Random Thoughts
D Dhanuraj
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According to the Cambridge dictionary, the noun 'scam' means 'an illegal plan for making money'. It recent India, it has become a penchant brand. Corruption in post-independent India staged through different ages of sycophancy, greed, and cronyism. In the first two decades following Independence, many ministers were shown the door, when allegations of corruption were tabled on the floor of the house. The seventies saw a paradigm shift with the politics of Aaya Rams and Gaya Rams and the Emergency. The dominant Congress party started appeasing minorities and became dependent on regional parties. In a situation where 'give' and 'take' was the order of the power-sharing arrangement, the values and substance of the forefathers were dumped into garbage boxes, animated along the corridors of power.

However, the democratic process in India often reminded its lofty leaders of their duties and responsibilities by churning out surprise defeats. Several others, who entered the system advocating for a cleaner process with no corruption, ended up aligning with honchos in the trade.

Anna Hazare's crusade against corruption has been quoted as a 'clarion call' to clean up the mess created over the years. His fast unto death, immediate to India's winning the cricket World Cup, hit hard. The media frenzy was galore with the support and interest generated in other urban centres. The role of civil society organisations in India is on an upward trajectory and a reason for the same has been the failure of our leaders to rise to the expectations of their voters. Hazare's movement set the stage for the civil society and the political leadership to question each other on their interests and motives. Although I respect Hazare for his leadership, the Bhushans for their crusade against corruption through legal means (the failure of the judiciary to address these problems has created havoc) and the Khejriwals for the RTI movement, I beg to differ on a number of other aspects.

What exactly is civil society? There are said to be 3.3 million civil society organisations in India; many of which have only one or two staff members working towards personal goals in private domains. There is hardly one percentage of the total population that is involved in organised civil society movements. It is left to political parties to claim the first lap victory, because the sheer majority favours them. This goes against the valour and veracity of their versions of civil society in this movement. A few individuals (irrespective of their great work for this country) cannot usurp the post to dictate things at the highest level, unless they are elected by the people. There could have been a happier end, if they could have found a few youngsters to take it forward, just as MS Dhoni symbolises for the country. Unless that happens, there will be more questions on the legitimacy of the movement. If they believe that they represent the civil society, why can't they stand elections? In a country where political parties with a handful of MPs dictate the course of proceedings on the floor of the house, Aruna Roys and Medha Patkars can represent the voice of the people in a better way and restructure the system. What we require are changes in the system and reforms at various levels. Only then can it produce the desired end results, minimising the strokes of corruption in societal life. A mere bill will not help, but can act only as a catalyst.



The author is Chairman, Centre for Public Policy Research. He can be reached at dhanu@cppr.in

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