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Anna Hazare's Movement Against Corruption

Corruption is a major problem that contemporary India is facing. It has affected almost all sections of Indian society; defence, medical, housing, telecom, postal, agriculture and sports. High profile politicians, bureaucrats, police officers and other high-ranking officials are involved in it. It is killing the country slowly and steadily. In the middle of such widespread corruption, it is very heartening to find Anna Hazare fighting against it.

Though many people will disagree with me, I support his cause because Jan Lokpal Bill if implemented will give teeth to fight corruption effectively. It will acts as an effective deterrent against corruption. Investigation of any corruption case will be initiated and completed within one year and those guilty will be punished within two years. Lokpal will even have the power to persecute corrupt politicians. There will be no interference from politicians and bureaucrats as it will be an independent body like Supreme Court and Election Commission. Therefore, the bill if enacted will act as the most potent weapon in the war against corruption. However, the Lokpal Bill proposed by the government in 2010 insulates the politicians from any kind of action against it.

In the light of such development, Anna demands the institution of a committee that includes fifty percent officials and the remaining citizens and intellectuals to draft the bill. He begins his fasting that compels the government to form a joint committee to draft the bill. However, this is not the first case of his anti-corruption campaign. In 1994, he campaigned against corruption in the forest department in Maharashtra; and again in the late 1990s two BJP ministers had to resign from the Shiv-Sena following his campaign. In all his campaign, he adopts fasting unto death as a means to pursue his demand. The question that arises is whether it is constitutional to force the government to enact a law by threat of death.

The Indian constitution mandates that state should protect the life of every citizen (article 21) and in this case that of Anna Hazare, who blackmail the government to fulfil his demand. Satyagraha, civil disobedience, non-cooperation and fast unto death are unconstitutional because they are not included in any part of Indian constitution as a means to address our grievances. Let us recall the last speech of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949, which stated that unconstitutional methods like Satyagraha must be abandoned when constitutional methods are available.

However, if we claim that the means adopted by Anna is legitimate, and then another set of question arises "Can any group of people thinking that a bill should be pass go on the threat of collective suicide if the action is not carried out?" If the answer is, yes, then it would deprive the population from free and fair debate about the law and it will nullify the utility of the Parliament. This led us to another question, "Can India protest against unjust laws?" Yes, every Indian can protest unjust laws. They are provided with freedom of speech and expression (article 19). Besides, they can approach the judiciary to address their grievances. Those are the constitutional forms available to lodge our protest. Thus, the method adopted by Anna Hazare is unconstitutional at least from the point of Indian Constitution.

The main theme of the movement i.e. anti-corruption is welcomed by everyone because corruption is slowly sucking the blood of this country. It is also constitutional, as the Parliament has passed the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Nevertheless, the method adopted by Anna Hazare may be effective, but it is not constitutional. To protest is an integral part of democracy and is one thing, while blackmailing the government and forcing it to act according to one's wish is another thing.