Thursday, August 25, 2011

Some thoughts on Anna Hazare & Jan Lokpal Bill

What a fantastic movement this is turning out to be! Never before has a single civic issue been brought so much to the fore and with so much force as this one, at least not to my memory. I am sure many commentators have already spoken at length about the merits and demerits of each of the many versions of the bill in current circulation. I am not plugged in enough, not being in India, to make a statement either way. So, I will stick to a few general thoughts. Take it with a pinch of salt.


  • Never before have I seen so much following for something that does not have either a caste, religious or a regional connotation. If nothing else, this movement should be hailed for bringing together people for a cause beyond their own boundaries.
  • It is absolutely admirable that violence hasn't happened in these movements. I have written in the past about frustrations about non-peaceful public congregations and the peaceful nature of these congregations is a very good achievement, in my humble opinion. It shouldn't take much for political parties to destabilize the peace by using their cronies to incite violence. Why hasn't it happened? I expected it? I am pleasantly surprised.
  • The fact that Govt. tried presenting a bill that is actually useless doesn't surprise me. What surprises me is that why didn't they accept the JLP and then malign it beyond recognition through the parliamentary process while diffusing the movement? The cynic in me believed they would. They didn't. I am not sure who should I thank for this.
kingfisher flight 4132 at Belgaum airport: captain announces flight is delayed because 2 MPs r on way to airport: THIS IS WHY WE NEED LOKPAL
No, you idiot. This is not why we need Lokpal. We need Lokpal to fight corruption, not egos and power struggles. Don't get carried away please. 
  • I am concerned about saying patriotic Indian slogans allows anybody to fight any argument about any bill remotely attached to the actual national cause. The fact that well educated Indians just decide to drop in a slogan instead of an actual argument is deeply disturbing.
  • Just because somebody doesn't pay taxes in India (NRIs), or doesn't vote in India (millions of resident Indians too for various reasons) doesn't mean that their argument(s) is/are wrong. In fact, if a sound argument came from a foreigner, does ignoring it make it non-sound? Again, the fact that well educated Indians indulge in this instead of properly arguing a point is deeply disturbing.
  • When the Gujarat Riots happened in 2002, it left a lasting distaste for BJP.  Even then, I never really believed Congress was the party that could take us anywhere - and unfortunately, it seems my intuition was true. Apart from their gross mistakes in Gujarat in 2002, was BJP a better party in power than Congress is today? Are they up to challenge Congress in near future? Is it time to reconsider BJP for future? Or is there an alternate party or a coalition that can not only take centre-stage but govern the country better than Congress?  Will this movement germinate a lasting political legacy for India?
  • Finally, one of my frustrations while living in India was that our current young generation seems to be conditioned to not care too much about the laws of the land or the rules of a society. Breaking traffic rules, using "jack" or "influence", breaking queues etc are some examples - things that are easy to observe and higher in magnitude in India than in other more-developed countries. This movement seems to indicate that Indians won't tolerate external corruption, but would it also mean anything for their own personal corruption? Would they refrain from inciting corruption when it suits them? Or is this just a convenient way of wanting others to be perfect but carrying on with their own lives as if nothing needs to be changed?
Think about these points.

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