Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: India against corruption

IAC goes political

IAC members launched their political party on Gandhi Jayanti at Constitution Club. They will announce the name of the party on 26 November, Constitution Day. I wondered it may have to do with 26/11. The party could have done without white caps with words “I am common man” and “I want Jan Lokpal” as its symbol. White caps belong to a bygone era. Not many politicians use them.

Arvind Kejriwal appeared on Headlines Today and Times Now. He talked of people fixing the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG. On issues like FDI in multi-brand retail decisions will be through discussions.

The party mentioned its agenda. MPs and MLAs will not have red beacons atop their cars, not use government bungalows and so on. In that case they will have to auction government bungalows. Otherwise former MPs and MLAs will stay on. How will MPs and MLAs who are not residents of capitals manage during Parliament or Assembly sessions? Will there be flats or government accommodation?

Arvind Kejriwal announced agitation on 7/10/2012 against water and power tariff hike by Delhi government. Money saved by cracking down on corruption will be spent on health and education. There will be direct power to people. It means referendum on any importance issue. That happens in Switzerland.

The party should give up the idea of reservation for women in Parliament and Assemblies.

Anna and Arvind part ways

Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal have parted ways. The issue was political formation. Many in IAC wanted to form a political party to fight corruption. Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and some others were opposed to it. The meeting on 19/9/2012 lasted nine hours. Yogendra Yadav was the moderator. Anna Hazare said those who want to form a political party can go ahead with it but should not use his name or photograph. Arvind Kejriwal said Anna Hazare’s decision was shocking, unbelievable and sad.

Baba Ramdev and some other people wanted a split between Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind Kejriwal was opposed to all political parties. Kiran Bedi was in favour of BJP. Arvind Kejriwal did not want to join with Baba Ramdev as there were tax evasion cases against him. RSS people wanted to use IAC against Congress. Industrialist Sitaram Jindal had a role in arranging meetings of Anna Hazare with people opposed to Arvind Kejriwal.

IAC had made corruption an issue and had raised hopes of corruption-free India. Jan Lokpal Bill was its demand. Congress came with a Lopkpal Bill that was not acceptable to IAC but was passed in Lok Sabha. Anna Hazare’s fast at MMRDA Grounds did not have expected crowds. The fast was to last three days. He called off his fast on second day. Congress managed to disrupt Rajya Sabha and the Lokpal Bill was not passed. Chairman Hamid Ansari played a role in allowing discussion till midnight and sabotaging the bill.

IAC demanded resignation of 15 ministers for corruption. The ministers did not oblige. Anna Hazare had a secret meeting with Salman Khurshid. IAC members were surprised when they came to know about it. Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai held fast at Jantar Mantar. Anna Hazare joined a few days later. The fast was called off on appeal by 22 persons. On the last day there was a decision to go political based on an SMS poll. Anna Hazare did not oppose it then.

Corruption is an issue. Congress is doing its best to divert attention from corruption. Coalgate became too hot to handle. Congress came with “reforms”. Soon coalgate was forgotten. TMC issued 72 hours deadline for rollback. Many parties opposed Congress and called for Bharat Bandh. After the deadline expired TMC announced withdrawal of support to UPA.

Fight against corruption is continuous process. Sometimes new challenges develop. Arvind Kejriwal was an RTI activist. RTI was instrumental in exposing corruption. Now two judges of the Supreme Court have made a mess of RTI by their verdict that only retired or serving justices of Supreme Court or chief justices of High Courts can head information commissions and half of the information commissioners should be judicial members. This verdict will create problems in fight against corruption.

Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal may fight against corruption separately but it is not clear how effective they will be. It is time for Kumar Vishwas, Shazia Ilmi, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai and other prominent IAC members to take sides. Shanti Bhushan is optimistic that they can win 2014 election. Yogendra Yadav thinks first election is to be lost, second election is to defeat, third election is to form government. In 2009 many people like Gopinath and Meera Sanyal contested as independents and lost.

To form government at centre, Arvind Kejriwal and others need to field 543 candidates and win 272 seats. Without 272 seats they will have to depend on others and make compromises. They should beware of moles who will pass on information and scuttle programmes. They should form a shadow cabinet and decide who will hold which portfolio if elected. Legislative Assembly elections are due in Gujarat and some other states before 2014. IAC members can test their strength during those elections. They need to take a stand against corporate debt restructuring. They need not take a stand against any issue unless it has something to do with corruption. They may take a stand against reservations in legislatures, government jobs and government-run educational institutions or avoid it.

Corruption in India and China

There are people who defend the corrupt and come up with arguments and excuses against tough law on corruption and tough action against corrupt people. One argument is that there is death penalty for corruption in China and that has not ended corruption in China.

These people do not mention the difference the law has made in China. While death penalty has not ended corruption it has significantly reduced corruption. At one time China was not much different from India. Now it is far ahead of India. In China most of the government money is spent for the purpose. In India it disappears into treasuries of various corrupt people.

China has made tremendous progress in sports. It gets large number of gold, silver and bronze medals in Olympics, Asian Games and such events. China gets returns for the money it spends. They set targets and they achieve them or come close. Their target for Asian Games 2010 was 200 gold medals and they won 199 gold medals, success rate of 99.5%.

China has magnetic levitation trains. In India trains make news for accidents. In Delhi, airport metro is out of service after a few months of running. Potholes filled during summer get washed away during first rain.

In India project costs go up and the final figure is many times of that of original figure. The original figure for Commonwealth Games 2010 was around 160 crore rupees. It went up and up and final figure was around 1,02,000 crore rupees. Shunglu committee reports were suppressed. Nobody was punished for swindling. In Olympics 2008 China won 51 gold and many silver and bronze medals, India won one gold and two bronze. The gold medal was largely due to private effort. The medals India wins in any Olympics can be counted on fingers of one hand.

Corruption in defence purchases has made Indian military obsolete. Trucks, field guns, jet trainers, aircraft carriers and many other items are imported. India has become the largest importer of defence items. China has a strong military. It does not hesitate to use force. China is able to withstand pressure from USA and its allies. In matters relating to Iran and Syria it has opposed USA. It has voted against resolutions on Syria. India has changed its stance under pressure. From opposition to resolutions India has changed to voting in favour or abstention.

China occupies Indian territory and has border disputes with Vietnam, Philippines, and Japan. Those countries do not look for military alliance with India against China.

India had two power failures on successive days. The minister responsible justified delay in restoring power saying it takes four days to restore power in USA without mentioning that happens in winter when it is impossible to travel outside due to snowfall and blizzards. The man got promoted as home minister and leader of Lok Sabha. Electricity theft is passed off as transmission and distribution losses. That loss is passed on to consumers who do not steal electricity and regularly pay their bills. The corrupt officials do not catch culprits and punish them.

Without tough laws against corruption China would have been like India or worse than India. The corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists have their agents in media. Some agents infiltrated the movement for Lokpal.

Anna Hazare announced the disbanding of Team Anna on his blog. The core committee of India Against Corruption was known as Team Anna. What form IAC will take remains to be seen. One report was they will become Swaraj Party. A party of that name existed in 1923-1927. Motilal Nehru and Chitta Ranjan Das were leaders of that party.

IAC wanted investigation of 15 ministers. That did not happen. The government did not want IAC members to go on fast. Salman Khurshid had a secret meeting with Anna Hazare. That became public. The fast took place. The government did not budge. IAC members called off their fast when 22 persons appealed to them.

Baba Ramdev announced his agitation to get back black money from foreign countries. He had avoided naming corrupt ministers. That did not help. A report appeared alleging Baba Ramdev was a tax evader.

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