Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Corruption in India, Lok Pal Bill and Mahatma Gandhi

When currency notes are traded by our multi-faceted leaders, why should it be Mahatma Gandhi who goes on sale?

This topic needs no introduction. With the Cricket World Cup fever settling down after India won the World Cup 2011 in style, now is the time for some earnest stock-taking, not in sports but in other, more important, walks of life. The Lok Pal Bill has been living on the edge for decades now, bouncing from the walls of the Parliament back to the drawing board like a tennis ball - this is one place in India where tennis is preferred over cricket - as the cricket ball would wear down when made to bounce off the walls as many times as the Lok Pal bill has been made to. The Bill that was first introduced in 1969 has been walking back and forth along the corridors of power for over 40 years now, but has still not seen the light of the day. 

It should come as no surprise to those who are in the know, that politicians are still found debating the bill that could have serious implications for their own breed. Voices from the civil society, led from the front by Anna Hazare and other prominent faces like Santosh Hegde and Kiran Bedi, are out to make a difference to the way things are handled by those in power, calling for a strict (caustic?) version of the Bill rather than the watered-down version that is preferred, and currently being proposed by the Government of India. They also demand that members of the civil society be made part of the anti-corruption panel. Another issue is the proposed inclusion of people in the panel, who have had tarnished images. Anna Hazare has been vocal and direct in his attack on Sharad Pawar, the Union Minister of Agriculture, whom the Government has proposed to lead the Panel against corruption. The irony is stark, says Anna Hazare - how could we have the corrupt leading the panel against the corrupt?
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Anna Hazare has entered the second day of his fast unto death if the bill is not accepted in the form as drafted by 'India against Corruption', the movement by the Civil Society that has come up with terms of the draft that really matter. It remains to be seen as to what effect the 'Gandhian style' fast would have on politicians, in these days of high-flying corruption, where millions and billions in kick-backs are the order of the day. Talking of Mahatma Gandhi and the way the Indian currency is losing its value, both monetarily and morally, the issue should be sparking another debate off, if Mahatma Gandhi should still feature in the Indian Rupee note, which has increasingly become the "symbol of corruption". When currency notes are traded by our multi-faceted leaders, why should it be Mahatma Gandhi who goes on sale? Anna Hazare should perhaps be starting off with his demand to either eliminate corruption from the country, or replace Mahatma Gandhi with someone else's face on the Indian Rupee. And given the mood of agitation that he is in right now, he may even nominate Sharad Pawar as the 'Figurehead' for the role.

Related Posts:
Anna Hazare: Lokpal Bill and Beyond
Anna Hazare, India Against Corruption and the Political System: A New Beginning
Anna Hazare, Indians and the Political Class: A Reality Check