Friday, August 26, 2011

India, its Government and Anna Hazare



There have been various viewpoints about the ongoing protests in India. And this differing viewpoints is  just another validation to the prevailing democracy in the country.

Is this really good? Is that justified? Is Anna Hazare holding the government to ransom? Should he be allowed to continue? Should he really be receiving the mass support that he is receiving? Should he have even many more voices supporting him?

Not everyone has a clean answer to these questions. And I don’t claim to have a definite answer either. But here’s what I believe.

Even if a strong lokpal bill reduces the corruptions level by as low as 10%, it is worth the fight. As for people who love debating the technicalities of the bill itself should just realize this- having a healthy discussion between the sides involved and having a common (in the real sense of the word) goal can solve that crisis.

What is the common goal?

Eliminate corruption. Now everyone understands that it’s not easy and a complete elimination might never be possible, let alone eliminating corruption in the next 10 days or 10 years or a 100 years.

Why is corruption bad?

Imagine this- if the figures that make it to the anti-corruption billboards are anywhere close to the real amount that was moved out of the country, it will be only fair to believe that India (actually its people) are taken for granted.

That amount if used for wisely could have

  •  Prevented hundreds of farmer suicides. (Yeh…but it also makes a good story, doesn’t it? Common... 'Peepli Live' was a hit! )
  •  Helped millions of children avail proper nutrition and eventually saved their lives. (Really? It also helps get you millions in aid. Don’t you want that?)
  •  Provided good education to millions of children in the rural region and put them at par with most urban-educated-self-proclaimed-upper-class citizens. ( Now you don’t really want that situation?)

One can come up with a list of similar examples and quite possibly a sarcastic comment along each one of them. But we all get the picture anyway. So do we want to eliminate corruption? Hell yes! Let’s clean them up.

Hang on. Lets dive in a lil’ deeper.

Corruption can really be split into two categories (and I am not following a known literature for this classification so pardon me if I don’t stand right up there per the standards). Let’s call it-

  • Low level corruption
  • High level corruption

Low level corruption:

These are the ones that really cause a lot of frustration and a sense of helplessness among the masses. The reason for both the cause and the effect for this one is more or less tied to basic human nature. As long as there’s an incentive attached to doing things, this will prevail. But that isn’t the way it should be in a civilization so evolved. Can we do something? Yes!

"Systemic Change...given the real will do it" is the sweet answer. Below are a few specific ways of getting it started.

  •  Come up with a new compensation package for government employees that is at par with the financial compensation for the private sector employees. This will more or less balance out the additional incentive involved in the current ecosystem. Singapore adopted this and they excelled. Can this be practiced in India? Doubtful…it’s a cost intensive solution.
  •  How about legalizing bribe in that the government employee gets a bonus from the government for every piece of work that they do? By doing this, both parties get what they want. There’s no frustration involved and everyone is abiding by the law. How cool does that sound?
  •  Systemic changes. Help change the ecosystem. Nandan Nilekani supports that and he is working on these line. See the video below.


High level corruption:

These are the generally the cases that most of the general population remain unaware of for a long long time. But boy are they of huge proportion? And do these really matter? The fact is this is exactly what matters. Only if one could curb this particular type of corruption by whatever margin, the benefits would for everyone to see. Well, technically …not everyone!

Is Lokpal (or Jan Lokpal) a solution to this? Hopefully, it is. And even if it is not, it definitely is a start in the right direction.

Well- if all of this is a known fact. Why hasn’t the government implemented it so far? After all, it’s only been around 42 years since it started to play around with this idea (Lokpal Bill). And one could say, it might very well spend another 42 years doing the same. After all, if you ask the murderer to decide the punishment for a murder, he will take his sweet time. Just sayin'.

So, if anything Anna Hazare is only helping the government do a job that it should have done ages ago. Be thankful. Don’t complain.


PS: Opinion expressed above are personal.

1 comment:

  1. I do quite agree with the fact that no matter what the agenda is, how right or wrong "Anna" is, tis definitely is that one thought which has united the country heading towards a big change. Your post from and my comments sitting far away from the country shows that his thoughts are now resonating across the world. To my astonishment my freind from Congo studying in the US just asked me "Did that guy win ? Did parliament pass the Bill ? " and Yes, I was amazed with the Anna power!