It was Day 4 and the old man Hazare was still going strong as I began to write this piece. Embarrassed by the fact that what the youth should be doing, the old man had to do. I have no excuse for not playing my part completely. Nevertheless, I have always expressed my concerns about the psyche of the youth in contemporary India. Even with the anti-corruption fever sweeping the nation, I am disappointed to see Lakme Fashion Week getting media coverage. I do not blame media, for the root cause is not media, it is the viewership ; TRP.
However, it is not because I wish to crib about the nature of society today, that I have chosen to write. It is because, I intend to provide an approach what should the next step be. I have not a doubt that the Jan Lokpal bill will become a law for the UPA government is at the back foot and has no option but to agree to the demands of the citizens. How much ever the ministers argue about the provisions in the constitution or its power, no government can survive the wrath of the citizen empowerment. It was RTI first, then an unsuccessfully unorganized attempt of students against reservations and now Jan Lokpal bill, the government has always felt the heat of the outburst.
I happened to go through the Government suggested Lokpal bill as well as what Anna Hazare and the core team suggested. Coming back to the systematic approach citizens must employ in order to complement the Lokpal bill.
The Lokpal bill, if passes in the monsoon session, will have a lot of power to enforce transparency and fair transactions between not only civil society and public servants but also between corporations and the ministry. All said and done, the Lokpal will do his job, but, would it be effective on its own ? My judgment is no. In fact, not a governing body can ever be effective to its fullest potential unless the citizens are a part of its function. It can only be effective, if we play our part.
Now, that the government has accepted the demands, making an unquestionable victory for the flags of the citizen’s army, the real task begins now. In my opinion it is just a battle won, the war is still on. A lot of claims and appeals have been made to citizens by numerous others to “support” and “fast” and “come together”, however, none say, how, in an organized manner. This is an attempt to put forth an organized approach to support the Lokpal in true sense.
The following are the few cases considered and approaches one should employ to overcome the situations:
Case 1: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant for any official purpose and is asked for a bribe or is presumed that a bribe has to be paid to get the work done.
Approach: Deny to pay any amount. To be firm and stand by the principle of being absolutely incorrupt is the greatest support you can give to the Lokpal. Having done this, next step is to blow the whistle. The Lokpal has a strong clause for whistle blower which really interests me. Note the name and the department of the public servant and write the letter to the Lokpal ( Vigilance department or Anti Corruption Bureau). It will not be a surprise that the same public servant will act similarly with any other citizen who will deal with him for any official purpose. This will lead to multiple complaints against the same man. The Lokpal will be forced to act against the public servant.
Case 2: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant for breaking any law and asked for a bribe to get out of it.
Approach: This is a real test. It is important for every citizen to ensure that they do not break any law. In case one fails to abide by the laws, the penalty must be paid. The role of whistle blower is very important here. Any citizen who notices such an event where someone fails to abide by the laws and any public servant accepts bribe to let the person, who brakes the law, get away should notify the Lokpal. The use of RTI can be very important here. Thanks to Anna Hazare, the RTI is a very powerful tool and can be used to identify the loop holes in governance.
Case 3: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant for any official purpose because there is a medical emergency/death.
Approach: In this case, the citizens has to take a call. If possible avoid indulging in any corrupt activities. It is evident that Lokpal does not “yet” have any provision for any emergency solution to this issue, but in my opinion this Lokpal bill is merely a start and we have a long way to go. Having said this, I believe these events like medical emergency should be considered as an outliers for most the situations will be covered in Case 1 and Case 2.
Case 4: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant who is a higher official in the government who encourages one to indulge into corrupt activities.
Approach: Yet again, still by to your principles. It is important that one do not indulge into corrupt activities for it is a loss to the country. All these years, I have noticed that Indians are most patriotic when cricket is involved. I am a management student and even while I write, I can come up with so many ways, legal ways, to earn money. I am sure being astute business class that India has, everyone can come up with many such ways. However, if the public servant is a hindrance, a strong step should be taken. The media will have a important role to play here. In these cases, one can safely say that there shouldn’t be any emergency and project should be delayed. The Lokpal too will have a very important role to play too. The bill says the probe will give its report in 6 months. It should be a wise step to delay the project for 6 months.
Case 5: In an event the corporation has an encounter with the ministers who encourages the corporation to indulge into corrupt activities.
Approach: It is a brave attempt to write about this section of corruption. The role of whistle blower and the whistle blower protection clause which Lokpal is inclined to readdress should be an important aspect. Including WikiLeaks should be a far-sighted vision too. With the media prying for the news, it would be unwise to think they would be interested in the matter. Once out in public, the Lokpal will be forced to take an plunge into the event. This can be exemplary. The role of Lokpal will be justified completely.
Case 6: In an event the ministers indulge in cash-for-votes or gifts-for-votes.
Approach: India is still a country with 22% of its population below poverty line and it is evident that the ministers employ dirty tricks to win elections owing to the mentioned figure. In such cases, the best way is to a) Accept the cash. b) Vote for the leader you wish is a “better” choice. c) The whole village should write individual letters to EC and CVC. Such mass complaints will, without a doubt, lead to expulsion of the minister from the election in the area. It will also taint the party and ensure clean minister next time.
Even as I write, I feel disturbed that the corruption has rotten the state of affairs in India to an extent that we have begun to question even some of the greatest of events in the country. A great nation, with a past with super-human achievements has now become a manifestation of rottenness. Nevertheless, the things are changing. The bubble has burst. With growing support to the old man Anna Hazare, the anti-corruption wave has swept the country. But it is not enough, for if you seek to see your nation clean, come out and make dirty your hands.
I also believe there are come clean politicians in the government and have great visionary ideas for the nation, but the light bearers of anti democracy do not allow them to work towards their goal. I have no doubts that the power of citizens should not be undermined for what happened in during Gandhi, Bose, Singh and Azad, can be repeated very easily. It is important that the government too does not take the common man (and woman) lightly for the masses are now moving from being uneducated to highly qualified individuals.
Be vigilant, Be brave, Stop Corruption. Love your country, beyond cricket.
Note: The approaches suggested may have flaws or may be are not fool proof but are ethically viable approaches. I am open to discussions, debates and questions. This article does not mean I am anti-government or am rebellious, but prefer a clean governance.
I am confident that the Lokpal will bring a remarkable difference in the governance of the nation and citizens will get a chance to live under a clean system.