Lokpal Bill: To be or not to be

I am currently both amused and amazed at the discussions going on for the last two months on the Lokpaal Bill on Facebook, social circles, parties, coffees etc.

Look at what one of such staunch supporters put on his FB status:

Common guys, what are we doing? Egypt has shown us what unity can do. This is the time to show what we, the people of India can do if they decide. Let’s support this 72 years old man (Anna Hazare) and show some respect to his commitment and our country.
Every second 2 tweets on Tweeter; more than 1 lack people supporting from Facebook and other social networking sites. Are you one of them? Ask this question to yourself.

Ever since BJP forgot the anti-corruption bill issue and Anna Hazare took it up and Baba Ramdev encashed it to his good, the entire India has been talking, sharing and debating about it. You won’t believe it but I have used this as an analogy several times in the last two months in my Critical Reasoning sessions. Result? It worked! People in India – the youth in general, and CHEM students in particular – just feel so strongly about it. And so this example always clicks.

But look at the way it clicks. While explaining an assumption, I tell them that assumption is something ‘taken to be true’; you should not care whether it was actually true or not. That is not your concern. For example, in theory, we all want the Lokpal Bill – we back it up taking an assumption that it will eliminate corruption. In practice, however, we all know it’s going to be pretty ‘inconvenient’ for all us.

With each smile on the faces of those I teach, I realize they all agree with me. Nobody fights with me saying that the bill is as much for him and her as it is for the government. This really bothers me. I come out of the class feeling how simple and melodramatic of the Indians to support the so-called anti-corruption ‘cause’ as long as the leaders or policy makers follow it.

Back home, I visit Facebook and find quite a few people still discussing it over a recent development. I can’t help commenting on it but most people think I am cynical.

So where I am headed at the moment. The Lokpal Bill, a regulatory framework to control and curb corruption, is a great idea for most commoners. And it should be. Everyone is sick of the red-tape. Nobody wants to live in a country where you cannot get anything done without a bit of bribe. The younger generation, inspired more from movies than history or autobiographies, is particularly tired of the old justification of ‘salt-like’ amount of corruption.

This is all good in theory. It’s only when I look at the practical side of it, then the cynic in me wakes up. I question at the sincerity of the movements that are on in the entire country against corruption. I also doubt the sincerity of the staunch supporters who have been using social media sites to raise a voice against corruption. It is so easy and convenient to sit before your PC/Laptop, type a few lines and post them on status. It is no pain at all. And so I cannot help but question. Would you fast for 24 hours for this cause? (Without updating your status on Facebook)

But a more pressing question is: Are we ready for the Lokpal? Are we ready to give that little test for acquiring a driving license and come back again for the same test when rejected once? Are we ready to pay the actual price of pulses etc without the ‘ration card’ (as we are way above the poverty line)? Are we ready to wear helmet every day, follow traffic rules and if not, be willing to pay the requisite penalty? Are we ready to wait till the day we get a legal registration of our firm or organization from the municipal corporation? Are we ready to give the entire amount of the railway ticket when caught travelling without one?

I really don’t think we are. Because Lokpal implementation would mean we would be liable to do not just the above things but much more in real life. We are as much responsible for corruption, my dear friends, as the bureaucrats. A bribe-taking Babu in a government department is an honest employee till a bribe-giving citizen visits his desk.

It’s amazing how we are so blind to the results of our own actions. Take a local example. We all are generally frustrated by traffic in Indore. How many times have we cursed a fellow traveler for not giving a turn-signal, not heeding to the horn, standing on the wrong side at traffic light or driving so rash.

Had each one of these people really taken the traffic test at the RTO while acquiring license, do you think he or she would have ever gotten one? Amateur drivers or riders are out on the road, all thanks to our ‘driving license agents’. We cannot blame the government here. We are responsible. We are equally corrupt, hypocrite and intellectually blind.

The biggest service that we can do to our nation is to determine to be honest, at least so far as our negotiations with the government is concerned. And that too with a ‘no matter what’ attitude. There is NO other way, and absolutely no other way to support the Lokpal Bill.


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