Counter Strike
My take on the things and events in the world.

Moral Contradictions Of Anna's Approach

Minus "kahan hai asali aajaadi..." rhetoric, this is what Anna and his team is saying:
  1. Corruption is omnipresent in India at all levels of judiciary, bureaucracy and politics. Therefore, politicians have a vested interest in not acting decisively against corruption.
  2. Democratic institutions have become ineffective and do not truly represent people. So it is not possible for a clean individual to fight elections and bring a real change through constitutional means.
  3. A strong lokpal bill, and only the version proposed by his team is the only effective way to deal with corruption. This version according to him, enjoys a widespread support of the civil society and would eliminate corruption to large extent.
  4. If the government and parliament does not agree to his version he would go on a fast unto death with the intention of inviting people to come out against the government on streets so that the normal civil order is disturbed. This he thinks would put "moral pressure" on the government to accept his version of the lokpal bill.

I have many disagreements with Anna's version of lokpal. But the point that I am making is not about the constitutional balance or even the practicality of Anna's lokpal. For an enlightening discussion on these issue, you can read the official minutes of meetings of the Joint Drafting Committee that took place between Anna's team and the group of ministers ( I am not even going to raise questions about the political color or potential political beneficiaries of his movement. Instead I just want to point out a few moral contradictions in his approach as I see it.

  1. It is the moral bankruptcy and utter hypocrisy of the society to blame a select few for corruption and not look within. Corruption has become our national character and no one is absolved of the responsibility. An average middle class urban indian not only give bribes but is the primary beneficiary of bribes. Anna is doing a disservice to the people by not telling them that. Gandhi said "be the change that you want to see in the world". Satyagrah and fasting for Gandhi were the tool more for self-purification rather than for political struggle.
  2. I can't put it better than George F. Kennan, a well known scholar-diplomat "When you attempt to alter the workings of the system by means of violence or civil disobedience, this, it seems to me, can have only one of two implications; either you do not believe in democracy at all and consider that society ought to be governed by enlightened minorities such as the one to which you, of course, belong; or you consider that the present system is so imperfect that it is not truly representative, that it no longer serves adequately as a vehicle for the will of the majority, and that this leaves to the unsatisfied no adequate means of self-expression other than the primitive one of calling attention to themselves and their emotions by mass demonstrations and mass defiance of established authority." I don't know what to make of it when Anna says that he believes in Indian democracy and the constitutional right of the parliament to make laws except when it comes to lokpal.
  3. Abetment of suicide is a criminal offense under IPC 306. Anna openly declares to break this and the other laws. He also complaints about the government not following the law by not allowing him to protest peacefully. I am sorry, but if you intend break the law, you loose the moral right to say that Government should follow the law that you are going to break. A citizen cannot demand that the state obey the constitution and the laws and at the same time assert a right to disobey the law.

If the support of a few thousand protesters and a self-proclaimed just cause is going to be the criteria, then Anna is setting a dangerous precedence. We can soon expect to see Chandrashekhar Rao fasting for Telangana again, Kashmiris demanding aazadi, Rajnikath fan club demanding Bharat Ratna for their god and countless more.

Disclaimer: The view expressed by the author are of the 10 Janpath and not his own. The author has just "Manmohan Singh"ed the article. Therefore, the author would be responsible for all the spank, but the praise, if any, should be directed towards Sonia ji and Rahul baba. This is also clarified that the author believes in the divine right of the Gandhi family to rule India and has already received an undisclosed amount from KGB/ISI in his swiss bank account. So that the enlightened readers could directly move on to the logical arguments, if any, in their comments.



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