By now, the entire nation knows about Anna Hazare and there seems to be huge huge following for him. I went to Marina beach yesterday and there were about 2000 people near light house supporting Anna. I was definitely amazed to see such a huge crowd of normal ordinary people of this country. I saw people from all walks of the life, middle class aunties, oldies and lots and lots of youngsters – people who are probably in to the first or second year of college.
And there seems to some difference of opinion amongst different set of people:
1. People like Nandan Nilekani and Arundhati Roy seems to be okay with the “right for protesting” but definitely not OK with a single man dictating what the government should do
2. The opposition (if at all we can call it one) seems to be on the same line – “we are against the way the government handled the situation” but they don’t speak if they support or disagree with the bill
3. The government – it seems that it is completely indifferent to what is happening in the country. It definitely handled the situation badly but doesn’t seem to be thinking about breaking the impasse
4. And the public – almost everybody is with Anna. Frustrated, having lost hope with this country, they desperately need a change and are willing to support anyone who is willing to make that change happen.
The fundamental problem today is that people have lost confidence and trust in this government. And when I say government it is not about Congress. Why I say this is because, yesterday at Marina, I saw a small group of girls shouting “We want change in power”. It is not about changing this government and getting a new one. If that happens all we gonna have is a new government which is going to be UPA or NDA – and there seems to be a prediction that if election comes, UPA will win again. With a change in government, nothing is going to change in our day-to-day lives. We are going to get the same treatment from the policemen, ration shops, government offices and a dont-care-attitude from the fellow citizens. Traffic signals are going to be broken, roads are going to be bad, poor will not get access to proper healthcare, food and will sleep in roads – nothing will change. What every Indian (in India and abroad) wants is a change in our daily lives – things that we interact on a daily basis. Things that will make our life better. We want a complete overhaul of the system that we are in. And I believe that’s the reason everybody is inherently in the roads.
What Nandan Nilekani said in his interview is that through technology and automation these basic interactions of the general public needs to be cleaned up – made transparent, accountable and efficient. And he said that bringing Lokpal will only create another independent committee like Prevention of Corruption Act, CAG, etc… And here are few more views from different parties involved:
From a government’s angle (I’m not talking about Congress here), I think it is actually a larger problem. For example, Team Anna were demanding for a public place to conduct the fast. And they wanted it indefinitely. Huge crowd may actually come in and the government definitely needs to think from security angle. The first thing that happened after Ramlila Maidan was chosen as the venue was that, right in the morning, we saw policemen, sniffer dogs and massive equipments sweeping the grounds. Being a country with not-so-friendly-neighbors and an equal amount of enemies within, the government will have to worry from security angle. What if a RDX blows up on the venue (Delhi being national capital too)? We will blame the government again. Secondly, we have the parliament where representatives from different parts of the country are functioning. As Nandan pointed out, there are definitely good people out there. And some serious business does take place. I do not know the ratio of good to bad politicians there, but I know people like Jaiprakash Narayan are sitting out there. And the Standing Committee seems to be very good where it healthy debates happen. And these are people representing different sections of the society – the tribal, Muslim, Dalit, Urban, Rural, etc…and the bill needs to be debated from all angles because it is going to affect the entire functioning of our country
2. Alternative theories
There is also another round of views about the people who are behind Anna. If you look at the kind of people who are behind Anna, most of them are from Urban living. That’s how it started at least and now it is spreading to the towns as well. The movement has spread through the media and Internet. And people in the Cities and Towns are the ones who have access to these – especially Social Media. Now, we cannot enact a law obliging the demands of certain section of the country. And that too due to mass following. I am not for this – but for example, tomorrow, India being a Hindu dominant country, what if some other person starts an “Anti-Muslim” movement and there is a mass following to it. I mean, people are not that stupid but it theoretically it is possible – the government is probably thinking about this too? And this thinking is probably beneficial for the larger benefit of the people. Or probably this is how government is run – you cannot decide Just Like That.
