Winds of Change..

July 11, 2017 Religion

India 2011-Winds of change and its impact on our lives. In India, corruption is something we all learn to live with. We have been breast-beating over the sorry state of affairs from the times India marched on a Sovereign nation. Why do I start my essay with a negative note of corruption? We need not be resigned to it or remain cynical about the issue. The economy of India was under socialist-inspired policies for an entire generation from the 1950s until the late 1980s. The economy was characterized by extensive regulation, protectionism, and public ownership, policies vulnerable to pervasive corruption and slow growth.

License Raj was often at the core of corruption. But where are we now? The year 2011 has proved to be a watershed in the public tolerance of political corruption in India, with widespread public protests and movements led by social activists against corruption and for the return of illegal wealth stashed by politicians and businessmen in foreign banks over the six decades since independence. Political, bureaucratic, corporate and individual corruption in India are major concerns.

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A 2005 study conducted by Transparency International in India found that more than 45% of Indians had first-hand experience of paying bribes or influence peddling to get jobs done in public offices successfully. Transparency International estimates that truckers pay US$5 billion in bribes annually. In 2010 India was ranked 87th out of 178 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index India tops the list for black money in the entire world with almost US$1456 billion in Swiss banks (approximately USD 1. 4 trillion) in the form of black money.

According to the data provided by the Swiss Banking Association Report (2006), India has more black money than the rest of the world combined. Indian-owned Swiss bank account assets are worth 13 times the country’s national debt. The organizers of Dandi March II in the United States said, “the recent scams involving unimaginably big amounts of money, such as the 2G spectrum scam, are well known. It is estimated that more than trillion dollars are stashed away in foreign havens, while 80% of Indians earn less than 2$ per day and every second child is malnourished.

It seems as if only the honest people are poor in India and want to get rid of their poverty by education, emigration to cities, and immigration, whereas all the corrupt ones, like Hasan Ali Khan are getting rich through scams and crime. It seems as if India is a rich country filled with poor people. ” Talking about data and providing factual information always goes in vain. The reality stands what an INDIVIDUAL does for it? The fact remains that the individual can certainly not shirk responsibility. For the individual is the smallest unit in this complex web of interrelationships we call ‘society’.

If we are all interconnected, how can a minority (or a majority, as the case might be) only be responsible for a phenomenon as widespread as corruption? The Jan Lokpal Bill, also referred to as the citizens’ ombudsman bill, is a proposed independent anti-corruption law in India. Anti-corruption social activists proposed it as a more effective improvement to the original Lokpal bill, which is currently being proposed by the Government of India. The Jan Lokpal Bill aims to effectively deter corruption, redress grievances of citizens, and protect whistle-blowers.

If made into law, the bill would create an independent ombudsman body called the Lokpal (Sanskrit: protector of the people). It would be empowered to register and investigate complaints of corruption against politicians and bureaucrats without prior government approval. In 2011, civil activist Anna Harare started a Satyagraha movement by commencing an indefinite fast in New Delhi to demand the passing of the bill. The movement attracted attention in the media, and hundreds of thousands of supporters, in part due to the organizational skills of Arvind Kejriwal.

Following Hazare’s four day hunger strike, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that the bill would be re-introduced in the 2011 monsoon session of the Parliament. Accordingly, a committee of five Cabinet Ministers and five social activists attempted to draft a compromise bill merging the two versions but failed. The Indian government went on to propose its own version in the parliament, which the activists rejected on the grounds of not being sufficiently effective, and called it a “toothless bill”

Herein I as an individual would quote an incident of the Anna Fast during the recently concluded the GREAT FREEDOM month. Late in the night during Anna’s fast I was having a debate with my father on the anti-corruption protests led by Anna Hazare sweeping through India. My argument being that the Jan Lok Pal Bill being advocated by Anna and his team is contrary to the interests of the society at large. Earlier today, after initiating a conversation on the issue at my institution I ended up being pillared for not supporting Anna.

There are many arguments that can be made against the creation of an unelected body overseeing the operations of all branches of government and the statute governing which, the civil society in general and Anna group in particular claims should be dictated by them to the parliament. I stand by the arguments that I have made in this regard over the past month or so and agree with most that I have heard from others who have similar reservations. For one evening during anna’s fast I saw something that has made me realize that these protests are not about what I thought they were.

As a young girl I regretted being born in an age when my country had already won her independence. Despite being inspired by reading about the great acts of freedom fighters, there were no britishers for me to fight against. In fact my generation witnessed growth and increase in prosperity which historians tell us is unprecedented in the recorded history of the country. There was a feeling of being a rebel without a cause in those days, which I have since found was shared by many of my age.

