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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A most frightening prospect

A lot of people have been asking me to comment on what Anna Hazare and his supporters have recently and spectacularly achieved with their agitation in New Delhi.

This blog writer (and those whom he has quoted, along with those who have commented on his blogpost) has done a great deal of work for me, so I needn’t write a lot of things that I’d have otherwise had to. To all of them my thanks. My readers should look up the contents of that link thoroughly before proceeding to read the following lines.


Well, now that you have read the above (if you want a professional lawyer's take, here it is), all I want to say is:

1.      I have profound respect for Anna Hazare and all he stands for (today the media have made him a national celebrity: I have talked about him to thousands of pupils for years when their parents had never heard of him), and as a thinking man and an Indian I am deeply grateful for much that he has fought for and won for all of us. India certainly needs lots of people like him.
2.      Having said that, I agree with Dr. B. R. Ambedkar that trying to coerce governments by going on fasts unto death Gandhi-style is a very very dangerous strategy (Nirad Chaudhuri once famously said that Gandhi was a worse dictator than Hitler!), to be used rarely and with extreme caution, and I am not at all sure that Hazare-ji did the right thing this time round.
3.      While any reader who follows this blog regularly will know how serious I am about this corruption issue, and though I do not want to sound cynical just for the heck of it, this ‘movement’, such as it was, makes the corners of my lips involuntarily curl up with suspicion and disdain. Who are these members of ‘civil society’ who have so suddenly woken up to the crying need to do away with corruption in public life? Someone who watched the whole shenanigan from almost next door as long as it lasted averred that a huge number were exactly the kind for whom any tamasha will do when something like World-Cup cricket is not available – they would run at the first hint of serious trouble, or as soon as they heard that a new shopping mall was being inaugurated nearby by Katrina Kaif. Of the rest, a significant number simply wanted to be seen on TV, wannabe celebrities all, a most pathetic class indeed; no one who respects the Masterda-Bhagat Singh type of patriots can spare a kind thought for them. Another group came riding in chauffered limousines – the five-star chatterati class – to show their solidarity with the aam admi’s concerns. Now chances are 99 to 1 that their wealth has not been gotten by means that would bear scrutiny by any anti-corruption body worth its salt, so no matter whether they are big-time contractors or ex-civil servants or yogi-babas or film stars, aren’t they taking a very silly risk, living in glass houses and still throwing stones? Would they enjoy the fun if and when such a high-powered vigilante body really came into being and started looking closely into their means and affairs?
4.      I shall go on repeating ad nauseam that this kind of corruption that has supposedly angered so many people is bound to become systemic and incurable in a country where most people are lazy and therefore want shortcuts to ‘success’ ever since childhood, and most have no means of making big money by honest means (think of a typical government clerk, a private sector engineer, a petty shopkeeper, a schoolteacher or a police constable), yet everybody has started worshipping money, slavering over it all the time, and using it as the only real criterion of ‘success’. Admit it to yourself; almost all of us are like that now, and those who aren’t we call stupid or crazy! (How many Indians do you think would be ‘fans’ of SRK or Sachin if those two had not been making pots of money?) Gandhi knew this very well, which is why he insisted lifelong that there can be no honesty in public life unless public figures (cricketers as much as politicians, mind you) are committed to living simple, undemanding lives as models of self-control and probity. He himself practised what he preached, but remember he couldn’t persuade even the man who liked to call himself his closest disciple to follow in his footsteps. Anna-ji maybe has every right to call himself a Gandhian, but he should be very careful about all the people who are clambering on to his bandwagon: he has a hard-won reputation to lose!
5.      Most worrisome of all is that a small number of people – even a few tens of thousands is a minuscule number in a country of 1200+ million, remember – is aiming to set itself up as the supreme national arbiter of all things moral, a kind of absolute, unchallengeable supra-governmental authority over all the rest of us. Even if every one of those ‘revolutionaries’ were a saintly lover of mankind, I would be terrified at the prospect: if this does not strike at the very roots of representative government (which, as Churchill said, is the least bad of all forms of authority known to man), if this does not reek of fascism of the worst sort, I don’t know what does. I for one would much rather live with a lot of crime and corruption and confusion and dissent of even the violent sort than submit myself with glee to such a draconian dispensation: I see shades of the French Reign of Terror and the worst times after the Russian and Chinese revolutions in the very attempt to create such a monster in the name of cleansing public life. I do, do hope that a lot of sane Indians would see the danger before it is too late, and protest very loudly indeed. Oh that we were a race that knew and cared a little more about history!

57 comments:

Sunup said...

Sir,

For the past few weeks, supporting Anna saheb's fast was sort of the 'in-thing' in the country. Guys forwarding mail campaigns, Facebook campaigns, and what nots. Some people felt that by doing so they are helping in weeding out corruption from the country. People may call me a hardcore pessimist, but I really don't think that the Lokpal bill is going to see light anytime in the near future. Corruption is so deep rooted in our country that no bill or policing would be able to eradicate it. Maybe if it was tried out in the 50s or 60s, then there would have been a better chance. But not now for sure. No amount of radiation or chemotherapy can help a terminally-ill last stage cancer patient. Only a divine miracle can cure someone in that stage. Same is the case with this cancer called corruption. Even God would be fed up with us, so can't expect any divine miracles from up there too.
I did not support Anna saheb's cause in any fashion whatsoever. Not that I take bribe or corrupt. But I give bribe to get things done. I bribe the traffic policeman to not give me an official traffic violation challan, I bribe the land registrar to register my property, I bribe the water board officials to get a corporation water connection...and the list goes on. Bribe giving is as evil as bribe taking. I am sure all the young guns out there rooting for Anna would be indulging or would have indulged in bribing someone some time in their lives.
So like most news grabbing events, this one too would die soon. Arnab Goswami and Rajdeep Sardesai would soon get hotter news items like assembly election results.

Regards

Debarshi Saha said...

Respected Sir,

Regards.I really do not understand why people need to be so cynical of the movement that Mr. Hazare has started..if we always remain pessimistic,and maybe realistically so,about corruption in this country not coming to a halt..then we may never see the day..when corruption is minimal..but saying that,I absolutely agree with your point..that most of these 'vigilantes' are wannabe celebrities,aiming for their five minutes of fame...but,we cannot really choose our brothers in a society..maybe while pretending to be moral,some of them might become moral..

Formation is an imitative art..isn't it,Sir?...And if Mr. Hazare had not gone on a fast-unto-death,then he might not have caught the Government's attention..after all,our politicians are so learned!...Does anyone think that a courteous letter would do any good?..

Warm regards,
Debarshi.

P.S-Please do keep well,Sir..best wishes to all of you.

Alka said...

