Jan Lokpal Bill: A Dalit’s Viewpoint
I have been asked by my many friends to give my views on the recent ongoing movement against the corruption and Jan Lokpal Bill. Here in this article, I would like to present a young Dalit’s view on this bill and recent movement against corruption. I may disappoint many of you especially those who think that bringing Lokpal Bill will solve the problem of corruption from India (yes, we rank very well in corruption at world level, thanks to Congress government for making us proud!).
Birth of Jan Lokpal Team
Let’s start from the team members of Jan Lokpal Bill. Anna and his people choose five members and all of them were from so called upper castes. Anna and his team couldn’t find a single honest person from Dalit, Buddhist, Muslim, or Christian community. This wasn’t enough; the team members Anna choose were those who were at some time indulged in the corruption charges of one or another kind. The leader (Anna) himself at some time was involved in diverting the fund (Rs. 2.2Lakh) of the trust to celebrate his birthday and they gave the justification that it wasn’t a big crime! Who decided that it’s not a big crime? Ask a Dalit person who’s both hands were chopped off for stealing a penny. Or ask a Dalit who has lost both of his eyes for taking a bucket of water from the well without permission. A crime is a crime as said by Mr. Gandhi; it doesn’t matter whether it is small or big. But his chella (Anna) seems to differ at this point. Anna should have asked for the punishment if he would have been so serious about the corruption in recent times.
I think everyone knows that there are many cases pending in court against the Shanti Bhushan and his son (both are members of Anna’s five member team). There are also allegations against Kiran Bedi i.e. she used her power to get her daughter admitted to Delhi Medical College on the seat which was reserved for Mizoram state.
I want everyone to see a small documentary on Anna Hazare: The Real Story. Anna is recent times glorified Gujarat CM, Modi, the person who is responsible for killing more than 5000 innocent Muslims and sidelining the Dalit community’s growth in the state Gujarat. How can a true leader and responsible citizen support such crimes and people who committed such crimes?
Ramdev, who came to support Anna and a king of Rs. 1100 crore empire, he has build that empire by selling (smuggling?) natural resources of India and at his yoga camps you can see many fanatic people and he do have full support of BJP and other anti-dalit parties.
Ramdev have previously urged people to boycott foreign companies, he has been calling homosexuality a sickness and such people to be medically treated, he wants to build Ram Mandir, and recently he has said that he will built his own militia army. All these things are against constitution or against democracy.
I also doubt how can five (corrupt) people lead 1.2 billion people? Isn’t it funny to note that corrupt people have drafted the anti-corruption bill?
(Agar ek chor dusre chor ko bol raha hai ki tu chor hai toh aap kis chor ka sath denge?)
Anna’s Movement or Media’s Movement
I do agree that in democratic system everyone do have a right to protest in the peaceful manner but by no means can be corruption curbed by going a fast-unto-death and paralysing the government machinery and its functionality. Rather than calling it as Anna’s movement against corruption it should be called a movement of media. This is the same media that was speaking so loudly few years back against the reservation and gave no coverage to the people who were also fighting for the reservation. This is the same media that don’t like to get polluted by covering the Dalit students’ murders at the elite college.
Here in India, no media covers people’s fight against casteism, tribal’s fight for survival or women’s flight. Do you think the media really wanna change all this system of corruption? I doubt. You might be knowing what happened to the British Newspaper ‘The News of the World’ and how it used people to get benefited.
Almost every year more than 10lakhs people gather at Chaitya Bhoomi (Mumbai) and Diksha Bhoomi (Nagpur) to give tribute Dr Ambedkar and convert to Buddhism but no media covers those events, why? Media will cover a shit where Rahul eat that or live telecasts of Amarnath Yatra or taking at dip at one of polluted rivers of world. But they don’t have time to cover injustice happening to Dalits since thousands years. It’s the media that controls the masses.
As per the report of Ministry of Welfare of the Govt. of India, every hour 2 Dalits are assaulted, every day 3 Dalit women are raped, and every day 2 Dalits are murdered & 2 Dalits Houses are burnt in India. The conviction rate of such crimes under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act is 15.71% & pendency is as high as 85.37%! In India, crime happens every 18 min against Dalits. Isn’t it enough to start your protest with abolishing caste system? I doubt if any other crime all over the world happens at such a fast rate. But Anna and his team don’t have time for all these injustices.
In India, two million women are raped each year. Delhi, the capital of India has one dowry death a day! But media will see crimes happening in UP only, Ohh… not UP but ‘Maya’s UP’ as almost every media projects those news but not Sheila’s Delhi or Mamta’s WB when any crime happens in Delhi or WB. It all shows the casteist face of Indian media.
