Sunday, August 21, 2011

Me Anna Hazara

The latest buzz word is Anna Hazare. Everyone is professing support to his fight for the Jan Lokpal bill. I  admire his bold initiative and the way he has brought the govt to heel. Unlike Baba Ram Dev, the govt is on a backfoot here. The huge groundswell in his favour is truly amazing. In all this euphoria about the new Gandhi, two things keep bothering me:
1> We already have very strong laws and it has been proved without doubt that it is not sufficient to have strong laws - the law enforcers must have the determination to enforce them. Heavy penalties, fines and jail terms merely mean that you have to fork out bigger bribes to escape. Sometimes people get away even without bribing as the laws are not enforced. How many of us are aware that Mumbai's laws on cleanliness are stronger than much-admired Singapore's laws? The difference is in the implementation.   
2> Everyone wants the "system" to be cleaned. But what is the system? It is made up of us. Remember, under existing Indian law, the briber giver is eaqually guilty as the bribe taker.Instead of pointing a finger at the system, we the people have to change and when that happens, we will not need the Lokpal bill. Look at the state of Mumbai's roads which are an epitome of corruption. The same cartel has been cornering tenders for nearly 3 decades and getting away with it. To hell with DLP, penalties and blacklisting clauses. Now what if this same cartel used the same collective bargaining and after winning the tender, come to a common understanding that they would build the best roads with the money and not pay a penney to the corrupt politicians / officials ? Revolutionary thought isn't it? But that would be a very difficult path to tread. Better to blame it on the system, part with the officials' share of the loot and continue with the game. As an aside, I wonder what the wives and children of these contractors must be thinking when they travel on such shoddy roads?