Citizens' Issues
‘My fast at Azad Maidan, and what various people in the movement against corruption are saying’

Peter Theobald shares his experiences from the protest at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan, in support of a strong anti-corruption law

So, yesterday (Friday, 19 August) I decided that if a 74-year-old Gandhian had already fasted for four days, for all of us, what is my excuse, particularly given my past history in this matter? Also, I had been putting off my scheduled three-day fast for quite a while, this is as good a reason as any to re-start this practice that was any way good for my health. Only I was thinking, given the long break, would my body still respond the same way? Only one way to find out - Try!

So as usual, I told-or rather requested-my body, that I am going to begin a three-day fast tomorrow, so please adjust to being without food for three days. I had found in the past that this ensured that the three-day fast passed without a single hunger pang-something amazing, since normally I get severe hunger pangs even if I delay one meal. But this little request resulted that during the three days, I might feel tired, sleepy, a bit weak, headache, dry throat etc, in fact a lot of feelings-but anything but hunger!

And so it was, that in the morning, suitably armed with two bottles of water, a change of clothes and a thin sheet if I had to spend the night, I left for Azad Maidan. This time I did not lie to my son. After an initial protest, he accepted it, gave me a hug, and went back to play. Good, at least I got that right this time.

I reached the venue to find a small army of TV and police vans parked outside, and a contingent of about 50 policemen and women scattered around. I went to the stage, where about 50 people were quietly sitting, some reclining, assuming that they were fasting. I was politely told, with folded hands, "Yes, but you see, the stage is full, you are on day one of your fast; many of these people are fasting for five days and need to stretch out a bit, there is no room for more people now,  so please sit in the front row of the audience. You can join on the stage tomorrow."

So I sat there, watching with increasing amazement as a series of people, as motley a group as you can imagine, continuously took the stage one after the other... and echoed almost the same thing. It did not matter if it is was an illiterate farmer from Ralegan Siddhi, or an IT engineer from TCS, or a banker from Nomura Financial Services, or a housewife, if you removed their external identity, it was as if it was one person speaking. They looked the same, in simple clothes, an Anna cap, and a black armband. And they spoke the same language. And it was clear to see that they were speaking from their heart. Patriotic songs, couplets, slogans, and they were saying the most incredible things... I made a few notes...

A municipal teacher-transferred 12 times in 18 years for opposing corruption-now on her fifth day of fast. "By fasting I am not doing an upkar (favour) to anybody; it is for myself."

The 65-year-old event co-ordinator with indefatigable energy. "We want no violent words, no negativity. Nothing against any person. We are not fighting to change the government, but to change the system."
 
A five-year-old child, sang a patriotic song that brought tears to my eyes.

Indian Spiderman Gaurav Sharma, who climbed a 16-storey building in the rain in eight minutes, to hoist the Indian flag, to protest against corruption: "I did not take permission to do this, since I do not need permission to fight for my independence."

An MBA on his fifth day of the fast waxed eloquent. "Lathi/bullet khayenge, Jan Lokpal le ayenge" (We will brave batons and bullets, but get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed.)

An advocate: "Khoon ki Holi khelenge - lekein apni khoon ka. Ahimsak doosron ka khoon nahin bahate". (We will play Holi with blood if required-but our blood. Non-violent people do not shed other's blood.)

An event organiser called another person on stage, to share his slogan, saying "Taking credit for another person's idea is also corruption."

Many of these persons spoke so fluently, with so much passion, energy, without a trace of fatigue that it was difficult to believe they had not had a morsel to eat for five days. I was beginning to understand what Anna Hazare meant when he said, "I get my energy from all of you".

A retired police inspector. A housewife. "Fasting increases your atma-shakti. Strength of the soul."

A 11-year-old who was fasting for a day. Many youngsters from schools and colleges were given the mike and they spoke with a clarity and wisdom and understanding of the situation that belied their years.