I did take up sticks when I eventually did come across something worth fighting for. I fought for having free and fair student elections, against homework, against stereotypes held my teachers and my fellow students, among others. But for the odd exception I found that it is difficult to garner support in a fight against the establishment. People are willing to (grudgingly) admire a rebel, but not to stand beside him. A similar claim was famously made by Nana Patekar in the iconic movie Krantiveer

Eventually I discovered that I did not have the stomach for such struggles, it requires too much effort, it is too lonely, you can never please everyone and more often that, they don’t have happy endings like in the movies. I retired to a more convenient life of relative comfort. In fact now I think I have become one of the arm chair critics that I used to detest so much, once upon a time. Then again, most of us are arm chair critics, aren’t we? But the events of that evening have forced me, despite myself, to think beyond criticism.

During a protest march of roughly 100 people, I saw a group of old ladies, most of whom I am guessing were troubled by arthritis, waving the Indian tricolor and shouting patriotic slogans and those in support of Anna, as enthusiastically as the younger participants. On route of the march were a group of 4 hooligans, who shared a thunderous round of laughter at the expense of the protestors. They were left alone and their mockery went unchallenged as I guess most of the well meaning folk thought it better than to waste their time with these rowdy boys.

But the old ladies did not give in to any such considerations; they rounded up the 4 boys and gave a rousing lecture on why all this is for them. So that, when someday when they take their kids to a government hospital, the clerk will not turn them away with empty beds, someday they will have the freedom to drive to roads that are not riddled with potholes, someday they can ask for their rights with dignity and honour. As it all this was not enough, the boys hung their heads in shame through most of the monologue (although initially they had tried to run away from and later shoo away the ladies).

They apologized, took the flags that they were offered and joined in. In that moment I realized, maybe a little too late, that this movement is not about Anna or the Jan LokPal Bill. Anna is the focal point around which the movement has gathered steam, but all movements need leaders. Jan Lok Pal Bill might be Anna’s agenda, but that is immaterial. What got these old ladies to leave the comfort of their homes, was not any undying love for Anna (not that it would have played a part), but the want to create a better society.

Everybody in this country, at some point or the other has seen the ugly face of corruption, but so far, their indignation was hidden beneath the, by now famous, ‘chalta hai’ (anything goes) attitude. But this movement gives them hope that things do not always have to be this way. Maybe this movement will fail. Maybe this time agenda will trump the desire for real change for the better. But power of knowledge cannot be undone. As I sat in the comfort of my room, I could hear the chants outside. As the blue billion rises, will I (and you) still be warming our chairs?

In a democracy like India, it is difficult to conceal corruption; instead, it is publicly debated, discussed, and examined. Opposition parties can cite the corruption of the previous government to gain political advantage, and this is the main reason for the government changing hands so frequently between so many political parties in India. It is evident from India’s history that “corruption is a political problem that has far-reaching economic consequences: opportunities are lost, innovation is deferred, and entrepreneurialism and investment are aborted”

In a large democracy like India, the people ultimately hold the power through their voting rights. When the people feel that the government is not committing to policies that increase economic growth, they express their disapproval for the government by voting for a new regime. Although India has had trouble reaching out and making the polls more accessible to voters in rural regions, there has recently been greater awareness of the problem, and many villages have agencies set up to relay feedback to the national government about the performance of the local governments to ensure accountability.

India’s success at unifying a diverse secular state through democratic means is one of the great political achievements of the twentieth century. Information disclosure, an important component of any democracy, makes corruption difficult to hide and enhances economic performance. Corruption has plagued India for many years, causing successive governments to fail. However, these corruptions are ultimately exposed, and the voters will respond by making politicians pay when they have the chance. How can we stop corruption ?

Greater solutions may include population control to improve the quality than the quantity, Controlling population will bring up the quality of life and thus lesser competition and effective control of people and government processes. However feasible solutions are to impart moral principles in schools, and introduction of stringent audits, accountability, effective tracking of corrupt individuals through citizen cards or tax id’s. Computerization of processes, privatization of public sectors, eliminating the chain of corruption by not just punishing the first level but also higher levels involved.

Corruption is not limited to atheists, even the most corrupts are highly religious and have close family ties, in other words corruption has no boundaries. Religion and religious congregations can support and promote anti-corruption drives. Corruption is NOT a luxury tax. Whoever described corruption is a luxury tax probably said it out of frustration, the religion of corruption, the corruption of politics, the dishonest souls and perversion of integrity is unpardonable. The change in on. The glory night is set in and the children are dreaming of a beautiful tomorrow through these winds of change.


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