The Future Shock

By Prabhakar Timble
29 December 2011 19:09 IST

If a mere Lok Pal law, even stronger than what is proposed by Team Anna can substantially cut down corruption in public offices and bring the country into “that heaven of freedom from corruption” as Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal tom- tom, then by now the Constitution of India, the prime and fundamental law of the land would have restored justice, equity, democracy and secularism years back. We see dowry tags on engineers, doctors, IITians, IIMians and civil servants despite the Dowry Prohibition Act. The expenditure limits imposed on contesting candidates during elections are adhered to by none except in the filing of returns before the Election Commission. The pressure sought to be brought on Parliament by a few unrepresentative group of civil society and the wholesale mockery of the political machinery and democratic institutions perpetrated by India Against Corruption (IAC) marketing the anti-graft Jan Lok Pal carrot and refusing to see any sense in the present Lok Pal bill tabled before Parliament has to be condemned.

Everybody, including the detractors start by acknowledging the sincerity of Team Anna in respect of anti-graft commitment. This was fine in the initial stage. Now, I feel sincere is replaced by senile, commitment by cheap publicity and focus by total disorientation. The size, ambit, power and independence of the Lok Pal machinery proposed by Team Anna would be a cruel joke on the people of this country. A little insight into the Jan Lok Pal shows how frightening, unwieldy and ineffective it would be. The rate of change expected by Team Anna in the level of corruption and delivery of services to citizens, the hyped expectations created on the Lok Pal through tacit support of issues hungry 24 x 7 channels and the ground reality would be glaringly different. This gap in ballooning expectations and  ground reality is the future shock invading all of us. It will throw us in a deeper faith and confidence crisis than what we are experiencing today on the issue of corruption.

Fantasy v/s reality

What Team Anna and IAC are engaged in at present is playing to people’s fantasies. In reality, the change is slow and gradual. It requires hard work, patience and fair amount of sacrifice. The product sold by Team Anna is one which they claim will result in sudden transformation, a total change in fortunes, bypassing work and sacrifice and in one fantastic stroke i.e. a Jan Lok Pal Act. The initial advances of the Team had the fresh air of boldness. Now, audacity and boldness has affected too many thinking people and hence it would be tiring and fatal as time advances. The key members of the Team impressed the general public earlier. However, later they started arguments on all fronts, started impressing people with words. The more they said, the more they appeared foolish. They are now entrapped in power and drenched in media glare.

An independent judiciary is an important element of the “basic structure” of the Indian Constitution. Despite independence from the executive and the parliament, we know of the weaknesses of this organ in the administration of justice. Whether civil matters or criminal, the performance record of our independent judiciary is pathetic. We also have the record of output of Lok Ayuktas from the States where the machinery is in place and a summary sheet of prevailing corruption in these regions. Hence, the confidence and belief that a Lok Pal authority will stem the rot is quixotic. The decisions of the Lok Pal could be also subjected to a judicial review and there would be more instances of graft cases being finally reaching conclusion not before 25-30 years.

Stop threats & pressures

The Central government has shown the seriousness and taken the best foot forward in terms of legislative reforms to deal with corruption and citizen grievances. The government is working a separate mechanism for citizen’s grievances. The Lok Pal Bill, the Judicial Accountability Bill and the Whistle blowers Bill are before the Parliament. Making an attempt to usurp the power residing in “We the people” as enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution into “We, the Team Anna” by playing on the words----people and civil society, is a sin to hoodwink the people taking advantage of the climate against corruption.  This is the time for all political parties to unequivocally tell the nation that Anna’s verbosity is enough, notwithstanding his contribution to build awareness and the transformation of Ralegan Siddhi.  Team Anna claims of a growing support base. Needless to say, some channels are prepared to fit their videography tools to cover every finger and lip movement of Anna and the core team. According to them, no politician is worth to be in the chair in legislative bodies. Team Anna and IAC should also explore the democratic method of taking share in representative and democratic institutions at local, state and central level. With so much of negativism and venom against all politicians and political parties and calls for “jail bharo”, they cannot shake their hands off from this democratic alternative provided to all under the Constitution. Why the fear or untouchability if the majority of the civil society is at the back and call of Team Anna?

The people should know that even if the core members of Team Anna are put on the driver’s seat on Lok Pal machinery, the Promised Land by IAC is a very distant dream. Secondly, I am confident that none of the core members would accept challenging assignments and if they accept, they will very soon resign from the posts blaming the government once again for not providing either funds or infrastructure to their satisfaction. Street heroism and nuisance is their motivation as opposed to democratic politics.

Intolerance to inevitable

The crusade against corruption goes much beyond the setting up of Lok Pal or Ayukta machinery. The non-legal weapons are equally important to tackle the burden of corruption on the citizen in respect of public services.  Modifications in rules, transparency in administration and increasing use of IT enabled access and compliance could be positive steps. If corruption is regarded by people as inevitable, then intolerance to the inevitable has to be communicated at political and social levels of interaction by the people. Though the Lok Pal is needed, greater reliance on fat quasi-judicial machinery will give us shocks in immediate future resulting in citizens’ loss of confidence in dealing with corruption. The credit for this will go to Team Anna.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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it is UNBEARABLE piece.! i should have known-and been wiser--there is not a single comment.its my mistake...i`m sorry.

- carvalho g.m., lisbon/goa | 02 nd January 2012 16:53

 

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