Anna Hazare – A Rant

Before I start off on my rant on this entire issue –

Read these links first –

a) What is the Jan LokPal bill about? – A brief (in my view, very simplistic explanation – don’t get too carried away)

b) Absolutely brilliant article by Pratap Bhanu Mehta – Of the few, by the few

c) Difference between the Draft Lokpal bill and the Jan Lokpal bill (did you ever know that there were actually two?) – Differences matter

d) Good read by Acorn (Nitin) – The politics of hunger strikes

e) A compelling and fascinating read of the issue by Retributions (Rohit Pradhan) – Importance of Constitutional morality

f) An alternate view (very good!) – Why are links b), c), d) wrong? by Deepak Iyer – Diving into the Anna Hazare debate

I don’t think I am as learned as the folks above to comment on the nuances of the Jan Lokpal bill. Nor am I trying to diss the entire movement against corruption here. Hear me out –

a) Jan Lokpal Bill+Anna Hazare’s fast – God sent opportunity for Congress. They just need to say – “Yes, we willl involve the civil society in drafting the bill”. They just need to say it (no timeframe,if you’ll notice). They’d just garner huge media support for being the government which listens to its people (and thereby garner votes in the coming assembly elections). Anybody seen through this ruse yet?

b) And Anna Hazare could have opted for a simpler approach than fasting. Dial Nira Radia. Anyway, I admire Anna Hazare for what he’s done but I want pile-ons like Chetan Bhagat on TV yesterday to shut the hell up. He says “What are we debating about? Let’s pass the Lok Pal bill already”. Dude – are you nuts? We live in a democracy and the emotions of the mob-like sentiment is not always right. The bill (v2.1 anyway. There have been 3 versions since yesterday) has a detail on the participants in this civil committee – they want ‘Nobel Laureats of Indian origin” on the committee. Those guys are not even answerable to the Indian public (and this body, by the way, is not answerable to anyone in India – not the judiciary, parliament or administration). I hear the argument ‘if not this, then what?’ To them my question is ‘After Anna Hazare, what?’ What if this group consists of Barkha dutt kind of ppl after Anna Hazare passes away. I don’t know – is this issue too complex – just to think of effect of effects?

c) Anyway, I personally think this ‘fast-unto-death’ amounts to blackmail (do this, or else).Anna Hazare is a man with high integrity. But what if someone else with public-face-integrity but machiavelli-behind-the-scenes does this? What if someone does a fast-unto-death for banning cigarettes/alcohol in the country? How would you react then?

d) And missed calls as a sign of protest? Really? It’s Dilbert-level-ridiculous. Anyway, my take is that the Congress will capitulate by tomorrow and accede to Anna Hazare’s demands of involving the civil society to draft the bill. Getting it passed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha – yeah, good luck with that. No problem – we can start another missed call and a email chain campaign. We are brilliant that way, no?

e) Chetan Bhagat simultaneously appeared on 3 different channels at the same time yesterday. Is it 2012 already? On one channel he says “How can we play IPL when Anna is fasting?” Well, how can anyone buy and read 5.someone or One night at call center when Anna is fasting. We’ve got a meme here I think. From #forSachin, we have moved on to #BecauseAnnaIsFasting

f) And now we have a ‘Jail Bharo’ andolan. Civil disobedience of the yore, if you remember. Excellent. We fight against the British. Now, we fight against our own politicians. Back then, the British left the country. Who should leave the country now? Maybe Congress will step down. BJP will come to power. So?

g) With the momentum with which this is moving, let’s just hope it doesn’t result in anarchy. Political orchestration of anarchy won’t take much time at all. However, the only positive (long term) that I see is the chance for political entrepreneurs who can promise deliver corruption-free government. Forget the Bottom of the Pyramid. We have a 500 mn middle class population willing to vote for anyone who can deliver a corrupt-free government.

Your thoughts?

