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An FAQ - Anna's movement, democracy, revolution and blackmail

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Governance

Bangalore is buzzing with it. Friends, colleagues at work, close Praja friends, everyone wants to either discuss it, or go visit Freedom Park. Watched a lot of TV, and read almost all major newspaper editorials last week. Disappointed with media, and a bit with intelligentsia as well for either trying to be artificially balanced, or for needlessly complicated and pointlessly intelligent arguments. Here is an attempt at an FAQ for the critics and supporters alike. Note: I am not associated with Team Anna. All attempts to speak on their behalf are purely personal, and based on what we have seen and heard through media recently.

1. Don't we have enough laws already to deal with this. How will a new one help?

May not help, but it will certainly NOT hurt. And who is saying that there should be no efforts made to make existing laws work? Who and What is stopping the government from moving forward on all related laws or proposals like police reforms, judicial reforms etc?

2. Isn't this a blackmail? and will set a bad precedent.

If it is then so be it. But it is not. Extraordinary situations require extraordinary methods. Not everyone can resort to such 'blackmail' for every issue. It is DAMN hard to get even 4 citizens of Bangalore to stand up with single voice on any single issue. When 40000 are doing it for a cause, it is an extraordinary situation.

3. Won't it set a bad precedent?

Why use the word bad? It would set a good precedent. No violence. Clear demands - make a Lokpal bill like this. And with some good homework - there is a clear 6-page document. And last, there is clean and popular support - this is not the Rs 250 a day crowd we see on other rallies and occasions.

4. But isn't Team Anna a closed unit, not open for input from others?

The draft they have put up was up on the Internet, and got 3000+ comments. Those who are complaining of not being heard haven't made any serious parallel efforts to create their drafts and push for it. There is no perfect way of carrying lakhs along on a written piece of document. This is close enough for me, solely because everyone knows what is beiung fought here.

5. Alright, but aren't they fixated with Jan Lokpal Bill like its the only thing under the sun?

Well not. Team Anna has talked of Electoral Reforms, Judicial reforms, Right to Service etc on many occasions. Just that some folks in the media want to portray them as a bunch of obdurate and arrogant people.

6. Allegation of funds misuse against Anna himself?

These sort of allegations should wake you up from your intelligentsia slumber (if you talk and think the same way as most media editorials - this is not the right way, why resort to blackmail etc etc). 2 lakh rupees "allegedly' used for his birthday, is that the best Congress I has got? Have the guts to publish your party funds first, have the guts to be democratic yourself first (as election commission guidelines say), prove that all personal expenses (Cricket match tickets, medical trip holidays etc etc) of your party bosses were paid from their personal accounts, and not government or party accounts. There is ABSOLUTELY no comparison between Team Anna and Congress-I as far as counts of skeletons in their closets is concerned.

7. But they say Anna misused those 2 Lakhs, isn't that bad?

I would still join him for a fast than join anyone else for a feast. I am impressed that the Rs 2 lakh thing was the worst the sarkaari witch hunt could dig out. Malice attempts of this sort should tell you that the Congress bosses have lots of things to hide from upcoming Lokpal.

8. But what about calling PM names, those 'not so nice' personal attack statements about other ministers?

These guys aren't used to leading such large crowds, they are overwhelmed. Most have never faced so many cameras and such large crowds before. Its natural to get emotional and get carried away at times. Our media excels in focusing on extraordinary statements and soundbytes these folks make. These are NOT your seasoned POLITICIANS, don't always expect them to say the politically right things.

9. Alright now, do you really think all those people joining the Anna movement have read or understood Jan Lokpal bill, and how it is 'better'?

May be they have not. But people understand that Anna has a strong bill to tackle corruption at top levels, where things seem to have been going on unchecked for long. That is enough. Everyone joining in doesn't have to take a reading comprehension test on the two draft bills. As long as they are not being forced to join in, as long as they are not being made to join in on false promises (this bill will get you jobs, this bill will help you get your khata), why would you have a problem?

10. So 2-5 lakh people joining a movement in a 1.2 billion strong country makes it a people's movement is it?

2-5 lakhs is Karan Thapar's number (hope you saw him play the Devil instead of Devil's advocate for a change on TV earlier today). 1.2 crore missed calls is perhaps the more real number. Without the money to bring in the Rs 250 a day people to these rallies, 5 lakh in person and 1.2 crore in spirit is no mean achievement. 70 crore were eligible to vote in in last LS elections, turnout was 59%. So 42 crore voted. Apppx 25% of votes were won by Cong-I. That gives you ~ 11 crores. 1.2 Crore is 10% of that number, sizable enough to be termed popular.

