Friday, September 23, 2011

Why should we be against corruption

Corruption pervades our lives completely. 

There are very few individuals who are completely non-corrupt or immune from its ill-effect. Like a poison that when given in smaller doses which make your body slowly accept it, we have allowed corruption in slower doses over the past sixty years into our system and are no longer appalled by it as much as we ought to be. 

We see scams that undermine our infrastructure (Spectrum), scams that undermine the prestige of our country (CWG), scams that undermine the credibility of our business houses (Satyam). The corrupt have no Lakshman-Rekha. Even touching the almost sacred and never to be touched institution, ARMY. Can we stoop any lower? The corrupt have constantly challenged our imagination by plumbing newer depths of depravity.

There is no doubt in any right thinking persons’ mind that it is time we culled out the evil from our society.
It has to start with all of us. The onus for putting an end to this menace lies with us. But as individuals can we all remove this menace? Can we expect that “Yatha praja thatha raja (how goes the citizen, thus goes the ruler)” formula to work here? Definitely it will work. But considering the spread of corruption in all sections of our society and all the miniscule sections of our lives, can we expect that the person at the grassroots level, the persons who form overwhelming majority of our country’s populace, fight against this? Will he or she be concerned about his or her next meal or will he worry about the fate of the country? Will we be able to convince these people to rise with us?
We cannot and should not expect people’s participation without addressing the systemic failures.

These systemic failures:
  • A guestimate figure of more than 90% of the corruption in this country doesn’t come out (those that have come out these days are thanks to the implementation of RTI Act which was possibly enacted as an aberration by the politicians without realizing its potential of the law. It is another point that the same politicians are now trying to "correct" their mistake by making exceptions to RTI)
  • Of the less than 10% of the misdeeds a much smaller percentile of the cases see prosecution or conviction.
  • Those that are convicted get away quite easily and do not suffer the ignominy of long sentence or confiscation of their ill-gotten wealth. They come out of the prison quite soon enough (enjoying first-class benefit) to enjoy this ill-gotten wealth
It is easy to conclude that without any kind of serious threat to carrying out corruption, a vast majority of people are easily swayed to become corrupt. Worse still there are those with enormous money clout who consider it as a perfect business model to multiply their money. No wonder you see enormous money power in play during corruption. After all, a candidate who spends about Rs. 10 crores or more when elected can easily make more than 50 crores of rupees within the 5 years, usually it is much larger sum he or she makes. Which other business can boast of such Return on “Investment”, and that too with so little risk.

If we are to bring back sanity into this system, then we need to shatter the feeling of “Guaranteed return”. We need to make the people who “invest” feel insecure. We need to make the wannabe corrupt pause to think seeing the possible consequences of getting caught.

Jan Lokpal aims at doing that. Give a credible, strong deterrent punishment to the corrupt when they get caught; increase the chances of them getting caught; penalize them such a way that others should pause to think twice nay thrice before getting tempted to be on the sly.

Jan Lokpal will bring dichotomy between legislature, administration and investigation/enforcement agencies. This will take away the comfort feeling of I scratch your back; you scratch mine that is prevalent today. 

As I see it, there are short term, medium term and long term objectives that we can achieve.

The short term: We should see the undiluted Jan LOKPAL bill implemented and demonstrate that the people of India are not sleeping and will not take things lying down. 

The medium term: We would see a decrease in the election expenditures. There will not be a guaranteed return from investing in Politics and therefore lesser number of people whose sole objective is profit will want to be part of politics. This should level the playing field to a great extent allowing honest people to contest in elections and come to power. 

The long term: By the principle of honesty breed honesty, we should be able to see honesty becoming a more acceptable way of living for us Indians. The corruption as a lifestyle will no longer be acceptable.

