The Lokmat Bill has the common mans attention thanks to Anna Hazare and his fast. Otherwise it is like any other bill that threatens the government and its officials – repeatedly changed, introduced into the two houses and rejected in the hope that it dies of old age and boredom and should it ever be passed, it will be toothless and sterile worn with age and repeated castration.
The Jan Lokmat Bill is the answer of a few upright men and woman to this mockery of a Bill. This gives back the tiger its teeth, its virility, its roar and frightens the life out of the hyenas that walks the corridors of power (my apologies to wild lifers fighting to save hyenas from extinction). It makes the Lokpal in the centre and the Lokyukta in the states independent of the government machinery much like the Election Commission. It transforms it from an old advisory agony aunt moaning on her death-bed to a parallel power that can receive complaints directly from the public, initiate and prosecute any government official found guilty of corruption. It will be able to independently file criminal cases. It makes politicians and other government officials personally answerable for their trespasses and makes imprisonment and punishment real and long.
This alternative Bill has not come a moment too soon, its intention are honourable and the people backing it have unblemished track records, yet serious objections have been raised against it. The main objection to the Jan Lokpal Bill is that it bypasses the democratic process. Does it bypass the democratic process? I don’t know and frankly the process has been twisted, stabbed and mutilated beyond recognition to such an extent by the supposed upholders of our democracy (which means each one of us in the government, non government and other sectors named and unnamed) that it is difficult to recognize the main path from the bypass anyway.
So, what’s my problem then? It is the thinking that the solution can be another institution, however independent. My contention is that self interest of institutions (government or NGO or any other) is a reflection of collective personal self interest. And if we were to deal with the institution called self, all other institutions would correct themselves. And Anna Hazare is one of the few men who can command that high moral ground and give the clarion call to look into ourselves, even as he looks at institutions and the people who house it. For the first home, the nursery of corruption is the human heart with its fears and greed. But maybe then we would not respond in the thousands, this call to look at the other suits us.
As for the colour yellow, it’s the colour of our dirty clothes, stained teeth and a particular brand of journalism… we get it, but its also the colour of the sun. The colours, the institutions, are all symbolic… attacking the symbols will only get us that far if anywhere at all.