Thursday, July 07, 2011

Lokpal - Some Questions That Need Clear Answers

This post is written by my friend and guest blogger Karthikeyan Chandran. He blogs at Glocal View 
The disgust and anger what everyone of us felt towards our corrupt politicians and bureaucrats manifested itself into unconditional support for Anna Hazare’s fast. The overwhelming support even forced the government into forming a joint committee to draft the Lokpal bill. The story until this point has all the bearings of a triumph for people power. Subsequent events towards drafting the bill has become acrimonious and a lot of noise has been made by both sides. I have been following this closely for obvious reasons.

While I was a staunch supporter of Anna Hazare’s movement early on, the subsequent policy discussions have made me sit up and think. Some of the points that have made me quite nervous are -
  1. Should Lokpal be that all powerful body that is not accountable to anyone, of course, except the supreme court, whilst having Judiciary under its radar?
  2. How and from where would Lokpal get all its personnel who are far from all the systemic corruption that plagues our country?
    1.  Are they going to recruit people completely new? 
    2. Are they going to recruit through the Civil Services and IPS? if so, how is it any different from the current set?
    3. Are their pay scales going to be high enough that these new recruits wouldn't be tempted to misuse their new (seemingly) unaccountable power?
    4. How would Lokpal ensure that normal government office employees aren’t harassed by Lokpal officers? (I am sure there won’t any sympathizers right now on this count, but what has happened in India is either misuse of power or negligence of duty. We have to make sure that Lokpal isn’t another avenue for the same mistakes)
    5. What additional laws/regulations are going to be passed so that the avenues for existing corruption is closed (or atleast reduced)? 
  3. Must the office of PM be under the Lokpal? Should 7 unelected, arbitrarily selected (remember only the consent of 7 of 11 members are needed) members be capable of filing a case against the PM while he is in office? (Note – I am completely against this for various reasons.)
  4. How are the 11 member committee going to be selected? If it is some arbitrary qualification like impeccable public record, what does that mean? 
There are many more questions that keep popping in my mind while I wait anxiously trying to get as much info and see how the details are being ironed out. But what I see is not truly encouraging. Anna’s team, while having brought up many good points seem to be hung up on a few points where I think they are being naïve.

And the middle class which watches the English news channels and has a romanticized view of the world (while not taking any responsibility) expects an avatar (read Anna Hazare. it was funny the same crowd fell for someone like Baba Ramdev) to come and save them their own elected overlords. And as always, we want to have it both ways – We want to shout to anyone who would listen how great our democracy is while hating our politics and politicians. We like to badmouth our babus but don’t think how different would a new bureaucracy be with all its new power. We want all the powerful to be accountable and are ready to create an unaccountable coterie to do that.

I am keeping my eyes and ears open to hear all this issues discussed and debated in detail before Lokpal bill is passed. But one thing is for sure. There is no hope for our country until critical thinking is part of our curriculum.
Originally published
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Blogger Babin said...

Good questions. On the accountability side, it is the IAC team that is pushing for stronger provisions to make lokpal be more accountable via an Independent Complaint Authority to receive complaints against Lokpal but the government did not include this provision in their draft..

check this site
and go through Joint drafting committee meeting minutes,various suggestions docs and bill drafts, it will clarify many of your questions.

July 10, 2011 2:22 AM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

Thanks for that link. Will go through it

July 10, 2011 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Tintu said...

With the revelations coming out of so many SCAMS for the past many months, it is all the more necessary to bring even the P.M , Judiciary and the actions of MPs on the floor of the house under the perview of LOK PAL bill without any exception. It is hoped that better counsel will prevail on our
leaders at the time of discussion and pass the bill as proposed by the Citizens forum. Then only ours can be called a Democratic Country.

July 29, 2011 5:17 PM  

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