I thoroughly disagree with this blogpost, A most frightening prospect. Arguments against Anna Hazare's movement can be countless and no one can convince those who oppose it. We don't need Bhure SAhib (Brown Sahib) like Nirad Chaudhuri to enlighten us. People used to criticize Bhagat Singh, Gandhi, SUbhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel. SO critics will always criticize, no matter what. Anna Hazare was on fast for 13 days, when Maharashtra government woken up and agreed to brought RTI. The same RTI acted as basis which was passed by the central government. Your esteemed readers know how RTI helped. I just want to say one thing. Read history carefully. You will hardly find instances where Government has decided to bring a revolution. If history is full of such examples, do let me know.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Alka, of course you have every right to disagree thoroughly with what I have written, but I am saddened that you did not do me the courtesy of seriously reading what I had to say before reacting so angrily. I had thought better of you. Anyway...

Debarshi, I'll answer you, but let's wait a bit and see what others might have to say.

Aakash said...

Dear Sir,

Last week a lot of attention at office was taken up by the demonstrations for the Lokpal Bill. Much of it was induced by our proximity to the centre of the demonstrations at Jantar Mantar, right next to my office at the YMCA.

I had seen quite a few demonstrations on Sansad Marg, but none so intense as this. Mercs lined up the road leading to the enclosure where the protestors thronged. It was nice to see so many of the middle class/upper middle class take part in a movement against corruption.

But there was only the middle class, and the media. And among them were quite a few people whom I know to be quite corrupt. I won't take names as this is a public forum. Which got me thinking...So what was this 'movement' all about? Was it really about trying to stop graft, or was it just a section of a society trying to flex its muscles? How many of the same people would stand up for the rights of adivasis whose lands are being sold to MNCs? I wonder.

And in the middle of all this was a man called Anna Hazare. I respect him for his tenacity. Without him we wouldn't have had RTI. I have a feeling that he really hadn't given it much thought. He has won something for us, that is, the people who have access to this blog.

But was this movement 'Gandhian'? I am mailing you a picture of protesters mockingly hanging 'bhrastachari netas'. Looked more like mob justice, without its teeth, of course. I'm sure people of Calcutta in 1960s and 1970s have seen far worse.

And last, some food for thought: Would the government have allowed adivasis to come and protest at Jantar Mantar?

Abhirup said...

Dear Sir,

Firstly, thank you for so lucidly elucidating the reasons why Anna Hazare’s ‘movement’ deserves neither unquestioning support nor fervent admiration. I realize that it is not cool to say so at the moment, when Hazare’s ‘supporters’ are quick to brand anybody who doesn’t fall in line with them as “connivers in corruption” (heh!). Nevertheless, those who are aware of the disturbing aspects of the Jan Lokpal Bill, and can see through glibness of what went on at Jantar Mantar, need to keep voicing their reservations; that will act as a corrective balance to the deafening (and kind of redundant, if I may say so) din of “Anna Hazare, hum tumhare saath hain” that’s echoing across the country right now.

Allow me to list my views on this issue point-by-point.

1) These days, protest has sadly degenerated into just another way of hogging the limelight. More often than not, rallies and campaigns are organized not because of any righteous indignation against social/political ills, but simply to cash on a volatile situation and gain the proverbial fifteen seconds of fame. This may sound very cynical, but I am saying so only after carefully observing the various ‘protests’ held in different parts of India, including those in West Bengal, over the last six years or so. Sometimes, the protest may have an honest man at its core (like Hazare in this case), but he is often a pawn, used by those around him as an impotent mascot. The rest, as Sir has rightly said, are either those who want their faces to be seen in newspapers and televisions, or spectacle-loving folks out to alleviate their boredom by witnessing the latest craze (the kind Shakespeare derided as the “common herd” in ‘Julius Caesar’), or celebrities of the basest sort, who would never commit themselves seriously to any cause, and yet want to be regarded as socially-conscious human beings.

I apologize if this comes across as a repetition of what Sir has already said in point no. 3 of his blogpost. I just want to make it clear that to me at least, this whole affair reeks of foolishness and double standards.

Abhirup said...

2) As for the Lokpal Bill, I wonder how many of those who speak in favour of it have bothered to find out what it’s all about. If they give a proper reading to the contents of the first link that Sir has provided (the key word here being ‘proper’), I guess many of them will want to revise their opinions. The Lokpal, as described in that bill, is nothing short of an Orwellian Big Brother, a supreme authority who wields all the power and is accountable to no one. If there’s anything that one should oppose tooth-and-nail, it is the creation of such a post. Investing huge powers in one man, and leaving no (or few) ways to check those powers leads to nothing but despotism and atrocities. And it is sheer idiocy to think that once a man has been given so much power, he will not be tempted to misuse it: “absolute power corrupts absolutely” is an age-old adage. Moreover, the process of selection of the Lokpal that has been suggested is equally weird: winners of international prizes (many of whom are NRIs, mind you) are supposed to play a key role in selecting the most important person in the nation? Christ!
Reducing corruption is not just a noble goal, but a necessary one. But, as the article in the link says, “the cure shouldn’t be worse than the ailment.” To rid the country of corruption, one must not advocate measures that threaten liberty and democracy. I know that many of those who support the Lokpal Bill are well-intentioned people, but as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It is doesn’t take much to make good intentions go awry and give way to repression and genocide—history is rife with such examples, some of which Sir has mentioned in the concluding paragraph of the piece. I shall, of course, be delighted if India becomes a less corrupt country. I think it’s more important, however, to make sure that one man, or even a group of men, no matter how ‘learned’ or ‘well-liked’ or ‘qualified’ he/they may be, do not get to decide the fate of the country.

Abhirup said...

3) As for the fast unto death method, I must confess that I am unable to make up my mind. On one hand, I am reminded of how Bhagat Singh and his fellow freedom fighters embarked upon a fast (and Jatin Das, one of the freedom fighters, fasted for sixty-three days before breathing his last) in protest against the miserable conditions and poor treatment of prisoners in the jails of colonial India. This forced the British to fulfill many of their demands. On the other hand, I can understand, also, how this policy can be used a form of blackmail and arm-twisting, and one cannot deny that in India as well as elsewhere in the world, there are several instances where people have succeeded in achieving reforms and justice without going on fasts.

4) I believe that those who are taking offense at any criticism of Hazare’s ‘movement’ are those who, for some reason, came to view the phenomenon as The Noblest Thing to Have Ever Taken Place in India: in all probability, they walked in the rallies held in support of Hazare and shouted slogans, coming to regard themselves, in the process, as revolutionaries or social reformers of sorts. Hence, when somebody criticizes the movement, they take it too personally, and lash out, feeling that their importance and their ideals are being questioned. To them, I would like to say that: (a) just because you supported something, doesn’t automatically mean that it is beyond all reproach, and (b) no matter how strongly you support something, you must learn to listen to those holding opinions to the contrary; that’s one of the key principles of both democracy and decency.

