Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: Corruption

NGOs under attack

Ever since the notification of the formation of the drafting committee for Lokpal Bill, NGOs have come under attack from several persons. Someone wanted them to be included in Lokpal Bill. Someone made vague accusations of corruptions against NGOs. It seems to be an attempt to divert attention from the real issue of corruption by public servants.

The accusations are NGOs are not accountable to anyone, one can declare oneself an NGO and can become very rich very quickly and you need not explain how you got the money and how you spent it, nearly all the NGOs who set out to save India’s environment are frauds, NGOs set to save poor spend time and money on international conferences and senior government officials become NGOs after retirement while politicians use NGOs to hide black money.

Since no NGO is mentioned by name it is difficult to know who those NGOs are. Some are said to be members of NAC. Aruna Roy and Harsh Mander are members of NAC. NDTV had campaigns to save tigers and beaches but it is not an NGO. There is Centre for Science and Environment which takes up some causes.

If foreign financiers give money to NGOs who claim to save environment or poor and the NGOs are not doing that it is for the financiers to question them file cases for fraud. If the financiers are fools and are taken for a ride by NGOs it is their problem. If NGOs get money from government then the government comes into picture. Anyway, nothing prevents the government from enacting a law that makes NGOs accountable.

Some people who till the other day blamed politicians and democracy for various ills have suddenly developed love for politicians and democracy. They have either changed their colours or are showing their true colours.

Fight against corruption

The events of the last few days have shown that fight against corruption will be hard and the corrupt will do everything to scuttle the Lokpal Bill.

A nameless and faceless coward sent a CD that caused problems for Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan. The Bhushans have gone to Supreme Court. Some want Bhushans to quit the drafting committee and that seems to be the reason for sending the CD. Not many top lawyers joined Anna Hazare in his fight against corruption. Most of them have taken briefs of 2G companies and various criminals. On TV channels they may talk of probity, integrity and transparency but when it comes to briefs they have no compunction in accepting any brief from anyone whether murderer, rapist, molester, swindler, fraudster or some other high criminal.

Some attacked Anna Hazare when he said votes are bought for 100 rupees, liquor and sari. Within days TV channels reported distribution of money and liquor to voters. The amount was not 100 rupees, it was 500 rupees or more. Election Commission confiscated about 40 crore rupees and many liquor bottles.

Anna Hazare wrote to Sonia Gandhi whether she personally approved Digvijay Singh’s attacks on him. She did not reply. Congress spokesperson said that in a democracy everybody has right to his viewpoint. He did not say the views of Digvijay Singh are personal and the party does not endorse them. Digvijay Singh is a general secretary and he would not survive in the party if he expresses views contrary to that of party leader.

Some say why the hurry to pass Lokpal Bill. The bill has been pending since 1968. It will be discussed from 2/5/2011 to 30/6/2011. After that there is enough time for parliament to discuss and pass before 15/8/2011. Where is the hurry? Nobody questioned when Lok Sabha on several occasions passed a dozen or more bills within a few minutes.

India has not been a party to UN Convention against corruption. India’s leaders talk of action against corruption but action is zero.

There is anger among people against corruption. So far the protests have been peaceful. If people lose hope about parliament combating corruption they may resort to violence.

People, Fasting and Parliament

The fast by activists led by Anna Hazare has elicited different responses from different people. While there is agreement on the need to fight corruption, some have criticized the method.

Their objections are as below:

1) In a parliamentary democracy parliament is supreme. Parliament can not be pressurized by fasting.

2) Self-appointed people can not make law. It is for elected representatives to make law.

3) The agitators have contempt for politics and democracy.

4) The agitation amounts to blackmail.

5) The agitation is fascist.

Let us examine the objections.

1) People are supreme in a democracy. Parliament represents people. MPs are elected to do the will of the people and not as they want. Fasting is a legitimate way to put pressure on parliament. MPs forget they are representatives of people and not lords and masters. The constitution begins with the words “We the people”.

2) Where were these people when NAC which functions as a super cabinet with Sonia Gandhi as super prime minister was formed? NAC has vetoed many draft bills prepared by cabinet committees. Many bills have been drafted by Non-MPs and some have become law. Indira Jaisingh had drafted one bill that became law. She was not an MP then, not an MP now.

3) If there is contempt for politics and democracy it is due to politicians. Winter session of parliament did not function on the demand of JPC. The government did not yield then. It yielded when budget session began. MPs disrupting parliament is not a pretty sight. MPs increasing and multiplying their salaries, allowances and privileges as they like and neglecting their duties does not inspire confidence. Where is democracy when a candidate who has lost Lok Sabha election becomes prime minister or home minister?

4) Since when fasting has become blackmail? Did Gandhi resort to blackmail when he fasted?

5) There is nothing fascist about the agitation. The activists are not stopping traffic, forcing shutdown of offices, schools, colleges and shops, uprooting railway tracks, setting fire to public and private property or engaged in stone pelting. When Jats, Gujjars and others resort to such methods no one calls them fascist. Calling a non-violent and peaceful agitation fascist is a poor joke.

There are some who say NGOs are corrupt. In that case it is for them the expose corruption by NGOs.

The government is not ready to issue a notification. The dispute about the chairman of drafting committee is not settled. Anna Hazare has called for people to fill jails on 12/4/2011.

The excuse that ministers are busy with elections and not free to do anything about Lokpal Bill till they are over is not acceptable. There are no Lok Sabha elections and central ministers are not required to participate in state and union territory elections.

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