Friday, August 26, 2011

How will Lokpal help exactly?

This article won't do 2 things:-
  1. Criticize the Government for a 'Jokepal', mishandling the fast issue and how corrupt it is since I haven't collected the data and don't believe every word media feeds into my mind.

  2. Criticize Anna Hazare for undemocratic ways, 'My way or Highway' attitude and other allegations put on him by Arundhati Roy.

What drives me here is curiosity. I know Anna wants to end corruption, and anti-corruption combatants are supposed to support his Lokpal Bill. I am just interested to know how would this end (or reduce) corruption? I am mainly infuriated at the media (especially spicy papers like TOI) who haven't laid emphasis on explaining its readers the clauses of Lokpal and rather emphasized on gathering support for the movement, portraying the government as an absolute villain. The question asked is: 'Are you against corruption?'. (see pic) The number of people who affirm the question somehow end up as the number of people supporting Jan Lokpal.

Currently we have some weak investigative bodies to combat cases regarding corruption, unable to deliver appropriate punishments to the corrupt. And we somehow believe this new body (Lokpal) would be able to tackle these cases once it is given the appropriate power. Since we feel so tired currently with so much corruption in our country, one can imagine the enormous number of cases the Lokpal would have to face. Of course, the 11 members at the top won't be handling each of these cases and would outsource them to what they currently call 'Lokyuktas'. The workload as stated would be enormous! It is natural for many of the workers to feel underpaid compared to the workload. So ultimately doesn't this become same as the current system? The people at the top maybe unimpeachable, but can we expect the whole hierarchy to be so honest? In a country where corruption is so widespread (within each of us as many may have told you already), it is tough to believe all of the honest ones would land up as Lokpal workers. Thus I have pointed out just the problem of corruption within the Lokpal. Of course, I know there are clauses against corruption by the Lokpal members.

The cases of corruption against Lokpal members would be investigated by members of another indepedent commitee. And what if members of this 3rd body are corrupt? Refer it to the 4th body, ad infintum. Passing between different bodies, wouldn't this be similar to the current situation, where a file is passed to so many officers with bribes at each stage, and thus the case being in limbo. After all, the Lokpal is a powerful body now and in a power to influence the decisions of the 3rd body, just like Government cynics argue the 'very powerful' members of the Government can influence decisions currently.

Isn't the assumption that the current set of people at the top are the most rotten, and Lokpal is providing us with alternatives with more integrity the foundation for the support amongst the common man. I personally don't believe currently the Cabinet Ministers are the most corrupt. It's just that the system is too flawed, so that they are unable to cope with the failings at the lower level. Similarly for the Lokpal- the members at the top maybe clean, but that guarantees nothing about the rest. What if members of the Lokpal tomorrow dream of contesting the next elections? Then with the power bestowed on the Lokpal, it would be another form of Opposition Party- intent on taking down the current Government, without the pains of having to debate each of its views publicly like the current Opposition.

However the biggest of all problems is this. If as a corrupt citizen who skips the red light and bribes Rs. 50 to the policeman, I can get away or I can get some other favor by paying off some government official, why would I bother to file a case against the official? In many cases nowadays, the offer is first made from the bribe-payer rather than bribe-seeker demanding it. If the offer is not made, legal action, such as fine or jail, is taken (because the rule was indeed broken and action is what a corruption-free society demands!). Thus most bribery cases would go unreported. If somehow I can pay the bribe and later file a complaint against the official for acceptint it, there is some serious flaw in the bill.

Personally, my opinion is in the favor of the bill being passed but I won't take to the streets to support the bill (I may go there for tourism though!) as I am not at all an ardent supporter of the bill. I just believe it is a step in combating corruption and a signal to the Government (as supporters say) they have to behave responsibly to survive. the power of regulations than incentives in many fields, and the regulations imposed by this Bill would be one of them, but am skeptic about the ability of the bill to resolve many corruption-related issues and seek answers on how the bill can combat corruption, considering the rooted-corruption in the country.

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