FAQ: Why Anna Hazare is wrong and Lok Pal a bad idea

Don’t fall for the miracle cure that is being offered. Corruption must be fought differently and it’s not easy.

1. Is Lok Pal is necessary to fight corruption?
No, not only is it unnecessary, it will make the problem worse. Corruption in India arises because of too much government, too many rules, too much complexity and too much ambiguity. Adding one more, huge, powerful layer to an already complex system will make the system even more complicated. Complexity creates the incentives for corruption–both on the part of the bribe giver and the bribe taker.

See my article on why Jan Lok Pal is no solution and Amba Salelkar’s article in Pragati.

1A. Is the government’s version of the Lok Pal bill better?
No. We don’t need a Lok Pal at all. Making existing constitutional institutions—like CAG, CVC, CBI and the Election Commission—more independent will serve the purpose equally well. If we have been unable to prevent the politicisation and undermining of these instutitions why would we be able to prevent the Lok Pal from being politicised and undermined? If we can prevent Lok Pal from being politicised and undermined, why can’t we restore the independence and credibility of CAG, CVC, CBI and the Election Commission?

2. What’s the alternative to Lok Pal then?

The alternative is to proceed with second-generation reforms, or Reforms 2.0. Contrary to conventional wisdom reforms have reduced corruption, albeit by moving it to higher up the government. In 1989 an ordinary person would have to pay a bribe to get a telephone connection. By 2005, there was no need to pay a bribe at all and anyone could get a phone in minutes. Yes, 2010 saw the 2G scam in telecoms, but that was because the UPA government reversed the reform process.

In fact, data show that perceptions of corruption are lower in some sectors of the economy, usually those that have been liberalised.

If you are interested in exploring real alternatives, you can start by reading Atanu Dey’s slim, easily readable and inexpensive new book, “Transforming India”.

3. Doesn’t Hong Kong have an Ombudsman and doesn’t it enjoy low corruption?

This is a specious argument. There is little evidence to prove that Hong Kong has low corruption because it has an Ombudsman. On the contrary, there is empirical evidence from across the world suggesting that countries with high economic freedom are perceived to suffer from less corruption.

Hong Kong is one of the freest economies of the world, and therefore, incentives for government officials to be corrupt are relatively low. The Ombudsman is useful to address the residual corruption in economic sectors and in sectors like law enforcement that do not have discretionary powers over economic sectors.

4. How can we have economic reforms if the corrupt politicians don’t allow it?
We have not really demanded them at all, actually. If we did, they are bound to register in the national political agenda. We should persuade politicians that their political future is linked to implementing economic reforms.

5. Easy to say, but how can we do this?

By voting. The constituencies that stand to benefit from economic reforms—the middle class—needs to vote in larger numbers. In the absence of the middle class vote base, politicians appease the poor by giving handouts and entitlements, and cater to the super rich by allowing the crony sector to exploit the half-reformed economy. It’s not easy, and we have to be innovative. See for instance, Atanu Dey’s interesting idea to form middle-class vote banks to induce good governance.

Whatever may be the claims made by the people promoting Lok Pal, there is no miracle solution. They are peddling miracle weight-loss pills. Sadly, such pills usually don’t work and can cause severe damage to your health. If you are cautioned not to take those pills, you can’t ask “which other miracle weight-loss pill do you recommend”? The answer is in diet and exercise, which is hard work.

6. In the meantime, what’s wrong with Jan Lok Pal?
This question has already been answered above, but it’s usual to encounter it again at this stage. The problem with Jan Lok Pal is that it’ll make the problem worse. Does anyone seriously think we can hire tens of thousands of absolutely honest officials who will constitute the Lok Pal? Who will keep watch on them? Maybe we need a Super Lok Pal, and then a Hyper Lok Pal to watch over the Super Lok Pal and so on…This isn’t sarcasm, this is the logical extension of the Lok Pal argument.

7. Don’t we have the right to protest peacefully? Why do you say that a fast-until-death lacks legitimacy?
Of course we have the right to protest peacefully. But it’s not about whether we have the right or not. It’s about are we using that right wisely. (You have the freedom of speech but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to blast Eminem using a loudspeaker at 2am in a residential district.)

As Ambedkar said while introducing the Constitution in November 1949, once the Constitution came into force, we should avoid all non-constitutional methods like protests and satyagraha, for they are the grammar of anarchy. If two persons go on fasts until death for two opposing reasons, we cannot decide the issue by allowing one person to die first.

Fast until death is political blackmail. It is a form of theatre engaged in to coerce the government into doing something that the agitators want. Whatever may be the cause, a single person cannot be allowed to dictate laws to the whole nation.

8. Doesn’t Anna Hazare have the right to fast until death?
Anna Hazare has the right to protest peacefully. However to the extent that his actions amount to an attempt to commit suicide, they are illegal. The government can legitimately prevent him from killing himself whatsoever the reason he might have to attempt suicide.

9. You are an armchair intellectual. Shouldn’t we trust activists more?
Pilots don’t design aircraft. Practicing doctors don’t discover new drugs and treatments. These jobs are usually done by armchair intellectuals. So being an armchair intellectual is not a disqualification.

You shouldn’t trust intellectuals or activists because of what they are. You should examine their arguments and make your own judgement. Most of the people supporting Lok Pal have not examined what the proposal is, have not tried to consider opposing arguments and blindly accept it as a solution because some famous people said so.

11. Aren’t those who oppose Anna Hazare’s agitation supporting the corrupt politicians?
No. It takes an enormous amount of arrogance to claim that Anna Hazare and his supporters have the exclusive hold on the right way to fight corruption.

In the real world, it is foolish to expect 100% clean and non-corrupt politicians. The real world challenge is to achieve good governance with imperfect constitutions, imperfect institutions, imperfect leaders and imperfect citizens. This requires us to realise that individuals respond to incentives. If we remove incentives for taking or giving bribes, then corruption will be lowered. We can reduce incentives for corruption by following through with the reforms that started in 1991 but have stalled since 2004.

It is entirely possible to oppose the UPA government’s politics and policies, while recognising that it is the legitimately constituted government of the country. Individuals and parties might suffer from a legitimacy deficit because of flagrant corruption, but the Government of India as an institution remains the legitimate authority to make policy decisions for the whole nation.

12. Why is fasting illegitimate when Mahatma Gandhi used it in our struggle for independence from the British?
There is a huge difference in context between 26th January 1950 when the Constitution of India came into force and the time before it.

Mahatma Gandhi used civil disobedience against laws imposed on India by the British government. Indians had no say in how the laws were made and how they were implemented. Indians could not repeal laws we didn’t want. Civil disobedience was justified in this context.

Gandhi also used it to coerce Indian nationalist leaders too, including Ambedkar and the Indian National Congress, into accepting his views. Whatever might be the wisdom of Gandhi’s intentions, this was undemocratic and created a culture of ‘high command’ that lives on to this day. Fasting was not justified in this context. This part of Gandhi receives little attention in the dominant narrative of Indian history.

With the formation of the Republic of India on 26 January 1950, things changed profoundly. All Indians have a say in how laws are made and how they are implemented. We can amend or repeal laws that we do not like. There is, of course, a method to do this, which must be followed. These are the constitutional methods that Ambedkar referred to in his grammar of anarchy speech. When constitutional methods are available, there is no case for non-constitutional methods like satyagraha or hunger strikes.

There is thus no equivalence between Gandhi’s satyagraha against the British ruling us and Mr Hazare’s hunger strikes against we ruling ourselves.

Update: Read this FAQ in Kannada, at Vasant Shetty’s blog. Read it in Hindi, via Milind Bhate on INI BroadMind.

NOTE (August 18th, 2011, 3pm): Comments from first-timer & those who use abusive language are held up for moderation. A large number of responses are in the moderation queue. It might take a couple of days for me to go through the queue, so if your comment has not appeared, please bear with me. All comments made in a civil manner will be published.

534 thoughts on “FAQ: Why Anna Hazare is wrong and Lok Pal a bad idea”

  1. If you think LokPal is such a bad idea and would make the system ‘more complicated’, did u oppose the bill each time the govt tried to introduce it for the last 42 years? If the LP is a super cop then what is the CBI supposed to be? Please read this link http://tinyurl.com/3jljx5a

    Hong Kong was one of the most corrupt places until the introduction of the ICAI.

    Even the USA (one of the freest economies) has the the United States Office of Government Ethics (OGE).
    It represents one component of a multi-agency approach to fighting corruption


    1. uncannybal, @acorn may not be 42 years-old yet, so many not have challenged such undemocratic propositions each time. Secondly, Hong Kong was not one of “the most corrupt” place till ICAI was introduced. I was a reporter in Hong Kong and Singapore – in corruption sweepstakes in that region, the Philippines and Indonesia were far more corrupt. If you include China, parts of Japanese politics, etc, then HK comes out looking rather good. And you don’t need a Lok Pal if you have a well-empowered CVC. Thanks.

      1. I have two points
        1. If against Jan Lok Pal ( as it doesn’t serve everything ), why for democracy ? In a democratic world if 99 % believe in something, then irrespective of the merit in what they believe, the remaining 1% are always wrong. To find the all serving abstraction of law that is just for all is in the realm of religion and therefore we should stick to whats right or wrong in the Jan Lokpal..

