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Quo Vadimus

This Latin phrase translates to “where are we going?”

It is a question we must ask ourselves, where are we going? When I reflected on this, the recent case of Anna Hazare and his idealistic vision for India came to the fore. Colour me cynical, but I doubt anything good is going to come out of his “fast unto death”. Even the vaunted M. K. Gandhi (and do not get me started on him) took over 50 years of senseless fasts and constant vacillating between cooperation and non-cooperation to get India, her independence in 1947. It took us in total; 90 years to unite the country and gain independence (over 115 if you count Goa too). 60 years of wanton corruption does not come to a halt in two months or even two years. The deep ingrained disrespect for the law by the very lawmakers requires a purge the likes of which we have not seen in India (and I’m not talking about using Castor Oil or Milk of Magnesia which sends shivers down my body- the horrible memories of childhood).

Laissez faire!

Let us sit down and gather our thoughts. The ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ (JLB) proposes an ombudsman or committee to oversee and investigate cases of criminal misconduct in the administrative service system (civil and elected officials). This committee is proposed to consist of retired Supreme Court justices and people from the general public. So the following question is: How do you select such people of integrity? Secondly, the JLB proposes swift action (from accusation to sentencing) for any of its proceedings; I think the exact number is a two year time frame. Though, I do not like using the word never, to put it politely, this is never going to happen (they think we were born yesterday, but this entirely un-realistic proposal makes it seem that they were born yesterday!)!
I understand the procedure suggested (to select the panel) is fairly rigorous, but is it really feasible? Who decides the people sitting on the selection committee? Who’s to say that they cannot be bribed? I’ve heard (and this could be considered ‘hear-say’ for I have no proof) that of the last 10 CJIs (Chief Justices of India), at least 5 – 7 have been known/proved to be corrupt. So I ask once again, who are we going to include in this so called ‘Lokpal’ panel? Who monitors the monitor?

To be blunt, this JLB will lead to more people accepting bribes (because the corruption is much higher on the National level- more money to go around!) and there will never be an end to this! I do not know what K. B. Hazare’s angle is (he may be the real deal, or maybe he just wants to confirm his place in the history books, I don’t know), but he needs to reconsider this strategy if he truly cares about his country!

This bill (both versions) will do nothing to stem the corruption in India. These proposals are the very meaning of the term laissez faire!

Redefining Revolution

A government of the people, by the people and for the people should be the mantra for every democracy. However, we notice that this vision and ideal is disregarded more often than not in this, the world’s largest democracy! The most important word in that sentence is the word ‘people’. Keep that in mind!

During an epic discussion Siddhanth Shetty (my ingenuous friend) made the following comment “The only similarity between M. K. Gandhi and K. B. Hazare is that they were/are equally flawed”. I go one step further and say this, no man or woman does anything on a large scale without an agenda or an ulterior motive. I acknowledge I have given a negative connotation to the term ‘agenda’ here, but bear with me for a moment. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I am yet to come across any influential person in history (regardless of religion, race, caste or creed) who did something because it was the right thing to do. Religious men/women did what they did in the name or God, the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, built monuments in their memory that have lasted 3 – 4 millennia, Genghis Khan and Alexander conquered the vast majority of the known world because they wanted their names to go down in history, Richard the Lionheart and Saladin started what still continues today in Jerusalem in the name of God himself, Martin Luther broke away from the Roman Catholic Church because of what he perceived to be a perversion of the true faith, Maximilien Robespierre and the “Committee of Public Safety” (how apt for a group of people who guillotined the ‘public’ on a whim or fancy) turned the streets of Paris red, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin murdered millions of people over the course of a few years, many American Presidents have sent their citizens into battle on shores thousands of miles away for wars that did not directly concern the general population. And I can keep that list going till Kingdom come!

So why can we not think of the common man (remember the word ‘people’?)? Corruption has always existed and will keep doing so till the end of time. It’s definitely time to redefine this revolution.

A new 5 or 10 year plan

The end goal is minimising (I am not going to use the word ‘end’, that’s not possible as long as we are human!) corruption in society. To emphasise my point I’ll summarise a conversation on corruption and bribery that I had with someone in the lab. He said, if I have the option to wait in line for a whole day or pay Rs. 100 and jump to the front of the line, I would do the latter. The amount is irrelevant, Re. 1 or Rs. 1000, a bribe is a bribe! His logic: if I earn Rs. 1000 a day, I’d rather lose Rs. 100 than the entire Rs. 1000!

So coming back to minimising corruption, it has to start with you and me. We need to stop offering a bribe and we need to stop accepting one. Bribery is just one of the many facets of corruption. From making billions and more on fodder (that will always bring a smile to my face) to committing reprehensible acts against the very men and women who gave their lives for the country, all I can say is T.I.I. (This Is India)!

