Wednesday, August 17, 2011

India and its many Acts


Presenting Cacofonix my guest blogger , who prefers staying away from fixated views and beliefs.  He seeks the mellifluous in the world of the cacophonous. And gets peeved enough occasionally to pen his thoughts.


Acts of Parliament.  Acts in Parliament.  Acts on celluloid.  Acts on national news.  We love drama in India.  As the Anna Hazare charade plays out though, the one thing the milling, frenzied spectators haven’t figured out is this – how will it end?  Rather, how do they want to see it end?  No disrespect, corruption is an issue.  But I still can’t visualise the final scene of this seven-act play, just before the credits start rolling.  A bloodied Anna, his white kurta in tatters, his sword of righteousness thwacked through Kapil Sibal’s evil lipid-laden heart, as ‘civil’ society gathers around, cheering?  What after that?
Sulekha.com


Anna Hazare has done a few good things in life.  But he is no Gandhian.  Let us not bestow such titles so casually.  Like every other musician from a Muslim family being given the appellation ‘Ustad’, or from a Hindu family, ‘Pandit’.  A generation ago, such honours had to be earned through a body of work and demonstrated competence.  The question rather is this – why are so many people rooting for him, even though they don’t find him particularly charismatic, noble or likeable?  The answer is very simple – we don’t have a charismatic, noble or likeable leader in civil society who can lead Change.  Anna’s is a case of national greatness thrust upon him by an eager populace, ‘andolan’ and ‘revolution’ being catch words.  Aided by a national mood of despondence at the slew of financial scams and political scandals.  Scams that were always there, but has caught our imagination because some people got pilloried for it.

My point is this – will an Act of Parliament cure us of corruption?  Every time a more stringent law comes into force, the inconvenience and ‘look the other way’ fees go up a notch.  That’s it.  Our systems are made that way.  They work that way.  They work no other way.  The receiver expects it, the giver dreads it in the beginning, takes it in stride as an unavoidable nuisance in the end.  Lawmakers, Law enforcers, Law adjudicators – everyone perpetuates this.  Explicit or implicit.  Of course, there are some who exercise probity in public life.  Our Prime Minister and Home Minister may have income tax records as squeaky clean as their starched white clothes.  But, with their personal and political intelligence, isn’t it hard to believe that they have no idea of the underhand dealings they are letting prevail so that the party remains in power?  What use is their moral rectitude then?  How will a Lokpal bill change that political reality, even if Anna’s version sees light of the day?  What stops the government and bureaucracy from stonewalling cases that are filed under the Act?  What stops them from coercing intelligence agencies to destroy or fabricate evidence as convenient?  What stops them shunting out an upright police officer because he is finding out the truth?  What stops judges from going slow on cases in a ‘quid pro quo’?  


The Arab Spring has lost its steam.  Some may say that dictators have been overthrown.  But look at it again.  They have been overthrown where the military has abandoned them and sided with the people.  Even where they are out, the very same people who heralded the revolt now struggle to institute governance in the void left behind.  Have Anna’s fervid followers figured out how to fill their Void, should they reach that point?

Okay, let me be less of a pessimist.  Let us say the Lokpal Bill passes muster.  Who will the Lokpal be?  I am a great disbeliever of collective responsibility. It has to rest on an individual.  Someone with a clear mind, great character, a life lived on principles, selfless, erudite and a great communicator.  Someone with the strength to clear the Augean stables, bringing in the mighty river Alpheus.  

If we do find such a person, I would rather have him as our Prime Minister.


46 comments:

  1. Any revolution or change in the axis of power may look like an improvement from past, but history proves that new system slowly descends back into an equally corrupt and polluted system.

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  2. echoing the thoughts I shared on my blog yesterday....and with so many people sharing similar views my belief only becomes stronger that its the herd nature that is being displayed outside tihar jail, nothing else.

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  3. My thoughts ::
    Europeans have crushed authoritarian rule and risen above it and mostly happy about it! They had seen the atrocities of dictorial rules and made revolution to get out of it to be free citizens.