I won’t say that it is Anna’s movement or it’s a second freedom fight. Projecting this fight against corruption as a second freedom fight is a way insult the freedom fighters. I doubt whether 5% of these people know what really Jan Lokpal bill is. I personally asked about 25 of my friends – those were supporting the Anna – that whether you have read the Jan Lokpal Bill? And not to my surprise the answer was ‘no’ from all of them. Most of these protesters are coming ‘just for fun’. The people who are coming in the support of Anna and gathering are only those who want to see themselves on cameras, television, raising vulgar slogans or are coming to pass vulgar comments on women. You may be interested to check out this news from the HT newspaper showing how undisciplined these protesters are.
Calling all this second freedom fight is an insult to great freedom fighters such as Dr Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh, Saheed Udam Singh, and many more who sacrificed their life for us.
Kancha Ilaiah, another famous Dalit writer, who wrote a famous book named “Why I’m not a Hindu” shares his views on this as, “This means they are recognizing Jaiprakash Narayan’s 1974 anti-corruption movement and VP Singh’s similar movement in 1989. Both these movements had ideological basis of socialism and social justice.”
Caste system, Dalit issues khap panchayat’s atrocities on Dalits, farmer’s suicide, primary education, healthcare, sanitation, tribals, etc are less important for the Anna and his team.
For me caste system is the worst crime and that is to be handled first before going after anything else. Ask Anna will he sit against Hindu Caste system? No, he won’t do that because he wants to follow the path Gandhi did. Gandhi also never wanted to abolish caste system from India and he even glorified this heinous practice.
I do agree that no-one has obligations to stand against anything then that person is not a responsible citizen and if Anna is behaving like one, he must raise his voice against the cruel Hindu Caste system and thousands other important problems related to Dalits.
A study shows that 63 per cent of temples prohibit Scheduled Castes and Dalits. But Anna or no-one from Anna’s team will ever raise a voice against this practice. Gandhi did not open a single door of a Hindu temple in Gujarat – his home province in India- for the untouchables then how can one expect that his chella will dare to go against “The Guru”?
Jan Lokpal Bill: Dalit Intellectuals Views
Almost everyone who believes in democracy or believes in equal human rights won’t ever support such a draconian and casteist bill brought up by the Anna and his team. Here are the few views offered by Dalit writers and intellectuals.
I talked to Dr. S. L. Virdi, an advocate and who has written many books on Dalit issues, about the Jan Lokpal Bill and he asks, “If there can be an income limit for below poverty line, then why don’t they just set a limit for rich people?”
My another friend says, “There is no doubt that after passing this bill, they won’t be coming after stopping the reservation as this protest is to kill the democracy and implement dictatorship. We got thousands rights only through the democracy and constitution. We Indians can’t afford to build just another Khap Panchayat and that with legal status.”
He also shared a picture with me from one of the Anna’s protest, depicting the same as he said.
(Here are the views of R.S. Bharadwaj, who founded Krantikari Manuwadi Morcha (KMM) to fight against reservation and is mobilising people to join Anna’s movement, “Reservation is the root of all corruption. The real revolution is in establishing Manu’s merit-based society. “Those who get reservation indulge in corruption. Those in the general category are the sufferers.”)
Prominent writer, Chandrabhan Prasad, who writes on various Dalit issues says, “The Anna Hazare phenomenon is leading us to the rejection of representative democracy itself. The movement is an upper-caste uprising against India’s political democracy. That apart, vesting so much power in the Lokpal, a non-elected person, could lead to a dangerous situation.”
Chandrabhan Prasad also asks, “The real question is: has India really evolved into a civil society? Was South Africa a civil society in times of apartheid? Was US a civil society in times of slavery? Was England a civil society in times of serfdom? If the answer is no, then can India with the caste system still in place, be called a civil society?”
Kancha Ilaiah says about Anna and his movement, “The Anna movement is an anti-social justice, manuvadi movement. The Dalits, tribals, OBCs and minorities have nothing to do with it. We oppose it.”
Anoop Kheri, coordinator of Insight Foundation, says, “For us casteism is corruption, caste-discrimination is corruption, not filling up reserved seats as per constitutional norms is also corruption. Is Anna and his team willing to talk about all these?”
“We can’t afford to further destabilise the country. I would not like to throw my weight behind a movement that is destabilising a state which is already in a very fragile – destabilised – state,” says Andre Beteille, honoured with the Padma Bhushan, is known for his studies of the caste system in south India. His book, ‘Caste, Class and Power’ first published in 1965 is considered a classic in Indian sociology.
