Tag Archives: Lokpal Bill

Ten lessons of the fortnight that was: Jay Mazoomdar

Guest post by JAY MAZOOMDAAR

The 13-day blockbuster— peddled as the second freedom struggle, panned as irresponsible blackmailing, and a lot in between — is over. Anna Hazare accepted honeyed coconut water from two little girls, introduced to the crowd as a dalit and a Muslim, and went on to recuperate in one of India’s most expensive hospitals, one branded after Hindu spiritual literature at that.

News TV is still fighting the vacuum by flogging the debate – so much so that seasoned correspondents are chasing a rather dismissive Dr Naresh Trehan to unravel the mystery of Anna’s endurance. Biker gangs have gone into a sulk and roads at India Gate are looking safer for traffic and women (which is not saying much in Delhi). What is more, India has started taking note that too many Indians have meanwhile drowned in floods. Continue reading Ten lessons of the fortnight that was: Jay Mazoomdar

A fax about Anna: Dilip D’Souza

Guest post by DILIP D’SOUZA

Of course everyone has their own take on the movement that’s got us all talking. It raises passions, it polarizes, it shakes the powerful, on and on. I have immense admiration for what Anna Hazare has achieved: the outrage against corruption where we had indifference before, the outlet for such outrage, the renewed hope where we had cynicism before, the way his movement has shamed brazen politicians and forced an entire government to listen.

Yet the movement sometimes reminds me, of all things, of fax machines. Continue reading A fax about Anna: Dilip D’Souza

What is right-wing about the anti-corruption movement? – Saroj Giri

Guest post by SAROJ GIRI


A draft for discussion

A ruling class contradiction is being played out as anti-corruption movement. It is however politically articulated as ‘a movement of the people’ with possibly a space for the left to intervene. Can the tide be turned against the right-wing upper classes?

“What we are witnessing (the anti-corruption movement) is nothing short of a revolution. Only on two earlier occasions in recent memory such grand scale people’s participation was recorded. The first was under Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan in mid-seventies. The second was during the Ayodhya movement, in the early nineties, propelled by L K Advani’s historic Rath yatra.” This is the RSS Organiser magazine (August 21-28, 2011).

“The anti-corruption movement must resist repression in every form and align itself with the struggles for democratic transformation in India. Only then can it defeat the UPA Government’s efforts to defend corruption and unleash repression, and expose the BJP’s false claims of championing democracy and resisting corruption.” This is the CPIML Liberation (ML Update, 07-13 June 2011)

Continue reading What is right-wing about the anti-corruption movement? – Saroj Giri

The People

Not enough people are asking what is motivating people to go to Ramlila Maidan in such large numbers. People like Ghazala Jamil and Anish Ahluwalia are not asking this question because for them the whole thing is an elite, middle-class conspiracy that is anti-Dalit, anti-OBC, anti-Muslim, anti-justice, anti-equality, anti-peace, anti-love and anti-sex.

These saviours of the marginalised, the poor and the vulnerable make the point that Anna Hazare’s means are showing contempt for the people by not letting people’s chosen representatives delay anti-corruption measures. They are making the point that unless Anna Hazare’s movements takes up issues of land reforms and justice for Gujarat’s Muslims, he should not be supported.  Continue reading The People

Tired of Democracy? – Gail Omvedt

This guest post comes from  GAIL OMVEDT

Why are such masses of people (apparently: in our village some came out for a morcha organized by the Maharashtra Navnirman Samiti) following Anna Hazre, when it is now clear that his Lokpal is an authoritarian, centralized and undemocratically pushed proposal?

Several articles, including those by Arundhati Roy and Aruna Roy, have made this clear by now.  I can find only one point to disagree with in the otherwise excellent article by Arundhati:  that, like the Maoists, the Jan Lokpal Bill seeks the overthrow of the state.  It does not.  The movement wants to keep the state, in an even more centralized form, but replace its current rulers with a new set.  And Ranjit Hoskote’s comment that “Anna Hazare’s agitation is not a triumph of democracy [but] a triumph of demagoguery” deserves to be remembered.  The increasingly authoritarian, even fascist forms of activities are disturbing even many of its supporters.

Continue reading Tired of Democracy? – Gail Omvedt

Why Jai Karan supports Anna Hazare

Jai Karan in The Times of India

My own feelings about the Anna Hazare movement are mixed, or you could say confused. I like the way the movement is bringing an arrogant government to its knees, and though I don’t know if their version of the Lokpal Bill is the best way to fight corruption, I appreciate how they have exposed the UPA’s farce of a bill. I get the point that fellow-travellers Nivedita Menon and Aditya Nigam are making about democracy and political movements, but as one unit of ‘the people’, I don’t see why I should support a movement just because it is popular. Perhaps it is my elitism and naivete and cynicism. Or perhaps I’m just confused by now. The taste of the pudding is in the eating, and I’d like to see where this takes us.

While I sort out my confusion, I see a message on Facebook, attributed to Anu Ramdas, that says:

Continue reading Why Jai Karan supports Anna Hazare

The Lokpal- NCPRI approach: the right to differ

In the midst of the overwhelming focus on Anna Hazare and the campaign around a bill that lacks consistency or clarity, both legal or ethical, below is a letter from Aruna Roy drawing our attention to an alternative approach to the Lokpal. It is an existing process for us to partake in, agree, disagree and/or rally behind.