It was getting more crowded now. Groups of people kept pouring in from everywhere. Cuffe Parade Residents Association-who says the rich don't care? Passengers on the Jan Lokpal Express. A group from this company, this bank, that IT company, who had left their laptops behind and were carrying a flag instead. A school child whose father was a Congress party leader. One youngster who ran 14 km from Wadala to Azad Maidan, waving the Indian Tricolour, all the way, and then came on stage to say his piece, that he was fasting for the day. An illiterate farmer from Anna Hazare's hometown, who in chaste Marathi, told us about Anna Hazare's background, cheerfully admitting that it was the first time he was holding a mike in his hand, and addressing any kind of audience.

Parivartan laney key like samay aur samaj chahiye. Ab hamare paas dono hain. Agar abhi nahin to kabhi nahin. (To usher in change, we need understanding and time. Now we have both. If not now, then never.)

"I got tired of reading the number of zeros in the amount of money swindled, but these guys did not get tired eating up this amount of money."

A blind man was helped to his seat.

A sixth standard girl: "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Anna Hazare is the Super Star."

And finally the one casualty of the day. Dipesh, an 18-year-old student, on the fifth day of his fast, who collapsed on stage while addressing the audience. "Sorry I don't have the energy to share my poem, but ..." A collective gasp rose from the participants. Dipesh was promptly attended to by volunteer doctors who have been available 24x7 to care for the fasters. Another person took the mike and said calmly, "He is being taken care of, do not worry." And the next person came on stage, exhorting the audience with the cry: "Vande Mataram. Don't worry, I too am fasting. Nothing will happen to me."

Another speaker said: "See how much these people are going through. How much more does the government want to torment them?" Torment indeed. The police have not given permission for the fasters to sleep on the site. So every day, they have to go to a dormitory a few km away, kindly provided by a Jain Association, rest there and come back the next day. Think about doing that on the fifth day of a fast.

The rest of the day went off in a blur. Speaker after speaker, slogan after slogan. Fifty more in line to speak. The atmosphere was electric. I too felt no hunger. I stopped taking notes. It was clear that history is in the making. The genie is out of the bottle. And it can't be put back.

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COMMENTS

malq

6 years ago

Brilliant, Sir, thanks.

(as Zizek points out) the Spanish indignados say almost the same things: '‘Some of us consider ourselves progressive, others conservative. Some of us are believers, some not. Some of us have clearly defined ideologies, others are apolitical, but we are all concerned and angry about the political, economic and social outlook that we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without a voice.’ They make their protest on behalf of the ‘inalienable truths that we should abide by in our society: the right to housing, employment, culture, health, education, political participation, free personal development and consumer rights for a healthy and happy life.’ Rejecting violence, they call for an ‘ethical revolution. Instead of placing money above human beings, we shall put it back to our service. We are people, not products. I am not a product of what I buy, why I buy and who I buy from.’"

Indira Chougule

6 years ago

Our today's Gandhi Anna, V all r with U.
Jai Hind!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Narendra Doshi

6 years ago

A bird's eye view narration for the churn in the hearts & minds of those not preview to the happening seat, to be able to see what Independence movement had been. This movement may indeed turn out to be another type of independence, soon.
Well said Peter sir.

Team Anna must not ignore suggestions by other groups and citizens

Some citizens are disturbed that Team Anna will not listen to other viewpoints on a strong anti-corruption law. There is also concern about who a powerful Lokpal will be accountable to 

While Anna Hazare's call for strong ombudsmen against corruption has gone from strength to strength, his ultimatum to the government on tabling his Jan Lokpal Bill by 31st August does not seem to have gone down well with many. At the same time, some citizens think that Anna must also consider suggestions offered by other groups and individuals-like Ms Aruna Roy and her group-instead of being rigid about his draft.

The National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) activist Ms Roy recently presented an alternate version of the Lokpal Bill, which is quite different from those proposed by the government or Anna Hazare. However, Team Anna has apparently cold-shouldered the proposal.

Noted RTI activist Bhaskar Prabhu says, "Setting aside the NCPRI'sdraft is something I consider erroneous." He has also expressed scepticism over the shape the movement has taken and he thinks that it should go beyond the popular uproar and manifest itself in concrete forms. The idea that corruption will vanish after the Lokpal is set up is too simplistic.