        2. What would you choose, bribe of Rs 100 to get a phone connection and Rs 10 a kg for dal, or Rs 100 a kg for dal and no bribe to get a phone connection. The argument is atleast in the former case you have the control over corruption around you, in the latter you pay for the wrong doing of others

        1. Jawesh,

          Most people miss the point that India is a democratic republic. It’s not a pure democracy. So if 99% of the people decide to kill 1%, they can’t do it legally because the 1% have rights.

      2. I do not wish to be for or against your view point, but offcourse would like to suggest some thing which needs to be taken care if we really are serious to eridicate corruption from the society.

        Let us think about the reasons for corruption. As per my openion , it is nothing but deficit in ethecal values of ones life leeds to become corrupt. Now question is how ethical values can be restored in ones life. Answer is simple , give sense of security that no one be left without food, cloths , a house , education for their childrens and healthcare in need.
        I think almost 90% to 95% people who are indulged in corruption are making mony through illegal meens only because they want to secure future of their childrens, not for themselves. The sense of insecurity about future of their childrens is the reason of adopting mall practices for making money.

      3. Why wouldn’t an empowered cvc become the dreaded too-powerful center then?
        All this talk of lokpal becoming a monster is so very misplaced. Effective measures need to built into the bill, that’s all what that concern needs.
        Acorn is talking as if reforms 2.0 is an achievable paradigm! Any reform of such magnitude needs massive public push. Jan Lokpal has achieved it, unlike acorns’ few 100 followers. May reforms 2.0 is better but that’s not gonna happen in our lifetime!

        1. That’s because as stated, people rather believe in a magic bullet that would solve their problems instead of opening their eyes and looking at the current state of sectors that HAVE had economic reform vs those that haven’t.
          Our telecom is a shining example – deregulation has led to fierce competition among mobile operators and the Indian customer enjoys some of the lowest call rates in the world. Today you can get a mobile phone at every price point and even poor people have access to instant communication.

          1. unfortunately that doesnt look like the reason these days :). it seems its got more to do with A Raja giving 1.76 lakh crore to our corporates.

      4. I guess empower(say giving investigation and fighting to prove in the court of law) power CVC will become similar to Jan Lokpal. there will be finer details which needs to tuned.

        But i think we definitely need independent agency to investiagtes government corrupt practices…

        If government has shown inclination to strengthen the CVC, there would not have any support these protests.

      5. Yes, I do agree that Anna Hazare is totally wrong. He knows very well that he has nothing to loose. He is just creating a unrest in society in the name of corruption. No one will say that corruption is not the curse of our people and country. But by just bringing a Lokpal Bill that too on his own terms and conditions is not going to eradicate corruption from the society and country. Its our misfortune that our majority of population just governs by the sentiments and becomes the victims of emotional blackmailing.
        I pray almighty to provide wisdom to such type of so called HERO,s who has a great will to be compared with true hero of the India like Mahatma Gandhi. He is just damaging our country.

      6. Salil,

        Being a reporter in HongKong may not have been enough to know the real story of the ICAC. Here is a speech by Tony Kwok, Head of Operations, ICAC. He was with the ICAC for 25 years and not just a reporter. Please read the following ‘(I) have witnessed how we, together with the public support, turned Hong Kong from one of the most corrupt cities in the world to now one of the least corrupt’ – Before u remark about the size of HonkKong , please be reminded that they have one premier and we have one prime minister(not four or five due to our larger size). It is the system that will work. Regardless of size
        This idea that IF we have a well empowered CVC, IF we have a independent Police. IF we have an independent CBI’ – argument being used to stay with the status quo and allow the present corrupt politicians to loot, pillage and plunder without interruption, wont work anymore. It was this same parliament that passed those laws that made these agencies powerless. It is time society at large got involved to change the system to make it more accountable. The errors committed in the past cannot be repeated in future. The Lok Pal bill will be a first step in that direction.

    2. It is not so important as to know the minutest of details of the success of the new Jan Lok Pal bill or for that matter to dig into all the failures of the existing rules, systems under the umbrella of the CAG, CBI, EC and the rest of the organizations set up to maintain the law & order……but really what this movement is telling the nation and its citizens may be that, there are a GOOD lot of us who do not seem to like corruption infiltrating at every level, for every bit of action or rather inaction from the law abiding citizens because there really needs to be some point where a reasonable way of doing politics, of governing nations, peoples has to be in order. And so, we may only have to keep in mind that people might be suffocated to the point where that “reasonable” level to run the nation, on fairly agreeable terms has probably been long surpassed and we need a new breather economy, a new way of doing things that while cannot be a 100% white-clean strategy, has to a large extent the well-being of its citizens in mind, at all times and to a reasonable extent.

      So if this new system, new set of rules to contain the murky waters is termed “Jan LokPal”, so be it, and if it were possible to reform and make anew the existing rules and laws, to make them more effective and to give them all the power to contain corruption, then again, we should be able to welcome such reforms to whatever bills and laws that already exist! And protest can occur in any form, as an expression of the free will from the democratic citizens……may be not every action of protest need be a fast-unto-death, but needless to say, it is indeed about time that a committee be formed to look into the needs that this bill addresses and present a workable solution to the parliament that is satisfactory for all parties concerned.

    3. uncannybal, OGE is part of the democratically elected system and not a super cop nominated by a few elites!

  2. Glad you brought HK .. Care to also talk abt The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) .. Apart from freeing the eco ( which I completely agree to ) public outcry in HK majorly contributed to what HK is today .. Its too simplistic to think that Freeing up eco alone will magically wipe out the corruption .. It didn’t happen in HK case also if we lay down proper facts … Good FAQ ( incomplete though ) ..

  3. You make sound points on the reform front. I also agree that the freer the economy the less the loot. However, the fact is the govt has already introduced a bill, which in the opinion of people like me, is unsatisfactory. So, just because the Lok Pal may not turn out to be effective, is no reason why the hollowness of the bill, that has now been introduced, should not be protested.

    The Lok Pal may not be a miracle cure, but it is now proposed to be a law. If it is going to be there on the statute books where is the harm in it being an effective law that is comprehensive and effective?

    The Lokayukt too has been sidelined, but it has also worked sometimes, Justice Hegde and Yeddy being latest examples. Also Anna in Maharashtra has done quite a bit of cleaning up of the system on his own. Why do you think guys like Suresh Jain are taking pot shots at him now, he had to resign as a minsiter on proved corruption charges raised by Anna Hazare.

    Give the man his due. His cause is right, some of his methods and his demands may not be ideal. Not reason enough to shoot the messenger.

    1. Hi
      just one question ? do we need any external agency to clear our conscience? every human being knows wats rite and wats wrong . if we stop supporting corruption is there any need of any law or lokpal for that matter. stop giving and taking bribes, taking unfair advantage in studies jobs sports or for that matter any walk of life. change will not happen over night but it’s bound to happen if we alll, every individual of this country follow honesty and exercise our duties in the same way we tend to exercise our fundamental rites.

    2. lokayuka is just an accountability mechanism.. same is lokpal…. a person removed from cm post dosnt mean all that is wrong has been set right…. what we need is not another accountability mechanism which are plenty in number but A REAL PREVENTIVE MECHANISM is what we need… there is a difference between a speedcam waching you all along the road than a mere cop sitting at the end of the stretch.

    3. Bingo! You echoed my views on this issue. Not everything is black and white, especially the issues in social front. I am a believer that most of the things (read esp. social issues) don’t have a perfect solution. BUT the important thing is to have a start point. We talk a lot and implement less.

      Even though Jan lokpal bill is not perfect but it had ignited the imaginations of common middle class people and stood as a voice for them. Eventually, I feel that we would move in to a free economy. Lokpal might just a bridge the gap between now and future. Who knows, any loopholes/ineffectiveness of it might lead us to a free economy.

      I also believe that, to a great extent, onus lies with us in helping solve our own problems. I tend to agree with one point of the writer that, too much governance creates messier situation.

  4. A complicated system arising out of too much governance and too many rules may be one of the reason for corruption, so you say the apparent solution is not to add another layer but to remove layers of government and make it leaner. In the present context no ministry will allow itself to be cut to size or reduce it’s headcount or budget, laying off personnel and departments is next to impossible in a socialist system, so the logical conclusion is that we continue with the status quo, and endure the current level of corruption? Removing CAG will also remove one layer of government, would you recommend removig it too?

    Status quo cannot be a solution to a recurring problem. Lokpal is expected to be a deterrence against corruption at the highest places, and all other mechanisms that exists today report to people who themselves are allegedly corrupt or turn a blind eye to it. The only ones who don’t want deterrance are the ones who fear scrutiny or loss of opportunity from benefitting from a complicated and corrupt system.

    If Lokpal system fails to reduce corruption from current levels (read CWG, 2G etc) and ends up increasing corruption, it can always be reviewed, but it’s efficacy cannot be pre judged.

    Since we are not having anymore reforms due to lack of political will or perhaps to keep the system in it’s current form that enables corruption, at least there should be some Terrance against corruption. Reform 2.0 can co-exist with Lokpal. Hong Kong has economic freedom, it also has an ombudsman. Proves that they can coexist and play their respective roles effectively.

