The following piece was written before Jan 8, 2014. Hence, this article is a little outdated but I'm still chronicling it here. This was my first political piece for Imprint (which was eventually put down by the censor board). The article never saw the light of the day under the banner or my university but that doesn't stop me from publishing it myself! :P :)
Every democracy is built upon the fundamental commandments of equality and freedom. These are granted to all residents and citizens of that democratic nation so long as it does not infringe upon the fundamental rights of fellow citizens. The constitution of India is crafted with such a noble intent, however, as we all know, the human mind can work in devious ways. Give such a crafty mind the power of office that a democracy grants to elected representatives of the electorate, you have corruption. Now extrapolate this to the populace of India. You have 543 potentially corrupt politicians in the Lok Sabha alone. This is just on the national picture. Corruption wiggles its way all the way down till the municipal offices. And this does not stop with elected representatives. Corruption is an evil that has seeped to the very grassroots of our social fibre.
We have no dearth of examples to quote misuse of power by people holding office in governmental, or even private organizations. The electricity board engineer wants money to sign your change of address, the policeman wants money to let you off scot free, the principal of a school wants money to admit your son/daughter in their school and so on. The extent to which this disease of democracy has spread is quite alarming making some people term it an epidemic. It therefore comes as no surprise that it happens to be the most talked-of topic during elections and discussions on society.
There are however people who try hard to be the change they want to see in society too. Recently, a person I am well-acquainted with was gifted a considerable amount of gold and silver amounting to a few lakhs of rupees to see through a contract. His integrity made him chase the person who attempted to bribe him, all the way to the airport, and return the “gift” with no thanks. It will be people like him who will contribute actively towards a better India, both on the economic as well as political fronts.
To stymie the growth of this societal weed of corruption, Morarji Desai proposed the concept of an independent body of citizens who would receive complaints against working government officials and act on them accordingly called the Lokpal. They were to be given powers to conduct inquiries into misappropriation of funds, extension of undue favour and other forms of corruption. However, due to governmental red-tapism, the Lokpal bill never saw the light of the day till December 2013. It has been passing the rounds in the Lower House since 1968 but was never elevated to the status of a law.
Fast forward to 2011 when Anna Hazare, a person who the country looks up to as the second Mahatma, led a hunger strike to fight against corruption in the country. The protests, marches, strikes and petitions for cleaner and more transparent governance went on for months together till the movement became a pan-Indian issue that manifested itself as the group that calls itself India Against Corruption (IAC). They made the government look up and acknowledge their cause and to date, it remains as one of the largest country-wide protests post-independence India has ever seen. Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal, two people who have become household names since 2011 are self-proclaimed crusaders against corruption in India. They fight for an effective and strong Lokpal and they seem to be edging towards this dream of theirs lately, albeit in their own ways. While Anna Hazare chose to stay away from the political arena, Kejriwal believed that the logical conclusion to a movement so widespread would have to be the culmination of a political party that gave the people an alternative to the existing order.
Arvind Kejriwal parted ways with Anna Hazare to form the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and dominated the news during the Delhi Assembly elections of December 2013 leading to their forming the government along with the Indian National Congress (which I will henceforth be referring to simply as the Congress). That decision in itself caused quite a stir with people dubbing the AAP as amateurish, hypocritical, power-hungry and whatnot. Despite all that, they went ahead and formed the government with them, after a successful plebiscite that apparently bolstered them into action.
Forming the coalition with the Congress can be termed a strategic move by AAP as it now has the potential to prove, assuming they have a workable model of governance that the people will be impressed by, that they should be re-elected, whenever that needs to happen. The AAP is now enjoying a lot of publicity for the sole purpose of being fresh faces with high energy and a vociferous group of people against corruption. Much of the votes that the AAP got, in my opinion, wouldn’t have happened were it not for the media hype. To what extent the hype will be justified can only be proved, or disproved, over the course of their tenure, however long it may be.
They promise clean governance, an end to “VIP culture” as Kejriwal often likes to call it and lot more. Kejriwal’s ardent faith in God has led him to believe that the threat to his life will vanish if “the prayers of the people are with him”. While I understand that his accepting the security forces’ offer of Z-level security would be against what he preaches, it seems unfair to the security personnel entrusted with the safety of the Chief Minister to follow him around while he travels in the metro and throws all caution to the winds. He should know, better than anyone else, that more than just a few politicians have their eyes on his grave. Also, his promises of public audits of private electricity companies seems absurd. A company with undiluted 100% ownership is not obliged under the law to declare their accounts to the public. It would make sense for companies in the IPO to do so, but forcing an audit on private companies is infringing upon the very ideals of the establishment.There are of course some other objections I personally hold against the AAP agenda in Delhi. However, I will choose not to be skeptical yet. They have led the government for less than a month now. Let’s see what they have to offer and decide whether or not to enlist ourselves as harbingers of the broom’s power - the power to sweep away corruption! We should learn to be active voices against corrupt practices and strive for a better nation so we may address other problems that plague our society, such as poverty, unemployment and illiteracy.