I spent the better part of yesterday evening standing on a curb and shouting myself hoarse on the lines of, ”We want Lokpal” and “Don”t watch, join in!” Waving the tricolour, and holding up posters and wearing Gandhi caps inscribed with “I am Anna Hazare,” I was the part of a hundred-odd crowd, protesting peacefully against Anna Hazare”s arrest and the need of the Lokpal Bill. Later, I learned that about four hundred people were held by the police earlier in the day due to their dissent and chain-fasting regarding the Lokpal Bill drafted by the government .
Meanwhile, yesterday morning Anna Hazare, the leader of this social movement, was arrested even before he left his house to go to the JN Park to begin a peaceful fast. Being a staunch follower of Gandhi ji and unrelated to any political party, this diminutive man from the small village of Ralegaon Siddhi has given the word revolution a new meaning. Corruption seems to have met a worthy foe in the ire of the country, and everyone stands united with Anna Hazare, who is promoting the Jan-Lokpal Bill in India.
Far too often, we consider India synonymous with corruption. We grease palms of public and private officials with as much thought as before jumping a red signal. The action is steeped into the collective conduct as a society, where every generation of recent times has observed their elders slipping a note into the hands of a man in khaki. Be it the procurement of a driving license, a ration card or a passport, no incentive worked better than a bribe.
In an effort to combat this growing decay of corruption, the Lokpal Bill was proposed. Lokpal is basically an ombudsman and it seeks to eradicate the corruption within the bureaucracy and the political class in India. Presently, there are no autonomous or government-controlled agencies equipped to serve this purpose, and hence the need for a Lokpal. Lokpal is envisioned to be an autonomous panel of transparent leaders, civic members and bureaucrats. The corruption cell of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the premier Indian investigative agency, though autonomous, comes under the control of the government and unable to remain uninfluenced in investigation of political leaders and officeholders. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) can investigate only the bureaucracy, and hence in a scam like 2G, which unearthed widespread corruption in bureaucrats, businessmen and politicians, it is not effective.
The Lokpal bill was first drafted by activists like Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, Shanti Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal and was called the “JanLokpal Bill”. It was submitted to the Parliament for deliberation and thus began the sparring between Team Anna, the activists and social workers and the government. After suppression and using violence to disperse previous rallies, another rally has been organized in Delhi to express the opinion of the people. There is a strong current of nonviolence and fasting in these protests, upholding the Gandhian way of protest against a tyrannical government.
Though the omnipresence of the Lokpal body is a cause for worry for its impartiality, it is not an excuse for the bill being axed. Lokpal is a positive step towards a corruption-free India that will assure the equality of every citizen of India.
I, for one, will be on the streets again today, shouting slogans and holding fasts. If I”m lucky, maybe I”ll even see the inside of a police station!