Abhirup said...

5) Finally, since someone here has advised Sir to read history, allow me to vouch, as someone who has known him closely for eight years, that few people insist so strongly and so consistently on the importance of reading history as he does. I can recall him saying in class, as well as during informal conversations, that ignorance of historical events can propel an individual as well as nation to doom, and hence, if there’s one subject that deserves to be taught and learnt with utmost care, it’s history. He has said the same in many of his blogposts as well. Heck, he has said so even in the last line of THIS blogpost. Therefore, to tell him to “read history carefully” was neither bright nor civil.

If anything I have written has offended or hurt anyone, I apologize. To those who disagree, I will say just this: please try, through some good, old-fashioned fact-finding, to determine if what I have said is right. If you have done that, and yet want to disagree on some point, feel free to do so. But spare me the knee-jerk reactions and juvenile outbursts.
Yours sincerely,

Abhirup Mascharak.

P.S. While I am no big fan of Nirad C. Chaudhuri, to dismiss all that he has said as the words of a “brown sahib” is rash and wrong.

Tanmoy said...

Dear Suvroda

I have limited exposure to the entire debate concerning the Lokpal bill. However, the issue of corruption bothers every one of us, every day. Anna Hazare’s movement has generated immense public response and I would like to believe that through the public debates something concrete may emerge. However, like with all public debates unless there is mutual respect of each other’s views and room to accept different opinion in tackling a common menace, I doubt we would ever achieve anything in our nation.

At this stage, I don’t want to view the movement with cynicism but I do see a sense of politically motivated comments from Anna Hazare supporters in newspapers, blogs etc. This bothers me and honestly I doubt the supporters more than the man Anna Hazare himself and his fast. I am mostly apolitical but I am appalled to see Anna-ji’s movement as being used as forum for “Government-bashing”. I think that is hypocrisy of the top order. If someone is supporting the cause then support it honestly. If the cause is to bash ruling Government, then perhaps Annaji’s movement is not the correct forum.

Like I said, I would reserve my comment on the “fast” itself because so far I don’t think I have given enough thought. However, like all of us I want to see my country free of corruption.

....and sorry Alka, I fear when you say – “ We don't need Bhure SAhib (Brown Sahib) like Nirad Chaudhuri to enlighten us”...

I guess in a free world every opinion matters only to refine something. We in India, based on a false sense of idealism and patriotism have kept ourselves isolated and constrained for far too long. When we say things like ---“we don’t need”...we polarise ourselves and if many people start thinking like that we end up creating pressure groups and in turn say groups like the Naxalites – who think they only know what is good for everyone.

Regards

Tanmoy

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thank you, Aakash, Abhirup and Tanmoy.

For now, I shall let Gandhi's grandson Gopalkrishna - himself a very cultured, widely experienced and much respected public man - do the talking for me: see

http://bit.ly/f6sW9y

He, like me, admires sanity, moderation, good sense and courtesy in public discourse as essential to civilized democratic living, and is deeply suspicious of wild enthusiasms of all sorts, because it blinds us to both reason and civility.

Sayan Datta said...

Dear Suvro Sir,

A very short comment for now -
Your analysis and that of the blog-author to whose blog you have provided the link simply takes my breath away. Of course there are telltale signs of fascism in the bill - that much is evident enough. I think it is very relevant here to see how Hegel's ideas were put to the service of an oppressive Prussian state, and how he influenced the Nazis in machiavellian ways!

Without belittling the achievements of Anna Hazare, I would say that this bill is a sure recipe for the doom of democracy in our country.

Thanks a lot for the post, Sir. It was a real eye-opener. You have hammered the point home as you always do.

One last point - It is clearer to me now of how easy it is to be swept away by the tide - especially that of moral righteousness. To maintain sanity and moderation in such circumstances is always of the highest importance.
Sayan datta

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thanks for saying that I am still of some educational use, Sayan: most kind of you!

If anyone reads the speeches of Mussolini and Hitler (or goes further back to read the ravings of the Jacobins in the Paris of the 1790s), one will feel a chill run down one's spine to recognize the identical passions - the same self-righteous and utterly self-confident rabble-rousers screaming and spewing hate against incompetent, venal, corrupt governments, and promising to solve all problems of the nation at one stroke if only the foolish people, swept off their feet by these millennial promises, would give them absolute power... the same happened in Russia and China in the early 20th century: the great revolutions were ignited by passionate people with great intentions and very noble ideals, but once they had got absolute power, they drowned their countries in night without end, and there was no light at the end of the tunnel for decades, and millions lost their lives, honour, property, family, everything they had under the merciless jackboots of far worse tyranny than they had ever suffered under those 'weak and corrupt' democratic governments. 'Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it' has been well said, and so also 'The only thing we learn from history is that we never learn anything from history'!

And those who know me best will, I hope, enjoy the sublime irony of seeing me, of all people, being lectured to read history carefully!!!

One thing I know for an absolute certainty is that Gandhi, unlike Anna Hazare, would not have undermined legitimate governmental authority even while challenging it to do better (as Gopal Gandhi has pointed out), nor, indeed, would he have appointed himself on the panel which is going to debate and draft this Jan Lokpal Bill. Let the wise put themselves on guard already. The signs are ominous indeed.

ginger candy said...

Dear Sir,

Abhirup has brilliantly summed up my exact thoughts on this subject earlier, so I won't go into that. Not that I had a lot to say anyway, because it seems that many people have taken notice of the inherent looming dangers in the Lok Pal Bill of late. Here is one of them- http://in.news.yahoo.com/blogs/opinions/where-anna-hazare-gets-wrong-20110413-224657-743.html

Thanks,
Joydeep

P.S. Finally, to the person who has advised you to read history, I would like to say that since I have had the good fortune of attending your classes in school, I know for a fact how much you stress on the importance of history, and how easily you can cite varied historical facts while commenting upon any context. Your classes made me (among many others, I believe) sit up and take notice of how interesting and important the subject of history can be. So forgive me if I find your advice a little silly.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thanks for the link, Joydeep. Amit Varma is hilarious, but of course, in recommending a reversal to laissez-faire he is being either disingenuous or naive. The solution for bad governance lies not in dismantling government but improving it (the link to the article written by the political scholar Pratap Bhanu Mehta offers a far more insightful point of view).

