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?
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.