    If voting every 5 years was a solution to corruption or economic reforms, we wouldn’t need institutions like CAG or EOW. Just because people like Madhu Koda get reelected doesn’t mean they deserve to be acquitted as well.

  5. You are creating castles in the air and showing it to people as if you are the person instead of Anna whom people should look as reformer. You are conveniently undermining the role of stringent rules and regulations apart from economic freedom that has changed many countries.
    You are conveniently assuming that people of this country are basicaaly corrupt and ten thousand people in Lokpal system will be corrupt. Is it true about the Election commission which is independednt body. At the time of EC formation if armchair reformer like you would hv said we are forming another system. Rather hand over the EC to govt they will do it properly provided they get freedom.
    Your comments and suggestions should be proposed to group of people, I mean expert. After refining them, you should put it in front of public. And I am sure after refining your comments and suggestions you will be left with nothing to share actually.
    Best Luck.

    1. the equivalent of Election commission is the CVC. and people did protest attempts to undermine its independence.

      Anna Hazare is undermining institutions like CBI, CVC, CAG by claiming that they are useless merely becos they report to the democratically elected prime minister. thats a perverse argument.

      1. It is not a perverse argument. He is right. It is because these institutions report to the prime minister, that many of their investigations, reports and convictions get unnecessarily delayed and derailed. How many scams have happened, and how many corrupt people have made large amounts of money due to this. As a tax payer, it is my right to put my foot down and say that I dont trust the CBI, CVC’s efficiency anymore and so can Anna Hazare.

        Especially the successive corrupt congress governments always place rubber puppets like Prathibha Patil, Meira Kumar, M.S.Gill etc in important positions, where they become mere rubber stamps. They do the same to CBI, CVC etc.

      2. You seriously believe calling CBI as useless, after all that has been happening in the last few months, is a perverse argument. Are you living in the same India as we are?

        And have you forgotten about the CVC head appointment fiasco already? Again, have you been sleeping the past one year?

        The argument is not not against their existence. Anna is not saying these should go. What he is saying is that the system to govern/elect these institutions have, very rightly, failed and need to be overhauled. Of course, the ruling government will have problem against this argument. The question is, why do you?

      3. See, Problem is not PM .. CBI before filing any case against any person first tooks permission from the deppt minister, suppose If HRD minister is found guilty in corruption and CBI want to file a case ? Is this possible ? where as, CAG and CVC is only advisory body they cant initiate action against any one.

    2. I support you in this context. Some are trying in have a hand in the affair and prove himself a super Indian. The above article is an expression of a person who has a limited exposure to the major part of the Indian society.The bulk of the society are victims of a corruption by a privileged class and that must be tamed.

  6. When Messenger becomes bigger than message then nothing there is nothing wrong on calling out the messenger.

  7. I don’t really care for your points, my views differ in just one simple way : you talk of just higher level politicians and bureaucrats.
    The Lokpal, if it is passed in its best form, will (HOPEFULLY) bring about a sense of accountability in the people with whom we interact on a day-day basis, such as policemen, RTO officials, passport office officials etc. You can’t “liberalize” these sectors to discourage corruption.
    What anna hazare wants is not a big supercop that can jail corrupt people, but people who are corrupt to be scared of being corrupt. right now, they are not – which is why i have to pay a bribe that is demanded with impunity and arrogance.

    1. Actually, you can liberalize sectors like (RTO, Passport etc). Make them private. Not possible? Wait, the Indian government does that already! See this link. The San Francisco Consul General has outsourced citizenship related stuff to a commercial company and why not? The same can be done for driver’s licenses. The RTO can act as an ombudsman for these private licensing firms.

    2. Why aren’t existing laws enough for that? And if the current crop of politics aren’t doing their job, why don’t you elect a different set of politicians? And if you feel they’re all the same, what prevents you from standing for elections?

      1. 60 years of nothing from this country has made people prosperous and cynical. You’ll all get bugged like I am now, when this country goes through the inevitable economic downturn.
        Privatizing things like RTO and passport office is stupid, I couldn’t have heard anything more absurd, but everyman to his own view. It’s still a free country right

      2. and I am not interested in standing for elections because anyone who is clean is removed or put somewhere inaccessible or defamed or killed – otherwise Indian politics would be better now. A lot of people would have asked the same question you did, Salil (why dont you enter politics) and a lot of people would have attempted to change it in 60 years.
        If no change has happened, it demonstrates how tightknit the whole political and bueraucratic spectrum is. I can’t possibly break that or break into that without being corrupt myself.
        Unknown to you, thats why Rajinikanth entered and quickly left politics in the mid-90’s.

        1. Sunil,

          corruption at the level of the policemen, RTO is already covered under the Prevention of Corruption Act. there are even separate courts to try such corruption cases. Lokpal even when it was mooted in the 1960s was only to check corruption at higher levels. Anna Hazare and co are trying to misinform people by blaming the govt for not covering such cases under Lokpal.

  8. You are saying Telecom is without bribe now !! ?? LOL

    Raja , Karunanidhi, Kanuimozi and co made billions from Telecom AFTER the so called reforms you mentioned

    Less govt is NOT less corruption, I may also mean MORE corruption as in case of telecoms


    1. I’m still trying to decide which side to take, but want to clarify what the author of the article said.

      He said, after liberalisation of the telecom sector, low level corruption has gone down – there is no Bribe to get a telephone any more. But corruption has moved up the ladder to the ministry level.

      But to your point, I still have to pay a tip or a bribe if I want the telephone technician to correct a noise on my BSNL land line. People in the govt service – post men, telephone technicians, municipal road and drainage cleaners, still expect a tip for doing their job. This is a mentality issue. If you force him under any system to not take bribe, their quality of service will go down. You will see mails getting lost, noisy telephone lines and dead dogs turning up in ur sewer.

      The solution might be to create competition, create incentives to produce quality, tighten the recruitment policy – no defacto appointments etc ?

      1. it’s the mentality which needs a shift. why don’t you assert yourself and make more effort to make sure that the technician doesn’t trouble you? Go to higher authorities, complain , write, fight anything, keep after them until you are heard. It takes effort and time, it’s not easy, but I have tried it. don’t wait for someone to make laws to better things. Why don’t we all try in are own small way??

    2. Subu read carefully. He already said due to stop on reforms and government control 2G happened. I agree even in Dubai when RTO was given to private company service was quick and good.
      I also agree no need for Lokpal. Why we expect magic solutions? Why not protest for implementation of existing system? We bring laws like 498A (Dowry act) and make all suffer when we already have laws.
      Most important why not spend time and money in educating and building national character. All evils are inside, we the people, why not be Indians and help fellow citizens to be Indians. I mean lets respect our democracy and freedom. Real respect not nautanki like during cricket. Giving and taking bribe is Gaddari to nation. It hurts India why not have a national character where people should feel ashamed to say ‘upar ki kamai’. If so many people can join protest why can’t they look down on corrupt. Stop ‘fees’ stop ‘upar ki kamai’ stop ‘methai’ publicly say you are corrupt , ‘gaddar’. Stop voting for corrupt politicians strictly. Say we cannot vote you clears charges against you first.

  9. This is the best article that I have read on the subject so far. Though I do not entirely agree.

    1. The argument that a lokpal is being touted as a magic pill is wrong. Who said so? This is the first step in the right direction.
    2. That reforms are necessary is agreed. But that’s not sufficient. Lokpal is about corruption at high places, and reforms alone will come to naught as at those levels, the politicians are the judge as well as the accused. Politicians decide how much accelerator needs to be pushed on the reforms front. A lokpal will fulfill the sufficiency condition.
    3. There are watchdogs for every institution but not for politicians. For stock markets, there is SEBI, for Insurance – IRDA, for Telecom – TRAI, for government offices – CAG etc. But for politicians? None. Therefore, how is the Lokpal adding to the layers, as argued in the piece?
    4. The piece is silent on how a lokpal undermines democracy/parliament etc. This argument is being put forth quite frequently, but doesn’t seem to have feet. Would have loved to learn more on this.

    Aman Sharma
    Twitter id : @amancool5

  10. >>> 2. What’s the alternative to Lok Pal then? The alternative is to proceed with second-generation reforms, or Reforms 2.0.
    >>> … If we remove incentives for taking or giving bribes, then corruption will be lowered.

    [Arup] A basic requirement of capitalism and economic to work is the rule of law, implemented equally to everybody. No amount of reforms would curb corruption in a country in which the law is not enforced equally on every citizen (including you, me and the PM of India)
    No amount of incentive can prevent me from demanding and taking bribe, if I know I will never be punished for that.

    >>>>1. Is Lok Pal is necessary to fight corruption?
    No, not only is it unnecessary, it will make the problem worse. Corruption in India arises because of too much government, too many rules, too much complexity and too much ambiguity

    [Arup] Lokpal does not make any rules, it just enforces the exsisting rules.
    The size and extent of the Govt is a legitimate question, but not to be confused with stronger enforcement of exsisting laws.