11. So if they have so much support, why don't they join politics themselves?

How do you know that they wont. They and perhaps some of you and me also probably will, but I am guessing only after we remove corruption that feeds all election campaigns. Only after some electoral reforms that will make fighting elections a level playing field. It right now is not.

12. Why not accept the best version from Parliament, and then press for amendments, basically go for a staged approach?

Why not finish the whole thing off through one big movement than do this again and again every 6 months? 2-3 months of struggle and stalemate, and we would all get a big first step completed. For an issue as monstrous as this, speed is the need. Stages will take ages.

13. Don't you think the UPA government is being targeted, a bit unfair?

It just so happens that they are in power. There is no directly Congress-I focused agenda in the campaign here. As far as UPA is concerned, you can say that this is the most corrupt government ever, or you could say that this is the first government that has put its ministers behind the bars. Make the call with  your vote, Team Anna is not taking that choice away from you.

14. What's the way out for UPA government now?

They only know why their hands are tied. But who is stopping them from looking ahead and beyond Jan Lokpal? Just start on Electoral Reforms, put up an example for other parties by installing democracy inside Congress-I itself, take up Police Reforms, Judicial reforms, freedom for CBI, deep audit of PDS or NREGS like social programs to understand the pilferage etc etc etc. The list of things they can do to show they too are serious, in fact more serious and more knowledgeable than Team Anna is pretty long. Just start on it and see the crowds turn around. One can always steal the march.

15. That is fine, but the current stalemate?

Perhaps a sincere promise that you would put up a stronger bill up in the parliament? Or let multiple versions be debated? Or, explain why you are opposed to certain provisions in the Team Anna version? Will have to leave this FAQ item unanswered.

Comments

kbsyed61's picture

Spin is, either JLP or nothing?

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SB,

After reading through the FAQ, the only message I get is same as that Team Anna is saying. Either you are with us or with them. Do I have to be only in 2 camps? Can't I have my right and freedom to be where I want to?

What ever the spin you may want to give after painting the govt and politician black, the message in your FAQ is same - JLP or nothing.

I am little surprised. Till the other day we were counseled to work with govt, improve the system not create parallel ones, be on the govt side not become opponents, you be the agent change not the master of the change ,avoid RTI to the extent possible etc.

No problem, perceptions change, convictions change.

Will the centralized structure proposed in both versions is the way to go? Can it be decentralized or compartmentlized as suggested by NCPRI draft?

 

 

kbsyed61's picture

Definition changes based on quantity?

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Should the definition of corruption changes depending upon who indulges in it and how much? 2 lakh or 2 lakh crore? NGOs or Politician?

Will this amount to corruption?

...members of Team Anna have also been associated with Youth for Equality, the anti-reservation (pro-“merit”) movement? The campaign is being handled by people who run a clutch of generously funded NGOs whose donors include Coca-Cola and the Lehman Brothers. Kabir, run by Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, key figures in Team Anna, has received $400,000 from the Ford Foundation in the last three years.

Source - The Hindu

sanjayv's picture

The FAQ

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I agree completely with SB's FAQ.  Had been to Freedom Park this weekend with my family.  After having been to anti corruption marches with a few hundred people, or even compared to the crowds in the previous fast version, it is gratifying just to see people out on the streets and protesting.  So yes, there are flaws, and the approach of my way or the highway does make one uncomfortable.

However, what this protest and mass support shows is also how the various arms of our government - the executive, the legislature and even the judiciary have lost their credibility with the people. It also shows that people want strong, meaningful action on corruption.  That is the level of input you can expect a several lakh or several crore people to give. The constitution of India was not written by our millions.  Similarly this law has to be crafted by people with superb knowledge and skill. They also have to explain the provisions and logic to us.

For that, I am loath to trust a legislature that passes 17 bills in 20 minutes, a judiciary which grinds interminably, seems incapable of handling corruption within its ranks and is arbitrary many a times and an executive which does not to do the job it is supposed to do more often than is justifiable.

@ Syed - look, we all do not have blinders on reading only Pro Anna news and thinking how perfect this movement is.  I for one am genuinely uncomfortable with certain aspects of the Jan Lokpal bill .  When thinking about the bill, I find myself really unsure about what makes sense... PM in or out?  All govt employees or only Group A employees?  All these need extensive research, people with a detailed understanding of the functioning of the government and all the existing laws and rules to craft a law with the right checks and balances. If a lot of smart people talk about it, I am willing to invest the time to read, listen, research understand and say what makes sense to me. That is all most of us who have no expertise in the area can do.

