These past few months seem to have turned into the season of revolutions. Political revolution in Tunisia, Syria, Egypt and other Middle East countries; where everyone knew what was wrong with their current political climate but no-one did anything until the masses decided to do something. Images of police in riot-gear, violence on the street and bloodied men and women fighting for democracy have become a staple in the newspapers.
For those of you who may not know, there is a quiet revolution going on in India as well. And as with the struggle for freedom, this revolution is taking place in a very non-violent way. Lead by an Army veteran turned social worker and a true Gandhian, Anna Hazare; he is joined at the leadership by several well known and respected personalities including Kiran Bedi, the fearless IPS lady cop, Yogi guru Ramdev Baba, the spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living fame and several other prominent personalities. But the strength of the movement does not come from these stalwarts or popular Bollywood personalities lending their support and voice to the movement, it comes from the common man who fills in the Ramlila Maidan to capacity and who participates in the numerous gatherings all across several cities in India..
So, what is the movement trying to achieve? Corruption in India is not a secret at all; everyone knows about corruption and each one of us have participated in it as well, on one level or the other. The corruption has spread to the highest level and now encompasses the Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Judiciary. These are the three pillars of democracy and the quiet revolution is trying to make these executive branches of democracy accountable.
The passage of Right to Information or the RTI, made it difficult to hide information. In the recent past, RTI has been instrumental in unraveling several recent corruption scandals in India. Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI) was formulated in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, which includes both the Centre and the State Governments. Citizens of India can request for information, which has to be replied from the concerned authorities within 30 days.
The Jan Lokpal bill tries to go to the next level, it aims to effectively deter corruption, redress grievances of citizens, and protect whistle-blowers(a person who tells the public or someone in authority about dishonest or illegal activities occurring in a government department, public or a private organization or a company). If made into law, the bill would create an independent ombudsman body similar to the Election Commission of India called the Lokpal (Sanskrit: protector of the people). It would be empowered to register and investigate complaints of corruption against politicians and bureaucrats without prior government approval. First introduced in 1968, the bill has failed to become law for over four decades.
The Govt proposed a Lokpal bill that the social activists have rejected as “Jokepal” bill without any teeth and is seen as not empowered to combat rampant corruption. The critics of Jan Lokpal bill argue that the bill proposes to create another institute with sweeping powers that supersedes the existing constitutional bodies and could endanger democracy in the long run.
The Lokpal bill was first proposed in 1968 by Shanti Bhushan but was not passed in the last 40 years. The bill targets to reign in the corruption by the very people with powers to pass the bill and hence the stalemate for the last four decades. Social activist Anna Hazare has begun an indefinite fast and agitation from August 16 to force the Government to pass Jan Lokpal bill into law. After 12 days of fasting, the Indian Govt passed a resolution on Lokpal bill on Aug 27, 2011. This is history in the making and will be a milestone, remembered by generations to come. Millions of Indians across the world support the cause. Click here to see the events organized by volunteers of this movement all across the world. Social Media has played an important role in mobilizing masses, organizing the events and showing support by sporting a badge against corruption on the profile picture.
The other important player in the success of the movement is Arvind Kejriwal. A graduate from IIT Kharagpur, Arvind’s organizational skills are instrumental in the amazing mobilization of masses. He, along with Aruna Roy, had also campaigned for the Right to Information from 2001. It soon became a silent movement and the RTI was successfully passed in 2005.
Anna Hazare hailed from a very poor family and moved from his ancestral village
of Ralegaon Siddhi to Mumbai. Poverty ended his education after grade 7
and he was selling flowers at Dadar railway station in Mumbai.
Eventually he owned 2 flower shops in Mumbai. In these early years, he
became involved in..... Click here to read the story