    Now few handful (handful because few thousands are handful to 1.2 billion population!!!) of baboons-Indian urban middle class wants to suffer the same fate authoritarian rule provides and a small minority of these baboons -urban middle class population thinks (without any proper data) that entire India is supporting Jan Lok pal (which places itself above constitution and which is undemocratic!) and media playing accordingly for their TRPs. I wish them with happy dreams!

    I wonder >WHY< bad history and civics lessons in schools can lead to half baked baboons and ignorant.
    These Anna supporters do not udnerstand that Power in a democratic setup rests ultimately with the people. This power has to be transferred by open, free, fair elections to a representative body. Only then the representative body will gain a democratic mandate. No such procedure has been planned for the lok pal and therefore the Lok Pal has neither a democratic mandate nor has a place in a democratic set up. Some say Lok pal is accountable. But it is accountable only to the lok pal panel. Just like today's supreme court is accountable to the Supreme court. Anna says Supreme Court is corrupt. So what is the guarantee that tomorrow Lok pal will not become as corrupt??

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  4. Very well written...honestly I feel that the anger on the streets is more about lack of leadership, inflation, apathy, mis-governance, political arrogance...all our collective frustrations are finding a voice via Anna.

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  5. Somehow I'm a skeptic. Maybe this is all a vicious circle. The wheels just keep on turning.

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  6. was thinking along the same lines yesterday ... and today feel like some hooligans are about to take over from here :|

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  7. Woot. Woot. We think alike ma'am. :p

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  8. Interesting. Whenever I see any such protest it always reminds me of "The Animal Farm"
    I agree about the concept of one strong leader. Too many cooks spoil the broth. And isn't this what the Romans did? When the going got tough they chose the most able person to lead them. Otherwise we all know how any senate works. And as the saying goes, "Sometimes majority means that all the fools are on one side."
    But do we have a Heracles amongst us who will perform the 5th labour? Maybe we do. But then, our Rivers are dirty too. Perhaps we need to clean them first, before making them do an Alpheus and Peneus

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  9. This is a very intelligent post. Its important to know your facts, understand them and then support what you think is the right one. In the current scenario, there are very few people, who know for certain what exactly the Anna's Lok pal is and what the govt is willing to give as of now (I am still trying to figure by reading the Govt's Lokpal). That said, there is no denying the fact that the present government is playing with people's patience and so many scams, with mind boggling amount of money logged in Swiss accounts.. (I got a mail fwd today itself that the the amount of money locked, if recovered, is sufficient to make a tax free budget for 30 years...etc etc ), common public is getting angry and probably, they just believe that, 'the bill passes - corruption over'. It will not be easy, as ultimately, Lokpal will compose of individuals, who are black, white and gray in their ideologies. As a aam aadmi said in 'A Wednesday' - 'aaj main tarike ke baare mein nahi, natije ke baare mein soch raha hun'. Just hope, it achieves, what it intends to achieve.

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  10. Hmmmmmm...very true, can't agree more about the Arab spring, something that i have closely followed in the Middle East. Egypt- overthrew dictator, still in chaos, Muslim Brotherhood and Military will have to fight for power. Tunisia- military still in charge, Yemen- lawless land, Bahrain- remains stable thanks to Saudi intervention, Libya- Gaddafi shall never give up. Ultimately, it is the aam aadmi who is the loser. Anna Hazare and clan try to do a la Wael Ghoenim in Egypt, sorry, no takers here... Good post!

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  11. I raise my hands in agreement.
    Because I don't fascinate myself with the idea that a single body can control corruption in every other body.
    Even the controller, brain, fails to detect cancer, cancer in it's own body.

    A good read.


    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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  12. I dont think most of the people understand the intricacies of the Lokpal Bill - They are out on the roads because they are angry with the lack of civic facilities, lack of rights, poor governance and they see this as a medium to just vent their agnst against the govt - cant blame them tho !