The common man deserves more from its leaders at the local level. This means supporting farmers and giving them incentives to improve their livelihood and produce. This means giving children from low income backgrounds a means to come up in life (scholarships and funding). The present free education up to the high school level is great start, but you do not learn an occupational skill in high school. Scholarships and free education should extend to the more professional forms of education (Engineering, Law, Medicine, Teaching, Sciences, Arts, etc.). This definitely means pulling our heads out of our arses and not complaining about corruption on the national level or even complaining about the change of the legal drinking age to 25. Such meaningless acts of suicide by “fasting to death” mean nothing to the millions who have no choice but actually starve unto death! The bottom line is that none of that makes a difference to anyone. In fact, all it does is make both the bourgeois and the petit bourgeois (the mobile vulgus) sleep well at night in the belief that they made a difference, when in reality life has not changed. If making a true change means working on a 5 or 10 year plan to redemption, then so be it. For change will not come in an instant and it is foolish to expect so.

The aforementioned Don Shetty aptly sums up his stance on the subject (in a fit of Hank Moody inspired wisdom), “This is one case where empathy (for the attempt to eradicate/minimise corruption) is fine and encouraged, but sympathy (for the method which Hazare & co. are proposing we use to get there) may just kill ya”.

Que Sera

This essay may expose my naïveté or lack of knowledge in current affairs, but it may also give us a little to think about. It is very easy for me to sit here in the relative comfort of my home and preach from this cosy pulpit without getting my hands dirty. Am I doing the very thing I’ve denounced in a whole essay?

Do I have the right to comment if I know in my heart or hearts I am not willing to give up on my dreams and sacrifice my life for the country? And sacrifice does not mean on a battle field with a rifle and ammunition, but a sacrifice of my life, giving back to the community and bringing about a true change from within. We have to ask ourselves, which of us is willing to do that!

As the famous (and obviously conceited, I cannot understand why famous people exhibit no humility!) Orson Welles said, “If you want a happy ending; that depends, of course, on where you stop your story”! So let us continue this story another day. I’m not suggesting procrastination (I think our elected leaders do not need me to suggest that- they are masters of the art!), but merely postponing the ending.

To quote Sir R. Tagore, “Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake”.

The Republic is dead, Long live the Republic!

Vive la Revolution!

- Citizen Commonsense


I also don't support all the provisions of the Jan Lokpal Bill fully. To have a supreme authority in the country which will not be under the purview of any other body is dangerous.I also think that the PMO and the higher judiciary should be excluded from the Lokpal because including the judiciary will be against the very tenets of the constitution and we don't want an all powerful Lokpal because there is an implicit danger of the power being misused.
However, I do think that this kind of revolution was due in India for a long time. We can't change anything just by debating things within the confines of our houses. It had become utterly shameful and frustrating to open the newspaper everyday just to to read the frontpage splashed with news of corruption scandals. So this will at least awaken the political class that the masses want change.

On a different note, the article was fabulously written. It just made me wonder that you must have been reading really quality books lately. Great job!
@ Mann,
I totally agree with your point that the judiciary and the PMO should be excluded from the bill/law. The whole point of the judiciary is that they uphold the laws of the country and if you have a watch dog for the judiciary, then what's the use of one?
I also agree that change is required, but unless each of us change there will be no change. Because Lokpal or not, if one set of people are thrown out of the govt. someone has to replace them and if they commit crimes (inevitably), they will be thrown out too (as per the Lokpal structure) and then someone else relaces them and the circle starts all over again! Where is the change then?
That's the reason you and I have to change! Of all the senseless people clammering for change in Ramlila Maidan or whereever, I bet over 90% have given a bribe, taken one or turned a blind eye!
What change do we expect then?

On a separate note, I have been reading, but nothing that great or unusual! I still read those murder mysteries and spy novels!
Thanks for reading the post and commenting. Now it's time as I said to redfine this new revolution!

Sakshi said…

Thank GOD someone agrees with me! I would have written a LONG comment, but I have already written a HUGE post on this!

And, consider that as my comment to your post! here is the link-

The only thing that I's like to reiterate here is, that, it is we who make the decisions, all the time! That is by electing the people who represent us. This 'revolution', should become a platform wherein, we the people should get educated on learning to choose the right people, while electing!

VERY well written Dino, and I am pleasantly surprised at your in depth knowledge of the Indian history! :)
Unknown said…
It is surely not an on-off switch; pass the JLP and India becomes corruption free. The methods of 'ordering' the government to accept all points and setting up a deadline as well, is I think ridiculous. What you wrote makes sense, how is the JL commitee going to have members unscathed by even slightest of immoral values and remain impervious to influences of the rich and the powerful. One bill to rule them all, sounds dangerous!

