CORRUPTION TAX

Now, that is the news of the day – in fact a human-connect story deserving special mention.

Justice Arun Chaudhari of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court today observed that ‘corruption is a hydra-headed monster’ while hearing a fund embezzlement case. He said that time had arrived that we stop paying taxes if the government failed to curb corruption.

This observation is important – even if it is not going to be far reaching – because on the ground nothing is going to change.

Corruption is a malaise that has become chronic in our society – has become a way of life – so much so that we keep on hearing occasional debates on ‘legalizing convenience fee of bets’.

Yes, one way or the other, we all are corrupt, and we all are victims of corruption – but what is basic difference here – between a person who is habitually/chronically corrupt and someone who is forced to be corrupt/who is occasionally corrupt.

Well, most of us are occasional corrupts. We are forced to be part of the wheel based on circumstances and even then most of us don’t go beyond petty, harmless corrupt practices.

But those all of us do something serious that we don’t realize by doing so.

By doing so, we harden even more the souls of those who are chronic corrupts, those for whom corruption has become a way of life, a habitual necessity, a compulsive draw in.

Those some millions, who feed of hundreds of millions of us.

That is the basic difference – of conscience.

While we feel bad in doing something corrupt or unethical, those are hardened souls, enjoy indulging in all, butchery, all savagery, all trickery.

Observation by the High Court judge is important in that context that for the first time a high level member of a constitutional pillar of India has remarked so.

That, in a way, reflect the way our thinking is going – something that was reflected in the unprecedented support to the civil society movement of 2011 that was launched to force the government to take some concrete action on corruption – starting from the Jan Lokpal Bill – to establish an anti-corruption ombudsman.

That shows, hundreds of millions of us, who are forced/occasional corrupts, can take the corrective path based on our conscience – based on flow the society takes. The judge said according to a media report, “The miasma (unholy atmosphere) of corruption can be beaten if all work together. If it continues, taxpayers’ should refuse to pay taxes through a non-cooperation movement.”

Yes, it may seem farfetched but this ‘not paying taxes if the government fails to curb corruption’ is a good thought this sort of ‘corruption tax’ should be taken further.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY THE POLITICAL EXPERIMENT CALLED AAP FAILED? – THE LEGACY OF THE STRUCTURAL FLAW OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION MOVEMENT OF 2011

With the drama that culminated in yesterday’s events at the Aam Aadmi Party’s National Council meet where Arvind Kejriwal was officially crowned as the larger than life king of the party, the thought, if there was any behind the move to transition to a political alternative from an activism background, was also officially buried.

And it can be traced back to the core elements that led to failure of the anti-corruption movement of 2011. The movement was led by Anna Hazare. He was the face of it. Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan, Kiran Bedi, Yogendra Yadav, Santosh Hegde, Medha Patkar and many others were its active soldiers.

And Arvind Kejriwal was its main strategist. His strategy worked very well when it got the mass appeal of Anna Hazare. But after the brilliant success of April and August legs of the movement in 2011, the slide began.

The December 2011 fast by Anna Hazare in Mumbai was a debacle. Similar was the fate of others that followed.

That leads us to think that the movement was poorly strategized (or was deliberately done so) as when it came to build further on the mass appeal and the localized initial spurt, there were no serious headways. The basic need was the faces beyond the localized pockets in several regions of the country.

But faces didn’t come. Instead, those who had built it, started leaving the movement due to internal differences and ideological rifts. Those who were there tried to maintain their eminence.

The movement ultimately failed due to its structural flaws.

It can be seen in social media response. The traditional media came subsequently. There were many flip-flops on the commitment to the core issue of ‘corruption’. Add to it the personal bickering among the group members and display of personal agenda in the public and we had a perfect recipe for disaster. That too, reflected in the social media trends.

Anna Hazare, the old Team Anna, the new Team Anna and the members of Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘Aam Aadmi Party’, all were in the news throughout 2012 for different reasons. The common thread among them was they were consistently talking about ‘change’ and the ‘politics of change’. Yet, they didn’t stir the imagination of the youth. The social media was almost not talking about them (except the routine stuff and the existing support base).

