Of Cabbages and Kings

June 6, 2011

Friends, irresponsible countrymen: spare me your fears

Filed under: Across the Universe, Random musing — Chinmayi @ 12:49 pm

For too long I have been watching this little circus around the Lok Pal Bill. First I tried the ostrich trick – bury your head in sand and may be all the silly noisy folk’ll go away. Given that the Indian media has the attention-span of a fruit fly, it was worth a shot. And it very nearly worked too until this silly Ramdev man marched up in a swirl of saffron robes. So since all this irritates me at multiple levels, I’m going to indulge in a ranting fit.

Every person I know, every single person, who is a Lok Pal fundamentalist has two things in common with the rest of the faithful that gather around this cause. One is that none of the lot of them have read a word about democracy or governance. Yes,  and for all their very vocal espousing of their cause, they are even more persistent in their ignorance. None of the lot of them can be bothered to learn the basics about the subject that is their so-called-passion. Instead, they watch NDTV open-mouthed and read newspapers well-known for a complete disregard for truth and research, and sitting on their plush couches, they work themselves up into a righteous and beautifully compressed rage. Oh yes, I forgot – they also read some blogs by people who would be better placed to design a funky website than to explain the difference between a liberal and pluralist democracy.

The other thing they have in common with each other is that they have absolutely no issues paying bribes. Sorry, let me phrase that correctly. Yes, they do resent parting with their precious money, but they will gladly part with it to get what they want rather than inconvenience themselves a little by doing the right thing (which is to avoid paying the bribe and fight for their rights/ gracefully give up what they are not entitled to as may be applicable). Very interesting moral position isn’t it? They seem to think that corruption without two people (like clapping with one hand) is what is going on in this country. That the problem lies solely in the hands accepting the bribes. Confront these people about their own contribution to corruption and they will always throw up their hands and say they ‘had no choice’.

So here we have a nation full of whiny middle-class babies. When they want candy or a driving license or a passport or to be excused from a traffic violation – they are happy to whip out their wallets and get instant gratification. But they don’t like that their pennies are going to the big bully. Suggest that they keep their precious pennies and help exert pressure for good government by refusing to pay a bribe, and they will giggle and tell you that you are ‘too idealistic’ and that they are ‘realists’. But here they are. all these realists, all up in arms against the corruption that they routinely encourage rather than inconvenience themselves even a little by exercising a little self-restraint on a regular basis.

It would be much to easy to wave off these spoilt babies saying that they are not in the best moral position to throw tantrums about corruption. But regardless of who raises it, corruption is inarguably a bad thing. No one would argue with that. The only trouble here is that the spoilt babies  are not content with pointing out that there is a problem. They want it solved their own silly way (“I want the same biscuit my sister ate Mommy, bring it back!). And here’s the thing about solutions that come from all our nation’s spoilt babies. They are solutions designed by people who have plenty of demands to make of their country but who don’t don’t want to work or take any responsibility for the solution.  They are unhappy when the big bad world intrudes and they just want someone to shut it away so that they can go back to playing with their expensive shiny toys. The Lok Pal is in essence a product of this sort of thinking (or lack thereof).

We already have a democratic structure. We already have laws on corruption. And we already have the Right to Information. Use these three together and it offers us the perfect (democratic) way to put a stop to corruption. The next time an officer refuses you a passport try to record a request for a bribe, try to RTI the basis for rejection/ delay, try to RTI the number of passports issued and the basis on which he delays/ rejects some while expediting others. Use that information and make a fuss. That is how a system is fixed. Every time it falters, some notices and tweaks it a little.

Do you even know who your democratic representatives are? Find out. Find out everything about them. Find out everything about their opponents. Run for office if you have to. If you are not the right person for the position (and yes, you do need to know something about governance for this also) find someone who is right – fund them, help them, campaign for them. Be involved. Do some work to get yourself a good representative. And don’t be silly and use this to install your friend who gave you a free laptop in a position of power (yes yes, don’t all the spoilt babies love their ‘high connections’) – find the right person for the job. That person could be the person who drives your car or the person who washes your clothes. If your judgment is flawed, which it probably is, start reading. Give yourself the education you never got because our education system is as messed up as our government.

This silly Lok Pal thing is an invitation for crooks. No one with any common sense would set up a committee full of despots that have over-arching power over everyone and accountability to no one. We already have one of those. It is called the Supreme Court and look what’s happening there. Fortunately since there is some amount of training, some basis of selection and some flak to take after, there is also some measure of restraint. So there are judges with integrity and they do us a world of good.

Dear Anna Hazare and dear civil society, with all due respect, you are complete idiots. You were correct in saying that corruption is a problem that we need to tackle. And that is indeed a wake up call that is necessary. You were very very wrong in gathering all the spoilt babies and to throw mass-tantrums insisting that we find you all a new mommy. Grow up. This is a democracy. You don’t get a mommy. You have to be your own mommy. If you do want to create an all powerful despotic institution that will take all the power out of your hands (and the responsibility off your shoulders) darlings, the right word for what you are asking for is ‘monarchy’. Yes – go read the political science text books. That is exactly what you want. When they said that democracy was ‘by the people’, they didn’t mean other people, they meant you. So if there is corruption in our system, it is because you put it there, and it will not go away unless you take it away.

So stop making this tiresome noise, sit up and take some responsibility you twats. Step one – stop paying bribes. Step two – Stop being lazy and take action against people who ask for bribes. Step three – go read about democracy and what you can do to help it work. Step four – get involved and build the democracy you would like to see in this country. And yes, it will take many many years and that is a good thing. Part of growing up is understanding that anything worth getting takes a lot of work and a lot of time.

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