One of the troubling aspects of Anna's Jan Lokpal Bill is the question of accountability. There is confusion about who this immensely powerful body should be answerable to. The NCPRI version has sought to fill up this lacuna. "The Joint Committee was to hear suggestions from all as to how the prime minister or the judiciary should be brought under the Lokpal. They did not hear the NCPRI and so it is NCPRI's right to suggest their deferred version," Mr Prabhu said.

The NCPRI version suggests that there should be three nodal bodies, instead of one. Also, there are suggestions on strengthening the existing bodies, the Judicial Accountability Bill, and something for the protection of whistleblower.
However, Team Anna has been unwilling to accept any changes to its draft or to discuss its contents.

Ms Roy said, "There have been public meetings, but few consultations on the content of the Act in detail. Every critique was attributed to wrong intent and viewed with suspicion and mistrust by the civil society members of the Joint Committee. A critique of the Bill has evoked sharp reactions, and statements have been made that disagreement with the draft was tantamount to promoting corruption. We were baffled by such statements."

EAS Sarma, former power and finance secretary now turned activist says, "It is not an easy task for any one to come up with a fool-proof behemoth of a system that will eliminate corruption. The strength of civil society lies in its ability to sort out its internal differences and develop a healthy consensus."

Some other citizens, too, have voiced there concerns about the Lokpal as envisioned by Team Anna which appears too powerful. Rajaram Bojji, former managing director of the Konkan Railways, said, "If thousands of inspectors of Lokpal, spread out and start descending on every office, even routine work gets dislocated."

He thinks that in most cases vigilance bodies have victimised more innocent people than culprits. The proposed Lokpal with its vast powers can abuse its authority; considering that its functioning will be the same as others. Moreover, the scope of the Lokpal, as suggested, is too broad. In that case, there will be an overload, and cases/files will soon start to pile up like it has happened with the judiciary.

But Hazare's movement condemns the entire system, which many citizens feel is pushing the envelope too far. "We are one nation and it is unfair to treat the entire group of public servants to be useless and dishonest. That includes the politicians. It does not mean we condemn the entire system. We have done well in spite of some bad guys," says Mr Bojji.

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COMMENTS

vimal bhair

6 years ago


At this stage there should not be discuss anything expect Anna's Lokpal.Govt. is trying hard to linger this through Mrs Roy & co.Where were these people.Why they did not advise before Three Months,when this date was fixed.Now the most of the public is with Annaji I think no body should distrub this and must support this movement.

c jyoti

6 years ago

I know about a retired IRS officer having done a very paistaking job of giving his own suggestions on the Draft JLP Bill of Anna's team. This was never even acknowledged by them, the self-styled Civil Society of a few personms in a country of millions! Let the anti-corruption law be drafted by the common people ion their language. Let the upper class English-educated and speaking people make space for them.

vimal bhair

6 years ago

Mrs.Roy you do not have much public support so you are requested not to proceed with your Bill.Pl. do not shields these congressis who have looted the country like anything.

REPLY

Hemant

In Reply to vimal bhair 6 years ago

I agree with you,by looking support given to Anna,they all feel that nobody is looking to them ,so just to get publicity all this drama is created.Nobody is perfact but one who is nearer will always gets more support.

nagesh kini

6 years ago

The Parliamentary Committee has rightly put the issues of the Lok Pal Bill in the public domain for views and suggestions. This also should be made applicable to the Jan Lok Pal, NCPRI and every Private members Bill submitted. It should be the prerogative and Right of We, the people, to have our say in matters that concern us, in addition to going to the street wearing the "I am Hazare" topis. The citizen in addition to submitting views/suggestions must also be ready and willing to appear in person to defend the submission
At least as a concerned citizen I have exercised this right by mailing my views ans suggestions. I want to be heard/read and not simply ignored. Every right thinking citizen ought to do this too.
It is only then that our netas-babus will not take us for granted.

REPLY

Tira T

In Reply to nagesh kini 6 years ago

Which is the site and where can one send one's views?