Somehow I get the feeling you are intent on proving here that something is really wrong with team Anna.  The way to look at this movement is that people are really sick and tired of corruption and have lost faith in our existing institutions. Many are gravitating to the next available credible alternative.  I heard this from many people who spent time in Bangalore traffic last week which was exceptionally bad in ways you cannot even imagine sitting around Washington DC.  They said and I quote - " I am suffering on these roads, had to walk 6 kms to office and almost got killed several times on the road today because of this corruption", and they went to Freedom park the same day! These are all well educated, intelligent people.  That is all this support for Anna is - people saying we are sick of this and that they trust Anna's team and draft more than our institutions and the people populating those institutions.

idontspam's picture

Till the other day we were

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Till the other day we were counseled to work with govt, improve the system not create parallel ones, 

Done that for 40+ years for this issue, no? What results? Why isnt anybody stating the reasons for rejecting the 10 points team anna have made? I have only heard of the PM/Judiciary not being covered argument what about the other 8?

silkboard's picture

Syed - Media and quotes

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Have you wondered why media has taken the consitutional high ground in this case. Most of them are advising Anna to play by the book (which he is, just stretching it a bit, because it needs to be).

What right does media have to take such convenient stands?

  • It has the most information on corruption that goes on at higher levels? Why does it hide behind "won't publish till we have clear proof" argument to hide MONUMENTAL amount of information from us?
  • Where is good coverage on corruption in Media? Day after day, all the TV media does is get 4-5 people to the studio and get them all to talk and show the world how bad Indians are with group discussions. The cacophony is cheap, not much money to spend, quotes from third party individuals on the fly. Where is detailed journalistic work, or documentary on corruption? Where is the coverage of common-man, day to day hassles?
  • When you ask the Media - why do you guys have politicians and Movie stars on front page and prime time everyday, they would say, we put up what people want. Why not take the high-ground then? Why are you not speaking what people want today?
  • Where are your random interviews with people on the street who have things to say AGAINST Anna's movement? Where are your alternatives? Which channel has hired experts to draft a merged version of Lokpal bill (some have, most haven't)?

When it comes to "shaping India", Media is almost bankrupt. It clearly seems UPSET at having lost the chance to lead a movement, shape a movement. It better learn a lesson that following the tide is old world Doordarshan approach. If it needs to play 'by the book', and wants to 'shape the tide' and not just follow it, THIS IS NOT the time.

Go expose sources of funds for political parties. Go expose the real costs incurred in standing for elections. Go expose the state of democracy in all political parties. And then PREACH us on democracy and political science rule book.

silkboard's picture

you are mixed up Syed

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Hadn't read the first comment, so a reply

Till the other day we were counseled to work with govt, improve the system not create parallel ones, be on the govt side not become opponents, you be the agent change not the master of the change ,avoid RTI to the extent possible etc.

Absolutely. And I am still doing that. Will go to a Mahadevapura Task Force meeting this week. Will plead BMTC to take up Bus Priority System in full. Will request BESCOM to share their operational data for opendata project. Will meet state e-governance department to ask for help in accessing government data. Will make one more request to Mr Praveen Sood for police station wise traffic violation data, before finally doing the RTI to pain him. etc etc. Nothing has changed there Syed.

But, all actions don't need to be driven by blanket black or white calls and rules. Why do we need to have the ego - oh, I have taken that stand, I need to stick to it. That firm-stand and ideology based talk is SO OLD WORLD. The need is to be objective. Chase what you want, and pick your best way of chasing it. I am confident that hunger strike isn't the best way of working with BMTC. They listen if you just go and talk to them. Likewise for some other departments for the kind of things we are working on.

But this is different. Expecting people to trust a government which put its 3 ministers in jail ONLY AFTER relentless calls of shame-shame is a bit unrealistic. But as I said, nothing against UPA in particular. It just so happens that they are in power when this has reached a crescendo.

These guys sent the memos, emails, etc for 5 months (Dec to April 2011), didn't start straightaway with their threats and fasts. I am still AGAINST an all powerful Lokpal, concentrated power without checks and balances is bad, but at the same time I am CONFIDENT that checks and balances will be added once the Jan Lokapl Bill or similar goes through the consultation process. I have that FAITH in our democratic process.

I would rather have Anna change his demand to "put my version up in the parliament" than "pass my version". But, like idontspam said above, they aren't perfect, but 60-70% there. Good enough for me to put my hopes in them.

kbsyed61's picture

@SB - I still have faith!

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SB,

Differences apart, I am with you on

"I am CONFIDENT that checks and balances will be added once the Jan Lokapl Bill or similar goes through the consultation process. I have that FAITH in our democratic process."

But which consultation process?  "Standing Committee" proceedings and discussion in parliament part of that process?

