The New Arguments

The week gone past has seen a lot of action on the anti-corruption movement front (hope you noticed that I did not say anti-corruption front). Anna Hazare was arrested, released, reached Ramlila Maidan and is now fasting to get the Jan Lokpal bill presented in the Parliament by the government.

In all this milieu, a lot is being said and discussed on Facebook, Twitter, through Emails and on different news websites. The discussion now, is not just about whether the Jan Lokpal Bill is better than the Govt Lokpal Bill (in fact that is not even a discussion point) or if Anna Hazare's fast is legal or whether Anna Hazare being adamant about Jan Lokpal Bill is extra-constitutional. The events have spawned a whole new set of argument points

i. The anti corruption movement is purely a middle class and urban movement - and thus not representative of the entire country.
ii. The supporters of the anti corruption movement are middle class "non-voters" who do not realize the importance/relevance of the constitution hence support the movement as an alternative to the more-difficult systemic ways of tackling corruption
iii. Anna Hazare being portrayed as the MK Gandhi of today
iv. This being a second freedom struggle (third if you factor in 1857)
v. People who are supporting the current anti-corruption movement are themselves corrupt (some have extended the argument to include immoral) in their lives and therefore are being hypocritical by participating in such protests.
vi. Some pro-Anna supporters have also resorted to abusing people who differ with them on online forums - which in turn is being taken as a point to show the irony behind a Gandhian movement
vii. One of the most important points being argued is also if a Lokpal Bill is required at all.
viii. This is all a big tamasha and will get over very soon.
ix. Even if the Lokpal is made into an act, it will not end all corruption in the country.
x. This is an Indian version of the Arab Spring.

I, personally support the movement against corruption. I am not in support of undermining the constitution or parliament - so my opinion would be to have open discussions on the shape of the Lokpal bill. We could even discuss if such a bill is required if other steps can be taken which would ensure that corruption both at the "retail" and "wholesale" levels (not sure who coined these terms) are tackled adequately.

However for everyone who is keenly watching the developments in this movement, I feel there are a few things to know and acknowledge.

i. The level of corruption in our country have reached unprecedented levels. I would like to bring into focus the wholesale corruption like 2G Scam, CWG scam, Cash for votes scam and many more. I do not have the numbers to know if retail corruption has drastically increased in the last few years or during the tenure of current dispensation. The public is fed up of such brazen and nonchalant acts of dishonesty occupying reams of newsprint on a daily basis. For many, the current movement against corruption is a way to show that they have had enough.

ii. It is important for everyone irrespective of whether they are pro/anti/who Hazare to realize that corruption is something they come across on a daily basis and many a times they too contribute to the scourge of corruption. You cannot fight for a Lokpal but not be honest in your conduct. Having said that it is not correct for people to say that first you correct yourself then ask for a Lokpal or an honest dispensation. Not everyone is proactively corrupt and not everyone is interested in fighting the system.

iii. Know the contents of all three versions of the Lokpal Bill - the one proposed by government, one proposed by Team Anna and the one proposed by Team Aruna Roy. It is very important to know what you are protesting for. If you are protesting for a corruption free India you should be open to all means that can achieve the purpose. If you are protesting for the Jan Lokpal Bill then you have to be sure of how it is better than the other versions being proposed and what is going to happen if contentious provisions of the bill are not included in the bill that is finally presented in the Parliament.

iv. This movement is a very important one for our country because it finally has rallied many people on the subject of corruption. However remember that each of us should use this opportunity to become more aware as citizens. We need to engage more with the government institutions if we want to see them change. All of may not agree with what "all" is happening at the Ramlila Maidan.

v. I personally do not feel that the major supporters of this movement are middle class youth who are isolated from the democratic process. I have seen people from varied backgrounds who have come to support the agitation. The motivations maybe different for different people. But the concern is genuine.

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