Utsal Karani

6 years ago

Is there any space left for reasoned, civilised and dignified debate on Lokpal in the current intolerant climate created by Tean Anna?

bgupta

6 years ago

request ---every human every soul either good or bad ,angle or evil ,sinner,demon , god or devil every one want to live as a good humanbeing --please save
------------------requests to all to request and pray, enemities,quarrels ,old evil (bhudhi) intelligence of sins like vengeances , kama (so far which are the cause for every bad happenings ),enemities to destroy,spoiling others, hates for others all bad wisedom, bad evil thoughts, be change to good & noble and betterment for others, intelligence not commiting sins and not doing bad for others,.and save every soul ,grand soul, humans , balas in back bones , kundlani power , every molecules of humans .
----------------------------------1 ) we request you from the time of old vedic (india ancient scriptures time) .puranic stories (indian ancient) time and stories, curses of rishes (saints) devtas (angles) asurans (satans) ( devatas quarrels ) ramanya , mahabharata enemities, conspirancies ( षङयत्रॅ ) cheatings ,dirty politics , mistakes ( that time may be mistake of one or two persons) ,old revenges are taking place still going on. due to some bad budhies ( wise )(wisedom) ( बुदधि ) bad thoughts , bad understanding , egos , and adamant natures ( हठ ) ,blaming each others, those enemities and revenges has brought to this level . now it has taken very destruction .

2 ) if at those ancients times some wise peoples would have taken wise decissions for the betterment for each others and others , no ramayana, mahabhartha , no war ,no fight ,no quarrels , in puranic (ancients) times and now nothing would have not taken place .

3 ) on the name of punishment , taking revenges, taking under earth alive , several thousnds kilometers under earth , even to center of the earth, where no body can be able to find out , under rocks ( चटटान ) .even converting souls (atamas) to pieces the size of molecules even to newtron, proton size so that no one can search .buring alive .beating , cutting parts of boby of (souls) atama , sending to hell ( नरक़ ) the place where no body sees , making aliens and like aliens from human .joining different souls atamas giveing unnatural shapes .
breaking soul ( atama ) cutting hands , legs .stomach ,toungs,seprating layers of body ,atama
spoil of budies( बुदधि ) brains , spoiling atama , kundlies shakties ,nurves systems ,spoiling humans -,-beating souls ,human .micro soul powers .

4 ) .
bhupinder gupta (or his soul , atamas ,paramatama (grand soul )micro soul , son of purshotam lal gupta in his earlirer past births ( janams ) would have done some mistakes or sins that may be due to bad budhies (bad wisedom )( बुदधि ) or bad fate . which made sinner and sinner, and was not able to come out of bad thoughts and bad budhies . due to that others are also got affected and became victims and getting punished .
----------------------------- ------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------
5 ) please requsts you to request , give death penality for bhupinder gupta ( even to his father purshotam lal gupta and mother )to his (soul)atama , jeevatama , parmatma , kundalani power , every molecule of body by giving posion or injecting (now science have and can produce poision) and burn on the earth not in earth in front of every body .

---------------------------------------------------------
6 )
requests you to and request to other guru jis . please come forward togethers to make to stop bad things,quareels which under earth are going on , taking souls under earth and requests to make to bring back on earth .all the bad things are going on ..and save lives ,pain of every molecules of atama ,paratama ,human
please save to every one good or bad . prevent form paining and sufferings .

8 )
request thousands times to guru ji to save every molecules and take care of every atama .human .balas (like human ) in back bone ,kundalani sakties .and bring back lives to even micro micro molecules of every one .every creaters,every life bring back to earth and give life .

hope all will do best .and will request to others to save every life from the under earth and hell bring back to earth every grand or micro soul good or bad souls ,creatuers .

please save to every one good or bad .
--------------------------------------------

requests, pray and beg , please read full request . please come forward together to make to stop all the bad things,destructions of humans, lives , souls ( atma) , (grand souls) parmatama, are going on and save to everyone good or bad souls..

message for request .please request you to at the time ancient ,puranic times ,there may be mistake of one or two persons .mistakes would have been due to bad wisedom or bad fate and could not come out of sins which made sinner .at that time itself mistakes would have rectified and proper steps would have taken for betterment that mistakes should not be repeated .there would have been no bad happenings..

human souls ,are taken under earth .please request you to request make bring back all the souls ,every molecules back on earth .and make good dissison to save every one or REQUEST to give DEATH for ME ,MOTHER ,and FATHER ,and even to my TWO BROTHERS,and ONE SISTER to soul ,grand soul ,kundaliy , by giving or injecting POSION ( which science & scientits can produce ) and ( shown in the "DASAVATARAM "tamil & hindi india movie )BURN infront of ALL ON THE EARTH ONLY .