Andre Beteille further says, “The civil societies contain certain institutions, which lays down certain conditions for democracy. The concept of a civil society can be problematic, it can be misused…”
Few Excerpts from the Jan Lokpal Bill
Many intellectuals think that Jan Lokpal Bill is dangerous for the society as it demands to make an autocratic super powerful centralised institution, which doesn’t fits well according to the democracy. The role of democracy is to empower the people not to create a super powerful centralised institution; making such a centralised institution can take power away from the common people. My biggest concern is what is the guarantee that Jan Lokpal committee won’t turn corrupt? If this happens in future this can lead us to many dangerous problems, problems those can be more serious than corruption.
Here are the few clauses that I find in the bill seriously threatening to democracy if at some-time in future the Jan Lokpal committee turns corrupt:
13. Investigation officer to have powers of police.
31. Lokpal to have powers of civil court in certain cases.
(It means Jan Lokpal committee will have the power of summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person! Don’t you think it’ll sideline the courts and constitution?)
32. Power of Lokpal to utilise services of officers of Central or State Government.
33. Power of Lokpal to recommend transfer or suspension of public servant connected with allegation of corruption.
(Here again, anyone can bribe the Jan Lokpal committee and can get rid of honest people?)
40. Complaints against Chairperson and Members not to be inquired by Lokpal.
(It says, complaints against Chairperson and Members of Lokpal shall be made directly to President and do you think a common person can ever reach President with complaints? It’s completely flawed!)
41. Complaints against officials of Lokpal.
60. Power to make rules.
61. Power of Lokpal to make regulations.
62. Laying of rules and regulations.
63. Power to remove difficulties.
Dr. Ambedkar’s Views on Satyagraha
Sitting on Satyagraha for anything is not a right way to pass the bill, its kind a childish behaviour and no intelligent person will ever go via this procedure. It’ll lead to dictatorship and whenever person will want to have something done he will keep threatening democracy via his methods of aan(a)-shan. And I believe Anna and his team’s rejecting ‘public opinion’ on the bill as proposed by government is very first step towards dictatorship. Or this is just another form of blackmailing.
Dr. Ambedkar, in his speech, while presenting the Draft Constitution before the Constituent Assembly, on 25th November, 1949, for voting, had warned people of India the dangers of unconstitutional methods such as Satyagraha for achieving economic and social objectives, he said, “If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and Satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.”
My Final Thoughts:
I do agree that everyone has a right to protest but you can’t afford to give such a large platform to the communal forces and if you do the democracy will not last for long time. I strongly condemn the way government used its power to remove sleeping people at the time of Ramdev’s protest. I also do condemn the government’s act of arresting Anna Hazare as in democracy everyone do have a right to protest in peaceful manner. The way government used it’s power to curb this uprising is truly not according to the democracy and constitution of India. This is just the abuse of power and everyone must oppose this behaviour of government’s also.
I am also not saying that corruption shouldn’t end, it must end as soon as possible but our concern should be how to implement laws effectively, laws that we already have rather than bringing another bill and then dumping it into the dustbin. I also do believe that the constitution of India is one of the best constitutions of the world. The main problem in India is not the lack of laws but the dishonest people implementing those laws. Right to Information, RTI, which came into picture in year 2005, was another form of Official Secrets Act 1923 (given that Official Secrets Act 1923 was more stringent, but then RTI is also not much relaxed). Why we needed RTI after almost 60 years of Independence? Because people those were dishonest!
Why do we need another bill when almost the same Act is already there under the name of ‘The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988’? Again the answer is same, people those who implement these laws were not honest and what’s the guarantee that Jan Lokpal team will not become corrupt one day? Even in Jan Lokpal Bill, they have emphasized and have directed to work according to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 then I don’t understand why they just don’t implement The Prevention of Corruption Act only? Or why don’t they promote or make people aware about the present rights and laws?
I don’t agree that bringing a piece of Jan Lokpal Bill will do any magic till we find solutions to the question ‘how to implement those laws effectively”, but I do agree if we’ll implement the laws effectively, that would definitely do magic for millions. We need to work out on the root cause of the corruption, this aspect is not being considered anyone who is protesting and also everyone is blindly following the herd. We need to work on how all of us are gripped in the corruption and how we can liberate from this. Make people accountable and responsible and it can help to eradicate corruption.
In the end, I would say I do want that corruption to end and there shouldn’t be the ‘rise of dark knights’ protected under the mask of Jan Lokpal Bill. I’ll leave the final decision on the bill in readers’ hands and may Buddha’s words help you to decide. As Buddha said, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason & your own common sense.”
P.S.: Views expressed here in this article are my personal, no-one needs to agree with me.
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