Click here for more information on this alternative.

A letter from Aruna Roy

We write to you on a matter of mutual and common concern, the
Lokpal bill, now in Parliament. The context of this letter is
explained below.When the Joint Drafting Committee of the Lokpal was working on the Jan
Lokpal ,  the NCPRI had written to the Chair, Shri Pranab Mukherjee,
and the co-chair Shri Shanti Bhushan, enquiring about the TORs and the
process of and participation, in public consultation. Both assured us
that there would be formal public consultation. It did not happen.

When the government bill went to cabinet with the intention of placing
it in the monsoon session of parliament, the NCPRI decided to make its
position known. The NCPRI is continuing with its deliberations and
consultations and has  prepared an approach paper and a set of
principles for circulation. This is a work in progress.

The belief in consultations and discussion is the reason why we write to you. Continue reading The Lokpal- NCPRI approach: the right to differ

Parliamentary Sovereignty or an Active Citizenry? V. Krishna Ananth

Guest post by V. KRISHNA ANANTH*

The political class, cutting across the spectrum, is now being haunted by a spectre. Anna Hazare has captured the imagination of a cross section of the people and his campaign is certainly gathering support. It remains to be seen if this support translates into a movement on the streets and more so against the state machinery that is threatening to pull all the stops. The people have shown such courage in the past. That is another matter.

Team Anna’s decision to go ahead with protests against the draft Lok Pal Bill, as approved by the Union cabinet, has spurred a debate. The proponents of the draft bill as well as sections in the political arena who claim to oppose the Government are united against another round of fast by Anna Hazare; they call it blackmail and an attempt to usurp Parliament’s power to legislate. They also claim that the principles of democracy shall not be sacrificed.

A number of them are on record that the draft proposals are subject to amendments and that the power to propose amendments and decide on them shall rest with the elected representatives of the people. It is another matter that the Prime Minister, who heads the cabinet, qualifies as a representative of the people only because membership of the Rajya Sabha is considered as good as being a member of the Lok Sabha to remain a minister under Article 75(5) of the Constitution. In any case, the fact is that Dr. Manmohan Singh has claimed, in an affidavit, that he is ordinarily a resident of Assam! We all know the truth but that too is besides the point.

Continue reading Parliamentary Sovereignty or an Active Citizenry? V. Krishna Ananth

Democracy, Populism and the ‘Middle Class’: The Return of ‘Anna Hazare’

[This is a considerably expanded version of an article that was published in Himal May 2011. It is being re-published, elaborated and updated, in the context of the farcical draft of the Lokpal Bill roduced by parliament and the threatened round 2 of the movement. – AN]

Corruption – a Systemic Affair?

Let me start with an ’emperor’s new clothes’ kind of question: What is a systemic understanding of ‘corruption’? What is a political understanding about corruption as opposed to say, a touchy-feely ‘moral’ problem? Yes, some of these phrases are straight from Arundhati Roy’s ‘When Corruption is Viewed Fuzzily’, published in the Indian Express on 30 April. But my question is not directed only at her. She represents – at least on this issue – a much wider consensus among sections of the radical intelligentsia.

Roy herself has left nothing to the imagination as to what she means:

“Among the millions of understandably furious people who thronged to Jantar Mantar to support Anna Hazare and his team, corruption was presented as a moral issue, not a political one, or a systemic one — not as a symptom of the disease but the disease itself. There were no calls to change or dismantle a system that was causing the corruption. Perhaps this was not surprising because many of those middle-class people who flocked to Jantar Mantar and much of the corporate-sponsored media who broadcast the gathering, calling it a “revolution” — India’s Tahrir Square — had benefited greatly from the economic reforms that have led to corruption on this scale.”

To her, the system that lies at the root of corruption is embodied in the ‘economic reforms’, which have led to corruption on this scale. I have no way of measuring the scale – though I might be inclined to agree with her that in my living memory, I have not seen so much compressed into such little time-space – from CWG to l’affaire Niira Radia to Adarsh Housing scam and the Bellary brothers – not to speak of the daily corruption in land acquisitions that dot the landscape of the country. Nonetheless, I do remember that something like the Bofors scandal or the ‘irresistible rise’ of Dhirubhai Ambani – all predate the ‘economic reforms’. And of course, I will not even try to mention the innumerable cases of corruption from Nagarwala onwards – including political corruption that led to big mass movements in Gujarat and Bihar in the 1970s. Those were the days when Mrs G proclaimed that ‘corruption is a global phenomenon’. To me saying corruption is systemic and must be analyzed ‘politically’ (whatever that means), sounds pretty much the same.  So, if neo-liberalism is responsible for corruption, how do we explain the instances mentioned above? How do we understand the great socialist states which secreted corruption from every pore? What does a ‘systemic analysis’ of corruption really tell us?

However, Arundhati Roy was making this point, it seems to me, not in order to analyze the phenomenon of corruption but to comment on the Anna Hazare movement and its ‘character’:

“When corruption is viewed fuzzily, as just a touchy-feely “moral” problem then everybody can happily rally to the cause — fascists, democrats, anarchists, god-squadders, day-trippers, the right, the left and even the deeply corrupt, who are usually the most enthusiastic demonstrators.”

Continue reading Democracy, Populism and the ‘Middle Class’: The Return of ‘Anna Hazare’