The real debate should not be over whether or not Anna Hazare is a great man and has done a great thing. It should concern the question of how to draft the kind of Lok Pal Bill which will address genuine grievances without creating a tyrannical super-authority, as the current initial draft threatens to do. And many more people should reflect, in the context of points (3) and (4) that I have raised in my post, as to whether and how much anti-corruption activity we really desire. Remember, first, that it is not just politicians and babus who give and take bribes... every parent who pays a schoolteacher for 'tuition' is a bribe giver too. Also, 'corruption' is not coterminous with bribery. Job-shirking (kaam chori), which is endemic in India, is corruption, and so is offering or asking for dahej and cheating in examinations and employing underage domestic servants. How many of us can honestly say we have never been guilty of such things, and if our children are, we shall be glad to see them punished ruthlessly? Let me see how many readers are eager to answer this question! Alka, too, if you please, provided you can do it without losing your temper.

avimondal09 said...

Dear sir,

I want to share with my fellow readers an article by a well-renowned journalist which was published in a national newspaper regarding this anti-corruption movement. I would like to state that I am putting forward his views over here because I completely agree with what he has said.

Be a part of the solution
Suhel Seth, Hindustan times

If I were to believe every TV commentator during the last week then India has had two major victories: in the cricket World Cup and the people's movement, dubbed by many a Bollywood actor as the 'peacock revolution'. I find it silly, and the tragedy is that many of my friends in the electronic media didn’t have the courage to carry a contrarian view. I have been amused by the many tweets I received imploring me to be at Jantar Mantar. Ironically, I saw the same kind of group at the Gateway of India that I had seen post-26/11. Except this time they were singing Gandhian bhajans and not lighting candles. Yes, the same people who are good at cleansing their guilt-filled souls and come out on such occasions, believing they've done their bit as citizens, but perhaps never come out and vote.
So what has Anna Hazare taught me?
That there is genuine anger against the establishment and it would be unfair to target only this government. We've seen corruption everywhere, including at the state level. Hazare has captured a sentiment and spun it brilliantly. What he also taught me is the latent disenchantment among Indians, especially the youth, and their rising angst. But then just letting them vent, as Hazare did, is only a part of the solution. How do you harness this angst to work for the people? We can't, as Hazare expects, be a nation of protesters hereafter. I fear that Hazare has lit a ticking timebomb, which will haunt our democracy in the days to come.

But the most critical thing Hazare has taught me is that the civil society movement has now been hijacked by another set of people. Earlier it was the Left, which got co-opted by Sonia Gandhi in the National Advisory Council (NAC). Today, it's a different set of people and, sadly, it is a bit like the George Bush syndrome: either you're with Hazare or you are not a patriot.

....contd

avimondal09 said...

...contd

Now that Hazare has so many followers singing his paeans, why doesn't he float a political party and fight elections? I will vote for him. You can't live in a democracy, take advantage of the freedom of speech and then subvert it in the manner that has happened. Many can ask who is Hazare to decide who will represent civil society in the committee that will work jointly with the government on the Lokpal Bill.

The question that begs an answer is: have we created a different form of governance model over the last one week? Will these protests stop with the adoption of the Bill? I am afraid not. This, as Hazare rightly said, is only the beginning. Does this augur well for a functioning democracy?

Why doesn't Hazare take the cause to its lowest common denominator? In my conversations with SY Qureshi, the chief election commissioner, I have come away convinced that the movement against corruption must be a deterrent to people getting a ticket from their party to contest elections. Qureshi rightly says it is better to stop corrupt people from getting into Parliament than getting them to exit. So why don't we actually create a citizen audit, which puts pressure on the leadership of various parties to deny tickets to people with criminal records?

While there is no disagreement with the cause, I have reservations over the means we've adopted. They smack in the face of institutionalised democracy. In the last week, we shifted the centre of power from Parliament to Jantar Mantar. Where does it leave our democratic process? I wish Hazare had (and still does) focused on corruption at every level, which would mean not just identifying political parties but also people outside, who we know have created business empires by fixing the system. The silence against them is baffling. It will not help us get rid of this scourge of corruption.

In sum, it is a great movement but, like anything in India, it is fuelled by hype and tokenism without a clear strategy of what's next and how best to work with governments rather than against them. We can't ever have a situation where we put governments into a corner and blackmail them into involving the citizen in either policy-formation or nation-building. That would be disastrous. And not quite cricket!


Regards,
Avishek

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Some people, now that they have exhausted their (obviously meagre-) resources of fact and logic, have started to call us (people who urge sanity, balance and civility in discourse) all sorts of names.

It's so easy to find out what people are really like, once you pierce the thin veneer of civilization...

Shilpi said...

Suvro da,

That's what I find peculiarly horrifying.

1. Not many of the ardent supporters have read or even care to read the articles and/or posts which talk about the Bill or the highlighted features of the Bill that sane people, looking beyond the immediate, are expressing caution and protesting against: what does the Bill propose to do? They seem to have absolute faith in those who have drawn it up and that's that. Otherwise they’re calling those who are voicing their discontent over the Bill some nasty names. And this is coming from the people who can read and write.

2. These people who can read and write don't think it's important to consider that the very idea of this Lokpal set up with the chairman and his committee as undemocratic and just plain bizarre. Just take three points: A. The Lokpal not only will be a body like the Supreme Court (and not subject to its control) but will have the power to begin investigations, head them, have control over carrying out investigations and have powers of prosecution, and execution of punishment. B. Who exactly will keep the Lokpal or any committee member in check? The Lokpal (Committee) itself, of course. C. What you write in the very first few lines of point 5 of your post, leave alone the rest. Who is this Lokpal representing really?

3. And so these intensely passionate people who refuse to read charge along wholeheartedly on Anna Hazare's bandwagon (alongwith the sorts you've mentioned in Point 3). They seem to be following Hazare like he’s some God. He knows best and so they can all be a part of his herd? Is that why are they so reluctant to read the particulars of the Bill because they don’t want to see? How long would it take for them to be persuaded to invest all power in one individual and do away with democracy altogether? It reminds me of that sickening scene with the mob in Julius Caesar. And anybody protesting or voicing discontent against the Bill is casting aspersion on the character of Anna Hazare and so they must be labeled undemocratic or non-knowledgeable? (and even about Anna Hazare I’m becoming increasingly unsure – to be honest, and with reason: one cannot avoid the responsibility of starting off a hunger-strike without giving the reasons behind the strike a very hard and honest thought; and the reasons were to put that unsettling Jan Lokpal Bill – not the Lokpal Bill - in motion and not to end corruption. How is corruption a problem that can end with a hunger strike?).

4. And your previous comment made me think about this bit: Has anybody drafting the Bill bothered to describe which specific actions will be considered to be corrupt or is that yet another something that's upto the Lokpal to decide? He decides what he will consider to be corrupt, and as he goes along with his committee or without? And the people who are still undecided need to look up the bit on filing of complaints and the reasons that nobody corrupt and weak will be on the committee in the first place (apparently) and the mindless appointment system to the position of Lokpal among other things.

5. To even attempt to do away with the basic separation of powers amongst the executive, legislative and judiciary bodies of the government by making one powerful extra-governmental body does take some doing - even in the drafting of a Bill, doesn't it, and for it to raise such a commotion and an instance of primitive bonding amongst its supporters?

