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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jan Lokpal – Know the facts about the differences…

In India, anybody can misinterpret any subject and take a billion people for a grand royal ride!

In the pursuit of knowing facts, we keep exploring the unexplored and get hold of some vital information to support an unbiased thought process. As discussed in the media, there are six major differences between the Government representatives and the civil society members, apart from the much larger structural issues. Let’s go through the facts of both the drafts as follows….

(The proposal by Anna Hazare group (The Civil Society Members) is referred as 'Jan Lokpal' and proposal by Government body is referred as 'Govt. Lokpal' hereunder…)

Issue – 1:

Jan Lokpal: All the representatives including the Prime Minister and the Judiciary should come under the jurisdiction of Lokpal and a seven member panel should conduct investigation in complaints against such senior offices.

Govt. Lokpal: Prime Minister and Judiciary cannot be investigated by Lokpal. Though there is an agreement that the MPs can be brought under Lokpal’s jurisdiction, the debate is that being the members of the House of Representatives, they get a constitutional protection against such investigations by an outside agency like Lokpal.

Note: These protections have caused several roadblocks in prosecuting many of our politicians in the history of independent India. It is high time to remove such privileges to effectively execute the law of the country with equal opportunity and impartiality.

Issue – 2:

Jan Lokpal: The Lokpal selection committee will include…

1)   The Prime Minister (Chairman)
2)   The Opposition Leader – Loksabha
3)   Two Supreme Court Judges
4)   Two Chief Justices of High Court referred by Supreme Court
5)   Chief Election Commissioner
6)   Comptroller and Auditor General
7)   Former Lokpal Chairmen

Govt. Lokpal: The Lokpal selection committee will include…

1)   The Prime Minister (Chairman)
2)   The Opposition Leaders (Loksabha & Rajyasabha)
3)   The member of a house, where the Prime Minister is not the leader
4)   The Home Minister
5)   A high Court Judge
6)   A Chief Justice of High Court nominated by the Chief Justice of India
7)   A Cabinet Secretary
8)   The President of National Science Academy

Note: The difference of opinion is about too many Govt. representatives in the Govt. proposed panel as it will influence/ bias the decisions of the panel, which may eventually lose its impartial stature.

Issue – 3:

Jan Lokpal: A 10 member search committee under the selection panel to be constituted to shortlist the candidates for becoming Lokpal members, which will then be presented before the Selection Panel, so that the efficiency and the selection process will be adhered within the stipulated time lines.

Five members in this society should be recognized social activists and eminent people from the society and other five members should be from former Chief Justices, former Chief Election Commissioners, former CAGs, etc.

Govt. Lokpal: Govt. does not think that this search committee is inevitable. However, after multiple discussions with civil society members, Govt. took a stand that it may be constituted if necessary.

Note: This committee is one of the essential requirements as the Lokpal selection process is not going to be easy. This committee can keep shortlisting the candidates without diluting/ shortcutting the process by adhering to the inbuilt check points and audits.

Issue – 4:

Jan Lokpal: The broad outline of the selection process should be as follows…

Thrice the number of required candidates for the Lokpal should be shortlisted by the search committee on time with maximum consensus. The Selection Panel shall select the final list from this list with maximum consensus and if three Selection Panel members disagree on the selection of a particular candidate, then he/ she stands rejected.

Govt. Lokpal: The selection process should be completely formulated by the Selection Panel. However, the process should be transparent.

Note: For any committee to start with, there should be a broad outline of the process and any amendments can be brought in after discussion as it evolves.

Issue – 5:

Jan Lokpal: The Anti – Corruption wing of CBI shall be merged into Lokpal and shall further function as investigating agency under Lokpal and as this division gets transferred, Government will cease to have any influence on this division thereafter.

Govt. Lokpal: Govt. does not agree on the merger of CBI division.

Note: When Lokpal is formed as a separate agency to handle all the corruption related issues, then there is no relevance of ‘Anti – Corruption Division’ under CBI at all.

Issue – 6:

Jan Lokpal: Provision to be made for protection of the people who were forced to give bribe in certain cases and protection for people who exposes corruption.

Govt. Lokpal: There are no such provisions.

Note: It is obvious that there should be protection for people who are victimized and for those who volunteer to expose corruption. These kinds of provisions are already there in various other segments under various investigating agencies and we should follow the same standard process here as well.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Are our Kings (or the ‘Queen’) Arrogant?

It was exciting to read the article (The link referred above) of Chetan Bhagat in Times of India (Hyderabad Edition) a few days back and it was exactly in line of my thought process and I had religiously shared this link in the facebook forum called ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ as well!

However, I wanted to add a few additional points to this article to comprehend the entire perspective on the psyche of the modern day ‘Kings’ (or a Queen) and others.

We all have self – respect and those who don’t have it are considered losers in life and the society looked at them skeptically and often, would take advantage of their stature as much as possible! However, there are various support groups, who are working on such people exclusively to bring them out of their cocoon and make them confident about their potential as individuals.

