Without doubt, India has been a
crucible of democracy since independence in 1947. In the context
of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the continued plunder
by African tyrannies, and the collapse of dynastic and monarchical
rules, India has proudly held aloft the flag of democratic
tradition and developmental transformation.
But it is time to pause and ponder on the state we are in today as
a nation. We are an India of the new millennium. We have grown by
leaps and bounds in all spheres. We have grown in intellect,
emotional maturity and global awareness.
We are no longer the apathetic and amorphous mass passively
accepting administrative misrule and misrepresentation. India of
the new millennium cannot be governed by the same old political
machinations, or archaic and faceless system, populist propaganda
and illusory promises.
Every state has been a hotbed of corruption with its own sordid
stories of personal and political aggrandisement. No field of
activity has been left unscarred by corruption. Power has become a
grab game for personal pelf.
Corruption has spread like a metastasis, crippling our conscience
and compromising our culture. Our progress has been dogged at
every step by this deadening drag.
We Indians have developed a lackadaisical attitude towards
corruption. We accept it as a very common, if indeed even a
convenient phenomenon. We have no qualms in giving or taking
bribes, we have no gumption to raise voice against graft. We
readily agree to pay or receive under the table or over the
counter for a favour wrongfully obtained at the cost of others.
We feel it is perfectly normal to get one's work done through
devious means. We can go to any length to undermine the system. We
can provide fake bills, fake certificates, fake identities, fake
voters, fake employees, fake losses... We can make false
declarations, false denials, false promises.
We may say we are victims of the system but we cannot entirely
free ourselves of blame.
The system has thrived because of the absence of a top-down,
upright, no-tolerance, no-nonsense enforcement at all levels of
government. People at the helm have successively and sickeningly
misused their positions and, if not, turned a blind eye to misuse
Seen against this backdrop, Anna Hazare's country-shaking campaign
was an unarmed attack of a common crusader with an uncommon zeal
on the fortress of corruption. Anna has captured the imagination
and generated the spontaneous support of millions of Indians. This
is not by chance.
Anna is no Aamir Khan. It is not only because of Anna's honest
life and his relentless fight against corruption but also due to
the hardships suffered by Indians and the way this license-to-loot
fortification has been defended by political establishments.
Governments of every ideology have symbolically barked at
corruption but not dared to bite the corrupt.
Since independence, we have equally had many shameful scams where
the people at power have brazenly and blatantly arrogated the
power to amass their own fortunes, while being blissfully aware
that they would never be caught and could get away through sheer
We do have the collective wisdom to build effective institutions
to check, detect and eradicate corruption. A strong Lokpal will
not let the high and mighty loot and get away.
A country as big, diverse and complex as ours could have a
national watchdog kind of body, say National Governance Council,
with members from the governing and opposition parties,
bureaucracy, judiciary, press, civil society, defense
establishment and the corporate world.
A nation cannot become great if institutionalised corruption is
not rooted out from governance. Where there is a political will to
end criminal corruption, there is a powerful way to achieve
The author is a Programme Manager with a multinational
company. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org