I certainly hope that there are more people thinking sanely about this than otherwise and it's a growing relief to see that you've written on this as I knew you would as soon as my eye caught the newspiece of Anna Hazare breaking his fast.

Take care.
Shilpi

Harman said...

What the Lokpal is asking for is absolute power. Sooner or later, absolute power absolutely corrupts. The lokpal will be no exception. It is best to keep power divided and have a system of checks and balances.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

My only consolation is that a lot of people are beginning to comment on the sheer juvenile absurdity of the whole thing: see http://bit.ly/eH7XdC

Under the present circumstances, I only wish that I could laugh away the whole thing as farce, and forget about the niggling inward tremors altogether.

Meanwhile, I have been wondering about what sort of things the Lok Pal/Big Brother is going to put on the list of 'corrupt' activities - besides bribery, of course. PDA? Peeing by the roadside? Doctors taking 'commissions' from drug makers? Women going outdoors unescorted without purdah? Reading books except for the purpose of passing examinations? Watching any movie that is not approved by the Censor Board? Smoking? Singing and dancing? Treating homosexuals and cripples as human beings? Eating any food that Baba Ramdev does not recommend? Having more than one child/less than seven children? Killing/not killing female foetuses?... and I wonder also about the list of creative punishments that they are going to come up with. It boggles the mind.

Sayan Datta said...

I think that there are some sane people still, so the bill is highly unlikely to go through in its present form right now. What worries me more is our loss of faith in the democratic process - and that is the only thing I believe Anna Hazare's campaign has managed to accomplish : it has laid bare the fact that our apparent unflinching adherence to democracy is a farce. The point is - in whichever form the bill gets passed (even if it is worked upon enough to curb the powers of the Lokpal; imagine what might happen if successive amendments twist it in the decades to come and/or if someone devoid of scruples or a fanatic chances upon it as the path to salvation!) , we will have awakened a monster which we will not be able to control and sooner or later democracy will be done away with (it is probably not even a question of 'if' anymore) and add to this the fact that we are a violent and unscrupulous race by nature, all you have is a recipe for chaos.

If heaping blame on politicians en masse is the way out of corruption, consider for a moment the fact that politicians are not in any way detached from us, in fact they represent us and our society. Hence if our politicians are bad, it means that we are in turn just as bad. To expect that a society which churns out corrupt politicians will provide us with righteous, angelic and punctilious Lokpals is the very height of naivety. Why, it is like expecting snowfall at daytime in the Sahara desert!

Sir, regarding what I said in my earlier comment - I was merely stating that which has been plain to me all along. All your words in all your posts, even the question you have raised in your fourth comment on this post, seem specially designed to hit at the core of the point in question. This bird's-eye view is the central message of science. If a person is able to develop this level of burning passion on the one hand and dispassionate impartiality on the other, long after he/she has forgotten Calculus and relativity and what have you, I would say that he/she practices the highest and the most sublime form of science. This is why I could not stop laughing when you were advised to read History carefully....There is this story of 'Louis Pasteur and the atheist'. Your readers might like to check it out.

Sayan Datta

Shilpi said...

"Niggling inward tremors" is just about right, and I've been gently swinging on this one, from thinking that nobody with even half a working mind can possibly take this proposed Bill with any seriousness to thinking of those thousands gathered there and millions shouting support, and those people who supposedly can read and write screaming obscenities and treating Anna Hazare like some God, and this man himself who wants to be in the panel to frame this final Bill, who goes on a hunger strike to put the outright bizarre version of the Bill in motion, and who goes around tying men to poles and thrashing them for drinking (but can this be true? He doesn't believe in Gandhian non-violence then, I'm assuming!), and then there's that very important bit: what sorts of actions would be considered corrupt, and I wish I could just completely laugh the whole thing off for in some ways the whole charade reminds me a bit of the time when the more than millions went berserk over Ganesh drinking milk...

Ritambhar said...

Sir,

I cannot agree more! The thoughts running through my mind at the time of the agitation were similar. I do have a lot of regard for activism, which has proven to be the genesis of change in the past. However, in this case the demand of a super-authority to administer cases of graft is more of a quick-fix approach to an all-pervading illness, rather than a permanent solution. Firstly, there isn't a body who can certify the moral righteousness of the people in the super-committee, and even if there is one, we would need another to certify them!! Also, as you rightly pointed out, such a measure would be against the ethos of participative democracy. Our goal should be oriented towards building a self-healing legal process which ensures all loopholes that allow conspirators to escape are plugged. Though it's easier said that done, it can happen progressively by building in robust processes with existing systems. Corruption is a behavioral issue, the kind of which can only be eliminated only through a long-term cultural change in the way people attach their priorities too. The world of politics merely reflects our societal realities. The real upheaval should be at the grass-roots of the way individuals approach their lives, and not of a kind that encourages political one-upmanship.

Regards,
Ritambhar

Sunup said...

Sir,
Something on a lighter note. In fact, point number 3 in your post covers it aptly. The Bangalore edition of the Deccan Herald, covered an article on the just recently concluded solidarity drive for Anna Hazare by the enthusiastic Bangalore crowd. It seems some of the people in the daily gatherings didn't even know the gender of Anna Hazare. They mistook Anna with the Biblical name Anna, which many Christians of the fairer sex take. This shows how ignorant the so called learned class in our country are.

Regards

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I am not surprised, Sunup. Someone told me about his college-crowd friends in Delhi - a large section of the 'supporters' of Hazare's fast - who were very eager to go and 'express solidarity' with his cause but blithely changed their plans at the last minute when they heard there was a Priyanka Chopra show going on nearby. I also suspect that a lot of very nasty, uber-ambitious people with hidden agendas have been using Hazare as a foolish pawn from behind whom they can pull strings to get close to unbridled power, riding the tsunami of the mindless enthusiasm of a lot of very ignorant and frustrated citizens who are always looking for quick, painless, magical cures for all our abiding ills - so that this country is freed of corruption without any of us having to go through the painful process of trying to be a little less corrupt in our own petty lives...

There's one thing that I would like to retract after having found out a great deal about the man Hazare in the last few days. I certainly no longer regard him with 'profound respect'. Not after learning that he dares to call himself a Gandhian and goes about stopping alcoholism by beating up people with his goons, and saying things like if a married woman says she is faithful to her husband but refuses to wear a bindi, she is 'insincere' in her protestations (The Statesman, 17th April, p.7). If that is not straight out of Mullah Omar's books, what is? We must all admit that the taliban did 'clean up' Afghan life in a lot of ways while it was in power. I want Hazare's supporters to go on record saying 'I would love to live under such a regime'. It's time to stand up and be counted.

