Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Anna, Baba, Lokpal, and Corruption ...

Anna (Hazare) and Baba (Ramdev) add different hues to the fight against corruption. Anna wants Lokpal to become a Super-Man brandishing a magic stick. Baba strives to be realistic.

Let us consider the position: Some bureaucratic organization must have the power to prosecute the highest elected office! Does that make sense? Very difficult to concede!

Consider a slightly altered position: Some bureaucratic organization must have the power to investigate the highest elected official. Does this make sense? Very likely.

Whenever we make or institutionalize a body which would act as the watch-dog, we need to resolve the conundrum:

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

which literally means: Who will guard the guards themselves? Or in simpler form: Who watches the watchmen?

In a democratic republic (not mere democracy!) the highest power rests with the people. Thus, the highest office-bearer must be elected by the people.

Baba Ramdev has, in our view, rightly suggested that the Prime Minister must be directly elected by the people. This is a move in the right direction. We, however, support a Presidential System and we have been advocating this.

Even after we have (let's suppose) a Presidential System, we would have two options regarding Lokpal:

a. A bureaucratically designated Lokpal. Let us call such a Lokpal by the term Lokapal-B (bureaucratic lokpal).

b. A directly elected Lokpal. Let us denote this by Lokpal-E (elected Lokpal).

In our view, if we opt for Lokpal-B, president (highest office) should not be under its ambit for prosecution, though investigation should be possible. However, if we opt for Lokpal-E, we could, in principle, empower Lokpal (Lokapal-E) to even prosecute the president. However, a much better choice would be a constitutionally limited president who can then be recommended to be impeached by the Lokpal, but the impeachment must be done by another elected body, something akin to the senate in the USA.

In fact, the present situation must be used by us (the peoples of India) to draft a new Constitution. For we also need to get rid of the biggest source and cause of corruption, the elections themselves. In India, Corruption begins at Election itself!

Thus, besides mass awakening brought through mass education by the social leaders (including people like Anna and Baba) we also need systemic reforms. We have put forth some of our views earlier, see for example here.

In the past sixty odd years, as a nation, we have learnt a lot; and it is an opportune moment to incorporate what we have learnt, into a new Constitution.

Coming back to Lokpal, Anna wants a Lokpal (Lokpal-B) to have the highest powers, while Baba wants Lokpal (Lokpal-B) not to have the highest power. Here, by highest power we mean, the power to bring the highest elected person/body under the purview of Lokpal.

Thus Baba's position, in our view, is better compared to that of Anna.

However, Baba too, in his behavior, is Mohandasian. This is similar to Mohandasian stance of Anna. Recall Anna wants the Lokpal to be a Super-man, and we conjecture that, he fancies himself to be the first and founder (and therefore until his death) Lokpal.

As a nation, we need to strongly oppose such Mohandasian tendencies (see here and here).

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