Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Hazare Phenomenon

Much has been said, debated, and concluded about the Civil Disobedience Movement, 2011 (as some tout it). The cause is undoubtedly noble and rather imperative but the larger question is: can we subvert the Indian Constitution and hold the supreme law making body to ransom at the threat of fasts and law and order problems?

The Indian Constitution envisages a supreme rule making body i.e. the Parliament. Representatives are democratically elected (fools or not, we are to blame for voting them into power) and given the responsibility of enacting new laws after due debate and discussion in the Parliament. Now lets assume, a radical party and its leader tell the government to ban girls and boys holding hands else they will go on a fast unto death and the government starts discussing a bill with them. Now they decide that they will not budge until the bill they have drafted is passed. What would your reaction be?

The present situation is not very different, only the cause a lot more real and necessary. Without questioning the high moral ground of the cause, how is Team Anna not mocking the Constitution? Today Team Anna, tomorrow Team XYZ with their demands, should the Government bend and allow all those laws to be passed which have been drafted with a threat of causing law and order problems and someone dying because of a fast? Yes, we do need awareness and need to stop corruption, but not at the cost of hijacking the process enshrined in our Constitution.

The Hazare Phenomenon has undoubtedly gathered the storm for this nation to debate and resolve this issue seriously, and my greatest respect to Mr. Anna Hazare for that, but his cause is misdirected for many reasons:-

(a) When Gandhi started the Civil Disobedience Movement, there was an immediate solution in sight i.e. the return of the British from India to England and the handing back of power. Corruption on the other hand is part of a vicious circle of population, poverty, and unemployment. Sitting on a fast is not going to make it vanish over night.

(b) The reason corruption and many other evils escape law enforcement is because we have the best of legislations, the best Constitution but weak enforcement mechanisms. The police cannot act because they are puppets of their State Governments, the CBI of the Central Government. For example, the Narcotic Drugs a Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985 (NDPS) is one of the most strict legislations criminalizing even the mere possession of a banned substance, lets ask ourselves, has the drug problem gone away? A strong Lok Pal Bill is not the solution to our woes, its separating our enforcement agencies from bureaucratic and political forces which misuse them for their selfish reasons. The law itself might have teeth, but it actually needs to bite to be effective!

(c) Police reforms, speedier justice, accountability of the judiciary and the media are what is required to achieve our short term goal of reducing corruption. The long term goal being less population, poverty and unemployment. What incentive does a constable have to do his duty diligently? When they catch us violating traffic norms, we are the first ones to either call our "God Fathers" or pull out our wallets. Why should that constable do his job and get scolded by our "God Father". He'd much rather take the money and buy another fan for his children who stay in a government quarter the size of our kitchens. Unless, the right incentives are provided to the enforcement agencies, unless they are given due security of their jobs from the whims and fancies of people in power no legislation is going to make a difference.

(d) Team Anna also wants the judiciary to be under the scanner of the Lok Pal. Either the Gandhian has failed to understand the structure and values of our Constitution or he wants to define a new basic structure for it. How can the supreme guardians of the law be subject to a Lok Pal who is not even the same rank and profile as them? Its against basic protocol and respect for the office of a judge! The Judicial Officers Accountability Act is a much better and saner solution adhering to our basic structure enshrined in the Constitution. The impeachment of justice Sen by the Rajya Sabha stands testament to the powers already vested in the law for removing corruption and erring officers.

One of the many reasons that provoked this article was the hysteria over a new political leader. My concern is simply this: will Anna Hazare take responsibility if things get violent or out of control? Can Team Anna provide the solution to that constable who gets fried in the sun for doing is job and then is told to let offender go and return home to spend the night with his family in cabin? Can a Lok Pal Bill change all that, can it alter the reason why people go down the road of corruption?

By no means and in any sense I am defending those who are corrupt, but I genuinely feel that many tread that path not out of choice but necessity. "In Rome, do what the Romans do". We live in a system which forces us to these things simply because we do not have things like social security, a minimum standards of living for government servants (especially in the lower strata). These problems need to be addressed before we can wipe out or reduce corruption, the solution lies in a bottom to top approach and not the other way round. Putting the Prime Minister or the Chief Justice of India under the scanner of the Lok Pal will not ensure that our dear constable on the street does not take a bribe.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Someone Fell

Often the world would laugh it well,

Finding it embarrassing that someone fell.

But what really eats up a man inside;

Only a broken heart can tell.

What burns inside; that fathoms not,

No consoling this wounded pride he got.

In silent moans, the roaring rage;

In memories past, life is caged.

When breathing hard amidst it all,

He thinks of a future with a hopefull call;

What matters most he humbly hides;

Twisting and turning in anguish lies.

And what to tell of life's disgrace,

Moments when loved ones slapped his face.

Trust and love too beyond him now,

He carries on just somehow.

And when in silence you feel a breeze,

A little moist, with dampened leaves,

Remember that someone shed a tear,

When it became too hard for him to bear.

And those who laugh at a fall,

Don't really know the cause of it all!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Frost

All lost, all lost;

To that terrible frost,

Which froze those leaves in the wind,

That cool breeze after a warm day.

In the myriads of questions,

Some close, some far;

It froze those too,

Which were dearer than the heart.

No drops of rain,

No heat from the sun,

No childish play,

That was so much fun.

And out of the blue,

Like the morning dew,

It came from somewhere,

To stop all we do.

No sign of pain,

No thrill in joy,

No broken heart at a lost toy,

The frost, they say, had bit us cold,

Away from all we love to hold.

The morning sun,

The need for care,

All lost somewhere,

And left us bare.

It beats, yes, everday,

For whom or what,

It doesn’t say.

Some memories down the trodden lane,

The frost, they say, took all the pain.

All the joy & all things gay,

It bit us cold,

That is all they say!