    >>> 6. In the meantime, what’s wrong with Jan Lok Pal?
    … Does anyone seriously think we can hire tens of thousands of absolutely honest officials who will constitute the Lok Pal? Who will keep watch on them? Maybe we need a Super Lok Pal..
    >>>…The real world challenge is to achieve good governance with .. imperfect institutions…

    [Arup] Lokpal is mechanism to have a law enforcement agency free from political interference, after being constituted by elected Govt. This is a basic requirement of any functioning democrary and it is present in many other democracies in the world (like the Attorney General in USA)

    I do not expect all Lokpals of future to be 100% honest. But an independent Lokpal will give a chance to those who want to be honest to be so, without the fear of retributions.

    >>>> Fast until death is political blackmail. It is a form of theatre engaged in to coerce the government into doing something that the agitators want.
    >>>>Whatever may be the cause, a single person cannot be allowed to dictate laws to the whole nation.

    [Arup] A single person does not matter. It only matters when he/she has a lot of support.
    Fast unto death is not a blackmail. Please remember, the govt has a choice — not to pay any attention and let the person die (as it happened to the fasting Sadhu recently). The Govt will not do it, as it knows, the issues involved are legitimate and enjoy good amount of popular support

  11. As your pal Atanu Dey recommends, setting up ‘Middle Class Vote Banks’ will definitely help. Anna’s movement is so successful because it has galvanized the middle class. So there is nothing wrong in Atanu’s idea.
    We are fighting a war against corruption. And right now we are losing.
    So we need every weapon we can find, to fight and rid our country of this demon of corruption.
    Our politicians are the biggest beneficiaries of corruption. Expecting them to change the system voluntarily is unreasonable.
    We also need Police reform, judiciary reform and electoral reform.
    Once the people are galvanised, anything is possible
    Then we will get more efficient ppl at all levels. Govt jobs will not go to the highest bidder but to the most qualified
    We need to take our country away from this corrupt system. And the JanLok Pal is a great place to start. We will improve and refine the bill as we go along.
    But the status quo is definitely not the answer.
    Let us all join together to fight this evil and put our country on the path of growth. Let our money provide jobs here rather than go away to Swiss banks.

    1. Galvanize to vote. Not to goad someone to fast unto death. It is astounding and sad to see so much sentiment that does not translate to voting for change. What happened after 26/11? 40% of south mumbai came out to vote. That’s why we are still in this mess.
      When the CVC was constituted with much fanfare, people had the same hopes. It seemed to be a step in the right direction. We all know what happened to it.
      Until and unless we (the middle class) vote with full force, we won’t see change. Simple.

      1. I guess, and, I hope the upcoming elections will see a greater participation from the us ( middle class). This could be a trigger for greater reforms.

  12. 1 # Reform is a must one but there is a big flaw in your example itself …Yes we accept that to get the telephone we no need to pay but not at the cost of nation’s loss ( 30K-147K crores ), so mean that for individual we can sacrifice the nation.

    2 # Voting – i dont know whether you are aware last parliament election ruling UPA candidate came to my home without asking anything 2500 they tried to bribe my dad for 5 votes when my dad refused to accept they were ready to pay 5000 i.e Rs.1000/- per vote. Just imagine Half a billion people living in india with less than 2$ per day if that half a billion got 10$ from the candidate surely they will vote for that bribed man. so we cant expect that uneducated half a billion people will refuse to take money??????

    3 # I dont know why author is not responding to the comment.. hopefully he may not have counter points the way Kiren bedi failed to answer his question.

  13. Nitin, i am much impressed by your ideas, and i agree with them. But i am still confused between choosing your solution over the Jan Lokpal Bill. Here is why…

    I don’t believe in ideas. I believe in execution. The Jan Lokpal bill may not be a good idea. But the team behind it is a good team. It passionately believes that they can make it work. They are willing to stake their lives on it.

    On the other hand, the reforms that you(and many other people) proposed(in similar articles), are fantastic. But i don’t see any one who has come out and done something about them. I don’t see any passionate people willing to stake their lives on them, trying to make them work.

    Who then i look towards, people who sound fantastic but don’t do anything or people who may not be glamorous, but strive to do something?

    1. Reminds me of the famous lines.
      “Oh, X is going wrong, we must do something”
      Y (in this case the Lok Pal bill) is something.
      Hence, let us do Y.

      The Lok Pal bill is something, but unfortunately it is something in the wrong direction (for the various reasons stated by Nitin here).

    2. @jitesh
      I see your point. But also consider this story that I came across and is relevant to this flow of thought. It goes thusly –
      “To keep the fish from drowning, the compassionate monkey fetched it from water and put it up on tree.”
      Execution without ideas is probably as useless, if not more, as ideas without execution.

    3. Absolutely right!!!

      The fight is not to implement Jan Lokpal but to:
      1. Reduce Corruption
      2. Punish the Corrupt
      3. Freeze / Penalize corrupt monetarily (Now this is where the government babus have the issue. Today they are happy to spend an year in jail and later enjoy the loot). For some reason, the media is only highlight PM’s inclusion etc, undermining the various other deterrents for corruption.

      Even the public has the list of persons who have stashed the black money abroad. But even after many years, the government has not taken any steps to bring back the money or punish the guilty. Instead, they are made ministers for important portfolios!!!

      I have more faith in Lokpal than the Politicians.

  14. IMO, Acorn’s arguments against the Lok Pal as an institution is fundamentally flawed. To make a sweeping statement that more government is inherently bad is nothing less than ridiculous. By the same yardstick, would you also recommend that the institutions like the CEC, CAG and CVC also be abolished – because they add “layers of complexity” to the system? The point is, we are grappling with an exceptional systemic situation here – of brazen corruption at all levels, especially at the top, with very little risk of being punished for it. Hence the necessity for an institutional system to counter this menace. Is this a foolproof system? – of course not. People who believe that are just as foolish as others who believe reforms (or specifically reforms v.2) is the only viable solution. But with an active media and a vigilant public, the LP would at least have to ensure that it is seen as doing its job – this by itself would raise the costs of indulging in corruption at high places, which at present is close to zero. And if we are lucky to get a strong, honest person to head the LP at some point, then his actions would set a precedent which others succeeding him will find it difficult not to follow. Of course, I have TN Seshan in mind, who completely changed the way elections are conducted in India.

    I do agree with the writer that reforms and higher voting would indeed be good long term solution to corruption. That said, a LP and these solutions are not mutually exclusive. The irony, of course is that the example you quote, of telecom, itself is a good example of how reforms provides an opportunity for monumental corruption. It is silly to think that government just needs to free up a sector, and then just sit back and see the sector grow. Sorry, it does not work that way. There would always be a case for policy intervention and course correction which would provide substantial scope for corruption. In fact, it was a major policy intervention in 1999 by NDA (shifting to a revenue sharing arrangement and waiving of part of licence fees) that saved the telecom industry which was close to bankruptcy. The only thing that saved this policy change from credible accusations of corruption was that it was steered by the PM, Vajpayee himself. One cannot argue that ABV’s intervention which is the most important factor behind the much touted teleocm success story is somehow legitimate reforms while the 2G scam is a “reversal” of reform process.

  15. NOTE:

    The usual practice on this blog is allow all comments that are made in a civil manner. First time commenters and those who use blacklisted words will find their comments held up for moderation. These will be cleared as and when I find the time to do so.

    I am posting this note here to alert a number of first-time commenters who just want to hurl abuse. If I find your comment abusive, it will not be published.

  16. Your FAQ is a classic case of Analysis Paralysis. The intent of Jan Lokpal bill is right. Anna Hazare might not be in the same league as the founding leaders of this country but he has people’s support and he is trustworthy.
    We are lucky to enjoy the citizenship of the most vibrant and largest democratic country in this world. Let us not throw away this luck. We should use the opportunity Anna Hazare’s movement provides to correct the many wrong’s in this country. We will fail in some this time, but we will do better the next time.

  17. Slavery was once a law. Civil disobedience paved the way to abolish this law.

    Thoreau writes in “Civil Disobedience”:
    “Can there not be a government in which the majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? -in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then?” (

  18. First read the Jan lokpal bill properly with patience,
    it is going to add an extra monitoring body to the existing one same as income tax dept but with more transperancy.
    Nothing is wrong in it.

    You all have to support it, this is the time for revolution. STOP WRONG EDUCATION and Support Anna Hazare.

    Jai Hind
    Inklab Zindabad!

  19. 1. “Adding one more, huge, powerful layer to an already complex system will make the system even more complicated. Complexity creates the incentives for corruption–both on the part of the bribe giver and the bribe taker”

    Flawed argument. To say that Lokpal will make corruption problem worse is like saying that having additional courts will make judicial delays worse.

    2. “The alternative is to proceed with second-generation reforms”

    Stupid argument. Why can’t we have both reforms and Lok pal? The two are not mutually exclusive. How silly would be an argument that we don’t need an independent judiciary or independent CAG/EC but more judicial or more accounting/election reforms? Lets have more reforms and lets also have a powerful lokpal bill to ensure that any corruption arising from Reforms 2.0. is detected and punished.

    3. “On the contrary, there is empirical evidence from across the world suggesting that countries with high economic freedom are perceived to suffer from less corruption.”

    Bullshit. USA has high economic freedom, yet it is most corrupt country in the world. The extent of corruption in US runs into trillions of dollars. High economic freedom doesn’t prevent the US govt from bailing out failed corporations. Corruption in free markets is systematic..in other words, policies are designed to benefit only certain sections of society at the detriment of larger sections of populations. US and many western democracies with high economic freedoms are more of corporotocracies than democracies but since the corruption is systematic, it doesn’t figure in the routine corruption indexes.