We had national icons of the stature of Vivekananda and Gandhi and Tagore to worship once. Now we have Dhoni and Hazare and Shah Rukh Khan. It says something about the road India has travelled over the last century...

18 April, 2011 11:33

Debotosh Chatterjee said...

Sir,
the problem with anna's supporters is that most of them went to jantar mantar or elsewhere in the country,championing anna's cause,without knowing why they were doing so ! most of them did not know about the lok pal bill itself for which anna was on fast , an even lesser number had cared to find out what the bill in its present form looked like . Some just believed that clicking 'like' on Facebook , launching 'web campaigns'and smearing the politicians with all sorts of rubbish would bring a full stop to corruption in our country !
i found these two write-ups on this issue very relevant :
http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/clicklit/entry/support-anna-and-all-s-changed-how-na%C3%AFve-are-we

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/viewsbarkhadutt/Not-Maggi-noodles/Article1-685745.aspx

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I am glad to see evidence - on this blog, on others' blogs, on TV and in the papers - that a lot of people (including some who had been initially swept off their feet by the euphoria) are beginning to think calmly and deeply about what is actually going on, what these 'activists' are attempting to do, and what the long-term consequences are likely to be.

Thanks for the links, Debotosh: those articles are essential reading for anyone who considers herself to be an intelligent, civilized and concerned Indian: concerned as much about curing corruption as about the cures being currently suggested. One thing that is being rightly pointed out is that a lot of people have substituted thinking and genuine activism with swallowing sensational 'real-time' news and views on TV or the net, and getting busy clicking mouses or phone buttons to express their 'concern' and 'passion'. The danger with easy and thoughtless enthusiasm is that it is overwhelmingly likely to produce solutions which are worse than the problems. Law-making requires patient deliberation, debate and compromise among informed, balanced, decent and experienced people with a keen eye on all the possibilities of loosely-made laws being abused by wicked and clever people to the common detriment: unlike cricket and puja-dhamaka, shopping or beauty pageants, it is essentially an 'adult' activity, and nothing can be worse than laws being made and unmade by rabble-rousers, monomaniacs and overgrown children (of the twitterati sort), whose essential characteristic is impatience with anything that requires time, learning and cerebration. What they are most likely to produce is instant mob-justice of the "Maggi noodles" variety, as Barkha Dutt has aptly called it (though it is deeply ironical that she herself belongs to a profession that fuels and thrives on constant sensationalism - otherwise so many celebrity journos would not be living the five-star life today. I wonder if some people may call that corruption?

Sunup said...

Dear Sir,

I've been following the Anna Hazare issue closely both over the print as well as the TV mediums. I've observed that our print journalists are far more mature and pragmatic than their TV counterparts. They deal with issues considering all related aspects and tries to put across different viewpoints. But the TV news channels tries to sensationalize everything. They just report things that may appeal to the masses and gain themselves some TRPs, though it is heavily one-sided. Even when both the media's belong to the same parent organization, the difference in reporting is evident. Times of India, though a leader among newspapers in reporting sensational news, is far subdued and mature than Times Now. Another example is Aaj Tak/Headlines Today versus India Today. Thank God, though the number of people relying on the electronic media for their daily news feed is on the rise, the number of newspaper readers is still on the rise in the country and far outnumber the 'TV-news wallahs'.
What is your take on this Sir? I guess the age group of both types of journalists to be almost the same, but why this difference in reporting?

Regards

Shilpi said...

Sorry for commenting yet again but those last two liners and the bit about law-framing and deliberation being a grown-up activity really do deserve an applause - nothing I can do about it.

I wish I knew what the different news media in India had been saying when the fast was going on...had they been asking their viewers to view the proceedings with caution, among other things? Did they point out then that people power was silly and dangerous in the way it was unfolding? Or did they say then that it was a movement against corruption?

That bit about the bindi and the married women bit is horrifying. I really do hope that more and more people are listening carefully. So those married women too are now going to be corrupt alongwith the menfolk who drink?...

The bit about technology being used towards dim-witted ends is yet another thing to be kept in mind and by everybody - at least by those who read and visit your blog...with one click of a button or a mouse one can feel righteous for being a part of a cause that one doesn't know anything about and feel like a good citizen/human being as well - and there are plenty of seemingly "noble" causes doing the rounds in the market. It always makes good sense to check the facts, to check the "cause" and stay away from it even if one is dimly suspicious rather than hitting a button because it's quick and easy and cheap.

But this whole blog-post of yours and some of the comments have made me wonder about democracy itself and about your short post from a couple of years ago on democracy and the terrible and utter need to have educated people within a democracy otherwise democracy itself gets to be something it's not meant to be....

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Sunup,

I worked for a national daily paper before TV journalism came into its own. What I found out about journalism was bad enough even in those days to make me quit. Now there's 24/7 TV, and dozens of 'news' channels. One must ponder over a few vital facts: a) that real news of a sensational variety (coups and earthquakes, or even World Cup victories), don't happen every day, leave alone ten times a day, so all these channels (which are desperate to raise and keep their viewer ratings high) have got to create sensational news (not to put too fine a point on it, write fantasy), or to sensationalize very pedestrian stuff to make it 'saleable'; b) there are far too many journos around these days, all of the wannabe-celebrity sort, yet endowed with little brains and even less conscience, and they must not only make a living but become 'successful' big time, quickly. Is it any wonder, then, that more and more it is the man who never watches the news who best knows what is going on around him, as the wag quipped long ago?

The print media are slightly more serious, informed and responsible for a very obvious reason: they know their customers, unlike TV addicts, expect more reason, seriousness and information from them!

It is food for thought that without the sensation-hungry, irresponsible, many-headed visual media, Anna Hazare's great 'revolution' would never have been noticed. Even more disturbing is the fact that it has been noticed for too many wrong reasons... God grant that whatever final shape this Jan Lok Pal Bill takes, it is crafted by those who know what they are doing. I was wondering what India is in for next: 'activists' doing heart surgery instead of qualified surgeons, because they have become sure that too many doctors are greedy and crooked, and 'passion' can be an adequate substitute for learning and training?

I notice that not one of my uncomfortable questions has yet been answered by any intrepid gung-ho supporter of Hazare and his cause...

Shilpi, I am now sure that Hazare's 'morals' are based on Stone Age intelligence, knowledge and reason (or absence thereof). Which is why it makes me angrier every day to hear his name bandied around at par with Gandhi's. After all, Gandhi was not merely a wartime ambulance driver but a qualified barrister, and he could parley on equal terms with the likes of Tagore as well as the King-Emperor...

Rashmi Datta said...

Dear Sir,
Thank you very much for this eye opening post and the various links you have provided. The entire 'Anna Hazare, hum tumhare saath hain ' mania has made me ponder over quite a few things.