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  13. I disagree to large extent. Lokpal bill is not "one solution will cure all evils." But just piece which needs to be fit in right place to complete the jigsaw.
    What I see here from my fellow bloggers (unfortunately) is not indifference but cynicism - "this will not work, we know" syndrome. It didnt work in other parts of the world you see. Anna is no Gandhian - well we have heard of how even gandhi has been ridiculed.

    yes, if there are countries where revolution withered away into a more anarchist society, there is also a hongkong which chose to do get things done. And lets not even start the debate of how Hongkong a tiny weeny state not comparable to behemoth India is. I would not win against the collective force of all the wordsmiths here.

    On a parting note, the cause is bigger than Anna or his team. Supporting Anna does not mean you like / love his ways or his ideology. I am surprised how many of people on this post say people (and they themselves) do not understand the intricacies of the bill. Why dont you spend some time reading the drafts yourself, both govt and alternate proposal are available easily on the web and lets start having a more fact based conversation rather than drowning objectivity in opinions. My suggestions start from self, so yes, i have done my bit of educating myself.

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  14. The post echoes all the cynics out there but has made many valid points. One of them is that even is a credible version of the Lokpal Bill comes through what prevents the govt. from derailing the processes of providing redress to the aggrieved? After all we have squeaky clean ministers led by the Silent One who are turning a blind eye to all the scams and letting the buffoons do the honours of calling names making even bigger fools of themselves. I am an optimist, thank you :)

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  15. If some are "educating" themselves, then they should have already understood how authoritarian Jan Lok Pal is!

    Before people asking others to read Jan Lok Pal (without knowing they have done or not), they should first read:
    1) Indian Constitution and realize how our constitutional fathers struggled to bring it and bring freedom to some "ungrateful" lives!
    2) Read Indian History before and after Independence.
    3) Compare Jan Lok pal and think in long term for its affects on society if it needs to be taken into future!

    HongKong maybe a teensy Weensy country, but Europe as a continent certainly isnt.
    Dictorial rule and laws on country with population and diverse as ours, will create more chaos.
    We should learn from history and not be "IGNORANT"

    Just reading Jan Lok pal bill will not make one "knowledgeable" or "educated".
    People need to come out of their bore wells and see the ocean outside!

    If some are optimistic about Dictatorial Jan Lok Pal for future India, then good for them!!!

    It is also not a bad idea to check how many of Anna's "supporters" who are protesting against corruption are paying their Income Tax regularly!!!

    To oppose Anna's Jan Lok pal, does not make someone a believer and doer of corruption!!
    But you wouldn't know this through any social media BECAUSE it takes debates and discussions and knowledge to understand >politics and civics< of a country and not emotions and pulses of people!!!
    Rationality is the key and not emotions. If one is sure of their conscience of paying their taxes, why crib???!!

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  16. I am of the beleif that although this ahinsa and all work they take a long time .. look at gandhian ways during freedom struggle took ages ..

    I feel its time we have Army rule over india. The only way to get rid of this is to wipe out the whole notion of POLITICS from our nation.. I know a BIG BIG issue but no other way to clear the mess..

    To get rid of a disease on olden times they burn the place-clothes everything for a fresh start I think thats what i required in our lovely country ..

    as someone said the clean ministes are turning a blind eye well to me they are WORSE kinds ..

    Bikram's

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  17. Thought provoking link @Mumbai Mirror today:
    http://www.mumbaimirror.com/article/15/20110818201108180432356005a275322/If-you-have-never-bribed---.html
    The reward for the winner is a chance to meet Anna Hazare.Obviously ,whether you like it or not,the indvidual has become greater than the cause.