    If you haven’t yet read ‘Confessions of an economic hitman’ I suggest you to immediately pick and read the book to understand corruption in the times of neoliberalism.

    5. “In the absence of the middle class vote base, politicians appease the poor by giving handout & entitlements,”

    Yeah right. Our poor are highly pampered. Grabbing their lands by using antiquated legislations happens only in other countries. Farmers never get fired upon by cops for protesting against forcible land acquitition. Our middle class is, of course, highly enlightened. They only vote for clean politicians..like Murli “Reliance” Deora and his son and honest grandmas like Sheila “CWG” Dixit.

    “Whatever may be the claims made by the people promoting Lok Pal, there is no miracle solution. They are peddling miracle weight-loss pills. Sadly, such pills usually don’t work and can cause severe damage to your health.”

    Since there are no miracle solutions, lets do away with all independent institutions that have been created to check crime and corruption. Why do we need an independent judiciary or CAG? After all, hasn’t independent judiciary failed in miraculously providing justice to every citizen of the country. Let’s instead have kangaroo courts appointed by Kapil Sibal.

    6. “Does anyone seriously think we can hire tens of thousands of absolutely honest officials who will constitute the Lok Pal? Who will keep watch on them? Maybe we need a Super Lok Pal, and then a Hyper Lok Pal to watch over the Super Lok Pal and so on… ”

    Another logical extension of this argument is – “Does anyone seriously think we can hire tens of thousand of absolutely honest judges who will constitute the judiciary? Who will keep watch on them? Maybe we need a Hyper Supreme Court to watch over Supreme Court and Hyper square Supreme Court to watch over Hyper Supreme Court and so on.

    And no..this isn’t sarcasm, this is logical extension of your anti-Lok Pal argument,

    7. “Fast until death is political blackmail. It is a form of theatre engaged in to coerce the government into doing something that the agitators want. Whatever may be the cause, a single person cannot be allowed to dictate laws to the whole nation.”

    Of course, unless that single person happens to be someone like Rebecca Mark arriving with cashbags to educate our politicians about the benefits of FDI in power sector. Or someone like Mukesh Ambani who treats India’s GOP as ‘apni dukan’

    8. “However to the extent that his actions amount to an attempt to commit suicide, they are illegal..”

    9.”You should examine their arguments and make your own judgement. Most of the people supporting Lok Pal have not examined what the proposal is, have not tried to consider opposing arguments and blindly accept it as a solution because some famous people said so”

    Well..I’ve examined your anti-Lok ball arguments and found your arguments hollow, silly and downright stupid. I’ve heard these opposing argument hundreds of times and rejected them because they are idiotic. Don’t you dare suggest that all of us who are pro-Lok Pal are dumb idiots who are incapable of forming our own opinions. On the contrary, I think you have not considered pro-lok pal arguments using your own brain and have accepted opposing arguments because some famous journalists on the payroll of congress politicians have said so.

    11.”This requires us to realise that individuals respond to incentives. If we remove incentives for taking or giving bribes, then corruption will be lowered.”

    Corruption is a result of excess greed and can be reduced by having strong laws that provide quick action against guilty. What was the incentive for Gavaskar or Shastri to accept Rs 3.6 crores from BCCI? Now, if there were strong laws that identified such types of remunerations as corruption and if there were bodies that were set-up to monitor such conflict-of-interest transactions and punish the offenders, don’t you think the Gavaskars and Shastris would have excersiced more caution in accepting such remunarations?

    “but the Government of India as an institution remains the legitimate authority to make policy decisions for the whole nation.”

    Of course, powerful lobbies play no role in making of policy decisions. I’m sure you also believe that allowing Enron to not only set shop in India but also giving it guarenteed returns was also a result of legitimate policy decision and that ‘education expenses’ played no role in making of that decision.

    12. “Indians could not repeal laws we didn’t want. Civil disobedience was justified in this context.”

    What if minority community like homosexuals had depended on Parliament (the only legitimate body for making and repeling laws, according to people like you) to repel the archaic laws that had criminalized homosexuality? Was the extensive campaign by gays for legalizing homosexuality illegitimate? Were the gays blackmailing the majority of heterosexuals who dominate not only parliament but also every section of society by insisting that homosexuality should be decrimnalized? What if Supreme Court had held that laws made by parliament are supreme and told the gay activists to plead their case to parliamentarians? If Ashok Row Kavi had decided to fast-unto-death to force parliament to repel the law, would you have accused him of blackmailing the majority?

    1. Socratus: Wow! Just wow!!

      Acorn: I agree with you that armchair intellectual solutions cannot be rejected just because they are not activists. They can carry the matter and that cannot be ignored. But, the arguments should be brought down on the ground and proved on the current facts and situations. Your arguments are only wishful and at times for the sake of it. Socratus has bared them all. Waiting for your response to Socratus.

    2. Wonderful. Nothing can be more apt a reply than this. Dear @ acorn please come down from your intellectual ivory tower. As of today, we the 99% not so intellectual janta salute Anna Hazare for being brave enough to strike on where it hurt most to so called players of power. And, unfortunately or fortunately all of us are not idiot. He is fighting so that at least our future generation can breathe in a little clear air,not being worried of how much/what or which way to pay for his legitimate claim, whatsoever. He is fighting, in fact, our long due fight.

    3. Socrates: Interesting detailed response.

      The point is – Even if Reforms 2.0 is the most comprehensive solution to the way forward for India – who is to say that Lokpal Bill if made effective and powerful as suggested by Anna Hazare and his team will not show significant results in the higher levels of power positions.

      Truth is, independent corruption monitoring will show some results – which will be definitely better than no monitoring at all and free rampage looting that is ongoing these days…

      >> “The problem with Jan Lok Pal is that it’ll make the problem worse. Does anyone seriously think we can hire tens of thousands of absolutely honest officials who will constitute the Lok Pal?”

      The point is – should we give up the opportunity to form it in the first place ? Better to test it out – there is nothing to lose – we cannot fall further from where we are already in the first place.

    4. This is called stealing the thunder, perhaps the objective of the blog post was just to cash in the opportunity and get more hits and page views.

      Brilliant counter reply which leaves every anti lokpal argument absolutely exposed.

  20. Sorry, this point got unintentionally erased in my previous reply..

    8. “However to the extent that his actions amount to an attempt to commit suicide, they are illegal..”

    Fasting is not considered suicide under the Indian constitution. There is no ruling of any court which bans fasting. It is each ones individual right to go on fast since it is a manner in which one can protest against the government and there is no bar on that. The freedom of expression and speech under which the right to fast comes under is incorporated under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.

    I’m sure Justice Hegde, Shanti & Prashant Bhusan know more about Indian law than you do. While the Bhusans are merely lawyers, do you think Justice Hegde would have become part of Hazare’s team if any of his actions were unconstitutional or if any of the proposed sections in the Lokpal bill were bad in law?

    1. Flawed argument… Isaac Newton was one of the smartest men that ever walked on this planet. However, he was an alchemist…

      1. Newton was surely smarter than you. Considering the times he lived in, there was nothing wrong in his being an alchemist. Alchemy, for your information, is regarded as protoscience, and not pseudoscience.

        “Protoscience is distinguished from pseudoscience by its standard practices of good science, such as a willingness to be disproven by new evidence, or to be replaced by a more predictive theory.”

        Alchemy, during Newton’s age, was considered a legitimate field of science and his words in those days would have carried more weight over most other lesser-qualified scientists or alchemists.

  21. Could u add and answer a Q 13.Why are politicians opposing Lok-Pal? Based on your analysis, Shouldn’t they be welcoming it as an additional opportunity to hoodwink the public? Or do you think they are struck by a sudden bout of “national interest” ?

    Pls clear these apparent contradictions.

  22. I have another point to make.
    What about use of police force for achieving own political ambitions where no corruption is involved. e.g. What has been alleged against Narendra Modi and now the Maharashtra government in the Pune firing case. You will need another mechanism to stop that too. The logic can be extended to other government functions also.
    Doesn’t this make the parliament almost redundant?

  23. [In 1989 an ordinary person would have to pay a bribe to get a telephone connection. By 2005, there was no need to pay a bribe at all and anyone could get a phone in minutes.]
    What rubbish people still have to bribe if they want to get BSNL phone, the people who wrote this article should try to leave the luxury and go to remote villages and see for themselves. Please don’t try to divide people by giving false information.

    1. Except that now BSNL is not the only shop in town for phones; Airtel, Tata Indicom and Reliance all provide basic telephony. But if you have a hard-on for BSNL, then well…

  24. There is tremendous corruption at central, state and local level from bureaucracy. How can reforms, without strong laws and independent anti-corruption institutional support, solve the problem? Developed and free-market economies such as USA,with focus on reduced size of government has increasingly focused on deregulation to grow economy and provide market approach to solve problems. However, the mining accidents, financial crisis, oil spills etc have demonstrated how deregulation and ‘reforms’ alone will not ensure transparency. The solution lies in having both and they are not mutual exclusive. Hong Kong would not have succeeded with just reforms without ICAC.

