There is one thing unique about our ostensibly unified nation-any effort against the establishment appeals the masses. Look at Mr. Anna Hazare. With all due respect to the veteran socialist, he has in a time equivalent to microseconds in political circles, garnered support of over a million Indians. This is admirably good. The bad part is that most of them are unaware of what they are protesting for. This is probably the incident English language professors will cite to practically quote an example for irony. Mr.Hazare’s demands are against the government for making the ignorant people of this nation immune to tolerance, the chalta hai attitude. The twist is that in doing so, he gathered the support of people ignorant to his cause (many joined the protests after their religious and spiritual leaders like Baba Ram Dev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji lent their hand, giving it altogether a different colour). I am pretty sure, Mr. Hazare won’t approve of this support and these were definitely not his intentions. But, this leaves us with a big question. Can the nation, so politically unaware, embrace the constitutional revolution Mr. Hazare is advocating? The draft bill which the civil activists are supporting, no doubt, has sharp and cunning teeth in contrast to what the government has been proposing. The assumption is that Mr. Hazare’s Lokpal will be occupied by only good people with a shield against corruption. With the kind of powers being suggested for this Lokpal, at times even superseding the supreme judiciary of our country, we have to ensure that the commission never falls in the wrong hands. When even highly regarded and completely independent election commission and judiciary, to mention two most important institutions of the government, are not free from political influence and unscrupulous elements, how can this draft assure our nation a good, completely honest and a highly efficient Lokpal? Anything less than this would be extremely disastrous. It will create a fourth organ of the government, but much more powerful and capable of exploitation (God forbidden, these fears come true) than the present three-executive, legislature and the judiciary. The highly ethical and disciplined Army too made a sorry exception in the Adarsh Land scam.
We don’t have too reel under the assumption that anything against the government is always good and will produce perfectly desirable results which the efforts, though half-hearted, of the past 63 years haven’t. What is required is not a legislation that is practically impossible to realize. There needs to be a balance between the right and the pragmatic. Though the draft of the government is an instrument for their protection, an alibi for their political survival and an institution of puppet power in their hands, the draft suggested by civil activists though being extremely powerful and capable is definitely not the right solution. For example, one of the provisions of the civil activist’s draft proposes to have ten members in Lokpal being chosen by CAG, Election commissioner, members of judicial background and international awardees. Another provision, being read with this one states that Lokpal should have police powers, should register FIRs and proceed with investigations. Now, first of all, how can a noble prize winner, say in physics, have the expertise in an understanding of the bureaucratic and political structure of such a complex nation? Second, in an area of conflict between the lokpal, the government and the courts whom will the police, CBI etc. take orders from? Third, since Lokpal is morally bound to investigate all the genuine complaints it receives, is a 10 member team sufficient to effectively pursue the investigations over the grievances of a major chunk of 1.2 billion people? f not, won't addition of too many members dilute the immunity (from political influence) this Lokpal was bound to possess? The government’s version of the draft suggests channelling of the complaints through the speaker of Lok Sabha or chairman of Rajya Sabha to be allocated for investigation to Lokpal. Since, this proposal lacks the teeth considering that the speaker is generally of the ruling coalition, there is definitely a need to strike a right balance between the two sides of the same argument.
There is nothing in the government’s draft that should attract even a scintilla of support but, there is definitely not so much of pragmatism in the civil activist’s draft to catch the fancy of a billion people. Supporting a cause is one thing. Advocating a solution is another. While the former should be well pondered over, the latter should be well researched.