On one front, I strongly object to the tolerance for name calling on either side. The slang match is not on street or between not so sophisticated persons. This is between well informed, educated and eloquent ones. More so if the person of justice Hegde stature taking a swipe at PM's turban doesn't have a place in the democracy that you and me have the great faith in. Hegde might however dislike PM, his actions and policies but must have the respect the position that it deserves. Same goes for the torch bearers of civil society and govt spokespersons. Apolitical experience is no excuse for incivility.

kbsyed61's picture

@sanjay - This is what I am also saying

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Sanjay,

This is exactly what I am also trying to say

All these need extensive research, people with a detailed understanding of the functioning of the government and all the existing laws and rules to craft a law with the right checks and balances. If a lot of smart people talk about it, I am willing to invest the time to read, listen, research understand and say what makes sense to me. That is all most of us who have no expertise in the area

Just to make it clear, I am not against the JLP version or Anna movement, because as you said I am as ignorant as you are and i don't know how this is going to play out, but always believed in final product after consultations. 2 minds are better than 1, 3 better than 2....

My only concern and question was should we forgo/short-circuit the existence processes? May be we need to? Things will not stop at JLP becoming law. We need more legislation to get to our goal - Corruption Free nation so that we could proudly say we are a country with rule of law. That's all.

As you had articulated, I do see a churning out of this movement. I sincerely hope and pray for churning to result in positive ways.

On different note, FYI, while sitting in Washington DC, I too try to keep abreast myself with all that is happening in India and Bangalore, thanks to newspapers and channels like NDTV, IBNLive. But that is no substitute to being in Bengaluru.

silkboard's picture

exactly

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But that is no substitute to being in Bengaluru.

If you are feeding on the 'balanced' coverage from Media houses (watched Karan Thapar's Devli's advocate yesterday, where he tried his best to put words in Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan's mouths. Wrote this FAQ after seeing that program, was so disgusted with Mr Thapar's childish approach), you would probably end up with the views that you have.

Not that being in Bangalore would give you access to different news sources. Just that if you were to be here, you would probably be running around and experiencing the corruption driven hassles that are at the root of all this.

My only concern and question was should we forgo/short-circuit the existence processes?

Its not like these people are asking some other parliament to pass the law. The process is like this: I bring up a proposal to my MP, and request him to take forward. What is different here? A bit of a stretch (Anna's fast, but only after the existing process DID NOT work), but this is mostly by the book and by your processes.

The demand is for putting up a draft that they see to be more powerful. And as Arvind Kejriwal clearly told Karan Thapar yesterday (he seemed to be wearing ear plugs though), that he is okay with any draft that has the basic principles (which I am assuming are things like 1) an impartial/better nomination process for Lokapl so that parties don't put up their guys 2) inclusion of PM in scope and more). I am sure some of these "principles" would be unreasonable. If so, then those would go out as more debates happen.

How many bills in past have seen such levels of debate and awareness? I think this draft has already seen the most amount of debate, and carries the most amount of collective wisdom than many others in the past.

kbsyed61's picture

Actually media is feeding IAC campaign!

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SB,

My views are not based on just Karan Thapar's interviews. My views are based on some facts that I view it as important and critical. It may not be for you. That doesn't mean one is wrong and other is right. It is all about one's perceptions. I view that interview differently with Arvind and Prashanth fumbling with clear stand from "only our version to stronger version", "should be passed to place in the parliament". In anycase each one sees it differently and I do see it differently.

SB you should be complimenting the electronic media for doing a wonderful job of telecasting 24/7 of proceedings from Ramlila grounds. IAC team couldn't have asked for more. The script is very well working.

Full marks to Anna team for using the media outlets for the kind of publicity. Who will cover it for free?

silkboard's picture

what do I get from it

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Yes, agreed.

you should be complimenting the electronic media for doing a wonderful job of telecasting 24/7 of proceedings from Ramlila grounds.

But what do I get by watching 24/7 live coverage? When all channels show the exact same thing (screaming reporter gasping for breath at Ramlila maidan, few experts in the studio), what's the point? Only way they differentiate is by getting different sets of people for those "panel discussions".

Why not things like

  • Detailed report on how CVC works, what they have and they have not been able to do? How did CBI become a puppet, some history and examples?
  • How big is corruption? Really. Some estimates?
  • Business houses and corruption, how do they account for "political donations" that they give?
  • How does neta-babu nexus work?
  • Report on state and funcitoning of state-level Lokayuktas?
  • etc etc

Media needs to understand and explain how come things have come to such a level. Panel debates and studio interviews don't cut it anymore.

kbsyed61's picture

So far media is one sided.

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SB,

You must agree that media specially the electronic one has presented only the spectacle of the whole issue. In doing so they have only presented one side of the story. In this case only Anna phenomenon has been projected. As you had articulated, all other sides have been ignored.

I totally agree with you as to how media could have helped the caused. But unfortunately it never does what we would have liked to. Result is a mjority of us including me still trying to figure what, which version make sense? What would be the correct formulations? Potential risks? Pitfalls?

kbsyed61's picture

Selection process of Lokpal!

