Anna Hazare and His Magic Wand

The euphoria of the victory of the so-called common man, and the jubilation with which we have greeted the formation of the new team, has made me pause and think about the implications of this whole process.

Will we really achieve a great deal with this Lokpal Bill, if it ever comes into existence? 

Can corruption levels really be brought down just by the passing of a new law or regulation?

And above all, if a new bill does come into effect are we not concentrating too much power in the hands of a few people? What if they turn out to be corrupt? Who will bring them under control?

Corruption is so much a part of our lives that we have ceased to raise an eyebrow or even utter a protest if someone asks us to pay them extra for just doing something that is a part of their job. If they do not ask us for any money we are surprised; if we want them to do our jobs faster and more efficiently then we automatically offer them money; and we try to wriggle out of difficult situations by offering some monetary rewards.

This is where my disquietude and my sense of us traveling on a roller-coaster which may pick up speed at any time becomes even more pronounced. All of us are a part of this mess, the politicians much more than the others, but none of us can claim to be "doodh se dhula hua" - or being the person who can throw the first stone.

This Bill may and probably will scare most people from asking for a bribe, but will it stop us from offering one? Watching Anna Hazare late in the evening at Jantar Mantar, I was also filled with a sense of being a part of history. The enthusiasm and fervor were infectious, and all day we waited for news about when he would break his fast and about when the government would capitulate.We felt that we could conquer the world that evening. A frail man on a dais, a lot of  slogans and placards, and an all round feeling of "let's do it ", all these combined together to make me feel proud and exhilarated.

However, today a sense of reality is beginning to seep in. Santosh Desai's excellent article in today's Times of India made me think about what is happening and whether this can really be termed as a victory for the common man. The politician has recognised that the common man has recourse to other means to make his voice heard. The shout has gone out loud and clear that the present breed of politicians have made the word politician itself into a dirty word.

"The support is not really for the Lokpal Bill, for few understand its ramifications, but for the act of serving the government with an ultimatum, to do something tangible and show visible intent ".
Santosh Desai - Times of India - April 11, 2011 

Let us not misuse this power, or try to use it too frequently and thereby dilute its efficacy. Let the new committee do a good job and somewhere, at sometime, let us do our part also by restraining ourselves from using money as a means of greasing palms and getting our work done.

I look forward to an India which is corruption free - it is a dream, and it may never become reality, but at least Anna Hazare has given me the chance to dream an impossible dream.


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