Anna Hazare was the major factor that led the youth to trust and accept the call. But once it was clear that the movement was hijacked by the vested interests, they simply moved away from it. The vigourous activity on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media platforms that was there during the April 2011 and September 2011 fasts had flattened later on.

The goodwill eroded – The Team Anna that gave us the AAP had much of the blame to share. Consistent flurry of controversies after August 28, 2011 especially with members like Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Bhushan duo corroded much of the goodwill.

Dislocated functionality – Good names like Rajinder Singh, PV Rajagopal left. Others aired their displeasure about functioning of the ‘core committee’. ‘India Against Corruption’ happened to be a 21-member effort but we were listening to and hearing none but these four-five faces. No replacements came. No fresh faced joined the movement. It had been an area of utter failure that Team Anna created itself.

Empty words – Sometimes impregnated with political overtures like expanding the ‘core committee’ with multilayered structure giving representation to all sections of society like Dalits, Muslims – such promises were made multiple times but nothing happened except confrontation and war of words with the government and its representatives as well as the intensifying internal differences of Team Anna.

Ethically wrong – Campaigning in Hisar was a historical mistake for this anti-corruption movement. When the movement was all about anti-corruption, taking partisan steps even remotely linked to helping someone with questioned credentials win should not have been practiced. Kiran Bedi’s defence of her inflated bills controversy was just absurd. In yet another disappointing move, Anna, more or less, justified his ‘Pawar’s just one-slap’ statement when he blogged about it. Here a Gandhian said that he, apart from Gandhi, believed in Chhatrapati Shivaji, too. So slapping Pawar, according to him, was akin to following values propagated by Shivaji. Smelt of Thackerays! Flatly, just not acceptable!

Unfocused – The much-hyped but left into the oblivion Uttar Pradesh tour was a classical example of resource spoilage. Not much was heard when it came to the summative evaluation of the tour. Days were wasted. Public money was wasted (the tour was funded by money donated by likes of ‘you and me’ during the anti-corruption agitation in Delhi). The anti-corruption movement was not restructured or reoriented for the next step to add more people with it. Instead, big ticket empty announcements like electoral reforms, education reforms, group expansion, anti-government campaigning in the upcoming elections were made again and again.

And similar trajectory can be traced in beginning and the journey so far of the AAP.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

KIRAN BEDI FORMALLY JOINS BJP: ANNA HAZARE IS MENTIONED IN SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS COMMENTS – IRONY OF A MOVEMENT

Though it was long dead already, and what happened today was to happen sooner or later, thoughts went back there, in past, bringing the reflections back.

Anna Hazare led anti-corruption movement of 2011 – one of the biggest civil movements of independent India – was launched successfully against its own elected government – but, unfortunately could not sustain – due to its own fault-lines. Much has been written about it.

We cannot say corruption engulfed it. In fact, we can still find many valid reasons to deny this proposition.

Yes, but we can say that one of the central reasons behind corruption – Indian politics of the day – led to its ‘efficient’ winding up.

And within three years, the movement has been buried deeply. No one talks about it. The mentions don’t go beyond occasional analytical pieces and discourses.

And the person who led it, who was the source behind the movement, who was the central plank around whom the movement and its campaign were designed by his ‘ardent follower of the day, Arvind Kejriwal and an outfit named ‘India Against Corruption” was being mentioned with satirical and humorous mentions today.

— By the acts of the people who used to be the core of the team behind the movement that made Anna Hazare a pan-India icon and an international figure and brought the members of ‘Team Anna’ in the socio-political thinking of the Indian masses.

The politicisation of the anti-corruption movement or to say political branching out of the anti-corruption movement that began with Arvind Kejriwal in 2012 reached to a full circle today with Kiran Bedi joining mainstream politics. We cannot say if there are other circles to come further on the way as almost of the big names of the movement, except few like Santosh Hegde, have taken the political plunge.

Majority of them went with Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party while those who alleged Arvind Kejriwal of compromising the movement chose to stay away. Kiran Bedi was the foremost among them.