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  18. I second u...v r just a bunch of euphoric people who right now belie ve that 'they r playing their part' in removing the evil. but this is no end..in fact it can lead to greater evil being spurt up.
    as for Anna..definitely its all the media glitz that makes him wht he is right now. although i do respect him no doubt.
    very well written post :)


    sarah

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  19. Anna is a social worker...he has done some good things...but this time he has got a lot of support, esp from the middle class youth...he was lucky because this came at a time when the people were fed-up with 'lack of leadership, inflation, apathy, mis-governance, political arrogance' as Alka said...it would be wrong to claim that all the educated middle class youths are stupid...they hav a point...the present anti-corruption law is flawed, India needs a stronger 'anti-corruption law' (and not a strong institution, as you pointed out)...Jan Lokpal is flawed, but no one is telling the govn to pass the present version of Jan Lokpal, all they want is to have a 'transparent' debate in the parliament...let's come out with a better solution against corruption than the one we have right now...

    strict laws can change individuals...people who break laws in India, does not do the same when they goes abroad with strict and better implementation of laws...

    it is easy to say that we need to fight corruption at an individual level...i agree to that, but that change won't come overnight...and a good behavior can be contagious...most ppl in Gurgaon does not stop at signals in the night...but i stop, and when i do, I see many ppl stopping with me...so, let's bring that individual change as well...

    now i should really stop...its becoming a post in itself :p

    Nice read.

    Cheers!
    SUB

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  20. Purba, the Lokpal Bill is just a start.. We have to proceed further to eradicate corruption.. I agree it is not possible for a single soul to do it but every citizen of India should fight for it. Let's start a new beginning.. Let us write a new history..

    Someone is Special

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  21. and who is to say the people governing the anti-corruption body would not be corrupt?

    it's all becoming a circus!sigh!

    totally my views here:)

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  22. Exactly my opinions.
    Hazare being hailed as the new-age Gandhi is a bit of an over-reaction if not more. Equally astonishing to find media conferring on him such titles without a second thought.
    Even I have written on this issue when I wanted to steer clear of it.

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  23. Its a regressive and authoritarian bill that defies the very tenets of democracy - sorry I do not support it :)

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  24. Harish, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?

    Chintan, I see many in the throng who are there just to be part of the show. But, there are a lot of people who genuinely want something good to come out of it.

    Bhavna, you have given a very valid example of how this whole effort may disintegrate. Thanks!

    Yes, Alka, people are probably voicing their disgust at the way the government has behaved, rather than actually supporting the bill.

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  25. Pzes, Orchestra (like your ID!), Prateek - thanks for hearing me out!

    Snow Leopard, nothing short of a tsunami can clean our stables?

    Kunnu, you are so right when you point out the bit about white, black and grey ideologies of people who could constitute the lokpal. Your 'tarike-natije' allusion is akin to the 'niti-nyay' conundrum in jurisprudence.

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  26. Cloud Nine, thanks for your resonance on the Spring!

    Blasphemous Aesthete, Subtlescribbler - glad you expanded on the subject

    Ruchira, the public venting is leading to some circumspection. So, it is having some effect.

    Zephyr, I hope I haven't conveyed in any way that I do not agree with the overwhelming public anguish.

    Sharmila, I will read up the link. Thanks!

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  27. I completely agree with this article. It was just like you were echoing my thoughts.

    The moment I posted an article on this article I have received so many emails and comments saying I'm anti this anti that. But then this one has made my views more and more strong and I wish people understand that it's indeed their herd nature which is at display.

    Cheers!
    ....Here I Am!

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  28. Mayank, I respect your view. And I mean that in all honesty. Maybe this Bill would break that vicious circle that leads to the sorry state of people's representation in the legislature. Parliament runs just because of a few good people who are qualified to do their jobs. Maybe the Bill, decreed into an Act, will lead to more such individuals getting to represent us. And fewer people with criminal records or insatiable avarice. My contention is that another law in a milieu largely contemptuous of law will, in all likelihood, be ineffective. And it is my request that you not disparage others who have expressed similar views on this post. There is nothing undignified in holding different opinions on a subject.

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  29. Bikramjit - a benevolent autocracy has been suggested as the model that could work for us. A rather telling oxymoron.

    Sub - yes, let us all do our bit!

    Suruchi - you have hit the nail on its head.

    Samadrita - I hope we don't get so disenchanted that we don't do anything about the issue.