There are limits to what a strong anti-corruption law can do. We should reward whistle blowers and advertise the names of the corrupt

Economic incentives of agents who run the institution are to enrich themselves and they will either corrupt or prevent other members of the institution who might have the task of stopping the theft. But if corruption is exposed and the disincentives are high, then corruption would cease

Last week, veteran Indian activist Anna Hazare was arrested hours before launching a hunger protest. His cause is corruption. He is demanding that the government pass a stronger law to combat corruption. The government rather disingenuously threw him in prison. Prime minister Manmohan Singh says that Mr Hazare's methods of protest, which includes hunger strike, posed "grave consequences" for Indian democracy.

Still, Mr Singh's remarks and his government's actions are hardly surprising and go to the heart of the problem of corruption. For contrary to its definition, corruption is not a moral issue, it is an economic issue, a law and economic issue.

Laws are provided by the state. Each and every law guides behavior by providing incentives and disincentives. For example a law governing criminal conduct, like stealing, provides the disincentive of incarceration. Some laws provide economic disincentives like fines. Other laws provide economic incentives. An example would be a tax law that provides you with a special tax rate if you take certain actions.
 
Most legislatures and governments feel that they can solve problems with laws. They can't. There are very real limits to what laws can do. The reason has to do with enforcement. Some laws cannot be enforced. For example, laws relating to certain goods or services like drugs and prostitution are basically impossible to enforce. The reason is that the economic demand for these goods and services are widespread.

Other laws concerning the market are also difficult to enforce. The Chinese feel that they can control inflation with laws relating to price controls, but these always fail. Their attempt to restrict exports of rare earth metals just led to smuggling. Any international investment banker worth their salt can circumvent regulations or utilise regulatory arbitrage to lessen their effect.

The same problem exists with corruption. The problem is that the government is trying to use law to cleanse itself, but that is an enormous conflict of interest. It is really an agency problem.

In game theory, managers, elected officials and even police officers are agents. Managers are the agents of a principal, the owner or shareholders. Elected officials, bureaucrats and security personnel are agents of citizens. The best move for an agent is to cheat the principal. The principal hires a watchdog and the agent's best move is to suborn the watchdog. As long as the institution has the job of policing itself, it will fail. The economic incentives of the agents, who run the institution, are to enrich themselves and they will either corrupt or prevent other members of the institution who might have the task of stopping the theft. So in many ways it does not matter how strong the anti-corruption law is. As prime minister Mr Singh has aptly illustrated, it is not in his best interests to stop what has helped keep his party in power.

This does not mean that citizens are helpless. It does mean that there are limits to what a strong anti-corruption law can do. The solution though might lie elsewhere. The best way to control corruption is to deal with the asymmetries of information and economic incentives. If corruption is exposed and if the disincentives are so high, then the corruption would cease.

Fortunately, we live in a time where each and every owner of a cell phone has access to millions as never before. You don't even need a computer. Your cell phone allows you the ability to network and that power allows all of us to expose corruption. The other part is to provide economic and social disincentives.

One thing that Mr Hazare's campaign has shown is that you can market anti-corruption. But why stop with just hunger strikes or inflammatory editorials? Make it a contest. In the United States and even Afghanistan there are televised contests and prizes for amateur performers. Why not have televised contests for whistle blowers? Whistle blowers, or enforcement personnel, should not only receive some sort of immunity, but celebrity status, cash rewards, honorary medals, titles, sinecures or automatic political office granted not by the government, but by cell phone vote. Cash could be generated by fines from both personal and corporate liability.

