How do you feel when you witness the most resilient civil forces of your country doing something utterly stupid? What do you do when the people you trust, respect and look up to, prepare to give up their lives for an impractical whim? Do you forgive yourself for not standing by them because you know they are wrong? How do you cope with the frustration that piles up in your mind when they apply massive will and force for a selfless cause in a completely wrong direction?
I have always been in awe of the key members of the India Against Corruption, from even before the movement started. They are the kind of people I would like to be led by. Smart, educated, motivated, selfless, patriotic, resourceful and stubborn; they are everything our leaders should be. So it hurts, unbearably, when I see them making an obvious mistake. A mistake? Boy, they are trying to rid the country of one of its many banes! Yes, I know their intention is honourable, but what is their plan to root out corruption? Reforms to the anti-corruption laws and institutions!! How so? By establishing a new, strong, efficient and autonomous investigative and judicial institution which is free of political influence, a sort of CBI on patriotic steroids!!
So, they want to create more laws and appoint more authorities to enforce those laws to ensure that the people of India behave. Well, that sounds reasonable, but only until you question why are the current laws and their enforcement agencies ineffective in culling corruption? This group of visionaries believes and wants us to believe that the laws are archaic and toothless, and the law enforcers are either corrupt themselves or are controlled by the politicians who have, to put it mildly, a conflict of interest with the delivery of justice (after all, who is interested in going to prison?). Now, they are correct in their causal analysis, but they could not be more wrong in suggesting that the solution they propose will work any better.
How can we be sure that the criminals will not find loopholes through the new laws? Or that the people who are selected for the enforcement will not be corrupt or, if not already, get corrupted with the new found power? What is the guarantee that this system will be more managed, efficient and responsive? Are we going to import the people who will be running the show? If we ourselves, the people of the Republic of India, are going to constitute the proposed Jan-Lokpal system, why does the IAC team think we’ll do it better this time around?
This conviction is a result of alienating the corrupt from the society and the governed from the government; a false perception that a handful of corrupt people are responsible; a simplistic view which projects that bribes are always asked for and never willingly or unwillingly offered. The government of India is a true representation of the people it rules. We are as immoral as every single politician sitting in the Parliament. Did the earth split open and spew these rascals one wretched day? No! They are from amongst us. A common Indian citizen does not hesitate to offer a petty bribe when the traffic constable stops him for an infraction; What makes the IAC brigade believe that the same man will blink twice before accepting a bribe if he holds a post of Authority?
Employing more law enforcement is not going to work until being corrupt is socially unacceptable. Do we marry our daughters to murderers? Then why do we marry them to Government officials with “extra” incomes. We don’t even pretend; bribing is not mentioned in hushed tones and whispers, it is flaunted. The problem with this nation is its moral bankruptcy. As I have said before, we Indians are integrally challenged. What we need is a grassroots program to weed out immorality. May be a five year plan focused on making sure every kid develops the senses [and balls] to stand up to his/her parents and question a corrupt act [be it rigging the electricity meter for minimal bills or driving on the wrong side to avoid going all the way to the next pass in the divider].
So, do we keep watching as they loot and plunder? Should the IAC team retire and go home? Is sitting and waiting for a moral renaissance the only option we have at our hands? No! The least we, the normal citizens, could do is adhere to a strict code of morality and teach our kids to follow, even at a cost. We can contribute more by asking our politicians and bureaucrats the same. The IAC has a huge list of tasks at hand. Use of RTI, Social Media and the power of like minded and motivated citizens to keep a check on the people in power. Spearheading NGOs which focus on corruption related injustice. Attacking preparators of major scams using the existing judicial processes. Working with children to uplift the moral index of this nation. Creating an environment of awareness of duties and intolerance to corruption.
This direction leads to a long way of perseverance and hard work, and that’s exactly how great nations are made. Not by walking down the road to arrive at a dead end of our own social values, and then marching on stubbornly and expecting the problems to yield, rather, by gradually and persistently laying the foundation for a new path that raises our standards above and beyond our handicaps.
Update [3rd of Aug, 2012]
The IAC team finally took a much awaited decision. This is the single most effective step the team could take to help the citizen bring a change. I never listed this as an option earlier, because the team has so far been vehemently opposed to any suggestions of having political ambitions. The country welcomes your decision. Please ignore people who think you’ve thrown away the cause, on the contrary, you have just picked it up. You can’t stand outside a system and change it, you have to enter and get your hands dirty to clean it up. All the very best!!