Anna's Jan Lokpal- A Threat to Democracy
"Democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man"-Ronald Reagan From the 8th century till today, our motherland India has constantly been stripped of her riches- be it the Turks, the British or the modern day politicians ruling our country. Today, India is one of the most corrupted countries across the globe and it is second in the Asian continent. Corruption has become a pandemic disease spreading from the lower levels to the higher echelons of power. It has integrated itself into every single citizen and it has become a Nationalized Ideology. And, it is the main reason why India is yet to become a developed nation.
Innumerable measures have been taken by our government to prevent corruption. Based on the Hong Kong Independent Commission against corruption, a Lokpal bill was drafted in 1969 to prevent corruption. The bill failed to pass through the Rajya Sabha over the subsequent years till date. Over the course of time, corruption has multiplied manifold and the frustration of the common man has reached its saturation point. Driven by these forces, in April 2011, the septuagenarian Anna Hazare started his Satyagraha movement against the government for the Jan Lokpal Bill to be passed.
Millions of people have been caught by the euphoria and are joining Team Anna for the bill to be proposed. The aim of the Jan Lokpal Bill is to eradicate corruption which is a healthy sign for our nation. But many have overlooked the implications of the bill; which if passed, would pose a threat to our democracy, the pillar of our constitution. A detailed analysis of the bill has to be done in order to understand the consequences that it would create.
The Jan Lokpal Bill states that it will establish an anti corruption institution called the Lokpal at the central government and Lokayukta in the state levels which will be independent of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary organs. It will be free from the government and ministerial influence. It has the power to question anyone including the man holding the highest position in our country, the Prime Minister.
If the bill is passed, we will be creating an oligarchic government with the power only in the hands of a few people like Anna Hazare and his henchmen. This contradicts the basic concept of Indian democracy. The ruling government is the one that is elected by the citizens of India. They are the representatives of the people- whom we have chosen to run our government. Now, we intend to form an extremely powerful, non-elected institution that acts as a demi-God trying to overrule the elected and democratic government. The fundamental concept of democracy is "By the people, For the people and Of the people". But here, the bill will allow a single institution to have monopoly power. That will make India an oligarchic constitution and not the democracy that we are so proud of. It is a known fact that corruption is born from abundance of power and when such an immense concentration of power is given to the Lokpal, it will surely spiral the corruption already present out of control. And the power that Lokpal will be given is without accountability and control.
The Lokpal will be a super cop who will perform the duties of an Investigator, Judge and prosecutor. In other words, they will make the law, implement the law and prosecute those who break the law. Constitutional breaches will have to made for the bill to be passed and the entire democratic structure will be altered. Prominent leader of the RTI, Aruna Roy had mentioned that "Jan Lokpal is a bill impossible to implement. Also, it derails the checks and balances between the judiciary, executive and other organs of the democratic structure". The judiciary and legislative bodies must be given their sense of freedom to function and this cannot be tampered with.
Another feature of the bill is that it intends to merge the existing CBI and CVC under the Lokpal and function as a single unit. This will lead to clash in the independence of the organizations and also create hierarchical problems. The CBI and CVC are functioning under the government. Therefore, merging them under the Lokpal would bring the whole institution under the government.
The methods that Anna Hazare is implementing are not the so called Gandhian way. He brings his team of people into the Ram Lila Maidan and starts an indefinite fast to make the governments accede to his proposals. This is nothing but blackmail in another form. Anna Hazare may be portrayed as the modern day Gandhi but his past life shows his darker side. In his yester years, when he worked as an Army truck driver, Anna Hazare has publicly stated that "Corrupt people should be hanged". He was also in favour of belting drunkards and cutting the thumbs of thieves. These are indications to show that we cannot let our country be ruled by a right-wing dictator.
The Jan Lokpal bill will create a revolution in our country that has the power to topple the existing government and create an imbalance. Such an event would impair the nation's economy, its status quo in the global market and people would start to lose faith in the authorities. Dr. Ambedkar, the architect of our constitution once said "We must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us." The current scenario is that we are heading towards anarchy and building a future, where we the citizens of India would not have a say in how our country will work. The largest democracy in the world would soon become a myth.
The Lokpal would just comprise of a handful of non-elected people governing the entire nation acting as the protectors. The task ahead of them is too big and the resources they have is insufficient. There is no accountability for the fact that corruption will exist in the Lokpal. But, as the great philosopher Socrates said- "Who will guard the guardians?"
It is a known fact that corruption is eating away our country. The Jan Lokpal bill promises to build a Utopian society but considering the political nexus of the nation, it cannot be put to practise. The last thing the nation would need is a premature political decision that would make the situation worse.
The possible solution is to solve the existing flaws in the government. The politicians and bureaucrats should be denied the monopoly of control over the goods and services so that it minimizes their opportunity to abuse power. There should be a more transparent process in the government. An effective bill which not only eradicates corruption but also supports democracy should be brought to practise to build an economic superpower in the future.
-Sibi Adhithya Senthil Kumar