India often prides itself as being ‘the world’s fastest growing democracy’.
That may be true for the economic development, but the ongoing erosion of basic democratic norms tells a sad story.
The tsunami of corruption has inundated all walks of life, including various government functionaries, judges, lawyers, engineers and doctors.
The issue of increasing corruption has been agitating for long in the common man’s psyche.
For the past several years many activists like Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare have been raising their voices against the cancer of corruption, but to no avail. It is therefore not surprising that Anna Hazare, a diminutive, little known, Gandhian from Maharashtra, gave vent to the national feeling of outrage, by sitting on a fast unto-death in April 2011.
He received an overwhelming support from masses to his one-point-program of passing an anti-corruption bill known as Jan Lokpal Bill.
According to the bill anticorruption investigations can be conducted against all those who are involved including the prime minister, judges and members of parliament.
People from all over the country joined his movement. A press survey returned that 92 percent of Indian public supported the Lokpal Bill.
Rattled with this new anti-corruption wave, the central government constituted a panel to draft the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Unfortunately such a bill was not accommodated by any previous Indian Governments (including Congress and BJP) in the last 42 years.
The governments in power, previously BJP and at present Congress do not wish to include their respective Prime Minister for scrutiny and investigation relating to corruption.
The country may have had some excellent Prime Ministers and Chief Justices but still corruption grew by leaps and bounds.
The public frustration and anger has grown in step with that.
What the common man wants is a foolproof mechanism with the help of which he could break this wall against which he has to bang his head every day.
Now Baba Ramdev, the Yoga guru, who heads an alternative remedial health empire estimated to be worth several billion Rupees, has jumped into the fray. He has turned down unprecedented overtures from the central government, which included a personal appeal by the prime minister, a high profile reception at the Delhi air port, two sessions of hard bargaining with senior ministers.
He started with his much publicized “Stayagrah” that is fast-unto-death from 4th June 2011 in Delhi, with the support of over fifty thousand of his supporters. He claimed to have the support of over 3.5 million people from all over India and abroad.
His demands gone beyond the objectives of previous Lokpal Bill as he demanded that black money deposited in foreign banks by Indian Nationals to be brought back to the country and declaring it as national wealth; awarding extreme punishments of death or life imprisonment to those found guilty of holding such accounts; demonetizing currency note of Rs 500 and 1000 denominations.
Methods suggested by Ramdev for eradicating corruption and black money were far more radical and some of these demands defy common sense and quick implementation.
Hazare & Ramdev movements are surely inspirational for the Indian society.
I hope that these activists use known pathways of dealing with corruption through the parliamentary democracy by presenting demands which are pragmatic, ethical and deliverable.
They must do their best to save the movement against corruption from becoming a spectacle full of sound and fury, all heat and no light.
At the end of the day, this anti-corruption drive needs to be sustained through the known pathways of parliamentary democracy for which India takes the lead in the world.