And today, as was long expected, she emerged as the face of the party in direct confrontation with Arvind Kejriwal and AAP.

Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan, Kiran Bedi, Medha Patkar, Shazia Ilmi, Kumar Vishwas – the essential names of the anti-corruption moment – are all political now.

Yes, some like Medha Patkar are continuing with their activism streak after losing the Lok Sabha polls, but most are fulltime politicians.

And even if we cannot place them, the neo-fulltime politicians, in the lot of the existing political class when it comes to corruption, they cannot be accommodated in our thoughts for the ‘team’ that made us to contribute to the anti-corruption movement of 2011.

The politics of AAP so far effectively tells us, that doesn’t behave differently. They are acting like the political class who India has always seen.

And yes, I tried to find ‘India Against Corruption’ on the internet, but it seems it doesn’t exist there any more.

Irony of changing India! Irony of Indian politics! Irony of political activism of India! Irony of India’s need for change agents!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

ANNA HAZARE’S RENEWED CALL FOR LOKPAL

Anna Hazare has begun his fast, again, to demand the enactment of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Though it made for peripheral headlines, and it didn’t mobilize the crowds to be there at his fast venue in his village Ralegan Siddhi in great numbers, and so it didn’t make for the lenses of the media already overworked with the deadlock on the government formation in Delhi after a hung-assembly verdict on December 8.

But the effect of AAP’s stunning victory in Delhi was clearly visible in the responses by the main political parties, Congress and BJP.

The Congress-led UPA government was guarded in its response after the drubbing it had in the recently held assembly polls in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. PMO Minister V Narayansamy said on the day-1 of Anna Hazare’s fast that the government had written to the Rajya Sabha chairman for tabling of the Lokpal Bill.

Anna Hazare himself had recently told of a letter written to him by the Union Government a week ago detailing its stand on the Lokpal Bill and reiterating its commitment (not to be take at face-value) for the Bill in Winter Session of the Parliament.

And BJP, too, was not away. On day-2 of Anna Hazare’s fast, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, wrote to Anna Hazare expressing party’s commitment for the Lokpal Bill blaming the Congress party of diluting the Bill and backtracking on its promise to pass the Bill.

The Parliament is in session. All five days so far have been washed out. Issues like Telangana, Communal Violence Bill and JPC report on 2G Spectrum Scam are expected to maintain the logjam.

And anyway, even if the Lokpal as proposed by the government is tabled in the Rajya Sabha, it doesn’t ensure its passage. There are many bottleneck points where the political parties still differ.

Also, the government Lokpal, passed by the Lok Sabha in December 2011, if institutionalized, is going to be a toothless entity, much different from the Jan Lokpal sought by Anna Hazare and the activists from the civil society associated with it. True, what is being sought by the civil society is not practical, but it is also equally true that what is being given by the government, is nothing more than a misleading exercise.

Politicians don’t look to pass even this ‘diluted’ Bill. Sitting over it for two years, after the high of the anti-corruption movement of 2011, from December 2011 to December 2013, clearly tells of their intentions.

But what makes it different this time is AAP’s brilliant but unexpected performance (for the mainstream political parties) in Delhi elections, a clear message to the political lot that public is looking for political change and is ready to experiment.

It is true the existing political lot is very thick-skinned but the timing of the next general elections, due next April-May, also makes it difficult for them to ignore this warning signal.

So, expect some verbal exercises from them, looking sincere and working to present and pass the Lokpal Bill in the ongoing session of the Parliament.

But, the fight remains. Even if the government’s Lokpal is passed, the next stage of the fight then will be to make it a ‘practically’ viable entity than can work effectively to check and prevent corruption.

It was good to see Arvind Kejriwal talking of supporting Anna’s movement during his victory rally at Jantar-Mantar in Delhi today. He said that he was going to Ralegan Siddhi tomorrow and would act the way Anna wanted. Though on separate paths now, Arvind Kejriwal and AAP should participate actively in Anna’s agitation, to payback for leaving the anti-corruption movement of 2011 midway!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/