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  30. Good to be back on your blog Purba :) I completely agree with you here...I also support the anti-corruption drive, yet I find the current strategy a little tough to digest. What happens even if the Anna version of Bill passes? Is it not a risky precedent to set for the later years?

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  31. Vijay - I read your post. Yes, it took courage to have a heading like that!

    Siddhartha - I am a guest writer on Purba's blog. Networked people like you can ponder how the groundswell of public opinion can be channelised into discouraging and reducing corruption in our daily lives. Regardless of the denouement of the lokpal chapter.

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  32. hi.. you have been tagged here:)

    http://redefinelifewithlove.blogspot.com/2011/08/yay-d.html

    :)

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  33. Hi, nicely written.

    I have also written a post on AH with somehow similar views:)

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  34. Very well written article... ! I think this should serve as a food for thought for all those people who gather at the India Gate.. driven by a euphoria of 'being part of the revolution'. forget the fact that little do they know what the difference between a Lok Pal or Jan Lok Pal. These are those people who have never read the Constitution of India, and i am sure, they have not read the various versions of lok pal drafts as well.

    Anyhow.. These are relevant questions that you asked. Yes... and if we think that corruption is all about the financial aspect, then we are doing something at own peril.. communal ism is as much a threat to the fabric of the nation, if not more.

    what we need is a strengthening of our existing institutions and not another one which will ultimately do nothing. By the way.. did anyone point out that Lokpal is all about how to deal with the people who are corrupt..and is not at all about how to prevent corruption.

    and I hope the campaign, even if it successful, does not get hijacked by the likes of Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal who want their slice of pie (read executive powers) though the back-door.

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  35. ..and last but not the least, i am happy to read about such voices.. as echoed in this post as well the comments..when what we have Tsunami of 'Support Anna' campaigns. Doesn't mind, we are a minority.. but our point of views can be put across too...

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  36. Not sure what to say here, We do nothing but let parliament decide which act to pass? I am sure you are aware how elections in India are fought? If not then you should look at it more closely the next time your local elections are around. I am not sure why Anna had to do this while each one of us should have done this long ago. Also many countries have gone through these phases, in our case population seems to tip the scale in favor of demand which is the root cause for all corruption.

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  37. @Cacofonix - I still believe that while we all have a right to have opinions, they are just good for that - keeping them to oneselves. To have any meaningful action oriented discussion, we need to get into details and facts. Here is the link to some details on bill. Maybe there is merit in identifying and saying what makes Janlokpal unworthy of presentation to parliament as against the Govt proposed bill.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Lokpal_Bill#cite_note-SibalCriticism-11
    Lets acknowledge that a lokpal bill will probably see the light of the day. Atleast the govt has publicly stated its commitment for that. What would be interesting to see what we get! If not for these activists, we would have definitely got the Congress Lok Pal - a defunct but probably a democractic law (pun intended), forget this country ever benefiting from it. I am hopeful that the push from activists will ensure that we get a much more powerful law that is effective in serving its purpose effectively.

    This is not an either- or scenario, lokpal / janlokpal alone is not going to solve all corruption, it is just a step in right direction to be followed by police / judicial reforms & accountability.

    Effectiveness of the process requires views / counterviews. I however, am quiet disdainful of those who like to pass judgement on intent, intellect and spirit of thousands of Indians who stand for this cause. Lets atleast not belittle the intellect of people who step out on the roads than sit and give gyan on social networks (dig on us, self included).

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  38. I don't think kaliyug means the world getting flooded and ppl dying, i think its ppl dying out of utter hopelessness..even i wanna c how this whole episode ends!

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  39. I completely support Lokpal bill proposed by Anna's team and I appreciate effots taken by the team for this bill.

    As Mayank said, we should avoid cynicism - "this will not work, we know" syndrome and be positive.

    Many people argue that Anna is going against parliament. But, does he have any choice left ?
    I don't understand why people act childish when we expect any positive outcome to curb corruption from the standing committee which include members like Lalu yadav and other tainted ministers.

    And why are we giving attention to minor things like - Whether Anna Hazare is Gandhian or not ?? Whether it's media created hype or not ??.. Look at the problem and the solution offered by him ...forget everything else. Anna never said that people should call him gandhian.

