August 15 – the date of freedom from corruption

Anna Hazare – a 73-year old social activist from Maharashtra has captured news in India and worldwide as his name is on every one’s lips with heated dinner talks centred around him  and his supporters who fought for  the institution of anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill in parliament.

Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and present Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (activist) have together drafted a strong anti-corruption law called Jan Lokpal Bill which requires that investigations into any case should be completed within a year and the trial should get over in the next one year so that a corrupt person goes to jail within two years of complaint and his ill gotten wealth is confiscated.

Having fasted for 98-hours, Hazare sat determined on an indefinite hunger strike at  Delhi’s Jantar Mantar while whole of India came to a standstill with people’s attention moving from Cricket World Cup victory to a bigger victory aimed at eradicating corruption in the country. The government relented ultimately to his demand of the five member committee. The Government will be represented by Mukherjee, Sibal, Moily, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid.

Hazare and his supporters ended their 98-hour long fast on Saturday April 9, after the Goverment agreed to Hazare’s demands and a Joint committee was set up. The Joint Committee consists of 10 members, out of which 5 are members of civil society. Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily will be the convener of the 10-member Joint Drafting Committee that will commence its work forthwith and evolve its own procedures to prepare the proposed legislation.

Jantar Mantar became a pilgrimage for people who gathered everyday to see this new avtaar of India flanked by Kiran Bedi, Baba Ramdev and Arvind Kejriwal who was likened to the great Mahatma Gandhi. Anna’s ability to call a spade a spade, name the corrupt without mincing words and the conviction with which he turned down the high and mighty seemed to have struck a chord with the masses as millions stayed glued to television and every word he spoke. It made him a messiah of the masses, driven to despair by the corrupt neta-babu-industrialist nexus.

In an interview with journalists at the Press Club of India, Delhi, Mr. Hazare said the Bill was stalled eight times in Parliament and if it was not passed by August 15, there would be another agitation. “If this is blackmail, as some people are saying it is, then I will continue to do this blackmail till my last breath as it is for the good of the people and the nation.”

According to him, involvement of “senior Ministers” in drafting the Bill would ensure that other Ministers and Members of Parliament fall in line when legislation comes up for discussion in Parliament. “I have full faith in our democracy and Parliament,” he said.

The Anti-corruption crusader said that the Lokpal Bill would end corruption up to 90 per cent. “For the rest of 10 per cent to be rooted out, we will call for the Right to Reject corrupt candidates. There should be decentralisation of power in governance right up to the village level.” the social activist told journalists at the Press Club of India.

Mr. Hazare praised Bihar and Gujarat Chief Ministers Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi, both of whom had supported him, but added that he would give them 100 per cent marks only if they adopted the Bill in their States. He, however, deplored the 2002 Gujarat riots, asserting that he was against communalism.

Asked if he was targeting Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who had resigned from the Group of Ministers on Corruption or other Ministers too, he said he had nothing against Mr. Pawar but was against “a kind of attitude.”

On being compared to Gandhiji, the 73 year-old activist said he was an “ordinary worker” only capable of sitting at the Mahatma’s feet. “I am inspired by him. His work was different and what he did was so difficult. I am little educated, he was a barrister. There is no comparison.”

Asked if he would contest elections, he said that the system of elections was so corrupted that ordinary people cannot contest. His next battle was on this front.

The Gandhian said, “I did not know the movement will take such a form with people from all walks of life identifying with it. But if you ask me, nothing has touched me. I am still the same man living in a temple in Ralegaon in Maharashtra.”

Hazare confirmed that since every voter is a ruler of the country the committee will be transparent aiming at the best intentions of the nation. He said the bill will be drafted through a video conferencing so that the public can witness for themselves how they will be fully involved in the going ons of this important bill which demands a drastic change in the constitution of India.

Kiran Bedi said that the committee is an egoless group – a group of India against corruption. The group travelled the country for five months to increase public awareness involving people in schools, colleges, universities so that the draft bill represents the people of India. “We want a decentralization of India at the grass root level to spread the awarenessas we will make sure that it reaches at the gramsabha level through soft as well as hard copy,” Kiran added that Hazare was not only the ‘Mahatma of Maharashtra but the Mahatma of India’.

Hazare’s fast has for the time being created waves in the indolent masses who are cynical of the government’s insincerity to fight corruption. The scandals that unspooled in the last few months had drawn attention to pervasive corruption and depressed  most countrymen. The fast has at least provided some hope of resistance and remedies, and veered the discussion towards how to handle corruption rather than on how to accept it.

Over a million people have already registered support to Anna’s movement and the list is growing. India Against Corruption movement is an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption. See website: www.indiaagainstcorruption.org

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Posted by on Apr 11 2011. Filed under Featured, Indian News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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