Corrupt officials should not be neglected. There should be contests for them as well. The most corrupt official should be the subject of both weekly, monthly and an annual vote for town state and country, perhaps on a specially designated Corruption Day. Annual lists should also include all past year's winners. Shame can be as powerful a disincentive as incarceration.

Stopping and preventing corruption is certainly possible, but to do so we have to recognise the limits of the law. If the institution is corrupt, which it is by definition, so will the law. But that does not mean that society is completely helpless. It just has to know how to advertise.

(The writer is president of Emerging Market Strategies and can be contacted at william@emergingmarketstrategies.com  or w.gamble@alrroya.com.)

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COMMENTS

Dr Vaibhav Dhoka

6 years ago

Mr Prakash has rightly mentioned that the movement of ANTI CORRUPTION which has just started be a sustained and long lasting action plan be evolved without any political color.

PRAKASH

6 years ago

There are two sides to the sides to the corruption coin.The giver and the receiver.The giver is either scared or in a hurry to get only his things done or he is on the wrong side of he law himself etc.Why is some one prepared to give a bribe is because he wants the law or the official to look the other way.If he was 100% right he would not be either demanded or he prepared to pay a bribe.

Precisely why we pay the policeman when we are caught driving without proper documents, or jumping a signal,parking in a no parking zone etc.Or we bribe the municipality official to reduce the property tax or allow us to build differently from the sanctioned plan.We bribe the income tax official to reduce our tax liability or the sales tax official to look the other way when we underinvoice goods sold.We bribe MLAs or ministers to get land allotted under some discretionary quota etc.The list goes on and on...

If all the people desist from giving any bribe anywhere,which means that they need to be honest first, the corruption tiger would not be what it is now.Can we honestly say that we will not break any rule or law and if caught we will pay all the fines and penalties.NO WE DO NOT.So......, it is not enough to have a Lokpal bill or whatever but the people should become civil and not be corrupt themselves.

Then why not shame the bribe receiver.Unfortunately now there is no color to the money one has.He is respected for the money he has, the means are not an issue anytime.He or his family are well received in the community for the car/property he owns,the jewelry the wife shows off or the snazzy clothes and the super bikes the kids of the corrupt display.

Now imagine the situation wherein the corrupt are paraded in their neighbourhood with a board around his neck stating"I AM CORRUPT" .Or when a banner is stuck in front of the corrupt official stating that this house belongs to the corrupt officer Mr/Ms______ working at ____ department.

The wife and children of the corrupt can put pressure on their spouse/parent to be straight because of the social embarassment and stigma attached as part of a corrupt family.

Why not the activists go to the identifiable corrupt offices and keep a vigil there?They can meet the head of the department or office and ask him to display a board which will mention as to the procedure involved for any work in the office and how long it would take to complete that.All visitors/persons having work in the office must be given serially numbered tokens and at the end of the day display the number of those tokens which are still pending.This will give an idea of why somebody was treated earlier preferentially.

The group against corruption can put up a board in front of the office stating "This is a corruption free office and we will ensure that".The board needs to have contact numbers of the group leaders/members to be contacted in case of need.If the group stays put in front of the office to catch hold of the corrupt, who in the office will be brave to take bribes.All the people who are now going to Ramlila grounds/Freedom park etc and the volunteers/youth/students can take turns to ensure vigil at offices.

It is not enough to pass a lok pal bill.

Group Action will also be needed to take the movement to its logical end.
It is a long haul but it can't end with slogan shouting and going on (hunger)strike!!

Dr Vaibhav Dhoka

6 years ago

The corruption is age old phenomenon but to what extent we have tolerated has crossed all imagination of common man.Post Independence we inherited INSPECTOR RAJ from Britishers and now we call it DEMON.Corruption takes place in different form.Unless some laws are changed and SERVICE act is enforced strictly corruption cannot be controlled,As far as legal system is concerned it should also be brought AT PAR with other department as no action is taken by judiciary even though complaint is sent by registered post.Their system of investigation is most suspicious and long drawn process.So EVERYBODY must be at par in case of complaint of corruption.

Narendra Doshi

6 years ago

The writer as well the commentators prior to me all have said thought provoking ideas, all of which together give us a ray of hope.