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For whatever reasons, questions are raised against the existing process in dealing with various aspects of governance including corruption.

Let us look at at existing practice of selection of statutory positions like Election Commissioners, CAG, CIC etc. In each of these, govt nominees it choice and gets OK from others like opposition leader etc. The experience so far is that barring few aberrations, these have worked effectively sometime rightly so almost making the life difficult for the govt that they appointed them. Seshan for Cong and Non-Cong Govts, Lyngodh for BJP etc. Take the example of current CAG Vinod Rai. He is been projected as the man who has rocked the UPA boat. Look at the marvelous job done by first CIC Wajahat Habibullah who ensured that RTI is implemented in letter and spirit of its objectives.

There are 2 lessons from this. Current practices which existed for 40+ years, do work. It is the personalities that make these positions relevant in India and strengthens Indian system of governance. Underlying sub text here is the "Right Candidate" and the question is how he/she is to be selected/appointed.

okay with any draft that has the basic principles (which I am assuming are things like 1) an impartial/better nomination process for Lokpal so that parties don't put up their guys

Now for Lokpal a different approach is being suggested. If this suggestion is to be accepted, then should other constitutional positions be filled up the same way?

Or Lokpal also be selected/appointed in the manner in which other constitutional heads are appointed.

ramesh_mbabu's picture

Re: Selection process of Lokpal!

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From page 6 of http://www.lokpalbillconsultation.org/docs/lokpalbill2_2.pdf

5. A selection committee consisting of the following shall be set up:
a. The Prime Minister of India
b. Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha
c. Two youngest judges of Supreme Court
d. Two youngest Chief Justices of High Courts.
e. Comptroller and Auditor General of India
f. Chief Election Commissioner
g. After the first set of selection process, the outgoing members and Chairperson of Lokpal.

I fail to understand from the above and the rest of the paras what is earth shattering in the suggestions to instill fear in certain sections in government and outside. Except the opposition leader, every one else is part of or appointed by the government. Other than the unusually large size of the selection committee, I could not find any difference.

On a side note, I still remember the tactics played by the then goverment in making the EC a multi member panel with a sole intention control T N Sheshan. It is not long ago, the much hailed appointment process was quashed by SC in case of CVC.

psaram42's picture

Arundhati Roy and Anna

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@kbsyed 

For completely different reasons, and in completely different ways, you could say that the Maoists and the Jan Lokpal Bill have one thing in common — they both seek the overthrow of the Indian State.

What a humongous thought! What a ridiculous comparison!

It was the elected governments themselves who have brought in Lokaukta / Lokpal concept to audit “corruption”. Being elected does not mean that one can break the existing legal framework for illegal gains Examples:-

  1. Former CM of Karnataka
  2. Central ministers like Raja
  3. Bofors Scam of a former PM

Maoists on the other hand have a valid point for getting the support of the likes of Arundhati Roy.

Probably Anna has a point to ask for his simple Jan Lokpal bill. Pass the bill and get going!

sanjayv's picture

sitting in Washington DC

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Dear Syed

On different note, FYI, while sitting in Washington DC, I too try to keep abreast myself with all that is happening in India and Bangalore, thanks to newspapers and channels like NDTV, IBNLive. But that is no substitute to being in Bengaluru.

Just want to be clear that the reference to Washington DC was not intended to be a dig at you.  I have been in a similar place - living in the US and following events in India.  What I've realized since coming back is that at times it is just depressing to live here. For example, our local BWSSB Engineer gives water from the GLR (Ground Level Reservoir) to the tanker mafia who come and sell it to me (my apartment) at about 6-7 times the rate of BWSSB water. 

We are fighting it, but think about it.  So much corrruption in just delivery of basic services.  To fight this is also a longish battle, as we are finding out. It really is something else to live here and experience life as it exists. 

mp's picture

This is just a first step and not a "Silver Bullet"

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We are setting ourself up for dissapointment if we think that once the cicvil society version of the Lokpal bill gets passed our corruption issues will be rooted out. This is not to suggest that anyone on this forum is naive to think that way. But surely a majority of the the public joining the crusade look at the bill as a Silver Bullet cure.

This is where Team Hazare needs to communicate and educate the followers better. Hopefully they adopt a more long-term approach to this crusade and do not just keep the passage of the bill as thier solitary goal. It is merely the first step. The Bill is just a tool - but requires a tremendous amount of infrastructure creation to be effective. Team Hazare need to anticipate this and create follow-up goals, BEFORE  the government agrees (if at all) to the Jan Lokpal. The groundswell of support should not be allowed to dissipate once the bill is passed but should be channelled to focus attention on the next steps. 