This fight is within you and without you. Remember that without the participation of every right minded individual, we cannot convince the people at the grassroots level. If we show them the way, they will be coming on the streets with you. If we reach them they will be more than happy to come forward. They have as much at stake as every one of us. Your participation is a key and critical factor to the success of our movement to get the genuine freedom.  

Sounds like a nice dream.  I think it is possible. Very probable. But the effort that we need to put in is enormous. We need to internalize the concept of being against corruption. If we don't internalize it, there is very little chance you will be on the streets when we go and demand for Jan Lokpal. If you are not on the streets, in all likelihood, we may just get some other pal.

Friend, it is time for you to renew your vow against corruption. It is time that you, me and everyone stands against corruption. It is time for INDIA to be AGAINST CORRUPTION.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An extraordinary experience...

Eminent People Join Peace March for Jan Lokpal in Chennai
Date: Saturday, August 6, 2011

India Against Corruption – Chennai(IAC-Chennai) conducted a very successful Peace March for Jan Lokpal at Marina Beach, Chennai on Saturday. About 3,500 people walked in unity against corruption from all walks of life and 600 people viewed the march online via our webcast services.

Amongst the eminent people who joined us in the march were Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan of Loksatta PartySri Sarath Babu of Food King, Sri. Vijay Anand from Fifth Pillar, Activist Sri. M. Kumar (P.A. to Sri Kalyanam), famous speaker and consultant Sri Raja Krishnamoorthly besides veteran Gandhian freedom fighters Shri Venkita Kalyanam and Shri. Lakshmikanthan Bharathi.

Several anti-corruption NGOs and associations also joined us in the march including residents from three housing associations from across Chennai. Besides activists of Fifth pillar, we also had members from Roots Foundation, Pondicherry and Anti-bribe coalition-Chennai. Members of other NGOs not directly related to anti-corruption activities also pooled in their volunteers for the March like the National Litigant Bench and Chennai Trekking Club. Several Rotarians walked in unity against corruption. Students from various arts, law and engineering colleges and universities in Chennai joined the march in large numbers. People from various professions like software, banking, and other corporate walked in pace with others and demanded Jan Lokpal. Business owners and CEOs of several companies shed their power suits and raised slogans demanding a strong citizen’s Ombudsman bill.

At the end of the march, citizens submitted a petition to Mahatma Gandhi in the belief that when the Government in country does not listen to its citizen’s voices, citizens are left with no choice than to have to back to Gandhi and ask him to re-launch India’s freedom struggle.

Hundreds of volunteers from IAC-Chennai, men, women and seniors, worked 24*7, campaigning in various parts of Chennai, meetings thousands of people on street and explaining the Jan Lokpal bill. Thousands of people filled referendum slips at the March and signed to be volunteers for IAC-Chennai. Our work continues as the momentum steps up for the Aug 16th action.

It was a great feeling being there and feeling the meaning of India.

Written On:
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Are you a cynic? if so, here is what I have to say to you!

Dear cynics,

Yes, we understand with power to effect and affect change comes great responsibility... responsibility to act for the people... but our elected parliamentarians have brushed aside these responsibilities for years building on top of that a pile of public regret and contempt... for years we have known that our system has become corrupt and dysfunctional from bottom to top... we are stuck in a political rut... we have tried to penetrate into the system to bring about change but all in vain due to the power... or should i say "rowdyism" and "villainy" of veteran political leaders who make sure to wipeout anyone who picks up the courage to take a step... our politicos have bribed their way into the parliament for years... there was no stopping them...until... UNTIL... a brave soul... a soldier who dared to give his life for his country 60 odd years ago... a visionary who has strived for many causes including bring people their most basic rights with the RTI... a Ghandian who has now lead millions to re-believe in democracy... that we can still get the India that was promised to us the day she was retrieved from the hands of the British.

If you call this movement undemocratic or as undermining the supremacy of the parliament... you have sadly mistaken my friends... this movement is simply the first step towards reclaiming our democracy... to rebuild a truly suprem parliamentarian government!