There have been big scams and people are full of anger, thus the movement has got good support. The masses got an opportunity to release and I hope at least some good comes out of it. Does it put some fear into the corrupt people in politics, bureacracy, judiciary and all levels of daily life?

Agreed, one has to look within oneself and pledge to be good and do good; rather make it a habit.

Are we sounding pessimistic? Well, we should be the agents of change, at least we start from a micro level. We ask ourselves to be good and seek outwards.
@ Sakshi,
I went to that blog and read your post. Our thoughts have overlapped on a lot of the points!
It's good to know that there are some sane people around!
I like that post a lot!

@ Rathz,
Thanks for the comment. I see you're given this topic some thought- like most of us. But as I said earlier, people in India have no right to complain about big and high level corruption when they themselves condone (and participate in) corruption at the low and intermediate level.
People want to blame the govt. for everything, but as Sakshi says in her post (there's a link in her comment above), we ourselves vote for those people. We need to make better choices, not only in voting but in being honest citizens!
No one is above the law, not the PM, the President, the judiciary, the legislature and not even the citizens.
It's time to point the finger at ourselves and make that first change. Once we have changed, we can ask (even demand) our leaders do the same.

DON said…
Right you are madafakka!!
raj alakshendra said…
initially i thought not to comment on this post but all last i thought i should put up my thoughts ...

i never understand why some people hate mahatma gandhi badly and his way of gandhiri ... whats wrong if u can get freedom by fasting or non-cooperation ...
lets go back to pre-independence era ... were we actually having any army to match the british might... We saw it in 1857 and it failed ...
Just delete Mahatma Gandhi and there would have been no freedom ..

In the posts and comments all are of the view that this fasting thing by anna hazare and team is like black mailing ... Is there there any other solution guys to show the govern our anger ???
Also you all say that corruption should be removed all the root level ... Tell me how to do that ... the same indian who break the traffic rules or throw wrappers would never do that when they are in other countries ... Why ?? because there is a rule ... its as simple as that ...

il give one more example - indian example ... Its banned to smoke in Public place ... Now suppose if somebody is smoking in train other passengers oppose him as know they have a rule to support them ..

What if the people protesting are corrupt or had given bribes .. Where it is written that if u have done any wrong deed then u can never stand for good .. it doesn't sound logical ...

And you need selfish people to write history .. Without Alexander west n east wouldn't have met for next few centuries ... If somebody wants his name to be written in history then whats the fuss about it ... Even i want that because i dont wanna waste this life lost in the crowd ...

JLB - i support it ... We need something strict - to rule them all ... Parliament is choosen for five years ... In that period people's mind can get corrupted ... In that case we should revolt ...

Congress or rather Gandhi family has been ruling us for 50+ years ... Its enough .. We need a change ... I am not Supporting any other party ..

This country need youth to rebuild it ...
In my future plans , il one day enter politics ... I feel very angry n irritated when almost every morning i read about some or the other scam ...
Sakshi said…

I was avoiding commenting on your status messages on FB, but here, no one can stop me *does an evil laugh, with that evil eye*

Point by point answer to your contentions!!
Here goes:

1. Mahatma was the Mahatma because we made him that. Because, he did the effort of connecting with the people at all levels. Here is the thing- The freedom struggle was ON at all levels when he came to join. And, most of your upper class supported the brits! That is because they were very happy that the country was making some progress. I agree with you on the point that, Gandhi Ji was able to push the buttons, but that was NEVER without making some or the other compromise with the ruling britishers. Because, had that not been the case, there would have been no- Death for Bhagat Singh and Co. and the partition of this Country. Accept the fact, that, he too was a politician at the core. And trust me, that time there was no money, but power over so many people, tends to give you a high. Another major reason why things moved swiftly after 1901, were the world wars, wherein the brits had lost a lot of steam and people.

2. What Anna is doing is BLACKMAIL and extortion, YOU cannot hold the government for ransom at the cost of your life. Tomorrow if you feel something legitimate is also not right because it doesn't suit you, you will sit on an anshan, and blackmail the government. Negotiation is the way to go about it. Especially, now that he knows that the public is behind him he should work it out with the government.