B Rajaram

6 years ago

Truly I am amused that clever people are unable to see the weakness of the corrupt. They need the secrecy to hide their activities. If we deny the secrecy, corruption ceases. The Lok Pal Act then becomes just a one page long. I give you the draft.
Draft Lok pall Bill Aug 2011.

Not with standing any thing contained in any other Act the following provisions of the Lok pal Act shall apply>

Each and every non-secret government order issued shall be necessarily released as authenticated electronic version along with all the policy background information, the file through which this excutive action is take under the policy, the complete set of documets relied upon. the noting of various levels of government officers/or PSU officers, or officers of the regulatory authority; all this shall be released in public domain on secure central government servers with mirror copies at the servers with the Lok Pals. These documents shall have complete legal validity without further authentication.

A special bench of Supreme Court of three judges at center and three Judges of each High Court shall be constituted by each Chief Justice with a minimum tenure of 2 years for the members, who are sitting judges of the court.

An additional registrar with special facilitation of electronic office with dedicated server with access to central data server which stores government orders and the concerned image files leading to the orders, complete by itself will be available for use of the Lok Pal.

Lok Pal will have a panel of experts to advise in each sector if needed.

The Lok Pal is free to initiate a case, suo moto or on appeal by an aggrieved party, or a CAG reference, or a media report with reference to the public data base of the file systems, based on information available on the servers with them, give one chance for the government to add any clarifications to the files already in servers, which also will be public, and then pronounce their judgement which can only be appealed to the central Lok Pal of the Supreme Court. this decision will be final for setting aside the order. But the punishment or other wise of the guilty will not arise at this stage. That is because most probably no damage would have occurred and after all it could be a matter interpretation.

Unless a repetitive or gross wanton misjudgment is detected, prima facie, the Lok Pal will not initiate steps for punishing the Minister or the officer involved.

When such occasion arises, then orders to take the person off the responsibility, and orders to initiate criminal proceedings will be given to the government which follows the normal course that law currently takes. Even here the documentary evidence and the Lok Pal's directive will be weighing factors unfavourably for the person so charged and the Sessions Court Judge will pass the orders for the fit punishment."

Unquote

Utsal Karani

6 years ago

WHY ANTI-CORRUPTION WATCHDOGS ARE SECONDARY?

The problem in India is greater centralisation of authority in Government functionaries and antiquated laws and systems.There exists mind boggling corruption opportunities within the governance system. Anti-Corruption machinery can not transform the decision-making processes within the government and make decision-makers more accountable. India needs systemic reforms, improvements, changes in administration and decision making processes which have in-built opportunity for indulging in corruption and also amending antiquated laws which have lost relevance. (Its altogether a different issue that existing Anti-Corruption Departments are colluding with the corrupt).

The following are few examples of systemic reforms under implementation or to be implemented-

1) New building norms introduced by Municipal Commissioner of Greater Mumbai- The proposed new building norms will at one stroke reduce misuse of discretionary powers of Municipal Commissioner and thus significantly reduce FSI scams and massive corruption in Building Proposals department. More importantly, the new norms creates transparency in real estate transactions immensely benefiting flat purchasers. (It is well known that existing Vigilance Dept was colluding with the corrupt).

2) RTI, PDS and a teenager- The continuing crusade of a teenager in Gujarat forced the Government to pass an order under section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act, making it compulsory for all fair price shops in the State to disclose all the details about rations received and kept in the ration shop. At one single stroke, the teenager reduced corruption in the PDS and alleviated the suffering of the masses who depend on ration shops for food grains. Unfortunately, this achievement was ignored by the media.

3) Reforms in indirect taxation- Introduction of Goods and Service Tax (GST) will eliminate multiple taxes, significantly reduce tax evasion, corruption and black money, reduce consumer prices and increase State revenues! It is estimated that India's GDP will increase by 2% by introduction of GST. For the first time in history, India will usher in a "Common Market".

4) Reforming subsidies- Creating efficiencies in subsidy delivery system to targeted sections of society based on UID/AADHAAR- Nandan Nilekani would be creating a revolution. The sums involved in subsidies are mind boggling in multiples of 2G scam, and that too annually! This will not only reduce quantum of subsidies, but simultaneously reduce wastage, inefficiencies and corruption inherent in the system.