    Jan Lokpal bill has provision by which if you found guilty for corruption, you will have to repay the amount to the country..Isn't it good? Of course Lokpal can become corrupt , but there is a provision by which even he will be punished. Also, CBI and other institutions working for anti corruption was under central government till now. This is the reason corrupt people are free even after so many scams.

    And not just you but everyone of us would like to see clean, honest person as prime minister..but will he be interested to join politics ?

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  40. @Mayank,

    Second to you.

    I feel irritated when I see self proclaimed gyani people come on news channel and start giving gyan on how anna's movement will not work and how can corruption be tackled.. I want to ask these people- WHERE WERE YOU BEFORE THIS WHEN YOU WERE HAVING SUCH AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF GYAN..or you found no buyer ?? :D

    In India, this is the problem- When someone starts good initiative, he literally get attacked by so called "intellectuals".

    Government is just wants to do timepass by asking civil society to go to standing committe.. because they are very well aware- this bill is going to bring them in trouble.

    Glad to see people's support to this movement. Mumbai rally saw unprecedented participation of 1 lack people ..and not just from middle class..many from affluent families in Juhu, Bandra area participated.

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  41. Thank God for this post. Now I know I am not the only one who thinks so. I am being dubbed as unpatriotic, for corruption and god knows what all for having not supported the bill and the movement.

    It is most definitely undemocratic and I still believe means should justify the end.

    People just want a feeling that they are a part of the revolution and doing something great. Clicking on FB posts and sharing videos, chanting slogans or candle marches are not going to end corruption. Only your FB pic will get more likes.

    And the best part is people behaving as if the politicians are the only ones corrupt and solely responsible for the sorry state of affairs in our country and we are all just innocent bystanders.

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  42. Surprised !

    Please read this link if you have FB.


    http://www.facebook.com/notes/mahesh-murthy/my-counter-to-those-who-think-the-hazare-movement-and-jan-lok-pal-bill-are-a-bad/10150299409542138

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  43. Maybe a tsunami is the answer. Sadly...the stable, still won't be sparkling clean.
    Anyway, I tried to view it from every perspective possible (or every perspective I could imagine).
    The Lokpal will have powers over many....a parallel chain of bureaucracy to control the regular one. Somehow, I feel, that though it glitters from afar but it might lead to a dystopia.
    And the only "Anna or nothing" stand of many protesters is rather disturbing.

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  44. Folks - I was travelling on work and couldn't respond sooner.
    @snow leopard - I hope the implementation will lead to an empowered body that can fearlessly bring the corrupt to book. Still wonder who the people would be. Fingers crossed!
    @dreamysap - yes, it isn't just the politicians. But I suppose one has to begin somewhere.
    @pRasad, Mayank - as I already said, you can have your views and I can have mine. You have aired yours, I have aired mine. I have not ridiculed you for having yours. I am choosing not take offence at your diatribe.

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  45. Purba / Cacofonix,

    I attended rallies organised in support of Anna and waved placards vigorously. On way back home I was in hurry as there was a party organised at home, so I jumped traffic light with no traffic coming from other side only to be pulled up by policeman. So I quickly took out a hundred rupee note for him. I had shouted slogans for CORRUPTION FREE INDIA. Policeman came home for verifying as I had applied for Passport, he was dilly dallying looking around, so I gave him an unopened bottle of whiskey lying at home. I participated in a rally for CORRUPTION FREE INDIA. I went for admission of my child in Nursery, the Principal looked at me saying they need to add some more buildings, so I gave asked amount as donation for that. I support Anna for CORRUPTION FREE INDIA. I supply raw material to a manufacturing unit and keep the purchase manager happy with gifts or %age. I dream of CORRUPTION FREE INDIA. There are so many instances how I get my work done but I took part in candle lit march for CORRUPTION FREE INDIA. So, the moral is CORRUPTION FREE INDIA has to start with ME.

    Take care

    ReplyDelete

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