Now coming to the issue of a Lokpal bill…
I would be going against popular sentiment but dare I say – WE DO NOT NEED A LOKPAL BILL – Neither the “Civil Society” version nor the government version. Here are my reasons for the same:
- Too few cooks make poison not broth: Our constitution – the Raison d'être of all law agencies – is a brilliant piece of applied thought. It creates three bodies – the executive, the judiciary and the legislative – all of which are independent but completely dependent. What one does can be checked and annulled by the other through justified action. The problem arises when these come together – the exact thing that the Jan Lokpal proposes to do! Hand over power to one person/institution and make him absolute… to make law, decide violations and ensure execution - and what you have is a perfect broth - the only problem being that the recipe being perfect is of 'disaster'...
- The RTI, the CVC, the CAG – all these are bodies designed to curb corruption – but do they work? So now we create another one – and then five years down the line – another one to supervise the Lokpal... When does it end! The problem is not existence of no control or supervision – its too many controls.
- The reform process – if taken to its logical conclusion – will remove the necessity of any such bill. I wrote earlier about this – the reforms have created a less corrupt society already (imagine getting phone connections, paying electricity bills, paying taxes, getting a stamp paper without paying bribes even ten years earlier) – the corruption has been pushed up the ladder… Yes, I’m worried when my tax is gobbled up (supposedly) by corrupt (again, supposedly) ministers… But thankfully my day-to-day jobs have fewer hassles now. By slowly making more things transparent, the corruption will be pushed up the ladder – and then out! By adding the Lokpal – we just add a wrung to the ladder which the corruption can climb!
I’ll not go into the problems of the Jan Lokpal Bill – there are far too many that even a noob like me can see (for eg: the concentration of power, the selection panel, the age limits etc. etc.) because I know the end is justified – lesser corruption… In its current form the Jan Lokpal Bill is a situation where (as mentioned in a debate on TV) – If there is a theft in my house, I’ll worry about locking up my house later – I’ll first go to fast to force the commissioner to provide me more police force!!!
Now people say, OK you are just writing blogs – at least we are out here protesting against the government and their corrupt practices! Well I say, at least I’m doing my job right… In the last full year, I can vow to have never paid a bribe -no single rupee. How many of you can vouch for that? I agree I never voted. How many of you accept that? If not, did you or did you not vote for the “right” candidate from the local level right to the MP! We all expect our rights to be honoured but forget the duties that the constitution also mentions…!!!
I’m a firm believer in democracy – I’ve been part of School and college politics myself – no matter how much the elections were rigged – the best people, more often than not, get elected if everyone participates. So once the democratic process is set right, everything comes in place... Here are the electoral reforms I propose:
- You want a strong Jan Lokpal Bill. Bring a strong “Vote Karo” bill. How about sentencing people who do not vote to 5 years rigorous imprisonment... would you be ready for that? How about giving a tax rebate to people who voted in the last general election?
- Ok, I want to vote but who do I vote for... So ban people who have been convicted (not accused) of any law breaking/tax evasion from elections. Yes today very few will pass/fail, slowly more will... finally one day (probably 100 yrs from now) we’ll have an unblemished candidate list!
- Use RTI more. You find some problem – please take the trouble of filing an RTI application. Instead of asking for more governance mechanisms, learn to use the ones that exist!
- Our courts (and nationalised banks) work for less than half the year – how about extending that? Have more fast-track courts to settle small disputes in a speedy manner... You might not agree to it, the courts (including the lawyers and judges) are highly overburdened for now!!!