Anna movement was unarmed attack on corruption

By N.P. Eshwar, IANS,

Without doubt, India has been a crucible of democracy since independence in 1947. In the context of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the continued plunder by African tyrannies, and the collapse of dynastic and monarchical rules, India has proudly held aloft the flag of democratic tradition and developmental transformation.

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But it is time to pause and ponder on the state we are in today as a nation. We are an India of the new millennium. We have grown by leaps and bounds in all spheres. We have grown in intellect, emotional maturity and global awareness.

We are no longer the apathetic and amorphous mass passively accepting administrative misrule and misrepresentation. India of the new millennium cannot be governed by the same old political machinations, or archaic and faceless system, populist propaganda and illusory promises.

Every state has been a hotbed of corruption with its own sordid stories of personal and political aggrandisement. No field of activity has been left unscarred by corruption. Power has become a grab game for personal pelf.

Corruption has spread like a metastasis, crippling our conscience and compromising our culture. Our progress has been dogged at every step by this deadening drag.

We Indians have developed a lackadaisical attitude towards corruption. We accept it as a very common, if indeed even a convenient phenomenon. We have no qualms in giving or taking bribes, we have no gumption to raise voice against graft. We readily agree to pay or receive under the table or over the counter for a favour wrongfully obtained at the cost of others.

We feel it is perfectly normal to get one’s work done through devious means. We can go to any length to undermine the system. We can provide fake bills, fake certificates, fake identities, fake voters, fake employees, fake losses… We can make false declarations, false denials, false promises.

We may say we are victims of the system but we cannot entirely free ourselves of blame.

The system has thrived because of the absence of a top-down, upright, no-tolerance, no-nonsense enforcement at all levels of government. People at the helm have successively and sickeningly misused their positions and, if not, turned a blind eye to misuse and misappropriation.

Seen against this backdrop, Anna Hazare’s country-shaking campaign was an unarmed attack of a common crusader with an uncommon zeal on the fortress of corruption. Anna has captured the imagination and generated the spontaneous support of millions of Indians. This is not by chance.

Anna is no Aamir Khan. It is not only because of Anna’s honest life and his relentless fight against corruption but also due to the hardships suffered by Indians and the way this license-to-loot fortification has been defended by political establishments. Governments of every ideology have symbolically barked at corruption but not dared to bite the corrupt.

Since independence, we have equally had many shameful scams where the people at power have brazenly and blatantly arrogated the power to amass their own fortunes, while being blissfully aware that they would never be caught and could get away through sheer political manipulations.

We do have the collective wisdom to build effective institutions to check, detect and eradicate corruption. A strong Lokpal will not let the high and mighty loot and get away.

A country as big, diverse and complex as ours could have a national watchdog kind of body, say National Governance Council, with members from the governing and opposition parties, bureaucracy, judiciary, press, civil society, defense establishment and the corporate world.

A nation cannot become great if institutionalised corruption is not rooted out from governance. Where there is a political will to end criminal corruption, there is a powerful way to achieve national greatness.

(28-08-2011-The author is a Programme Manager with a multinational company. He can be reached on [email protected])