Now, this term ‘self-respect’ is always little tricky as people mistake this very easily with their egos! The line between actual self-respect and ego is very thin and many of them fail to recognize this and act upon their egos and say that they don’t want to compromise on their self-respect?! Easy way to identify both of these, is to understand basically the ‘self – respect’ is purely within, whereas ‘ego’ is exhibitive. So when you strongly feel that you need to exhibit the self –respect (for the sake of anything), then it is the beginning of the ego and you really need to nip it at that stage for resisting it from growing big!

I was quoting this argument of mine, which I present in each forum I participate, with reference to the Govt. action at Ramlila Maidan recently. History reminds us that the people with power, who had been corrupt, were blinded by their egos since ages?! This is carried forward in the modern times, even in the so called Civilized Society as the civilization had by and large failed to handle these ballooned up egos of the human animals! Though the nature attempts to lash out and burst out these balloons of egos by various mammoth acts, the effect of such calamities/ lessons are short lived in the memories of the people and they move on to their ballooned up self, sooner than later!

Coming back to the context, what happened in Ramlila Maidan is nothing but an exhibition of egos of a few individuals (or a single individual?) who have power, on behalf of the ‘Government’ and they feel the future protesters will learn a lesson out of this episode. The statements by most of these foolish ministers of this country made it look like silly and had worsened the effect??!

There are few points, I wanted to underline in this context…

1)   I have been advocating all the politicos to realize the danger of public ire against each of them for their senseless and selfish actions to amass wealth and in the process, they marginalize sections of people who are waiting for a spark to burst out and attack, which will bring a bloody twist to the democratic values of this country, as a consequence.
2)   By keeping cool on such protests and engaging these protestors on dialogue to reach a common platform to amend, reform the necessary laws by understanding the pulse of the nation will enable the Government to project their transparent image and help in long term perspective.
3)   Actually, all these politicians were escaping the public ire due to the usual indifferent attitude of the middle class, who were always busy struggling to meet both the ends and next new breed of urban middle class, who are happy living their life on their own terms. However, post 26/11 attack in Mumbai, there had been a huge difference in the psyche of the people, thanks to media and the inevitable had been happening as given a platform, people from both the segments mentioned above, are coming out strong to express their ire and suppressed emotions against what they had undergone due to the indiscriminative pushing by all these politicos.

If the Government doesn’t do it now, obviously because there are many among them who will be affected if they give in, the people ire may not remain suppressed forever.

People evolve as they grow old and their wisdom shine eventually. Digvijay Singh was one of my old heroes as Chief Minister of MP along with Naidu of AP in late nineties as both were promisingly dynamic on their own terms and actions! When Naidu was advocating technology in Governance and a vision for AP, Digvijay was the one who took up a gutsy decision to implement Panchayat Raj strongly in most of the rural parts of MP and I remember reading articles on how he used to visit the most un-approached rural hamlets of MP, where even the local district collectors never bothered to visit. I also came across quotes of local leaders of BJP (then opposition in the state), vouching for his efforts in such villages, which was amazing!

Kapil Sibal was another very knowledgeable politician, who was considered by me as one of the dynamic and promising member in the cabinet and he had been convincing as congress spokesman as he used put across logic with lots of common sense.

Of late, I’m witnessing that not necessarily ageing should bring more wisdom to both these gentlemen as they are in news for all the wrong reasons of the world and it seemed like they speak and do so many things which do not suit their personalities at all! In the Baba Ramdev episode of events, it emerged as Digvijay, apart from all his idiotic comments early on, he peaked when he was seen hitting a journalist, who had shown shoes to Dwivedi like a rowdy who fights on the streets?! The funniest factor is this crazy journo, who was manhandled didn’t beat Dwivedi, instead he had just shown the shoes, despite having enough time on the stage to do the act before he was pulled down by two people who went up the stage to rescue Dwivedi!! Who’s smart and wise in this entire episode? Kapil Sibal was arrogantly justifying the Ramlila Maidan incident as a lesson to be learnt by other protestors in future…! Hey dude, what are you speaking? Are you in your senses?

However, as one of my friends suggested, I have a very strong feeling that these were not their ‘own’ selves reacting at all. It is centrally scripted and both these characters were playing their roles as they are directed/arm twisted to enact it. The end result is that they looked like fools and clowns in front of the entire nation!! Do we have a Home Minister to react on this issue? Why he had been silent so far and not making any comment on the Sunday night extravaganza? Even Pranab Mukherjee’s reactions were halfhearted and there were rumours on his dissent for being sent to airport to receive Baba Ramdev as well….! All these indicate that there is someone who is arrogant at the helm of power, who wanted these people to do whatever is dictated to them? The final question to ask ourselves is…Are we really living in a democracy?

To conclude, every arrogant people with power in the history had to meet a very sad end and it is not going to be different in our country as well!!