The Lok Pal debate has thrown up three important groups: The politicos, Team Anna Hazare and the pro-reformist liberals who are for maintaining the sanctity of institutions and existing rules.
But Cranks Corner belongs to a fourth group, which believes that it is alright to make fun of all the three, because in a true democracy the joke is on everyone.
Here we try to cut through the three different perspectives of this all-important, life-deciding issue in a manner that is quite unique to us: We will be equally offensive to all the three.
We have taken all efforts to be tasteless, cynical and irresponsible. But if we make any sense in any manner, pardon us. We are new to politics.
So here go the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Lok Pal Bill and Anna Hazare’s fast and the Infrequently Provided Answers (IPAs).
1) Is Lok Pal necessary to fight corruption?
Before we can answer this question we must ask ourselves the more basic question: Should we fight corruption at all? Unless we can find a satisfactory answer to this core issue, there is no point in trying to tackle its corollary.
Since everyone in this country has either given or taken a bribe at some time or the other, only institutions, and not individuals, can handle this question.
So, we must Constitutionally debate whether we can debate or not.
2) What’s wrong with Jan Lok Pal?
For starters, its name. As far as we know, both ‘Jan’ and ‘Lok’ mean the same: ‘People’.
This clearly underlines the fact that Jan Lok Pal is overzealous and redundant.
Okay, ‘Lok’ can also be taken to represent ‘World’. In which case we have to deem that Anna Hazare and team are fighting with the Indian government for an anti-corruption Bill for the world.
(Don’t tell us that Lok Pal is wrong, and it’s Lokpal. For heaven’s sake we are trying to make jokes here, not writing a treatise on language).
3) Is the government’s version of the Lok Pal bill better?
We actually like its basic premise:
A) There is corruption at the level of politicos and bureaucrats
B) The best way to tackle it, yes, is to allow themselves to come up with a new set of rules and regulations.
If this is not going to work, we don’t know what will.
4) What’s the alternative to Lok Pal then?
Quite obviously, the need of the hour is strong structural reforms in the governmental set up.
For example, in the 80s, you had to pay a bribe to even get a working telephone connection. Now after the telecom sector was opened up and private players were ushered in, there is no room for corruption at the local level.
Of course, you may have the 2G scam. But, in our belief, the Rs.1.76 lakh crore is a small price to pay in the path to progress, which is to totally avoid the Rs.50 bribe to the greedy lineman.
Further, when we say reforms, we mean it in all spheres. Judiciary is one area that cries out for opening up. Privatisation of the judiciary is something that the government should seriously think about.
A transparent and an efficient auction process for speedy verdicts will restore the faith of the common man in the power of institutions, not to speak in the power of money, and by extension, the entirety of Indian financial system.
5) Doesn’t Hong Kong have an Ombudsman (which is what Jan Lok Pal will create) and doesn’t it enjoy low corruption?
Serious analysts point out that Hong Kong, or for that matter Singapore, enjoys low corruption not because it has an Ombudsman, but because it does not have A Raja or Suresh Kalmadi.
Tomorrow if Raja or Kalmadi choose to emigrate to Hong Kong or Singapore, their carefully cultivated image of relatively lower corruption level will come crashing down. So they better stay warned.
6) How can we have economic reforms if the corrupt politicians don’t allow it?
If you look at the question clearly, you will understand that the thing that needs to be reformed is not the economy but the politicians.
7) Easy to say, but how can we do this?
One trusted democratic way is waterboarding. Personally speaking, I am not averse to guillotine.
Seriously, remember no matter what the issue is, a politician can be made to rise above the parochialism of party politics, provided you know what’s the going rate, if you get our drift. Grassroots democracy is all about engaging the politicians patiently but persistently with the right amounts of bribe.
And then there is electoral democracy.
By exercising your franchise wisely and shrewdly, you can throw out any candidate whom you (and others, too) deem unfit and undeserving of a seat in the Lok Sabha, so that he or she gets this ‘strong message’ and enters Parliament through the Rajya Sabha.
8 Don’t we have the right to protest peacefully? Why do you say that a fast-until-death lacks legitimacy?
When Ambedkar introduced the Constitution in November 1949, he was clear that we should avoid all non-constitutional methods like protests and satyagraha, for they are the ‘grammar of anarchy’. But nobody seems to have read the Constitution because it is, well, all about the anarchy of grammar, by which we mean none of the sentences in it ever makes sense over one simple reading.
9) Doesn’t Anna Hazare have the right to fast until death?
He has the right to starve. In many cases, the government actually helps many in this regard. But nobody has the right to die. There is no provision for that in the Constitution. In fact, all deaths are illegal if you strictly go by the Constitution. The dead are buried or burnt so that the police are left with no evidence.
10) Aren’t those who oppose Anna Hazare’s agitation supporting the corrupt politicians?
We think it might be a tactical decision. For, we find most of these corrupt politicians supporting Anna Hazare.
PS: The questions you find here have been taken from this perceptive piece here.