Causeless crusade

April 13th, 2011

With due respect to Mr Hazare and his cause, I have my own reservations about the success of the Jan Lokpal Bill.

I don’t agree with Mr Hazare when he says that corruption will be down 80-90 per cent after the bill is introduced in India.

We have had Lok Ayuktas or anti-corruption ombudsman in 17 states in the country for some years now. What kind of a difference have they been able to make?

One of the most active Lok Ayuktas, Santosh Hegde, resigned from the Karnataka government last year owing to the BJP government’s indifference to the Lok Ayukta institution.

In one of the papers, Hegde described his decision to quit as a “cumulative effect” over a series of reasons ranging from the government not heeding to his plea for filling up of ‘Upa Lokayukta’ post to the then Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa reneging on his assurance that officers suspended on Lok Ayukta’s recommendation would not be reinstated.

Considering this, I wonder if a bill will put things in place.

A lawyer friend informs me that the bill, in substance, is not very different from the existing laws which govern prevention of corruption in India.

So a question to ask the glitterati and chatterati who converged at the Jantar Mantar to express solidarity with Mr Hazare is– would they not, in future, grease palms of the traffic police to get away after flouting traffic norms?

Would people not evade taxes anymore? Would they not pay extra to get a ration card or an LPG cylinder in black?

Or does all this not amount to corruption?

The real issue here is not about having a new bill in place, but about putting to good enforcement, the anti-corruption laws that we already have.

When I called up a few friends in Delhi to ask if they were part of the mass turnout at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, they happily said they were. And as I expected, none of them knew what the bill is about.

So now that Anna Hazare’s 97 hours fast has paid off and the government has heeded to his demands, it would be interesting to see if the Lok Pal Bill actually turns out to be what is being expected or it becomes one of the many bills that people do not have a clue about.

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