1. From where did so many 'patriots' and 'anti-corruption activists' suddenly appear on the national stage to support Anna Hazare's fast and his 'anti-corruption mission' ? How did the 'party abhi baki hai' kind of youth suddenly start flaunting nationalism? It was actually funny to listen to people shouting anti-corruption slogans at the top of their voices who actually belong to a kind who call Yuvraj Singh and Bhagat Singh patriots in the same breath! ( I heard people yelling 'Inquilab Zindabad' after India won the World Cup! )
2. All those people who think that India's top rankings in the most corrupted nations' list is only because of corrupt politicians can only be called blind. Don't we see people around us ? Aren't all of us not a part of this corruption epidemic ? Don't we observe that everyone from politicians to doctors and engineers , businessmen to teachers and pilots have decided to take the quick and easy way to make a lot of money? And if people get angry when you say that India is a corrupt nation because of it's lazy citizens, it only proves your point. You hit them at the very point which they try to mask all their lives.
3.I also think that from the moment the cricket World Cup began , enthusiastic cricket lovers have somehow got the idea that cheering India in public is a new form of 'cool patriotism' and as soon as India won the World Cup, they made it a point to shout along with anyone who seems to talk in a 'pro-Indian' manner.
4. The post, links and your comments have made me understand how frightening a prospect the present Jan Lok Pal bill is. I even shudder to think about what might happen when such absolute power is given to an eccentric like Anna Hazare! What would his 'motherly bitter remedy' be if he and his group find out that both my mother-in-law and I are not only forgetful about wearing a bindi but also do not consider it a symbol of our 'faithfulness' to our spouses ?
5. The present situation also tells us something about the 'educated class' of India. After more than six decades of independence, our freedom still seems to hang by a thread. India has proved that it is easy for any 'Gandhian' to come forward with his antics and fulfill his dream to dictate India and enjoy absolute power! Even though we may be able to postpone it for now, a chill runs down my spine to think what would happen a couple of decades from now, when today's cool youth will constitute the working and active class of the country.

It was very typical of you to spend such a lot of time to enlighten so many of us of the probable dangers of the Lok Pal bill (especially after going through your hectic annual admission time) . Thank you very much for your time, Sir.
Warm Regards
Rashmi

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Now I know. See this editorial:

http://bit.ly/fY8vvA

Messrs. Anna Hazare & co. are emperors without clothes. In American popular parlance, they can dish it out, but they cannot take it. They have been throwing a lot of stones lately, but once other people started taking aim at their glass houses with stones of their own, they suddenly find that the standards of 'moral probity' that they want to impose on the rest of the country are too tough to accept for themselves! hahahaha...they want to probe the whole cabinet, but they can't bear to think that Baba Ramdev or the Bhushans, father and son, should be subjected to the same rigorous enquiries about how they made their fortunes! I know enough about these 'crusaders' now to aver that India is better off without them.

Subhadip said...

My country is a country of hugely entertaining tamashas! And it is broadcasted widely by the supposedly fourth pillar of our democracy: The media. My friends had distanced themselves from me when they had been literally swept away by their strong sense of ephemeral patriotism. I had witnessed that same patriotic fever when India was playing against Pakistan in a World Cup cricket match.
Anna ji with all his good intentions decided to sit on a fast unto death to put into place a law which can curb corruption. i want to clarify right in the beginning that i do not want to label myself as a pessimist. It is necessary to take some steps and i have nothing against it. But the manner in which it is being done and the statements that are being made by people like Baba Ramdev that i also want to be a member of the drafting committee of the Jan Lokpal Bill makes me re-think!
Earlier i have seen that there was so much of criticism involved while the MNREGA was being drafted and it was an initiative taken by the civil society and so was the RTI. But both in the case of RTI and MNREGA there were widespread discussions and public meetings and a lot of printed material was distributed among different sections of the population to popularize it and seek feedback and approval from people. So though the MNREGA or RTI was drafted by a few but it went through several stages of scrutiny, strong protests and doubts over a long period of time and finally attained the shape it has today. And as a proud citizen of India i would like to draw the attention of all who would be reading this comment on this blog to please go and visit the MNREGA site and see how much caution has been and being taken to curb siphoning of funds from the budget head of MNREGA. I have verified it for myself by being on several rural field trips to Himachal Pradesh , Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. It is an excellent Act and the first of its kind to have been able to incorporate such incredible measures of transparency in a country like mine!

Subhadip said...

There are several questions that arise from Anna Hazare’s fast unto death. Some of them are:
First Anna ji's campaign and fast unto death opportunity was usurped by people from different walks of life starting from Kiran Bedi, Ram Jeth Malani, Baba Ramdev, Pandit Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and then of course Shanti Bhusan , Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal, students who were thinking that this is a good opportunity to come into the lime light and start their political career, students and school children who had not read a single line of the Jan Lokpal Bill! How did these people decide that society has entrusted them with the responsibility of curbing corruption. They themselves appointed them as representatives of the civil society and have sat down to draft the Bill. And one should have the read the middle spread page of The Hindu going gaga over Arvind Kejriwal’s achievements in life and his hailing from Delhi and thus being Delhi’s own social reformer. Arvind Kejriwal put his current struggle for an anti –corruption law above the one for RTI for which he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award Read this:http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=2011041652020200.htm&date=2011/04/16/&prd=mp&
Second, we already have a designated body to look into cases of corruption - the Central Vigilance Commission. With the Lokpal we are going to have another one of these which would be left like that to rot and very soon the need to come up with another would arise. The people manning the Lokpal is going to be selected from amongst us and when our national character has been infested with corruption ; how can we think that as long as we do not change our outlook, an institution would be able to curb corruption.
Who is going to police the police and here we are talking about an authority which is going to have absolute powers not subject to any further appeal or scrutiny. Initially for the first few years such a thing might work but we should ask ourselves this question and give an honest reply as against the given conditions of our society is it possible to have such an authority completely free from bias and corruption.
When most of us have not led a life free of corruption-- how many of us did not the bribe that local constable while having applied for a passport? How many of us agree to pay a fine when caught by a traffic cop and not bribe him and get away? Do we not think of bribing the pandit at the temple in order to be able to surpass a long que of people? Do we not want to bribe the local municipal authorities to enable us to encroach upon public land? Do we not bribe officials to get tenders passed? Do we not bribe to allow us to play the music loudly beyond permissible limits for a few more hours? And after all this --we can only blame our politicians for being corrupt!
We do not need to change our politicians or bureaucrats we need to change ourselves.

ginger candy said...

Dear Sir,

I have been doing a bit of research on Hazare myself for the last couple of days. In the end, I have reached the same conclusion as you have; that is, our country, no matter how corrupt and dysfunctional she might be, is far better off without tyrants like Hazare. Much of the initial clamor has faded off, and thankfully some sane people have started to take notice of the inherent dangers in the Lok Pal bill. Also it has become as clear as day light now that Hazare is not the champion of social reform in our country as the Indian middle-class had initially assumed him to be, and he certainly is not another Gandhi in the making.

