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Archive for April 8, 2011

INDIA: UNPRECEDENTED SUPPORT TO A CIVIL UPRISING (part 2)


Following India…..Part 2

THE FIGHT FOR REAL DEMOCRACY AND TRANSPARENCY

On April 5th. a Gandhian activist known as Anna Hazare started a ‘fast unto death’ to exert pressure on the Indian government to enact a strong anti-corruption act as in the Jan Lokpal Bill..

As Indians rise in protest and rally around Anna Hazare’s crusade against corruption, the swelling resolve to birth a movement that would usher in real democracy with transparency and accountability as hallmarks is slowly assuming unprecedented levels.

This is a tide of popular discontent against the venal politician-bureaucrat-corporate nexus that has not only fattened itself on public money but has also perpetuated a system that carefully looks after the interests of the privileged and the powerful, often denying just basic rights to the majority.

The civil movement is seeing unprecedented level of support by the Indians all over the world.

Support has been pouring from Indians across the globe in support of Anna Hazare’s fast against corruption started at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi April 5

I paste her some of the support pledges from the news from today( April 8, 2011):

The Communist Party of India (CPI) in Kerala today extended its support to social activist Anna Hazare on his movement against growing corruption in the country.

Indians in Los Angeles are organizing a day-long fast Saturday in support of Indian social activist Anna Hazare’s fast against corruption in India. 45 cities in the US, 40 cities in India and 8 other countries globally joined the movement.

• Film actor Aamir Khan’s letter in support of Hazare written to prime minister Manmohan Singh is being widely circulated on the Internet.

• Self-exiled artist MF Husain has drawn a cartoon extending support to Anna Hazare saying what the anti-corruption crusader is spearheading is “another revolution”.

“I am thrilled that the younger generation has taken up the cause to crush corruption in India and I wish them great success,” Husain, now a citizen of Qatar, said.

• While Madhur Bhandarkar, Vivek Agnihotri and Anupam Kher have already made efforts to meet Hazare personally at Jantar Mantar.

Sonakshi Sinha: It’s usually ONE person that makes a difference. Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa. Kudos to Anna Hazare! We’re with you.

Naseeruddin Shah : We have started accepting corruption as a way of life. We don’t think twice or feel bad about handing over Rs. 50 to a traffic cop or Rs. 50 crore to a neta . We don’t hitch as we think ‘ yeh toh chalta hai, yeh toh hota hai’ . But it happens because we let it happen and it will never stop till we don’t stop it.
“What Anna Hazare is doing will definitely bring about a positive change in the way the system works. The need of the hour is for the youth of this country to awaken and fight against corruption. Only that and nothing else can help India become a corruption free nation. “

Hrithik Roshan: I support Anna Hazare. It’s TIME to make a CHANGE!

Bipasha Basu: The biggest drawback of our country is the existence of corruption right from the grass root level right to the top!

More than 50 employee unions from Pune and social organisations, along with citizens’ groups, extended their support to Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption agitation on Thursday.

• Sacked Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi on Friday urged fans to carry flags and placards to IPL matches to express support to fasting Gandhian Anna Hazare.

• Support for Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign is growing in Punjab and Haryana where hundreds of activists, students, doctors, lawyers and teachers have rallied behind him.( Panjab University, PGIMER.,People’s Party of Punjab). Two lawyers of Punjab and Haryana High Court, V.S. Makkar and Gaurav Goyal, are on an indefinite hunger strike in Chandigarh.

Twitter

The microblogging site has people sharing their 140-characters on Hazare, where the hashtag #hazare not only lists a whole bunch of tweets, but also shows updates as comments and thoughts are tweeted. Twitter is also the forum of choice for celebrities and the intelligentsia to share their two cents.
Anna Hazare is the top trend of India in Twitter, and is followed by lokpal, Mera Neta Chor Hai, Corruption, and Jantar Mantar. Incidentally, IPL is also among the top trends of today.

A  look at  few  tweets:

AzmiShabana: Anna Hazare embodies hope of a nation dat corruption can b rooted out Lokpal bill 1st drafted in 1972.arm yrself with information n join

Riteish Deshmukh: Am shooting in Hong Kong, the voice of Anna is heard all over the world- I support ANNA HAJARE – and his campaign – More power to him

Shashi Tharoor: Sorry, have been focused onKerala campaign. Huge respect for AnnaHazare. Unconditionally support consensual national action agnst corruption

Anand Mahindra: This is a movement whose heart&voice cannot be ignored “@sundarsez: If only industry captains can voice their support for Anna Hazare”

Lalit Modi: All fans attending IPL matches should carry flags and placards in support of the Jan Lokpal Bill. This will ensure the message reaches all.

Facebook

There are several pages and communities on Hazare; with both the number of pages, and people who are getting involved increasing every hour. There are 146,855 members in the ‘India Against Corruption’ community. The number of likes has exceeded 100,000; and these are mostly people who have joined in over the last couple of days.

Every  Wall on the Facebook is likely to have  at least a few comments on Hazare. These wall posts are in turn fuelling debate and discussions. While the overall mood seems to be in support of Hazare, there are the skeptics and quite a few discussions seem polarized between the sheer idealist and the mere nasty. There are also events (both virtual and otherwise) scheduled and shared using Facebook, like ‘Light a Candle in support of Anna Hazare, get ready for Jail Bharo.’
A quick look at some random comments from Facebook Walls (names have been removed). These posts are often not in English, as you will see, but in local languages written using the English script.

