Most if not all of us, want a corruption free society. One where we can take the daily encounters of our life to be smooth, hassle free and represented by an equal opportunity for everyone. The movement led by Anna Hazare has the right intentions but not the right means. Anna’s call for civil disobedience is unwise at this juncture, when the global economy is delicate and the lifeline of many are critically poised. Gandhiji’s call for civil obedience was meant to cripple the British economy, as a means and tactic to oust a foreign power. Why do we have to do this to our own economy? Thousands of young people are contributing to the already poor productivity and the increasing inflation that the country is facing, as a consequence of the agitation and Jail Bharo call.
Inflation is caused by poor productivity and not government policy. One needs legislation not to arrest inflation but to fight the malaise of poor productivity.
It is quite naïve to believe that introduction of Lokpal legislation will eradicate corruption in the country. Corruption has various forms at different levels of the society. At the lowest level, corruption happens because of poor remuneration, poor skills and capabilities and bad service. At the middle level, it happens because of expediency. At the highest level of the society, it happens in the process of aggrandizing greed and power. At any of these levels, legislation cannot prevent the ingenuity of the human mind to work around. It must and should be supported by processes and systems that are aimed at prevention more than cure. No legislation has ever succeeded that has been built on the premise of punishment; rather it is only possible to bring about change though a process of reform. Corruption is a call of conscience of an individual more than anything else; which in turn is a response to the external stimuli.
If Anna Hazare and his team have a political agenda to settle scores with the government they are welcome to do so at their personal expense and time. They do not have a right to subvert and mislead the country. It would have been much wiser for Anna to fight for the education and emancipation of the villagers whom he is familiar with; for them to get a better remuneration for the efforts they put in their respective areas of work. Or for Ms. Kiran Bedi to publish a system that rewards and celebrates a better law enforcement force. Or Prashant Bhushan to develop a system that prevents arduous legal processes and enables justice to be delivered swiftly for every Indian. This would prevent corruption. Not a piece of legislation.
As Narayanmurthy has eloquontly articulated in his “Walk the Talk” interview with Shekar Gupta, let the government and Anna’s team bring together a 9 or 11 member committee that will create a framework consisting of legislation, process and systems that integrates a program for an active and effective way of bringing probity in every walk of life, across our society. The problem is more startling at the bottom-most part of the society and that is where the effort to strengthen the fabric of our society should begin.
We cannot be carried away by our notions of idealistic self-righteousness. We now live in a global society where our actions are watched and impact us for the perceptions they create. This world is not an ideal place. Even in the United States where there is a great adherence to law at the level of common people in society, a Dominique Strauss-Kahn walks away scott free after “probably” committing a sexual offence because of corruption.
Rather than deliver a solution, let us not create a more debilitating problem for ourselves. Let us act responsibly and responsively. The path to hell is paved with good intentions!