5) Delivery of Govt. services in time bound manner as per Citizens Charter or Govt Rules- This significantly reduces corruption opportunities.

6) Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees Act (APMC) - Antiquated APMC laws (a State subject) across the country needs amendments. Farmers in Nashik or Pune are prohibited to sell farm produce directly to retail markets in Mumbai. They are compelled to sell their farm produce to the middlemen at the APMC Market, Vashi, Navi Mumbai controlled by a powerful lobby of traders and politicians. The farmer gets only about 30% of the final price paid by the consumer, rest is cornered by a chain of middlemen. There is an urgent need to at least exempt perishable farm produce like vegetables and fruits from the ambit of the Act which will reduce wastage (estimated at 25 to 40%), increase realisations for farmers and reduce prices for consumers.

7) Reforms in Police, Judiciary and Electoral system- It is well documented that these important areas need reforms.

8) Eliminating discretionary powers with authorities in various fields - Its well known that discretion breeds corruption. For instance, eliminate discretionary powers in land allotments and introduce transparent procedures.

9) Transparency and participation in Decision-making process- Decision-making has to involve the participation of the maximum number of people and there has to be a move from bureaucratic processes to democratic ones. The devolution of powers as envisaged in the 73rd and 74th Constitution amendment has to be implemented. The authorities should suo motto put important decisions of Govt/authorities in public domain/websites.This significantly reduces corruption.

10) Transparency in Administration as envisaged under section 4 of RTI Act has to be implemented- A few examples would be - a) Posting information on details of expenditure from discretionary funds of MPs, MLAs, Councillors, and Mayor on websites. b) Posting information of Building Proposals sanctions on MCGM website. c) Putting entire list with relevant details of MCGM owned Open Spaces (RG/PG) on website. There will be thousands of such examples across the country. Let all citizens act as Watchdogs!

11) Strong and Independent Regulators - Strong and independent Regulators in important economic areas like Oil & Gas, Mining/Natural Resources, Capital Markets, Telecom, Power, Insurance, Real Estate, etc. significantly reduces political interference and discretionary powers that cause big ticket corruption.

A right prescription can only be made if we truly attempt to diagnose the disease. If at all we believe that our anti-corruption prescription is only about creating hundreds of Anti-Corruption Watchdogs as panacea for all ills and turn India in to a Police State, then we are living in fools paradise. The corrupt will continue to thrive and invent ingenious methods and that too in collusion with the Police State. A true crusade against corruption and for good governance must begin with radically improving and changing State structures, institutions and processes.


(Associated with NGOs Janhit Manch, BEAG, and others)

Shantharam Shenai

6 years ago

Dear Sir, Your views are refreshing. I share your perception with the power to network through technology that is cheap, will become cheaper. One IT professional designed the site INDIA AGAINST CORRUPTION, then joined by two others, using ANDROID and open source software. When he saw the impact, he got server space and created room for many cities to upload their activities on their own.

Transparency can level much of the corruption too and technology is beginning to play an increasingly powerful role here too.

Anna says the corruption will go down 65%. I say even if it goes down 10%, it won't stop at that.

Thank you once again for encouraging discussion.

Regards

m k tyagi

6 years ago

This article hits nail of problem of coruption on head.
There is no dearth of honest Indians. These Indians should be protected when they blow whistle. The irony is that these whistle blowers are crushed and corrupt against whom whistle is blown are awarded.
My advice to Dr Manmohan Singh to protect whistle blowers was not taken and the result is real chaos all around.
Even now Dr Manmohan Singh can salvage the grim situation by passing JAN LOK PAL BILL.

REPLY

Govind Shanbhag

In Reply to m k tyagi 6 years ago

Mr.Gamble jee - Talking about corruption, first thing Lokpal as and comes into existance should ban this constituency development fund of corporate rs and other elected representatives. This mumbai and other cities it is being used for paver blocks which hardly lasts for six months construction of lavatories in govt land, reported beautification of gardens only on paper.

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