Now that the euphoria over the symbolic victory over the Jan Laokpal bill has settled down, it is time to soothe the nerves and take stock of the situation in a positive yet realistic manner without getting frenzied over issues and personalities.
Of course the issue is extremely important and naturally it found resonance. It is also extremely significant that it brought together thousands of faceless Indians fatigued not just by scams but by the way corruption had eaten out public life and out to support a campaign against corruption.
Naturally when there were voices of protest against the bill, tolerance levels were low. However, it is in the interest of any anti corruption move to understand what the critics have to say and to address issues that are pertinent to the cause. So what is it that those seemingly against the Jan Lokpal Bill have to say. Below are some of the points that are at the crux of the debate. No stand is taken here, only the questions asked with the objective of allowing people to think and reflect.
To being with, contrary to its name, is it not an instrument that would actually centralize power? The citizen only has the right to file a complaint and be heard, everything else rests on the Jan Lokpal who will vest extraordinary power.
While the disdain about the political classes is understandable, does the bill undermine the validity of the democratic institutions and in the process strike at the very tenets of democracy?
While many people came out in support of the bill, has the bill itself has been scrutinized through public debate? Has reason been overwhelmed by frenzy? While the expectations have raised, has a proper understanding of what it will take to make it work created? Are the people informed about the content and the implications of the bill?
The bill will put the existing vigilance machinery under the control and supervision of the 11-member Jan Lokpal, or Lokayukta, with an independent cadre of vigilance officers bringing the CVC and that part of the CBI that deals with corruption under the Lokpal. A huge additional bureaucracy will have to be created and additionally, investigations need more staff. Even then, how can a centralized body like Lokpal or Lok Ayukta investigate the huge numbers of complaints received?
At present, the Lokpal’s integrity and accountability is assured through a) a transparent process of functioning, b) judicial review and c) mandating that the main responsibility of the 11-member body is to ensure the integrity of the whole vigilance establishment under them. The basic concern remains: however robust the appointment process, can we justify concentrated power based on “good faith” and “goodness”? (http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?271400).
These are some questions raised by eminent people and civil society activists themselves. These are issues that need discussions and it is in the interest of any anti-corruption movement, to be open to such discussions.
Do you think that the points made against the Lokpal Bill need further debate?