. Unless of course there is a kick in the rear from the very Lok that is completely harassed by this system and why not - there is an uproar in every country and why not India.

Whatever happens then, this Lokpal Act must come and we must do all we can to support this movement because that will break the root of all evil. Everyone and everything will be up for scrutiny and for punishment where wrongs have been committed. The system will finally be bled of this bad blood and fresh blood will start flowing again.

But to get back to Anna Hazare saab and his great act, this is singularly the one act that shows the nation to be wearing nothing, to be naked. When we have such an issue on our hands, we are only drugging ourselves with all sorts of other distractions - like the Emperor who wore no clothes, we have been walking naked, thinking we are progressing very fast and that we are the next super power. Until an ageing potbellied Gandhian Anna Hazare shouted out the truth - 'Hey, you are not wearing any clothes!'

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