For now, as rightly pointed out by sanjayv we take solace in the movement, and we get the solace out of the perception that we are doing something (effective or not), in the face of the alarmingly and precipitously deteriorating public service delivery. Reality might be, (operative word here - might), that the jailing of the politicians and the industry heads is probably a far greater deterrent (for the next year or so :-)) for would-be scammers than this movement itself. But the movement can help put in place an institution that can foster prevention of corruption.

Finally,

@SB - kudos for initiating this thought provoking discussion and the FAQ. 
@kbsyed, for really questioning the herd mentality. It has to be done and I admire your closely following happenings at home sitting so far away. It would have been tempting in your position to take on a cynical "i give up" approach when you cannot contribute or experience things first-hand.

idontspam's picture

Corruption & BWSSB

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 For example, our local BWSSB Engineer gives water from the GLR (Ground Level Reservoir) to the tanker mafia who come and sell it to me (my apartment) at about 6-7 times the rate of BWSSB water

Offtopic but this reminds me, talking to CiSTUP this weekend it was mentioned that apparently 44% is the water T&D losses from source to the home. Shocking figure. only half the water we intended to get even reaches our homes. I was definitely thinking pilferage but It just struck me after this point that a large %age might be related to selling to the tanker mafia by corrupt BWSSB officials rather than covert pilferage at the farm lands!

sanjayv's picture

water and BWSSB

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Continuing briefly on this even though off topic. Yeah, the BWSSB T&D losses are amazing.  They also do not have enough metering in the system to nail down where the leaks happen or how much water goes where based on an article I saw recently somewhere. There is a lot I can talk about this, but will leave that for another time and place.

idontspam's picture

3 points by the IAC makes so

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3 points by the IAC makes so much sense

1) Cover lower level officers so retail level corruption is addressed

2) Make lokayuktas cover all states

3) Set SLA's for service delivery & penalize if its not met

The last point is something we at Praja have been talking about for a while now. I really cant believe if these common sense items are not being covered by the govt lokpal then what is the govt lokpal really about?

kbsyed61's picture

Many more might have been overlooked or leftout!

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There could be many been more important issues could have been left out in govt bills or any other bills. Only a dispassionate critique of all apsects could only bring all these to fore.

Then question would be how this could be achieved? Start could be standing committee? Again this process needs also to be open and tarnsparent, right now it is not. Since the IAC voice is being touted as popular voice, standing committee process is almost junked. Now only platform left is discussion in parliament. Even on that difeferent spins are given. Most vocal seems to just introduce JLP in parliament and pass it.

With all our own differences and disagreements, I am hopefull that law making process in India will not be same as before. But that hope is contingent upon full particpation from all citizens.

abidpqa's picture

Regarding difference between

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Regarding difference between 2 drafts, the point regarding witness protection is very important. Without witness protection clauses the Lokpal is meaningless. Many people who have complained to Lokayukta are suffering also RTI activists. The laws are created by the state, and it has the duty to defend it. Those who point out violation of laws, witnesses, are working for the states and need to be protected. Now it seems like, to appear as a witness is a duty of the citizen, but state has no duty protect those who help it.

mp's picture

Witness protection & Prevention of blackmail of the innocent...

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very true abidpqa.

Witness protection is crucial to make this successful at all levels.

Also important is prevent misuse of this to threaten/blackmail people in power. Should not be misused like the dowry act is misused sometimes.

These are aspects of the infrastructure of the JLP that needs to built around to create a strong institution.

Anithasunil's picture

1) Cover lower level officers

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1) Cover lower level officers so retail level corruption is addressed

2) Make lokayuktas cover all states

3) Set SLA's for service delivery & penalize if its not met

 

I agree with that the three points are important. But, I guess the govt stand might be that the points 1 & 3 should be tackled through the right to services act. That way, govt can keep the size of the lokpal agency under check.

Any organisation will have a pyramid hierarchy, and when you include the lowest level of officers in the lokpal bill, you either need to make sure you can run a lokpal agency of that size, or relax the constraint that investigation on any case will be finished in a year, or, the investigations cant be thorough.

The tradeoffs have to be studied well.

Consider the solution of having the right to services act, with the provision of complaining to a higher authority, if the right is violated, and the higher authority should come within the purview of Lokpal. That will enable the govt to keep all the promises given in Lokpal. They have a smaller set of people to monitor, and hence requrie a smaller agency. Corruption at lower level should get checked by the officers in the corresponding department, coming under the purview of Lokpal.

 

 

idontspam's picture

1 & 3 should be tackled

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1 & 3 should be tackled through the right to services act. That way, govt can keep the size of the lokpal agency under check.

