Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Too much self righteousness?

That the central government has made a complete hash of managing the call for protest against the Lokpal bill by Anna Hazare comes as no surprise to me. Though I hold Manmohan Singh in high regard and deeply respect him, I believe he just isn't prime ministerial  material. He lacks the crucial ability to hold conviction over any issue that he talks about. What comes across is a tutored version of what seems more bureaucratically informed than politically sound. And Kapil Sybil should stop sounding like the Vice chancellor of a university who is dealing with irrational students. Take your electorate seriously and understand that frustrations over years of corrupt governance is the legacy you have inherited; and work with a historic understanding of how it has effected the life of every Indian citizen.

However this isn't to say I am dancing the hoopla over Anna Hazare's tactics either. I am a strong defender of a parliamentary system and feel uncomfortable about compromising the methods by which it is meant to function constitutionally. Also, much as I am equally an advocate for the voice of the people, I cannot somehow get my head around the fact that every time civil society believes that the government is wrong, strong arm tactics like fasting unto death can become the hijacking techniques that allow for a very pedestrian understanding of what democracy means.

With the BJP strongly behind the Anna Hazare movement I have become uncomfortable with the "peoples agitation", because the stringent slogan shouting and vande mataram refrains are sounding slightly imported by political agencies with vested agendas and political scores to settle; and appear rather hysteric when viewed on the television channels.

Of course there are many Indians who are genuine supporters of this endeavor to make the government address the issues of corruption with a more honest approach to creating policy that can tackle corruption  at its grass roots; which in this case in fact means at the very highest offices of governance and judicial authority. However to allow for anarchy on the streets of India to become the instrument by which policy in government is drafted, makes me rather grey at the gills. I think this would be a very dangerous precedence to set. Tomorrow anyone who can muster up a show of strength on the streets will be holding the ability to make the parliamentary system get on its knees.

However I do believe that after a long time India has found a person to iconise who is both secular in approach and with a moral conviction to desire change. Like Mahahtma Gandhi, Anna Hazare appeals to the imagination of the common Indian person, and possesses an understanding of mobilising civil society to find it's conscience. But equally like Gandhi, he runs the danger of romanticising issues that hold political divisiveness that are subversive in nature;  and ignores the  implications that such naiviety can lead to.

The BJPwala's and the Baba Ramdev types are like vultures waiting to swoop on the kill. Team Anna Hazare should be vigilant and not make this historic possibility of civil intervention be wasted in rigid posturing. Negotiation and dialogue with elected representatives of the government and the opposition must be the only space to hammer out the drafting of the Lokpal bill.  All else will jeopardise the parliamentary system of democratic functioning.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Rekha,

    I tried hard to post this comment on your blog. But for some reason it did not get loaded. Hence sending it as a mail. I am undecided whether to make this view of mine a mission but here it is nonetheless.

    "I think you have written a fairly balanced piece on a drama that seems to have become a TRP bonanza for our TV channels. Having said that I am afraid that I have a far more extreme view on Anna and his methods. I think what is happening is extremely dangerous for Indian democracy. Whatever may be India's other limitations I think we have had a decent democracy where the balance of power between the legislature, executive and judiciary have been well stated in our Constitution and has by and large been maintained well. For a poor country , which we are despite the growth we have seen in the past decade, we are without doubt a functioning democracy. The judicial activism we have seen in the past few years had started threatening this balance. And if the government gives in to Anna's blackmailing tactic we will certainly bury it for ever. There is a process by which 500 odd MP's elected by 1000 million Indians determine what will be the law. Laws cannot be made by a few individuals, however populist their cause may be. When I read their defence of the Jan Lokpal bill on their site I get terrified. Do they not realise what a monster they will create. They had a lot of difficulty getting a team of 5 people that were beyond reproach. Where will we get dozens of Lokpals that are accountable to essentially no one. The way out is not one more bureaucracy We need to amend laws that create discretion and cause corruption. We need to be more vigilant as a nation. But we do not need to attack the very foundation of our Constitution , which is what Team Anna is bent on doing. There is no difference between George Bush and Anna then.It simply cannot be " my way or the highway"."


    Harsha Bhatkal
    Popular Prakashan