Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hysteria will not end corruption - Tavleen Singh



Hysteria will not end corruption

Tavleen Singh


As I have watched mass hysteria build up over Anna Hazare’s fast, there have been moments when I felt that his supporters had forgotten that India is a democratic country. I have long believed that the most apolitical Indians are those who belong to the English speaking, tweeting, texting middle classes but I had no idea just how apolitical they were till last week. Without reading the Jan Lokpal bill that Anna Hazare is trying to ram down our throats, actors, writers, social activists, television anchors and sundry other supposedly educated Indians leapt on to Anna’s bandwagon.

If they had bothered to read the draft that Hazare’s Leftist advisors have drawn up, they would have noticed that

its worst flaw is that it is anti-democratic in the most frightening way.

It is not an ombudsman that it seeks to create but a despot with the powers to investigate, judge and punish anyone he suspects of corrupt practices. So if some NGO type of Leftist persuasion were to decide that his local MP was spending his constituency allowance on a project that did not benefit ‘the masses’, he (or she) could complain to his local Lokayukta and organise a raid on the MP’s property and order his arrest if he decides that public funds are being misused.

It is not just officials but private citizens who will be under the Lokpal’s purview.


This is the way of totalitarian countries like China. It is not India’s way but you would not know it if you had been watching our news channels last week. One famous TV anchor became a sort of Lokpal himself by haranguing a Congress Party spokesman on behalf of ‘the people of India.’

Meanwhile, hunger pangs appear to have caused Anna Hazare to suffer hallucinations of becoming India’s next Mahatma, so he has ordered a ‘jail bharo andolan’ as if we were still fighting the British. And, his coterie of Lefty advisors are using their fifteen minutes of fame to rant against the liberal economic policies that have brought the only prosperity that India has seen since 1947. Without it there would be no tweeting, texting middle class.

Speaking of which, I found it

most annoying last week to listen to NGOs behave as if they were the incorruptible, rightful spokesmen for ‘civil society’.

In my time, I have met as many corrupt NGOs as I have met corrupt officials and they are accountable to nobody.

Many receive funds from mysterious foreign sources that they would have to declare if they stood for elections. Is that why fasting in Jantar Mantar is the preferred option?

If NGO types want to make laws, let them get elected to the Lok Sabha or else go back to activities that are genuinely non-governmental. Making laws is the right of governments, no matter how ineffective or corrupt these governments may be. This appears to have been forgotten in the mass hysterics of last week. It is time to remember.

Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter@tavleen_singh