What is the workload of the lokpal today? Why do you think it will be bigger than any of the other arms like the judiciary? Today individual states are passing right to service acts how is it being policed? Who do you complain to on violation, the govt? Going back to trusting the govt to self police? If state lokayukta is monitoring the right to service act & it comes under the lokpal then what is different in the point being made?

 Corruption at lower level should get checked by the officers in the corresponding department, coming under the purview of Lokpal.

Dont undersand this? so are you saying they should be under the lokpal?

Anithasunil's picture

I am not sure of the workload

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I am not sure of the workload of lokpal presently. But, the difference in comparison with the judiciary is that, for lokpal, one of the clauses being discused is that investigation of any compliant should be completed within one year.

Without that clause the lokpal will become very week. And with that, you have to limit the total number of cases coming to the lokpal, to ensure they can do what is being promised. One way of doing that is by excluding the lower level of officers from the purview of lokpal.

And about "Corruption at lower level should get checked by the officers in the corresponding department, coming under the purview of Lokpal."

It works the same way an in an office.. If i have a complaint in office, i go to my manager. if he fails, I go to the dept manager, and then, maybe to the director of the center. Even then if it doesnt get adressed, you go to the court. And, now when I go to the court, I am not complaining against the manager, but against many in the hierarchy.

Similarly, I go to a govt office, and a peon asks for bribe. Or, an officer violates my right to services. I go to his superior. And hope to get a response. If I dont get a response, maybe I go to the next level. And hopefully, this next level officer comes under the purview of Lokpal, and should be held accountable for it.

Hopefully, if the Lokpal agency is effective, and is able to complete investigation againstthe corrupt officials, not many complaints will get escalated to the higher level.

Whatever system is built against corruption, the system being scalable is as important as having maximum coverage.

 

 

idontspam's picture

 the system being scalable is

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 the system being scalable is as important as having maximum coverage.

Why do you believe they are mutually exclusive? Give me examples where having maximum coverage has failed in being scalable.

Anithasunil's picture

Example of the Judicial system

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Indian judicial system is an example. The number of cases in front of it has grown so much that cases go on for years.. Atleast, we cant limit the coverage in case of the judicial system.. In case of lokpal, we can do that...

And any new system should be a cost-benefit tradeoff..

Question is do we have to set up such a big agency in one go? Without even consider other alternatives? Such as covering some part of it though other measures such as land acquisition bill, right to services act, etc?

silkboard's picture

Can't scale not good enough excuse

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@mp, others - thanks for thought provoking comments.

Things have come to such a state that whatever the cost, it has to be paid to get an effective Lokpal institution going. Support from Lokayuktas, may be CBI reporting to it in some capacity, unprecedented transparency from the word go, having Greivence cells of all other departments report to Lokpal or Lokayukta - I am sure there would be ways to make this new institution effective.

Judiciary may have backlog, but it does work. Seems to me that Lokpals and Lokayuktas will only add to their load. So the Judicial Reforms bill would need a closer look.

We are not the experts in drafting laws, but are certainly the top guns in listing what we want from the law

  1. One or two "go to bodies" for all "denial of service" complaints. To me, denying any service is corruption, whether the guy on the other side of table asks for money or not. I am also denied due to caste, color, status, place of origin as well. Such denial too is "misuse of discretionary power for personal gain or bias", aka corruption.
  2. Need very clear rules for making the "denial of service" complaints. Through one huge lokpal bill, or through each state's Right to Service act, I don't care. But I need to know when to complain, for ex:, if I don't get my land registration papers or a written reply saying what documents are missing in x days, then I have the right to complain.
  3. Want full transparency on status of my complaint. I want to check and make sure that my complaint is taken as seriously as complaints from film stars and VIPs. I want to make sure that there is no VIP system or Tatkal process for processing these complaints.
  4. I would want the officers having most complaints against their name investigated suo-motu.
  5. Last, I want (besides higher and fair pays for government employees) asset listing of all administrative officers above certain level.

Think from "denial of service", and not corruption. I think this is the line some people in Team Anna have taken, that's why the focus on "citizen's charter'. Why the focus on "denial of service"? Because:

  • How would you make an allegation of corruption without it actually happening. How would you prove that the officer asked for a bribe? By carrying voice recorders or hidden cameras all the time?
  • What if I misuse the bias against government to "target" some officers?
  • Only clean way is "denial of service". I don't want the hassles of trips to Lokpal or Lokayukta courts after I make the complaint. All I should need to give LP/LA etc is 1) my "request" or "file" 2) proof of date of submission, that's it.

And BTW, the backlog may be huge to begin with, but once the fear sets in, it should reduce dramatically.

Now, saying that all this is impractical is not good enough. Dear lawmakers, just figure how this will work. Raise my tax rates by 5% if you need to for creating new departments. 5% extra white-money tax will remove the 10-15% corruption-tax that I pay to get almost anything done. So net-net, I stand to gain.

