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Anna, Don't Be Taken In by Pamela Wilson

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Anna, Don't Be Taken In by
Article Posted: 04/14/2011
Article Views: 192
Articles Written: 14
Word Count: 695
Article Votes: 0
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Anna, Don't Be Taken In

Current Affairs,Government,Public Speaking
Dear Annaji, Personally, you come across to me as a honourable and dedicated man, indefatigably fighting for causes that are dear to most of us. However, your recent infinite fast for a more effective Lokpal Bill, as against a toothless version of the same, which the government has been vacillating over for more than 40 years, has answered fewer questions than the inconvenient ones it has raised in my mind.

Let me hasten to add that I do not underestimate the role of the civil society to draw the attention of the powers that be to the pressing issues faced by the people. In fact, I strongly believe that God has given freedom and liberty to man on the condition of eternal vigilance, as John Curray, member of British Parliament, famously said - nor am I oblivious to the in-your-face corruption a common person confronts in his interface with various government functionaries, and the need for drastic reform in the delivery of public services. Therefore, I do not doubt your motives, but I doubt your methods.

Your fast provided a God-sent opportunity to the media to corner a scam-scarred government and to the self-appointed guardians of the people for self-promotion. No wonder, your fast has been termed as a second freedom movement to free Indians from the brown sahibs and a crusade against corruption by self-seeking people. I hope a humble person like you is not taken in by this balderdash.

Now, to the inconvenient questions. The founding fathers of the Indian Republic chose, by their free will, to give to its people a constitutional government which, in its very nature, is a limited government, for there are checks and balances and no organ of the state exercises absolute power. The government holds office by virtue of the mandate given to it by the people, by voting it to power. There are institutions and instruments that hold the government accountable for its various acts of omission and commission. It is one thing to say that these institutions have been hollowed out and have been corrupted and to peacefully protest for their revitalisation, but quite another to argue that only five wise men nominated by you have the best and the only solution to the problem of rampant corruption. You are very well aware that enacting laws is the prerogative of Parliament and the state legislatures within their respective jurisdiction. I hope you are not misled into staging yet another indefinite fast if the Lokpal Bill presented by the government and passed by Parliament is not in accord with the pre-conceived notions of the five men nominated by you. That would be beyond the call of the civil society.

Yet another disturbing aspect of your recent indefinite fast is the class character of the people for whom it became a rallying point. It is a class that arrogates to itself a superior moral ground and distrusts and debunks all institutions of parliamentary democracy and has nothing but contempt for the ordinary voter, whose mandate they say is merchandise to be bought and sold. This class perhaps is unaware of the basic tenet of a free society, which accords moral equality to all its citizens. Therefore, the remedy for the ills of democracy, as Churchill said, "is more democracy", and not destruction of its institutions. Saying so is not to argue that we have a perfect democracy. Indeed, our electoral laws, civil services, police and judiciary need thorough reform so as to rise to people's aspirations. However, to do so by one-off fast, candle vigil or a march will be shortsighted and wrong-footed.

Therefore, Annaji, I vote against your means, which, to Bapuji, were as important as the ends you pursue. Rest assured, I have not been bribed by a bottle of liquor, a saree for my wife or a hundred rupees.


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