User A: Whatever Anna Hazare is doing is utter bullshit. What is the point of doing so? Most of the folks who have been supporting Anna, will vote for the same old corrupt politicians against whom the old man is fighting. You can’t make much difference by supporting Anna except making some superficially-intellectual and style statement (wearing that cap)

User B: emon ‘purush’ haazar-e non, 120 koTite ‘ek’ !! (Hazare is not one in a thousand, but one in 120 crore)

User C: I am ready to support Sachin Tendulkar for Bharat Ratna if the “god” and the men in blue come out and support the demand for early enactment of the Jan Lokpal Bill…

User D: Unreal scenes in India — “Gali Gali mein shor hai, mera neta chor hai”. Chetan Bhagat’s blog is actually pretty good. (Apologies to my non-Indian friends here, but this is regarding a massive anti-corruption protest in India).

BOTTOM LINE: New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar venue has become the Tahrir Square and Tiananmen Square ready to shake the world again with another Revolution.

(Courtesy Biztech: Sudarshana Bannerjee).

INDIA: MOVEMENT FOR REAL DEMOCRACY AND TRANSPARENCY PART 1


FOLLOWING INDIA…….PART 1

INTRODUCTION TO LOK PAL BILL AND ITS CONTROVERSY

India regularly ranks among the most corrupt nations in the world. India holds 87th place in Transparency International’s list of the most corrupt nations. Everyday, the headlines scream about senior government officials or legislators being caught with their fingers in yet another corrupt pie. But hardly anyone ever gets punished.

Man Mohan Singh government, under massive pressure due to corruption charges,and to gain some of its lost ground, half heartedly agreed to think over the introduction of LOKPAL BILL in the parliament.

Scams of Common Wealth games and Adarsh Housing Society proved as a limit to the forbearance of Indian public to corruption. And the civil society as well as the general janta came out in hordes to give unprecedented support to Anna Hazare’s fight for a movement against corruption.

What is Lokpal Bill:

The LokPal Bill provides that any one except a public servant can file a complaint of corruption against the Ministers, members of Parliament and the high government officials. And that the inquiry and redressal against the complaint has to be completed within six months.
The basic idea of the Lok Pal is borrowed from the office of ombudsman, which has played an effective role in checking corruption and wrong-doing in Scandinavian and other nations. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Spain, New Zealand, Burkina Faso and the United Kingdom are some of the countries which have the office of an Ombudsman.

The Lokpal means a forum where the citizen can send a complaint against a public official, which would then be inquired into and the citizen would be provided some redressal. The office of the Lokpal is the Indian version of the office of an Ombudsman, who is appointed to inquire into these complaints made by citizens against public officials.

History:
It is a 42 year long journey for the LokPal Bill. Eight times in the history of this republic, governments tried to get the Lokpal Bill enacted. But no government – from Indira Gandhi to that of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Manmohan Singh – could succeed in installing an all powerful ombudsman to probe graft cases against the high and the mighty in the country

What is the controversy :

Civil rights activists, including Anna Hazare( a 71 year old Gandhian), Swami Agnivesh, Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal, termed the draft legislation as weak and demanded that fifty per cent of the members in the committee drafting the bill should be from the public. They proposed a draft Lok Pal Bill by the name of Jan Lokpal.

The Jan Lokpal Bill or the Citizen’s Ombudsman Bill, a draft anti-corruption bill, would create a Jan Lokpal, or an independent body (like the Election Commission) which would have the power to prosecute politicans and bureaucrats without government permission.

Jan Lokpal ( by Anna Hazare& co) will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public. While Lokpal ( originally drafted by the govt) would have no power to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public. It could only probe complaints forwarded by Lok Sabha Speaker or Rajya Sabha Chairman.
They insist that the high offices of the Prime Minister and the judiciary should also come under the compass of the Lok Pal Bill.

Diverging Opinions:

There are diverging views on issues such as the inclusion of the office of the Prime Minister, ministers and Members of Parliament, inclusion of judges, and powers of the Lokpal. Some experts contend that all public officials should be accountable while others feel that the autonomy and privilege of Parliament require the Prime Minister, ministers, and Members of Parliament to be accountable only to Parliament.

Now the whole controversy has taken the shape of a National Movement of unprecedented proportions, as Anna Hazare announced ‘a fast unto death’ at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, on April 5, 2011.
The prime minister, bowing under the pressure from the support to this mass movement, formed a sub-committee of the Group of Ministers to discuss the issue with these activists. However, initially, these two groups were unable to reach an agreement on the provisions of the Lok Pal Bill.
This led to Anna Hazare go for a hunger strike in early April, but just in few days the government accepted his demands.

There are three major points in the murmur of criticism against this civil uprising:

First, the cause is just but the method is undemocratic and, some have suggested, fascist. These civil society leaders are not elected and thus have no locus standi to demand change.
Second, if we allow such pressure groups, instead of established institutions and channels, to dictate terms to government, there would be anarchy.
And third, a mere law will not be able to curb corruption.

Now it is for the readers to form their opinion and decide if this is justified or not.

UPDATE ADDED ON JULY 5, 2011:

On July 4, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the announcement at an All Party Meeting, ” “We are also committed to bringing the bill before Parliament in the coming monsoon session. ……”

Not all is over. There shall be debate in the parliament to bring consensus on the tricky parts of the bill which include: bringing the Prime Minister’s Office and higher judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal. And also to include bringing the conduct of Members of Parliament (MPs) inside the House, CBI’s anti-corruption wing and lower bureaucracy across the country under the Lokpal.

After all a journey of 42 years, 8 failed attempts at getting it passed in the Parliament, display of ‘People’s Power by tens of thousands and civil society members coming out on streets and 60 million tweets has led to this day where LokPal Bill can see light at the end of the tunnel.

And hence a great leap towards ‘real’ and ‘transparent’ democracy.

(WHY have I posted this to you?  We in Pakistan love to follow Indian Soaps, Bollywood buzz, IPL, Indian sarees, fashion trends etc etc . Now it is time to follow their political movements too and learn some good lessons too).

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