Friday, August 19, 2011

Why Jan Lokpal

A lot of people I know believe that the entire nation fighting for one bill to be passed against corruption is not justified. There is a widespread belief that a bill cannot root corruption, that corruption is a mindset which every individual has to let go of. That we have to first stop giving bribes ourselves, and then only can the problem of corruption be addressed. I disagree. I agree, on the other hand, with Anna. And I know this is being really imposing, but I want you to understand why I say this so confidently. I will first elucidate why I think this school of thoughts might not work, and then I will tell you why the bill will.

A. Why the individual fight against corruption might not work:
1. These are all Utopian imaginations, and we, unfortunately, live in India. This is the country where people won't throw a plastic in the dustbin voluntarily, even though it doesn't cost them anything. Do you really expect 1.2 billion people to change their attitude, when it will cost them a lot of comfort?

2. You and me want to change, do you know why? Because we are the bribe payers. Give me one reason why the bribe takers will want to change.

3. I know, if nobody in the country gives a bribe, what will the takers do? Thing is, corruption isn't just about the small 100 Rs. bribes circulated among the middle class. The corruption which affects the nation is at a much larger scale, and the people involved needn't be Indians in such cases. Right there, this theory crumples down. (Go to Things You Should Know for an example.)

Why Jan Lokpal:
1. Can I safely assume that the government officials and bereaucrats do not form more than 30% of our population? I will, for now. Now, corruption is a two way process, as you said. Disable one side, and the process stops. Its easier, arithmetically, to control the 30% of the population, the bribe takers, than it is to control the rest 70%, the bribe givers, don't you think?

2. The above-mentioned bribe-takers wouldn't give up corruption voluntarily, ever. They have to be made to do so. Hence we need something that makes them do so - law, punishment, force. Jan Lokpal.

3. No bill can remove 100% corruption. The Jan Lokpal promises around 60% reduction. But the presence of an authority which has prosecuted 60% of the criminals instills a sense of fear, at least in the minds of the officials of lesser stature. That helps induce a non-corrupt mindset. We are a lot more closer to Utopia already!

4. Nothing stops the Jan Lokpal from being corrupt, except that the Jan Lokpal can be prosecuted by another Lokpal. But we will get a chance to elect them again. All we have to do is ensure we don't vote for the one who has been corrupt. Note that this committee will be structurally much simpler than our Parliament. So we will have a much bigger say in their election. Also, a big number of them will be civilians having no ties with politics or bureaucracy. There would be a lesser conflict of interest there.

C. Why you should fight for the Jan Lokpal even if you think all of this was bullshit:
1. These protests have been a nightmare for the government. Next time they will watch their step. And every added protestant will increase their fear. The next Government, whichever it is, will dare not commit the mistake this one did.

2. These protests have made working against corruption a 'cool' thing. India Against Corruption has hammered the message of 'Every Indian Anna Hazare' deep and clean. People will now be more courageous against the day to day bribery. They won't be ashamed of saying No.

D. If you still don't want to fight:
The administration has been callous towards tackling corruption with an iron fist. Every Indian who doesn't fight against this attitude, justifies it. If you don't fight, the Government takes that as a vote of your confidence. Register your dissent, just to assert what you want. Protest, just to remind them, that you are the one they represent, you are the one they should work for, and you are the one who inspires their decisions. Protest, just to tell them that you care, and so, they must, too.

E. If you disagree, still
Do  you know of any other way, one that will actually work?

P.S. Obviously, no single bill can end corruption, Jan Lokpal is not a magic wand, and anybody who believes so is seriously mistaken. But at the same time, those who claim that the bill is unfair because it covers only the politicians, are being extremely negative and unrealistic. This bill is a start. This protest is a beginning. And we have a long way to go.


Bharat Paldiwal said...

Commendable and well thought blog. Nice reading.

SVK said...

Exactly reflecting my thoughts... good going.. try publishing this too...

Anonymous said...

Instead of strengthening the current judicial set up , we are adding another layer of Govt. I don't think it will help, in fact it will make things worse.
Rather than getting rid of the Govt. interference from public life we are getting more of it.

Venky said...

This exactly why i support this movement.I don't know how effective the Bill will be but the magnitude of the protest is surely an eyeopener for the recklessly corrupt govt.

Anonymous said...

very well said!

Ojas said...

Well articulated... I echo your views.

Starak said...

Really well written, and probably one of the sensible takes on Jan Lokpal I have seen till now!

wolverine said...

I do not think it will make much difference, except make life tough for beat constables, clerks etc.

The people against whom general populous has a problem. Politicians who are the main culprits, as you pointed out, will not be affected by this. A beat constable earning 8k a month will def get hit on his income side. Till government raises pay, I see petty bribery as means of correcting that. Even if we talk about IAS officers, their pay grade when they start, gives them like 40 k in hand, with living quarters etc but the same IAS could have entered corporate and would have been earning much more.

This all does not justifies bribery per se, but it definitely makes sense to me till government pays are increased to reflect, the similar pays in corporate sector.

Only instilling fear will not help. Fear is no permanent solution, as sooner or later some one will overcome it and then the system again fails.

To remove corruption, the need for it should be eliminated.

As for politicians, well go ANNA go!

KK said...

I'm positive that the "anonymous" comment which mentioned the wordpress blog is none other than Mr. Rahul Sengupta :P :D (a.k.a. The_Shadow!)