    A clerk at a local panchayat office will not stop taking bribe unless he has the fear of law catching up to him and seizing his property. Public participation and outcry, deterrence through laws, reforms are all pieces of the puzzle that need to be put together to reduce corruption.

  25. Dear Author,

    vow!!! Happy to see a different view on the much supported and talked-about Lok Pal bill. I totally agree with your argument that we are now a part of the Constitution of India and we should act accordingly the laws and methods agreed upon to this day.

    Let me ask you one thing, if you justify Gandhi’s civil disobedience against British laws then well those laws might have been true and lawful in some eyes apart from the Britishers. At that moment as also have not been for Gandhi and his views we would have been pretty much under Britishers to this day(though psychologically we still are, no matter how much we make ‘proud Indian’ videos). It always takes one man and his views to lead others. Let alone the examples of HK & USA noted above.

    At this point I am upto believing that somewhere you are supporter or backed by the f******* INC/UPA.

  26. LokPal is just a way to take care of one of the symptoms, but not cure the disease, but, I dont see how the middle class coming out and voting in full force will take care of the disease!

    The issue is a broken system of electing our representatives. Any (democratic) alternative to the first-past-the-post system will ensure a drastic change in the way black money influences the elections, should be implemented, and people should ask for such changes in the system to be made.

    So, even if the middle class comes out in full force, the sheer numbers of the non-middle-class voters combined with teh broken FPTP method, will ensure no changes to the existing system!

  27. Good and logical arguments, but the problem in our country is implementation. Its been my exerience that we as a community don’t muster up till we face the proverbial “danda”.

    The Jan Lokpal is just that much. The “danda”!

  28. There are some fundamental flaws in this argument.
    (1) The proposed Jan Lokpal is not an alternate powerful bureaucracy or executive power. It gives more power to ordinary citizens to complain against corrupt officials at all levels and get fast-track solutions. Under the present scenario, if you file a complaint under Indian judiciary, it will take years for a settlement. The members of Lokpal itself are under the purview of the bill and all its operations will be transparent. The bill doesn’t aim at forming another powerful body in India, it aims at giving more power to common man.

    (2) Voting cannot change anything in India. When you are given the option to choose between two corrupt politicians, the best you can do is choose the lesser of two evils. Every Indian knows that a majority of our politicians are corrupt. But they continue to contest in elections and win them.

    (3) Many political parties in India canvas votes by exploiting religious sentiments and many voters fall for it. Voting for an individual just because he belongs to my caste or religion, irrespective of his qualities or promises in manifesto (which are anyway never fulfilled), is irrational. But the political parties are very good at earning votes based on religion and caste.

    (4) There is a huge part of Indian population who find it hard to have 1 full meal a day. They will vote for the person who gives them immediate monetary or material gifts. They cannot be blamed for their situation. The educated and privileged section of India has to strive to make a difference.

    (5) Indians all around the world are known for their hard work and dedication. Every international organization has atleast 1 Indian in its top echelons. There are Indians in every company, in every field, be it in the Middle East, US, Europe or Australia. Indians work hard in MNCs in Bangalore and earn in lakhs, or rather crores. BUT when it comes to our government offices, Indians never work! Unless you are ready to give bribes, you will not get any work done in a govt office. Why?!

    (6) Even for the post of a peon in a government office, the qualifications are 8th std pass and clean records. But corrupt politicians who are 4th std fail and has many criminal records are chosen to rule(or rather loot) our country.

    It is not possible to change our party system which exploit religion, regionalism and every other sentiment of common man. It is not possible to stop corrupt people from brainwashing innocent men into voting for them and getting into power. Otherwise we’ll have to change the democracy as a whole. That is very risky for a huge country like India.
    The best we can do is to bring a check to the power that bureaucrats and ministers enjoy today. And I believe Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal bill is a good move in that direction. An ordinary citizen of India should have the freedom to exercise his rights without fear. Government officials should do the work they are being paid for. Politicians should aim at building a better nation, not their own pockets. We need change!

  29. I am usually wary of such articles whose writers seem to just come out of the blue and think that the majority are fools and they are all wrong and only they know the right solution.. only they know the truth etc.. This usually happens when the writer thinks too much and has the tendency to be different than others just for the sake of it..

    The solutions of free economy etc suggested by the writer are ‘long term’, ‘good to have’ ‘ideal world’ kind of solutions which change the very nature of the way our systems work and are easier said than done and go through a laboriously long process.. What we need is a soln for the need of the hour.. we cant wait for free markets to appear another 30-40 yrs and let corrupt rule the roost until then.. So practically these are not solns to the problem but rather a overhaul/reboot of everything..

    Another way to look at it, corruption is a criminal offense like robbery. Thieves are a manifestation of poverty. So its like suggesting dont have any police force.. first eradicate poverty, stealing and robbery will cease by themselves.. So the need of the hour is to bring in a system to send those criminals to jail just as we have police..

    The argument of too much bureaucracy causing corruption can be refuted in the same way.. why dont we disband all police and CBI?.. this is too much cynicism and lack of confidence in everything.. Dehli metro has lot of bureaucracy, but not corrupt since it has a good system.. complex bureaucracy is not specific only to India, that doesnt mean all complex systems are corrupt.. Thats a baseless argument..

    Next qsn is how can we find thousands of honest officials.. Too cynical.. have belief.. cant we find 20 k honest ppl from 120 crore indians?.. Ppl are not dishonest by themselves.. if we have the effective system in place.. ppl will just fit in place.. CBI is corrupt only bcoz of Govts control over it.. same CBI does great job when monitored by the Supreme court.. Ask yourself why Dehli metro is not corrupt?.. bcoz it has a right system..

    On the qsn of what if Lokpal goes corrupt?.. Corruption spreads from top to bottom.. it starts at the top.. Indian system is corrupt today because it has a highly corrupt Govt which is a role model for ppl down the ladder.. 2G scam, Reddys mining scam etc all involve a institutional corruption from top to bottom.. If the right system is headed by right ppl chances of that happening are very less.. KA Lokayukta works bcoz its a strong law and its headed by honest individuals.. Likewise Lokpal will be headed by retired judges, chief justices etc who would have had highest integrity in their lives… Even if Lokpal gets corrupt, there are enough safeguards in Anna Hazare’s bill where ppl can complain to Supreme court and an independent agency can investigate etc..

    When a corrupt Govt doesnt act according to larger wishes of the ppl, coercing it through fasting becomes legit and justified.. and dont say majority of ppl’s views are wrong because ppl are not aware of the real situation etc.. Majority wishes always echoes wisdom.. if not then all election results should be invalid too..

    Gandhi’s methods though used in a diff era still have universal usability.. they dont become obsolete just after 50-60 yrs..

    Couple of things we need to be careful.. 1) We are dealing with possibly the most CORRUPT govt in free India 2) Advs-disadvs are there everywhere… we have two options.. either suffer corruption forever or take calculated risks ansd fight corruption.

    1. This is a remarkably well thought out response. I agree with you that we can’t just say “corruption is a symptom” and so let the corrupt go scott free! Having an effective policing organization to dispense justice after the fact and not just prevent corruption is essential.

      People in India are not frustrated only because there is corruption. They are frustrated because the corrupt are not punished.

  30. what a nonsense thought
    1 do u think going on fast is committing suicide
    2 why we need reforms 2.0 is it not enough today the most powerful economy is crumbling down…
    3 if u think lokpal will be ineffective.. then how come lokayukta in k’tak is so powerful and functional
    4 yes our rules, laws are too many and far complex… but what about our complex culture, values.. with these things considered the rules are still less.
    5 u said the alternative is ‘voting’, then what had happened since 65 years of voting.. u want people to further vote these corrupt politicians and criminals.

    Other points of the write up shows either it follows US agenda or indirect tactics of UPA to prevent, confuse ordinary citizens from coming up against corrupt govt

    am a civil service aspirant

    1. Hi Prashanth, Inspite of mr.Santosh Hegde, Karnataka is the most corrupt state in India.Try getting your ration card, katha for your house or PIC for voting etc.Hegde only removed BYediruppa from power but not corruption.

  31. Totally agree with the author.
    I don’t have any problems with the PM/judiciary being brought under the Lokpal. All I want is that Anna should contest elections and then do whatever he wants, rather than holding elected body to ransom.
    If actually he has the support of all ppl in the country(as he claims in every press conference) he should not be afraid of fighting it out to be a legitimate representative.
    Getting legitimate support of ppl(rather than an own conducted referendum) will shut up ppl like me opposing him.And then he can bring the PM+judiciary under Lokpal, beat those who drink with sticks, claim Yoga to be the cure of AIDS, call homosexuality a disease, claim himself as the self-proclaimed guardian of democracy, and send ppl to Yoga gurus for educational degree verification.

    1. I have just one question….why is congress so afraid to bring the bill to reality?? They want a better India dont they??? Always talking about poor people…Rahul touring poor people’s villages….dont they know poor people suffer the most giving out bribes??

    2. “Getting legitimate support of ppl(rather than an own conducted referendum) will shut up ppl like me opposing him.”

      No..after he gets elected, you will point out that one MP cannot hold the entire parliament to ransom and that views of 500+ MP’s opposing Lokpal carry more weight than than views of one MP. You will then demand that Anna should form his own party and that his party should get majority in Parliament if he wants his version of Lokpal bill passed.