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Dude… do you think if an idiot goes on anshan for an even more idiotic reason, pple would support him? and that too in millions??? u think v pple are idiots… and writers questioning our sense of wisdom are pragmatic, thoughtful and cognitive?? come on dude, we all have a good sense of why we are supporting this initiative… this is NOT blackmail… the pple have a right to overthrow the pple whom they have elected… so wat if they elected these pple… they didn’t elect the corruption that was thrown upon them… n they have the right and the power to overthrow any establishment if need be… that is democracy in the truest sense… the reason this became a hit is because all pple cud feel the pain… they didn’t support Anna as much as the initiative he stood for… the cause, the result… now stop doubting the progress… this state however democracy is no bad than anarchy… over 400 millions live below the poverty line… distribute the 1.4 trillion dollars lost in corruption in India among these pple, and you have no pple living below the poverty line nemore… m not sure, how much you feel the pinch of corruption, but it is these pple who are hurt the most… they don’t get education, ration and many other things… i cud possibly support anything that can overthrow these corrupt pple n thus the corruption… be it non-voilence or if it had been for me to choose… i wud have burnt every corrupt official alive… n anyone who resists this change… u shud b happy this time you have Anna (his team of course) instead… nothing personal…

Do you know the meaning of the word “Blackmail” ? Please refer a good dictionary.

a. Jan Lokpal Bill+Anna Hazare’s fast – God sent opportunity for Congress. Strange that they did not jump up and say yes.

b. “I want pile-ons like Chetan Bhagat on TV yesterday to shut the hell up.” Do you have opposable Thumbs ? Yes ? Change channel dumb@$$.

“this body, by the way, is not answerable to anyone in India – not the judiciary, parliament or administration”. WOW. This body must exist outside the constitution of India since (as per you) its not answerable to the Judiciary.

BTW what does it have to be answerable for ? dono ? just as i guessed.

“What if this group consists of Barkha dutt kind of ppl after Anna Hazare passes away. I don’t know – is this issue too complex” ..What if a group of Monkey and a few pet dogs join this group? What if Dawood Ibrahim joins this group ? what if…..OMG its just too complex.

c. “do this, or else” is blackmail ? are you retarded ? To most people its just the normal way negotiation is done. “give me tomatos cheap, or else i go to your competitor” Idiot !

d. “‘Jail Bharo’ andolan. Civil disobedience of the yore, if you remember.” well genius, back then we were part of the British empire. In short, we were British. Jail bharo = get out of country ? in which alternate universe? Jail bharo = congress step down and BJP step up ? Why on earth ? what is this? some lame attempt to bring up the ‘BJP’ boogyman to justify congress action ?

e. Brilliant. Peaceful protest by means of satyagraha is the sure way to anarchy. Your logical reasoning is amazing. Total respect.

@ Neeraj – Absolutely! Who would not want our government to be transparent and corrupt free? And, any undertakings in working towards that end will be supported – be it hundreds or millions. However, the issue at stake here is much more complex than the solution offered, and the mechanisms of offering the solution rudimentary. How many of us have not watched the movie Nayak only to come out of the theatre all pumped up. How long did that adrenaline last for? – In your case, it didn’t even last to make you burn one corrupt official.

Don’t get me wrong – I want better future for me, for my kids and generations to come. I’m all for the spirit behind the Lokpal bill, but currently, we are just trying to fish out people from sinking downstream in the deep waters, not bothering to look at who’s pushing them into it. And, dude – there is no place for emotional/wishful thinking when formulating a policy that affects millions, if not billions. We want to build and admire a mansion but no one wants to dig in to lay the foundation? (Anna Hazare proposed an action. Who is going to ensure the actual working’s quality?) Encouraging/ supporting/ Proposing is easy – anyone can do that. But ensuring a viable working policy is hard work.

@ RN – Many words in politics loose their actual meaning, and we in part are responsible for that.

a. Congress did say yes. However, I feel that Kiran’s view was taken out of context. I think he was merely referring to the (often) predictable responses of a political party.
b. I take it that you’re a fan of Chetan Bhagat? Me too! ?

o Emotionally speaking, the body is answerable to the citizens of India, and in extrapolation, the leaders we (rather, majority) have voted for. But, we don’t want their inclusion! Of course, we are answerable to the Judiciary. However, we are proposing an alternate where, as one of the articles above beautifully summarizes, there is an intense concentration of power that actually has the potential to undermine the workings of relatively reasonably functioning bodies including the judiciary. In a way, who is going to watch the watchmen?

o And, I believe it is important to think about who is going to be included in the future. Anna Hazare is a mere mortal. Not God.

c. Alas. If only we could apply the same rules of economy as buying the onions in bazaar to politics! Life would be a lot easier. Isn’t it?
d. Taking things out of context is a very dangerous thing to do. I’m sure you’re capable enough to derive that was intended in those statements.
e. It sure is, in our current state of democratic functioning.

