Indian Culture, Politics

Jan lokpal bill

The Lokpal of the “Jan Lokpal bill”  sounds like  the guardians of Plato’s Republic; not very democratic institution.  It is hard to predict compatibility of the proposed Lokpal institution with the Indian democracy. The criticism of Lokpal  institution as anti-democratic has to be taken seriously.

In any political system, there are power centers. In an ideal Democratic system, one may argue that all the significant power centers must be elected. There are many difficulty in implementing such system. One of them is the power jobs that require  sophisticated technical  understanding of some subject. For example, supreme court judge. Almost all democracies in history didn’t elect their supreme court judges. So, we need to relax the condition of the ideal democracy. A practical approach is to only try to maximize the number of power centers that are democratically elected. Therefore, I think that creating Lokpal as a non-democratic institution is not necessarily a bad idea according to my understanding of the nature of democracy. Many times, the devil lies in details. The details have to be worked out. This institution should be powerful but not too powerful like constitutional courts of Turkey. Checks and balances are key to democracy. This is good that both ministers and activist have joined the drafting committee. Hopefully some thing balanced will come out.

Now about the man himself. People have doubts about Anna Hazzare’s political philosophy. As some have pointed out, his style of doing social work has been quite authoritarian and full of moral idealism. For example, he preaches against film music, uses lots of religious symbols, and incites militaristic nationalism. He has been called Gandhian therefore in the popular mindset he can not be bad. Gandhi’s politics was not much far from Anna’s style. Gandhi was highly religious. His ashrams were not democratic place and he some times referred himself as a general of a Non-violent army. So watch out where Anna may lead us.


7 thoughts on “Jan lokpal bill

  1. The most unsatisfying part of the “movement” for me, has been not the Jan Lokpal Bill (which, with all the shortcomings, is still merely a bargaining point I believe) and not the individual either (agreed, he is in the lead, at least in the public mind-set, but the support of several others has been important for him to come out as he had I think). Instead it is the steering of the “movement” (at least at local levels) by the very vulnerable arm-chair activists.

    The “movement” came to the fore heavily supported by media (coverage nicely sandwiched between the world cup and the IPL). That the “corruption” is an important issue for the class they most staunchly represent (corporates) explains why unlike many other events of much more popular initial-ground-swell (say against the Dow, which recently finally withdrew from its constructions, or against AFSPA in north-east and Kashmir, or several concentrated movements against displacements say due to SEZs), this movement was covered day in and day out.

    Unfortunately, the platitude of comments on facebook and blogs suggest that the “victorious” candle-light-activists don’t quite appreciate this, even willing to challenge anything outside the “mainstream” noise with contempt. What I am afraid of is the fact that it may lead to more and more tilted debates in the future.

  2. Justice delayed is justice denied

    Lokpal Bill aims to deliver quick justice to victims of corruption. Target is a max of one year from the date of complaint.

    Goal of The Consumer Protection Act was similar. It mandated that in ALL cases, a Consumer Court shall give its verdict within 150 days.

    After 25 years of existence of Consumer Courts, the reality at the State-level is as follows :

     Cases settled within 90 days ………………………….. 23 %

     Cases settled within 90 – 150 days ………………. 15 %

     Cases settled after 150 days ……………………….. 62 %

    Scenario at the District level is very similar.

    [ Source : Economic Times / April 12, 2011 ]

    Apparently, road to “ Good Governance “ is paved with noble intentions !

    I hope that the Drafting Committee learns from this experience and builds-in provisions that ensure that the Lokpal Act ( when enacted ), does not meet the same fate.

    With regards

    hemen parekh

    Jobs for All = Peace on Earth

  3. (How does one get notified of new comments?)

    Tilted towards what media ‘chooses’ to maker its own.
    For example, say the “new airport at Bombay” or the “steel factory in Orissa” or the “labour wages at Honda” or the “retrenchment of workers at IITK” – these are things that mean very differently for the corporate, the middle class, and the workers or those displaced. The side media will take will have heavy influence on building public opinion allowing those involved to get away with little censure.

    The arm-chair-activists with their new found confidence may take up these issues as their own with little or no understanding whatsoever, to the detriment of the whole process, I think. (Over chat if you’ll ask, I will slip in a few names, and their “activism”).

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