3. Have you even looked at the GOD damn JLB? What are these people shouting about- The Fundamental Rights and blah and blah, so you should know that, as per our Constitution, there is a right to appeal. And that right has been robbed by the JLB. You cannot have an Act, that proposes to investigate such high level crimes without a provision of appeal. And, NO, there is NOTHING supreme than the Constitution.
Further, if you get the Judiciary and the PM office under the purview of this legislation, then, the moment a Judge pronounces an order against you, you will scream and shout that he is corrupt. Before you say anything more- I am going to substantiate this point by a very latest case of Neeraj Bhasin and Maria Susairaj, where the judge acquitted that woman because he lawyer was able to show that she had nothing to do with that crime! Of Course, Neeraj Bhasin's parents are going in appeal, but had the judiciary been under JLB, then they would have screamed corruption, because- When you go in appeal, the higher courts do not re examine the witnesses.. or go through the entire procedure that the lower courts go through.

Independence of the Judiciary is one of the main basis on which this country is running and that is also guaranteed under the Constitution.

4. I am not going to talk about history being made, because right now, all that is happening is, that in the name of this protests, people are violating the law and order of the country. NOT DONE!

5. Raj, another law, will not help the cause. We have a prevention of Corruption act, yes, what can be done is, to make that act much more powerful, and get CBI to become an independent body! Not under the control of the government.
And, the ban on smoking in public places- Bad example.. because, the smokers will always bribe the police wala.. but never learn to accept his mistake.
We bribe the officials in order to get our work done via short cut. But if we put our foot down, shout at the sarkari afsar, and humiliate him in front of rest of the crowd and colleagues, or be a little more bold and call the anti corruption helpline to lodge a complaint against the offender, he will be flagged. And, now days, a flag in your record in the sarkari daftar, has repercussions, bad ones!

And yes, we elect, we are at fault. If we just put our foot down, and tell the candidate, do your work else, go to hell.. things will change.
Just do your act properly. DONT bribe!
@ Raj,
Thank-you for your comment. I was wondering why there was no comment from you. I now understand! Remember, you may not agree with me, but you need to tell me why and now that you have, I would like a chance to rebutt your comments (like Sakshi has).
I hope to read your reply to my comments so as to continue this discussion. So here goes:

1. M. K. Gandhi: Somehow I cannot call him Mahatma! You cannot change my mind about that and I cannot change yours, so let's move past that point.
To discuss what effect he had on India, I conceed (like Sakshi said) that he had a way to connect with the highest and lowest of people in society. But as Sakshi rightly pointed out that itself gives you a high!
Additionally, if they (and Gandhi is a big part of they) pushed for it, India may has received independence much before 1947! Do you know that we Gandhi forced Indians to help the British in WWI? He thought by helping them, we'd get independence! Wrong (and that's not my conclusion, but that's what history has shown us)!
Why do you think USA got independence in less than 20 years? It took us 90!

2. What Hazare is doing is blackmail. Plain and simple! As I pointed out earlier. You cannot have the PMO (the highest legislative office in the country) and the idependent judiciary come under the purview of a single entity! That's like a communist system or worse, a dictatorship by a group (like the 'Junta' in Burma)! We're a democracy, and it should stay that way.

3. There are rules in India about traffic lights and throwing garbage around the place. But we (including the police) do not have the integrity to uphold these rules. That comes back to my point. Change has to come from the individual. Take this analogy, if a tree does not have good roots, it will fall (like a building built in sand or with a poor foundation). India has to change from bottom up!
Take for example the traffice system you spoke about. I know so many people (including TWM participants) who got their driving licence sitting at home or going to the RTO and just getting it stamped (either because they know someone, or they paid someone). When you anc I cannot follow a simple rule of going to take an exam at the RTO, how can you expect the leaders to do any different (they are elected from among us)?

4. To your point about people giving bribes supporting the Hazare protest, there's nothing wrong with that. Absolutely nothing. But what that is is HYPOCRITICAL! And I would even condone it if they stopped giving/accepting bribes after this protest. The sad thing is most will goo back to their old ways! And India is back to square one!

5. With your point about Alexander connecting the West and East, it's possible that he did. But there are better ways to do it. Trade for example. You do not have to kill millions to connect two sides of a planet! Most of those killed were his own soldiers (because they had to walk those thousands of kilometers, while he rode his horse).
And it is not a guarentee that no one would have found the East without him! If Chris Columbus did not find the Americas, someone else would have (I think the Vikings found it much before him).

6. I am proud of the fact that you will enter politics somewhere down the line. As you said it is important for the youth to make a change. But do not make a change for the sake of it. The change has to be great. That means the youth have to learn some morals before entering parliment!

Jai Hind!

@ Sakshi,
I read through Raj's comment and had to to reply. So I think I've re-stated some of your points (sometime in exactly the same words, as I read later)- sorry for that!
That being said, I endorse your entire comment!

Sakshi said…
You don't have to be sorry for reiterating my points!
I am just glad to know that there is someone who thinks lk me! Yay to that! :)

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