I am posting two links below in this context-

http://in.news.yahoo.com/blogs/opinions/rorschach-effect-indian-politics-053923332.html

http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/voices/spare-us-the-gandhian-halo

Thanks,
Joydeep

Subhadip said...

Hazare ji's campaign took a political colour very easily! With the Assembly elections due in several states it turned out to be advantageous for the Congress party to accept the tabling of a Bill which could not be passed for the past 42 years.
As for the opposition -- nobody can oppose an anti corruption Bill.
As has been rightly pointed out by Suvro Sir that it is utterly dangerous to hold the government hostage and force it to accept something. Anna ji should have realised the impact that such a precedent has set for us.
People in Egypt and Libya are trying to establish democracy and we are trying to create extra-democratic bodies in search of --------?
And then we have people like Irom Sharmila who has been fasting for days together to have the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act repealed from Manipur and other North-east states. Unfortunately fasting does not work for her and there are several other questions asked by Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty in a "The Hindu" newspaper article. Please read it! at --- http://www.hindu.com/mp/2011/04/21/stories/2011042150270100.htm

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Hullo, what happened to the much-vaunted 'crusade', here and in the rest of the country? Balloon pricked already? So what was it any more than one more fifteen-minute tamasha?

Suvro Chatterjee said...

The latest buzz is that Baba Ramdev is going all out to steal Anna Hazare's thunder. I wish him luck, and I am going to sit back and watch the fun.

That reminds me: how did this yoga instructor who conducts mass classes for 'free' manage to amass a fortune while always (as I am sure he claims -) treading the straight and narrow path? How about a little enquiry into his finances: just for the sake of some more fun?

Debotosh Chatterjee said...

Digvijay Singh's comment in this context is really interesting ; he says " this is a 5-star fast" !

Debotosh Chatterjee said...

sir,
i found this article on corruption in today's newspaper .
http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/article2097655.ece

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thanks for the latest link, Debotosh.

This blogpost, and all the comments and links that have come in so far, has been hugely educational for my daughter. She says (and she's not even 15 yet) that she now understands much better what she will have to be up against if she personally wants to live an honest life, and moreover wants to do some good in some sort of job which carries public responsibility, whether it is as a teacher, a bureaucrat, a lawyer/judge or a politician. She also says she understands that corruption of the large as well as petty sort is endemic in our society, and there is no magic wand which can wish it away once and for all; that most people want others to stop being corrupt, not themselves. Finally, she finds it heartening that there are still many people around who don't talk big (Hazare-Ramdev fashion) but who are doing their mite to clear the Augean stables and make this country slightly more liveable for the good people...

Debotosh Chatterjee said...

Sir,
I found this useful write-up very recently - Fasts, Hunger and Hunger Strikes : http://epw.in/epw/uploads/articles/16213.pdf

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Mike Brearley has said that corruption is the single biggest threat to cricket: see http://goo.gl/NJU54

Goes to prove my contention that corruption does not stop with politicians and bureaucrats. I hope a lot of silly people who think that corruption will vanish if only we can put our netas and babus on a leash will take note...

Debotosh Chatterjee said...

Sir,
Prabhat Patnaik has explained the naivete of the Lokpal crusaders in this article : http://goo.gl/5UJJp

Suvro Chatterjee said...

This article was simply too good not to post here:

http://goo.gl/VjOpc

Note that though the newspaper is American, the writer is very much an Indian!

He has said everything I have been harping on all this time: that this anti-corruption crusade is fake and utterly dishonest, because the accusers are just as guilty and sick as those they accuse. And Anna Hazare is just an old clown who's got too big for his boots, and has been hijacked by far smarter - more crooked - people for purposes of their own, only he simply doesn't know it yet!

ginger candy said...

Dear Sir,

I have become a supplier of links on your blog for quite a while. Here goes another one; it's a video this time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hi6v8MFt1k0&feature=player_embedded

Thanks,
Joydeep

Anupam said...

Dear Sir,
I try to follow your blog regularly, and as I have mentioned earlier I treat this blog as an educational platform. Mass hysteria often leads us nowhere, barring this time, this time I suppose it is leading us to "hell".Yet another video to validate your point of view.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4zRHEw21h8&feature=youtu.be

Regards
Anupam Banerjee.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Here are two further links, just to tell people I am keeping in touch with the latest developments:

1) http://goo.gl/D560T
and

2)http://goo.gl/wrF8x

Suvro Chatterjee said...

And here's Arundhati roy writing yesterday in The Hindu:

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article2379704.ece?homepage=true

She's raised all the questions I have raised, only she's managed to make it sound even more frightening.

Rajdeep said...

One more link.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110827/jsp/opinion/story_14423092.jsp

Rajdeep said...

Two more news articles:

http://in.news.yahoo.com/jan-lokpal-bill-regressive-anna-used-prop-arundhati-125042950.html


http://in.news.yahoo.com/cd-involving-shanti-bhushan-amar-not-doctored-police-091645480.html

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Here's a very sensible and balanced write-up following the withdrawal of Hazare's latest fast:

http://goo.gl/SXEAz

I am particularly proud because it has been written by an ex-student. I so rarely hear that my old boys and girls have done something I can be proud about...

Rajdeep said...

Thanks for the link to this article.

TheBluntBlogger said...

Suvro ji, thank you for sharing this post and the linked post. When I was researching for my post, I found links on DNA etc however I wish these blogs had appeared. I have linked both the posts in my blog posts and people should understand the flaws, shortcoming of a popular notion as well. Simply following someone in the name of Gandhi will not bring any good to us.

I believe, I be honest, people be honest and the nation will follow....may not happen, at least I am glad I do my bit.

Regards
#_#
The Blunt Blog

Suvro Chatterjee said...

While still far more deeply concerned than most people who went briefly gaga over Anna Hazare about the issue of endemic corruption in this country, I am frankly glad that the so-called movement spearheaded by Team Anna is already falling apart.

Here is a link to an article, which, though slightly dated now, makes at least four important points: it is doubtful whether India really has anything called a civil society yet, corruption is not coterminous with bribes and politicians, representative democracy, for all its gross faults, is still the best thing we have, and the Hazare-led movement is deeply imbued with an upper-caste Hindu bias, which augurs ill for nearly half of India's population. See http://bit.ly/nN1v4G

Suvro Chatterjee said...

While this newspaper opinion column makes me heave a sigh of relief, for reasons discussed threadbare earlier (http://bit.ly/Nu8l5x),

I feel sad that the issue of fighting corruption seems to have got a quiet burial along with Hazare and co., which shouldn't have happened.