Thursday, April 7, 2011

Anna Hazare.............Fast unto death over Lok Pal Bill represents social concern on corruption

The most immediately pertinent aspect of Anna Hazare's dramatic fast-unto-death campaign over the Lok Pal Bill is that it has tapped into, and represents , a wider social concern on corruption. True, any government can rightly assert that it cannot be coerced into accepting wholesale the demands of activists of any hue, whether it be, as in this case, about defining and enshrining the structure and purview of a national anti corruption ombudsman or anything else for that matter.

But it is equally true that the very idea of a social contract includes a government's authority stemming from the consent of those it governs. Representative democracy , in other words, doesn't mean that solely those elected to office can claim representative status. And, in the Indian context, there are umpteen examples of individuals and movements asserting a progressive, representative and reformatory status in spheres ranging from the social , religious, ecological to the political.

The point is that a peaceful movement or drive for sorely-needed measures against pervasive and corrosive corruption can hardly be called a regressive agenda. Neither should political parties try to make this instance a part of the ongoing wider battle over managing public perceptions over corruption. The point, rather, is to engage parties to the social contract on the technicalities of what the Lok Pal Bill should be.

But it should be clear that corruption in India is deeprooted , systemic. And reforming the way political parties are funded is a major component of the fight to eradicate it. The whole process by which parties mobilise and utilise funds is mired in sleaze, leading to a system of state patronage, and of the delivery of governance and justice, having a price. It isn't surprising that opposition from MPs across parties has repeatedly led to the Lok Pal Bill being deferred.

Which, in turn, as PM Manmohan Singh has said in the past, has led to a situation where the absence of such an institution at the Centre adversely affects the efficacy of Lok Ayuktas at the state level. The government should build on Hazare's momentum, not see it as a threat.
Source : ET

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