Mani1972's picture

How do we change the system?

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Dear SB and Others,

After being with PRAJA for more than 3 years, I feel that I can safely express my personal opinion, without being misquoted or misunderstood!

If we are looking for changing the system, then, what team Anna did was just a push. Nobody knows if the direction is the right. I also have my doubts.

Because, one has to identify the rot to remove it. Corrupt politicians or officers are the symptom, not the cause. What enables them to be corrupt? Why does the system enables 60% be corrupt? Going by the mathematics, and 'bell curve', are we a corrupt nation?

It needs much more than a strong Lokpal to tackle the menace of corruption. Superman can't tackle corruption. No individual can. But, information and awarness can. Why are we not putting our time and energy into this sufficiently? It may take 100 walks to the office, but then, thats what will shake the foundation of corruption.

BESCOM is ready for making public disclosure of all its financial dealings, 7 days prior, for public comments. Who will help us in that? (I will be talking to SB on this) Lets work on making information public. That will be an effective weapon in the fight against corruption.

Manivannan

kbsyed61's picture

Also a function of Demand and Supply!

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Manivannan Sir,

Transparency is indeed a step in right direction for arresting the menace of corruption, but certainly not the 'ONLY' factor.

Corruption exists because there exists gap in demand and supply, service is provided on provider's discretion and partly due to regulations.

Take the example of alleged corruption involved in getting a telephone connection in pre-Mobile era. That phenomenon has now almost come to a nil % as a phone connection is available on demand even if it had to be a mobile phone rather than land line. In any case purpose is served. Point is if conventional mode is not available, provide the alternate mode.

Likewise, in power/electricity also, a major point of corruption can be eliminated by enabling the systems and process to provide the new service on demand. Process should be to make the availability as norm and denial an exception. To me this is most difficult compare to Corruption in other areas of operation.

Other areas like Procurement, recruitment can be tackled with more transparent and simpler processes which are promising steps.

I do hope that you and your team would be successful in bringing in these changes.

-Syed

tsubba's picture

for what it is worth my

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for what it is worth my opinion. i for one am not waiting for the perfect bhagawan, mahdi to arrive and solve our problem. team anna et al., may or may not be be perfect i dont care. but they are the ones with a possible solution. the other side are imperfect too, have no solutions and are known to be the actively fomenting the problems and show no signs of solving it.

for me my way or highway makes perfect sense. because the 'my-way' is the only real solution out there at the moment. and given how much the other side benefits from status-quo i dont see how they are going to change it, the other side will have to be super-human do gooders, to change it. as i said i dont believe in super-humans or demi-gods or even gods to intervene.

balance will only come from two equal and opposite forces reacting against each other.

 

Mani1972's picture

I agree!

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Dear syed and tsubba,

I perfectly agree with you both! Transparency alone will not be sufficient. We need to make 'availability' as a norm. If you had noticed something, in government dealings, 'rejection' is the norm. Meaning, government works on mistrust. It disbelieves itself and common man. It starts with 'rejection' or 'mistrust', and one has to provide evidence to clear the mistrust so that she/he is eligible to get that service. To get any service from government, you have to 'prove' that you are eligible! And that leads to long applications and forms and what not! Think about it. Does the government has a option to trust the very subject it governs? Or it doesn't?

I agree with tsubba. Currently we do not seem to have a 'better' alternative. But, transparency, and systemic changes are as good as Anna, if not better than that! Then why are we not getting excited about it or come to roads to demand transparency? Why there are no protests for absence of public disclosure? Why the expenditure I make on hiring software guys to make information transparent is termed as 'unnecessary drain on exchequer', as it is not mandated currently?

Democratic governments do listen to people. They have to. Anna phenomenon is an example. But, what should be our demand? A Lok pal bill or public disclosure? Why don't we walk on the road asking for public disclosure law?

Manivannan

silkboard's picture

Manivannan - great! will call you ASAP to proceed

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Excellent. Lets just do something to set the ball rolling on Disclosure and Transparency, without which, nobody can ever fight corruption and communication gap between government and praja :)

Manivannan, will call you today itself to get started. We have done some ground work to build a technology framework for enabling sharing of data. time to put those in action.

cheers,

SB aka Pranav

kbsyed61's picture

Change in service provider changes equation?

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Manivannan,

You have summarized the quagmire of provision of service by the government very well. To your question:

Does the government has a option to trust the very subject it governs? Or it doesn't?

Will the equation changes if the domain for government changes? Should the domain of government shift from service provider to being enforcer and regulator for fair service to the customers?

Will the trust equation remains same if the responsibility of provision of service is transferred to PRIVATE entity?

-Syed

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