Thursday, April 7, 2011

Vijayvaani - Anna Hazare: NGOs for Governance? Sandhya Jain

Anna Hazare: NGOs for Governance?
Sandhya Jain
07 Apr 2011

In the wake of an orchestrated frenzy to achieve a particular legal structure against official corruption, it is pertinent to ask all political parties if they are willing to abolish Parliament and representative government, and entrust power to a coterie of NGOs with overt and covert Western support.
Anna Hazare’s gigantic exercise to delegitimise the elected UPA and elected Members of Parliament, and insist that a self-appointed group of moral guardians shall determine the contours of a proposed national legislation to tackle corruption in government, is an assault on the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Unelected crusaders with agendas derived from unknown sources; and ample funds to whip up moderate street participation; can at best be regarded as a pressure group with a right to be heard.
We may as well formally declare India a ‘Mandate’ of the United States. After all, the NAC that rules the government is chaired by ‘Indo-US nuclear deal is close to my heart’ Sonia Gandhi, and includes French national Jean Dreze, besides ex-IAS officer Harsh Mander, who became internationally famous by maligning the nation in the wake of the post-Godhra riots.
By an interesting coincidence, the attack of the NGO Armada coincides with the Supreme Court’s smashing the moral credentials of Medha Patkar and her Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), for filing a false affidavit in the matter of the Omkareshwar Dam project. A Bench of Justices JM Panchal, Deepak Verma and BS Chauhan – annoyed at the NGO’s false claim that the State of Madhya Pradesh had wrongfully acquired 284 hectares of land from Indore farmers – asked it to explain “why it should not be restricted from filing any case/petition before any court throughout the country”. Why indeed.
More pertinently, State Government counsel informed the Court that Patkar’s NGO is not a registered society and is thus not even entitled to represent the oustees! Surely that sums it up – NGOs are only a ‘lobby’; they are not equal to, much less above, elected representatives of the people. Yet the fact that Patkar’s Narmada Bachao Andolan could exist and enjoy high profile for 30 long years without complying with any legal formalities, proves that such NGOs are intricately networked with the Congress-dominated political and bureaucratic hierarchy, despite pretensions of ‘dissent’ and leadership of the ‘voiceless’. There can be no doubt that they have a hidden agenda.
Now that the Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the dubious credentials of this NGO, it must direct the State Government to investigate the sources of its funding, and possible agenda.

To return to Anna Hazare, the aged war-horse has been seriously undermined by Karnataka Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde, whose name has been recklessly used over the past few weeks to garner middle class support for the private Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by Hazare, Hegde and others. Hedge has suggested that Hazare’s decision to fast until the Centre agrees to pass this Bill is premature, as the National Advisory Council is still discussing this private Bill and has not given its recommendations to the government.
Justice Hegde has indirectly admitted that there are differences of opinion regarding various clauses of the Bill even among the activists who drafted it. This suggests that the NAC may moot new clauses that could divide the activists further. With the private Bill thus likely to be subjected to further changes by the NAC, Hazare’s fast makes little sense to even some of his colleagues. It would seem that its purpose is to coerce Dr Manmohan Singh to commit to whatever Sonia Gandhi dishes out in the name of the NAC, despite institutional reservations from government. This is extra-constitutionalism at its zenith – strange that the opposition BJP should be so blind to it.
Certainly there is something inexplicable in Hazare’s haste – “It’s a fight to the finish for citizen’s rights”. Why? What is the hidden target he is hurtling towards; why is it secret from the rest of us?
Readers who may regard this critique as harsh should consider that Anna Hazare wants a joint committee comprising government and civil society leaders [read individuals and NGOs favoured by him and his friends] to rework the current draft Lokpal Bill. I am refraining, in this article, from going into the merits of his critique of the Government Draft [I stipulate there will be much merit in it]; in fact, I am not going into the text of his draft at all, nor comparing it with the impugned Government draft.
My point is that he is instigating the middle class intelligentsia that comes to hear him at Jantar Mantar – and neither he nor any of his allies is a grassroots mass leader – to despise and distrust politicians and bureaucrats as a class when these are the constitutional pillars of State. In their place, Hazare moots an unelected oligarchy. This does not bode well for the nation or the society.
While he is within his rights to fiercely criticise the Government draft Lokpal Bill, it is utterly unworthy to say that, “If the government alone drafts the anti-corruption bill, it will be autocratic not democratic, there will be discrepancies.” Here it may be pertinent to note that while Hazare’s charmed inner circle includes some high profile lawyers who have made a mark in the battle against corruption in high places, he has placed NO FAITH in the Judiciary as an institution in rectifying anomalies in the law and its application, and in bringing culprits to justice. This is a strange kind of crusade.

A major plank to justify the hunger strike is the string of scams that have hit the UPA-II, most notably the 2G Spectrum Scam and the scandals associated with the Commonwealth Games.
Yet the 2G Spectrum Scam probe is being closely supervised by the Supreme Court and the principal accused are already in jail – without help from Hazare or his associates.
On the Commonwealth Games – Hazare & Co. are conspicuous by their silence on the Report of the V.K. Shunglu Committee which has nailed Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Lt. Governor Tejinder Khanna, and the Central Ministries associated with the Games for all the sins of omission and commission. The shameless manner in which Mrs Dikshit has sought to ridicule the Shunglu Committee, her meeting to garner the support of Ms Sonia Gandhi, the failure of Sonia Gandhi and Congress to move against Dikshit, all speak eloquently about who shields corruption in the UPA.
I would have had faith in the Anna Hazare fast if he had made action on the Shunglu Committee the pivot of his crusade and fast in Delhi, and not made the personally honest Prime Minister the target of his rage. The fact that this very live issue of high level corruption in the capital – which still reverberates in world capitals – did not even occur to him or his associates should be evidence enough of an unspoken agenda and an illegitimate target. It reminds one of Sherlock Holmes’ quintessential query – but why didn’t the dog bark?
In conclusion, I must say I cannot agree with the main object of Anna Hazare’s fast –to elevate a select coterie as national super cop and super judge, as a national daily put it so aptly.
I robustly condemn the idea that Magsaysay Award-winning Indians should figure in the Lokpal selection panel. This stinks of an American hand. Without casting aspersions on any individual, it bears stating that the Magsaysay Award is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, though it is named after late Philippine leader Ramon Magsaysay.
As the Rockefeller family has vast business interests all over the globe and doubtless also in India, we shall never know what kind of private networking could take place in government and bureaucracy via its favoured persons, to further Rockefeller interests. Recently we saw US insurance corporate-cum-philanthropist Warren Buffet visiting India and Government pushing to raise FDI in insurance from 26% to 51%! Bill and Melinda Gates were also here – peddling vaccines of unknown quality and of course the detestable GM seeds.
India’s high profile elites derive status from the international NGO cocktail circuit. Their insatiable quest for funds and glory makes them adopt ideas and concepts without examining their validity in an Indian context. As they are very conscious of their elite status, they have unacceptable contempt for the people and their elected representatives. We cannot endorse these non-accountable and glittering Western satellites.
The author is Editor,