WE the People of India are supreme and our power is sufficient to restore our motherland, Bharat to her original glory. Fine for now if we continue to be at it to make our country worth living in for the common man or the AAM AADAMI in whose name politicians ask for votes to rule him for five years.
But it is quite apparent that something has gone wrong somewhere. Our beloved Bharat is listed as a poor country where most of the population lives below the poverty line. In the last six decades plus that we have been living and working as a free nation, we have not made much economic progress. Many neighboring nations of Asia that became independent after our nation had thrown off the foreign yoke, have made more progress than we have. There is a fault line in our political system of governance that needs urgent attention for repairs or overhaul. What is it?
PEOPLE FRIENDLY ADMINISTRATION
When India achieved Independence from the British rule of almost two centuries, there was a mere cosmetic change in the system of governance whereas the need of the hour was a substantial change in the system of governance. The brown sahibs replaced the white sahibs and everything else remained just about the same. The bureaucrats remained as far away from the peasants and farmers as ever before. Seeing a high official for bringing grievances to his notice was as distant a dream as ever before. The farmers, specially marginal farmers and daily wage laborers continued to live as lowly creatures as they were under the foreign rule. Poverty prevented them from making both ends meet, what to say of providing education and nourishment to their children.
The incidents of crime, individual and social, were on the rise incessantly in the post-independence period. The moral values, as enunciated in the tenets of Dharma, could not be passed on to the new generation as the parental generation was ever busy in making both ends meet. Only the rich sections of the society could afford to indulge in such niceties of life as fine arts, cultural education and things of that nature. Consequently, the general standard of the society did not rise as expected and the wide divide between the rich and the poor, the rural and the urban, the haves and have-nots continued to weaken the social base. In the long run these factors weakened the lower sections and thus encouraged the higher sections of the society to develop parasitical tendencies which in turn generated Corruption on a large scale and it remained undetected or was overlooked by the authorities who mattered. It led critics to have a perception that everyone had got a piece of pie to enjoy life in India and abroad at the cost of tax payers.
ANNA HAZARE: A NEW PHENOMENON
Corruption is cancer, so say all leaders who matter. And quite a few of them are corrupt. Politicians needed money to contest elections and to unduly influence the electorate to win. In some constituencies the candidates felt the need of having muscle power to intimidate the opponents. They took the help of criminal sections of the society to achieve this aim. In order to prevent lodging of a FIR against this unlawful act, the politicians listed the support of the Police. Further, to grant favours to active supporters of his, the politician listed the support of bureaucrats, both big and small. Thus a nexus of politician, police, mafia, bureaucrats, money and muscle power was, ipso facto, formed and they encouraged and indulged in all sorts of corrupt activities. They overlooked each other’s corrupt activities. In the bargain it was the marginal farmer, labourer, small time shopkeeper and so on who suffered tremendously. Under the weight of massive corruption, have-not sections of the society suffered the most and groaned day and night.
One fine morning help came to them from an unexpected direction. An army Jawan retired from the Service and returned home. He was horrified to see that his village was ignored by govt officials and villagers were a neglected lot because they did not grease the palms of officials at various levels. Anna Hazare invested his life’s savings and the amount of provident fund for improvement of hygiene and sanitation of the village and helped poor students buy books and writing material. He made it a point to devote time and money to make plans for the uplift of fellow villagers. In the process he came across govt officials who expected to be bribed for doing official jobs for which the state govt paid them salaries. Anna Hazare said that this kind of corruption was unacceptable to him. His campaign against corruption had begun.
NATIONAL LEVEL CAMPAIGN
Having achieved success at the State level in Maharashtra, including sacking of corrupt officials, Anna Ji, on the advice of fellow workers, moved to New Delhi to work at the national level. Establishing a constitutional authority in the form of LOKPAL to oversee the work of the govt departments and investigate complaints if irregularities and corruption etc, was the motivating factor for him to move to the national capital.