3. Political Parties
None of the political parties seem to be “actually” supporting the Lokpal bill. All parties are actually raising their voice against the way the government handled the situation. Nobody is mentioning that they are OK with “these these points in Anna’s version” and not OK with “these these points in Govt’s version”. I have read both the versions of the bill and what Anna’s version is trying to create is something like a parallel government. There is going to be a central Lokpal which will look at larger problems like 2G scam, black money, etc…and every state will have Lokayukta and similar setups at district, panchayat levels. Now this is actually parallel governance. No where in the world this is present and it may be dangerous also. Let’s not debate that. But the political parties – they are not going to be OK with having a parallel government.
And this is my take considering all these:
Yes, this whole movement may be started by the Urban population. And probably it will spread slowly to other places in the country. But Urban population are the ones who have seen things outside the country. They have been exposed to how proper governance happens in other developed countries. The rural population and the poor have in-numerous problems that they cannot even think about all these. When people are worried about next day meal they will not think about all these. So there is nothing wrong in the movement being started by the Urban population. It is for larger benefit of the entire country.
And the views that things needs to be changed at grass root level – like fundamentally people are corrupt and we need to change that. Yes definitely people are corrupt. I download pirated music and somebody doesn’t obey traffic rules and somebody else doesn’t pay taxes properly. People are definitely corrupt. Now here is where the definition of corruption needs to be made clear. Corruption in my opinion is altering a way of working/decision for the benefit of a single person or a group. When such alteration takes place, it results in a deviation from doing things the way it needs to be done which either results in sub standard service or no service. Now, coming back to the point of people being fundamentally corrupt. I download pirated music because – either i don’t respect or value the service that I get or I cannot afford to buy one. And there are no proper laws to check it. Now, last week I bought an app for replacing the stock keyboard in my Android. Now, that cost me Rs.200. But I bought it because, I used it before and I found it to be helping me and making my life easier. And it was affordable to me. So I bought it. Now I pay taxes properly. In fact, I declare my Savings Account interest and pay even Self Assessed Tax. Why do I do this? Is it because I want to contribute to the growth of the country? No, it is because there is a law and I can later by scrutinized. Now this is fear – fear brought in by enforcing laws.
APJ Abdul Kalam’s says that let’s start by teaching the kids to be good citizens so that at least next generation will be good and not corrupt. And Nandan’s view is also on the same line – instead of changing the people he is trying to change the last mile of the system that people access. This is definitely good. This is what will probably scale on the longer run. This is basically starting from ground up. But I beg to differ here. There needs to be fear amongst everybody (all walks of the life) that if someone does something wrong (against the law) then there is going to severe punishments. And this needs to start at the top level. We cannot have people like Raja, Hasan Ali, Deve Gowda, Yedurappa, Jagan Mohan Reddy walking freely in the country. The law should be made good enough to give faster punishments to people like this. Why start at this level? Why not from the traffic signals? Because if there is a law to first check the ministers – he is going to fear the system and act properly. He will ask questions to his ministry – then to his officers – then to the executives – to the people at the bottom of the chain. Now that way at every level things needs to be checked. Making people change is definitely not going to work – because of the fundamental nature of human being. Even in developed countries, people when intoxicated they run over pedestrians. If there is no one on the road, you may get mugged. Somebody might come in to the convenience store and ask for the money. If you don’t give it you may get shot. This is in developed countries. So basically we human beings, given a chance would like to go over the law and do what we feel like doing – our mind is still fundamentally animal. But under normal conditions, when we are in a society, the fear of getting punished is what keeps us under control. And that needs to be brought in. Through laws. Through tougher laws. A whole generation needs to be toughly punished to bring that fear in people. And this can start only from the top.
You cannot say that “I cannot sack Raja due to coalition dharma”. Now how mean is that?When the entire nation is debating and agitating about this bill, Sonia Gandhi leaves to US for some medical treatment. Okay, she is not occupying any government office. But as a leader of a political party and how influential she is in the country, she doesn’t believe in the country’s healthcare and flies off to the US. Because she can afford it. The power and money that can get her anything in this world. Cut through few years back, Vajpayee needed a knee replacement surgery and it got done in our own AIMS, Delhi. Now as a leader, you need to demonstrate to people of this country. People want a change right now and have no more patience.
All we ask is better roads, portable water, good shelter, affordable healthcare. To make our lives better. Nothing more than that.