      Parliament often passes bills which are anti-people..(like IT bill which gives govt power to censor blogs) without the consent of people. But arm-chair intellectuals like you (and the author of this post) do nothing to stop the elected body from misusing its power to make draconian laws under the mistaken belief that Parliament is supreme and not the people of India.

  32. “The alternative is to proceed with second-generation reforms, or Reforms 2.0”

    That’s a not a true alternative, right?
    We could have both..

    Am yet to see an argument that presents the case why the govt is dragging it’s feet on this.I’m awaiting that article!

  33. As the author of the article says, if Jan Lok Pal as stipulated by Anna is just another layer of monitoring which will make the system more complicated, why the govt is scared of implementing it by including Prime ministers office and the higher judiciary within its ambit? Is it not because more of Rajas and Kalmadi’s will come out in the open if it is implemented in its full spirit and monitored meticulously with vigilant group of people always watching it? It looks to me the author is an agent of the corrupt politicians who want their corrupt practices to be perpetuated in India. When he says the elected govt should be entrusted with the whole powers of deciding the legitimacy of such enactments, the cat is coming out of the bag! I hope no sensible person will listen to the blah blah in this article with no valid reasons or points against the movement pioneered by Anna. It is the need of the hour to strengthen the hands of Anna in his fight against those who are looting India and depositing the loot in the foreign banks which comes to trillions of dollars and which is enough to make the life of every downtrodden Indian much more comfortable .

  34. Just 1 Q: (Your response No 2) ppl use to pay bribe for telephone connections is 1989, but they dont in 2005. Are you suggesting we shud allow corruption-practice to be self regulatory, that over a period of time,it will correct itself?
    Isn’t the period from 1989 to 2005 a bit long for this?

  35. It is only by revamping the education system that we can inculcate morals in our society. It is not by law which makes us afraid that I do not kill someone or do not do something wrong. It is by my feeling of kinship and righteousness that I do not err. So it is important that we have in the education systems character building included by which this can be averted. Anyone who knows the Ramayana will be more inclined to be on the righteous path. But we want to be secular and this is the outcome.

    1. Religion does not make people act morally. We are still a very religious country but also one of the most corrupt. Religion could actually encourage corruption since you can pray or do some ritual to cleanse your sins.

  36. As you said it is Government controls which bring corruption. Also a very clever way of writing files, and file notings that the responsibility does not fall on the corrupt top bureaucrat who is normally an IAS officer. They continue to rule and they they know politicians will be changed as per whims of people. The recent Tamilnadu polls are an example. Jayalalitha who was booked for corruption and case against her is pending in Karnataka high court is elected due to misdeeeds of family rule of Karunanidhi clan.
    Out of many Indian stats it is still not that corrupt and administration is OK with both DMK and AIDMK rule.But petty corruption is the one which sucks the blood of common people like getting a ration card, voters ID card, Disability certificate for pension.old age pension etc etc.
    People feel Anna Hazare is a good man and so what he does must be good.
    Personally I know Mr.Shanthi Bushan was law minister under Morarji desai who was a CIA agent.The recent support for Anna from US state department is what worries me because the Americans are the new neo colonists as one sees in their role throughout world. We have had PMs who are corrupt as also Supreme court Judges and Cheif justices. So what and where we look?

  37. The attitude of the Government is like that of Dictatorship. But Our Government is forgetting that Anna is having support of all the Indians barring few thousands. Once a opinion is created, it never dies.Jan Lokpal will come in existence sooner or later one day. But it is sure that Congress Govt. will have to pay heavily for this act of opression. If Manmohan Singh has been a true Sikh, He would have resigned the day, when baba Ramdeo and the thousands of people were forcibly evicted from agitation midnight. what is more disgusting that there is not a single politician in Congress, who can come forward and say, that what the Government doing is wrong.it is height of selfishness.I am ashamed of such leaders.

  38. Telephone connection(s) are cheap as they are no longer needed by people. Masses are on mobile. Pick right things to compare.

    I agree with you that a good governence is required. But to be frank, if Lokpal comes into play then it will reduce corruption to some extent. Today the only person who is not having any fear is politician. This bill will make him think twice before doing big scams….

    I am with Anna and not with you.

    1. Have you forgotten that deregulation of the telecom sector is what made telephones and mobiles common in the first place?
      The reason you can get a phone connection from your choice of private companies within a couple of days is because of less restrictions on this sector. More competition leads to more choices for the people. Everything we the middle class enjoy today in terms of products,services and lifestyle (AND the jobs that made them possible) can be attributed to the 1991 reforms.

      Why is this so difficult for all the people commenting here to understand? It requires 165 permits to open a restaurant in this country() – is that insane, or is that insane? Is it any surprise that you can bribe the people involved to clear the way forward? Why do we need so many permits in the first place?

      Strip the government of its power. It has no business being in business. It has failed miserably at the things it SHOULD be doing – education, healthcare, infrastructure, to name a few, but is merrily running Air India and a host of other sick PSUs.

      The less bureaucracy and red tape, the less avenues there are for illicit income.

  39. Babu in simple words, if we have all these institutions in place then why do we have problems?

    Don’t say that everything is fine, like you don’t need to pay to get a new telephone connection, not a good example say, earlier we used to give bribe to get addmision in a gov schools now we pay donation in private schools, just an simple example where privatisation took control.

    For the answer of free economy, my dear, corporates are the pillar of corruption in our country. They will earn and earn with out considering other concerns untill there are any regulations and rules (remember Bhopal gas tragedy, where we were not having proper security and quality checks). For that we need government a honest one.

    But corruption is about having a win win relation between governing authority and corporates and ignoring everything else..

    Corrupt people enjoying the rotten system, don’t you agree that people vote for religon, money and for their family benifits? Either we have to change people or system. Do you disagree that people join politics to earn money not to serve country?

    We are what we are and rules are needed according to us. Yes sounds bad but we are not very matured society. What was thought correct earlier is not working for us, people invented loop holes. Being an adaptive society we should change system.

  40. While I concur with the need for a strong watchdog body in the form of Lokpal, I also feel it’s naive to want to create a superhuman Lokpal so as to overcome the shortcomings of various other institutions. Lokpal should be part of a LARGER OVERHAUL of the entire system – including electoral reforms, independent central investigating body etc.

    If we have an independent and autonomous CBI, we won’t need to vest prosecuting and police powers with Lokpal.

    We cannot have electoral laws that allows so many criminals to enter the system and then want a Lokpal vested with massive powers to check that. Prevent criminalisation of politics by amending laws and then a Lokpal with moderate powers will work just fine.

    Reform the system of electoral funding. Amend POCA to make prosecution of bureaucrats easier. Have a separate fast track tribunal for corruption cases.

    I feel all these need to occur in conjunction. We cannot put all our eggs in one basket. What if Lokpal fails? Where do we go then? We would have created a Frankestein.

    Most importantly, We The People have to consciously vote for Change. Today, the Congress party which barely received 20% of votes by 50% of the population that was voting in the first place, is plundering our nation.

    Why did the country vote for the party again when it was clear (1) Sonia Gandhi was the real power behind MMS and had never made so much as a TV appearance for an interview – no accountability to people (2) 2G scam was out in public (3) cash4votes was in public. What is it about being slave to a dynasty that we love so much?

    The example of Gujarat has shown that ultimately, it is the nature of the top political class that determines an overall corruption-free system. One incorruptible top man in Gujarat has ensured that even the lowest level govt. clerk hesitates to take a bribe. The Gandhi family was embroiled in the Bofors scam – why do we continue to vote for them? With such choices, do we deserve any better than the current government?

    Lastly, intelligent educated people must stop relying on media to form their opinions. It’s high time we realize that public opinion and consent today is completely manufactured. We have been made to believe things about political parties other than Congress that are not necessarily true. I truly believe that the people of India should vote for a CHANGE this time. Vote in a manner that a single political party gets majority so there’s no scope for ‘coalition dharma’. The Congress has been in power for more than half a century. It’s foolish to think that when we allow a single party to dominate, it will not spread its tentacles in all our democratic institutions to perpetuate its power. Indira Gandhi destroyed our civil services. Sonia Gandhi has sytematically destroyed our media, investigative bodies and anti-corruption agencies.

    1. Exactly…………I agreed with ur opinion.Please save our country from this Corrupt Government.We need a clean Government..

    2. “If we have an independent and autonomous CBI, we won’t need to vest prosecuting and police powers with Lokpal.”

      That’s what Anna Hazare and his team have been demanding that CBI should be independent under an autonomous authority like Lokpal.

      “Prevent criminalisation of politics by amending laws and then a Lokpal with moderate powers will work just fine.”

      Right now, Anna Hazare has been declared a criminal by govt because he defied section 144. So according to you, he should be denied the right to contest elections? Banning people with police records from entering parliament will be misused by every ruling govt.

      “Why did the country vote for the party again when it was clear (1) Sonia Gandhi was the real power behind MMS and had never made so much as a TV appearance for an interview – no accountability to people (2) 2G scam was out in public (3) cash4votes was in public. What is it about being slave to a dynasty that we love so much?”