I’m not supporting each and every view of Kiran here. People like Anna Hazare are few. They do have the best of intentions. In fact, they have sacrificed their lives for it. But, it is to be remembered that implementing those views to real life is an entirely different scenario. It is not a one-man’s show – it’s a team effort, and who is going to ensure the capability of each and every team member? Shunning politicians or politics out of the way isn’t the answer. It’s about changing the way politics is played. I’m sure we could arrive at reasonable answers to many of the country’s solutions e.g. poverty, low health standards, illiteracy etc. if we are ‘good Samaritan’ enough to pay 35-50% of our income in taxes. Are we going to?

I am not a fan of Chetan Bhagat. I have read him as i have read others. Nothing more, nothing less.

We have not voted for “leaders”, Let me know when you find one. I will vote for him/her.

There is an intense concentration of power vested in the Judiciary. Look where it has led us.

There is an intense concentration of power vested in the Prime Ministers office. Remember emergency? remember 2G scam?

Lokpal is attempting to remove some of those concentration of powers. If you dont get it…well thats that.

Anna hazare is a mortal and not god? wow that is a classic strawman argument. In case you dont know how that works, you first build an enemy of stawmen and you proceed to know them down and then declare a great victory. Now that you have understood that, tell me, who has proposed Anna hazare is GOD?

The rule of negotiation is used everywhere not only in economy. A kid says, give me chocolate or else i will hold my breath. Life is a lot Simple. Some dumb people try to make it complected and claim a great victory when they live it. (Strawman)

Anna hazare is one man. And one man is all it takes. Gandhi taught us that. I am not sure how having 50% politicians on the panel is “shunning Politicians”.

And lastly, In which alternate universe do we pay 35 to 50% tax ? How old are you ? have you ever paid tax in your life
? I would have to guess NO.

Lokapal is a ground breaking law that WILL CHANGE HOW POLITICS IS PLAYED. My advice is Read more.

#Deleted a couple of duplicate comments

@Yoganand – Thanks!

@Neeraj – Valid arguments and I understand the frustration. Your frustration is as good as mine. As you would notice in the blog, I am not doubting Anna Hazare or his intentions. Nor am I saying that writers (or bloggers like me) are more cognitive than people who support Anna Hazare. What I am worried about in the long term, in case this powerful body does get created is it might turn dictatorial (in fact, there is no example in history over a thousand years where an all powerful body, not answerable to the public (directly or indirectly) has not misused its power to gain even more power) and you, me and the thousands that have taken to the street today might not be able to do so in the future. Think tradeoffs. What will you be trading this off for?

@RN – I didn’t expect Congress to be this dumb and screw up a magnificient opportunity pass by like this. I really didn’t. I was surprised that none of the opposition parties grabbed this as an ideology too, given the huge public support that they would have got during the coming Assembly elections. I attacked Chetan Bhagat’s argument (who is supposedly an idol for a few and hence matters, even if its minute) of getting the bill to pass immediately than anything else. The latest version of the bill (which was released yesterday) has a little provision of taking your appeal to the Supreme Court. The initial draft of the bill (when this blog was written) didn’t have any recourse. In that sense, yeah, it was not answerable to anybody (it was absolute which concerned me greatly). BJP boogyman – haha – you couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have responded to your other questions in Neeraj’s response.

@Praneetha – Sensible views. Appreciate it. Thanks.

@RN – Emergency, you say? Sure. And you do know what happened in the subsequent election after Emergency. The point is, what will be the repercussion if this Lokpal committee goes astray in the future? What is your recourse? They need to be answerable to somebody, right?
And one man is all it takes. Hmm. A revolution is very romantic, I can see that. But corruption in this country seeps through and has touched almost each of us. This is no entity like a Saddam or a Hosni Mubarak or the British for that matter, where toppling them leads to victory. It is a slow, arduous and conscience-bending process for all of us.

You make good arguments, but let’s keep it at argument level. I don’t think I would tolerate making it personal, especially against other commenters.

Thanks for visiting you all.

@ RN: Individual income (effective) tax rates of the total annual income –

USA – 15 to 35%
Canada – 15 to 29%
Australia – 12.5 to 45%
UK – 10 to 45%
Netherlands – 10.7 to 52%
And the country with virtually free medical access for everyone (and arguably one of the best health care systems), Denmark, the tax rate is 29.7% to 51.5%

I rest my case.

p.s.: I pay my taxes. I feel the pinch.

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