India’s Lokpal – Shooting His Own Foot With Democracy?
Reminiscent of the tsunami which changed the notion of ‘disaster’ for ever while the world rested on a moment of peace and quiet after Christmas, an upheaval is taking place in the very idea of democracy. Anna Hazare of India will rather fast and risk his life till the largest democracy of the world will shoot itself on its own foot by legislating sweeping and debilitating control on India’s Prime Minister and the entire public service, to prevent corruption.
The problem with the idea of the all powerful “Lokpal” Ann Hazare wants to install through an extraordinary bill in the parliament which will oversee the elected representatives and millions of government functionaries, is that it is based on the assumption that corruption in Indian society can be erased by sending millions to jail rather than by addressing the fundamental causes for the menace.
What is extra ordinary about the whole democratic event which is unfolding in India is the question of how much influence a mass agitation outside can wield on the elected representatives engaged in legislation inside the parliament.
Power corrupts and too much of it can make you blind.
In the summer, riding on a wave of public sentiments among the urban population, whipped up by wild claims by a government auditor of loss of $ 40 billion in the distribution of telecom licenses and the conducting of the Common Wealth Games, Anna Hazare and his agitation could bring the parliament to its knees and extract promises from India’s parliamentarians, who chose to avoid confrontation and strong action by the government, to legislate a “strong” Lokpal Bill.
The agitation by Anna Hazare, perhaps an inspiration for the Occupy Wall Street movement, is now trying to force the “will of the people” on the Indian parliament assembled to enact the promised piece of anti corruption legislation. The question is, is it achieving anything or is it destroying the very democratic institution which guarantees its freedom to demonstrate.Continued on the next page