      Because people of India thought that NDA might prove to worse option than UPA? How would increased voting percentage change the fact that people have only 2 options – the devil – UPA – and the deep sea – NDA?

      We need a strong Lokpal because there is no proper solution under the 2-party system to weed out corruption from politics.

      1. Your arguments are extremely naive and technically flawed.

        The IAC Team has been presenting Janlokpal as some God-sent, superhuman personality who will eradicate all the ills afflicting the Indian nation. Janlokpal is being envisaged as an overarching, all-encompassing supervising/monitoring authority that will oversee everyone and everything from politicians, judges, bureaucrats to private bodies and regulate functions as far and wide as mining leases, police, elections, Parliament, executive and what not.

        We need an INDEPENDENT and AUTONOMOUS investigating agency but this is not going to be achieved by having the Janlokpal or its associates “monitor” it. If you are expecting such a result from Janlokpal, you will be highly disappointed. The CBI was created decades ago by means of a mere executive order. It falls directly under the control of the DoPT, Minitry of Personnel, UNION GOVERNMENT. It has become the investigative arm of the ruling party of the day. The need is to strengthen the INSTITUTION of this investigative body by making it independent and autonomous by means of a legislation or Constitutional amendment. There needs to be an overhaul of the structure and composition of CBI in a manner that prevents political interference. Placing CBI under Janlokpal (whom we all hope will be an honest man/woman) will not eliminate the fundamental malaise afflicting the CBI

        On your point regarding Anna Hazare and corruption in politics, I have only one thing to say – please do your ground work before lending blind, emotional support to something like the Janlokpal. First of all, Anna Hazare has not been “declared” a criminal, he has only been taken into preventive custody. This means there are no “criminal charges” against him and for all practical purposes, he is as clean as anybody who has never set foot inside a police station. Secondly, criminalization of politics, electoral reforms are the biggest threats to our political system today. You are obviously ignorant as to who is or is not eligible to contest elections in India. According to law, only if a person is convicted of any offence and sentenced to an imprisonment of 2 years or more, he/she is disqualified to contest elections. This means that currently we have politicians who are facing charges trial for serious offences (which include murders in many cases) and are able to stand for elections because their trial has not concluded in a conviction. Administration of justice, as you might be aware, is painfully slow in India. So as you can see, even if Anna is charged with a criminal case, it will not bar him from contesting elections. It is another matter that I did not suggest any such thing in the first place.

        Lastly, if you think NDA and UPA are two sides of the same coin, there really is nothing I have to say to you. Congress (more specifically, Nehru-Gandhi family) has ruled this country for half a century now, and around 800 million Indians earn less than Rs. 20 a day. For me, this is sufficient reason to want and demand a change. If you are willing to set aside your cynicism temorarily for parties other than UPA, I suggest you go over the statistics of economic performance of the BJP rules states in India today for an objective assessment of what govt. delivers on the ground.

        1. Amrita seems the sanest voice on this entire thread. And the most thorough and unemotional.

        2. “We need an INDEPENDENT and AUTONOMOUS investigating agency but this is not going to be achieved by having the Janlokpal or its associates “monitor” it. If you are expecting such a result from Janlokpal, you will be highly disappointed.”

          If CBI working under strict orders of Supreme Court can send Raja & Kanimozhi to jail despite govts reluctance, why wouldn’t an INDEPENDENT & AUTONOMOUS CBI working under supervision of an autonomous Lokpal achieve the same results?

          “There needs to be an overhaul of the structure and composition of CBI in a manner that prevents political interference.”

          Placing CBI under lokpal jurisdiction will precisely do that i.e. prevent political interference.

          “First of all, Anna Hazare has not been “declared” a criminal, he has only been taken into preventive custody. This means there are no “criminal charges” against him ”

          Okay..okay. I concede your point. But I presented Anna’s case just as an example. Govts have power to implicate opposition by lodging false cases against them and if politicians are banned from contesting elections simply because they have police cases against them, ruling parties will be tempted to misuse their power and bar rival candidates from contesting elections. Didn’t Chattisgarh govt misuse its authority to jail Binayak Sen for 3 years? Should he be banned from contesting elections for all his life?

          “Lastly, if you think NDA and UPA are two sides of the same coin, there really is nothing I have to say to you”

          If you think that all BJP politicians are ‘doodh ka dhulas’, then there is nothing I have to say to you. Last I checked, Bellary brothers, Yeddurappa, Ranjan Bhattacharya (Vajpayee’s SIL who featured extensively in Radia tapes) etc belonged to BJP camp.

          1. BJP needn’t be doodh ke dhuley – but here’s a fact.
            From 1947 to 1989, with a brief lull in 1977 with the Janata Dal, the country was entirely, completely, totally, unquestioningly under Congress rule. They could’ve implemented any policy they pleased to improve the lot of the people, instead they stuck to the socialist mantra and India remained a majorly dirt poor country till the 1991 reforms(which came about only when our back was to the wall with the balance of payments crisis). Therefore, I posit that the legacy of poverty,corruption and backwardness that we’ve had is largely at the hands of the Congress.

          2. BJP is not ‘doodh ke dhule’ but I find it strange that someone who otherwise argues so cogently, doesn’t see that BJP has been in power for only 1 full term at the center and a total of 6 years, and the system that has been in place, was put in place by Congress, which has ruled India for 50+ or so years. Here’s a list of PMs from Congress Party:
            Jawaharlal Nehru (1947–1964)
            Gulzarilal Nanda (May–June 1964 and in January 1966)
            Lal Bahadur Shastri (1964–1966)
            Indira Gandhi (1966–1977, 1980–1984)
            Rajiv Gandhi (1984–1989)
            P.V. Narasimha Rao (1991–1996)
            Manmohan Singh (2004–)

            Now, even after knowing this, you think that BJP deserves more opprobrium that Congress for the present state of affairs, or that there’s no difference between the two parties, that’s your prerogative, but it isn’t backed by any facts or analysis.

      2. i think the lokpal system should be experimented by implementing them in a few states and see what is the outcome of the implementation. Right now we do not know how to tackle the corruption and state of corruption is like 4th stage cancer.
        We need to treat the symptoms first and work to find the root cause. In a democracy like india where we have billion population things will be complicated. USA is a corrupt country and it is systematized and people pay services charges for everything. When the journalist or people who argues what will not work tell me what will work. Too much bureaucracy and too much power to the officials corrupts the people. Lokpal is the only way to address this problem we do not know whether it is right or wrong but we need to have a beginning and we need to light the fire “fight against corruption”.

  41. So we should not do anything and watch the politicians loo the nation and block and dilute all laws which allow any persecution of politicians . it would be extremely naive to believe that politicians will enact any law that potentially could bring them to book –on their own accord without some kind of force .
    $0 years of trying ans succeeding in stalling lokpal bill by vested political interests will not end without action by people like Anna Hazare .
    Even if the lokpal,is not the panacea , still its one step forward why are you against the one step forward ?

  42. The problem with the current movement, is that it has become less about corruption, and more about Anna. Hazare has turned it into a confrontation of egos. In the end, this is doing a lot more damage than good. Anna’s tirade in essence is against the current ruling government, and not against corruption. MISA, TADA, POTA did not stop terrorist activity. A Lokpal Act will not. We will just introduce another potential layer of corruption. Economic reforms may not root out corruption, but it will reduce some of the incentives and mechanisms that promote corruption. Beyond that, we just have to evolve as a society. We all carry within us the seeds of corruption. At its very basic, corruption is about opportunistic rule breaking. If you want to see India at it’s most basic opportunism, observe motorists at a railway level crossing.

    Many folks feel morally vindicated by paying lip service to anti-corruption movements the same way people think that visiting a place of worship makes them religious.

    Meanwhile, as I read somewhere, Anna Hazare is turning to be the Paris Hilton of Indian activism.

  43. you say that the agencies like,cvc,cbi and cag should be more indepednet,these all are airy casteles,because who is going to let them more indepedent….the govrenment is n’t this is a big joke

  44. Justice (retd) PB Sawant, whose probe found that an amount of Rs2.2 lakh was diverted
    from Anna Hazare’s Trust for his birthday celebrations, today said this action amounted to “corruption.”

  45. “An amount of Rs2.2 lakh was utilised from this Trust for his own felicitation.
    That is proved and Mr Hazare has not denied. Now you can’t use money of the Trust for
    your own purpose. That amounts to corruption.

  46. The Acorn keeps contradicting itself.


    This was chosen to be highlighted, ostensibly because the author agreed with it.

    6. There is no doubt that the participation in elections is not the end-all of the citizen’s role in democracy. The mere fact that the citizens have the power to change the government or to replace their representative by another in the next election, does not prevent them from exercising their other democratic rights during the period between the two elections. It is a mistake to believe that the only duty of the citizens in the democratic governance is to exercise their right to vote. The right to vote is only one of the democratic rights of the citizens. The citizens have a fundamental right to participate in the day to day governance of the society.

  47. Please add answers to following few more questions in your FAQ.

    1. How would the reforms 2.0 have curtailed 2G scam viz-a-viz effective lokpal?
    2. How would the reforms 2.0 have curtailed CWG scam viz-a-viz effective lokpal?
    3. How would the reforms 2.0 have curtailed Karnataka illegal mining scam viz-a-viz effective lokpal?

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