The Government of India and its ministers as well as bureaucrats were reluctant to have a Lokpal to oversee their official activities. No one wanted the perks and privileges to be reduced or abolished. In any case, if bringing in a Lokpal was a must, then have a toothless tiger type so that he or she is rendered ineffective from the word go. Anna Hazare did not stand this nonsense and wished to define the nature of his duties and the authority that he would wield. It was decided, after a long discussion with many Union Ministers, to have a drafting committee comprising five nominees of his and five of the government. Shanti Bhushan, a former Union Minister and a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court was nominated a co-chairman of the drafting committee. Anna Hazare nominated Arvind Kejariwal, an eminent social activist, Prashant Bhushan, Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court, and two more social activist as members of the drafting committee. Likewise, five members were nominated by the Govt of India. However, the drafting committee has been too generous to press for an early completion of the drafting of all rules and regulations and that would be a time consuming work indeed. Anyway, the ball is rolling and we all are hopeful.
A hitch developed between Anna Hazare over the formation of the Drafting Committee. It was a major stumbling block. There was another difference of opinion over interpretation of some technical terms used therein. Anna Hazare went on an ANSHAN and refused to accept cereals in food. He wanted to go on an indefinite hunger strike but the Delhi Police did not grant him permission. A park that Anna wished to sit in for the hunger strike was not made available to him. There was also a difference of opinion between Anna and the Police about the number of days that the agitation could go on and the number of persons that would attend the hunger strike. The tussle went on for weeks but seeing the tremendous public support that Anna Hazare mustered, the Delhi Police, under guidance of Govt of India, revoked its obnoxious orders that had been promulgated earlier.
It is now official that either Jai Prakash Narain Park or Ramlila maidan will be the venue of Anna Hazare’s hunger strike. The Police will now not impose section 144Cr.P.C. restricting assembly to 5 persons and below. It may be said that the Delhi Police came in for a lot of criticism for imposing restrictions on Dharnas and Anshans that were absolutely unwarranted. It is another matter that they withdrew those restrictions under public pressure soon after imposing them.
POLICE AND PEOPLE
The face of the Delhi Police was a much hated one after they had lathi charged them on the night of 4th June 2011. The lathis that the Police had used found a mention in dispatches sent and received among the Sanyasins and other religious institutions. It may now be said that this time the Police abjured from violence and sported a better image. The Delhi Police was amenable to take lessons from Dr(Ms) Kiran Bedi, IPS and former DG Police rank officer, who advised them not to accept unlawful orders. By the way, I may mention that this is a recurring problem in the Indian army too. So, we educate young officers and advise them to use their discretion in obeying a particular order or not to obey.
The People and the Police were so friendly with each other that a frequently raised slogans read like this: “yeh andar ki baat hai; Police hamare saath hai.” What a welcome change it is from the police baton charge on the women and children at midnight at the Swami Ramdev shivir. Indeed, this is how it should be. It may be mentioned that this time no batons or lathis were issued to the Police Force deployed inside Maidan. Once bitten, twice shy. The Delhi Police was called names in India and abroad, specially where Indian population is sizeable.
In panic, the senior officers had deployed a large number of policemen and let them be positioned there. But they were under strict orders not to use force against women, students and ascetics. It worked well. All is well that ends well.
In this shivir, it was the Government of India that panicked more than the Delhi Police. Yet both the Prime minister and the Home Minister had put and lifted restrictions on the shivir-sadhaks from time to time. It is a well known fact that the Delhi Police is not independent to do anything at its own initiative. It is the Ministry of Home Affairs that calls the shots. If a hit, credit is taken by the Home Ministry. If a miss, the blame for failure is shouldered by the Delhi Police. It is now well known that P. Chidambaram is the villain of the piece and should not be entrusted with negotiating compromise formulas. Indeed, one has to find the via media when the vexatious issues are involved. Life is like that.
By Chitranjan Sawant
UPVAN 609, Sector 29, Noida – 201303 INDIA.
Email : email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"