…the Jan Lok Pal Bill become an attempt by the marginalized urban English-educated classes to take back their country. Its evident in way public feedback is sought, as per the draft Bill, through a website, something that the “poor” don’t really have access to. It’s evident in the qualification criteria for the committee (Magsaysay Award winners, Nobel prize winners, Bharat Ratnas) that the urban middle class wants what we Bengalis call “bhodrolok” in charge.
– On The Jan Lok Pal Bill by Great Bong
I have been too confused to put to words what I felt about the Jan Lok Pal Bill, because it was largely a sense of unease at what was going on and the methods adopted to achieve the goal. (I tried to joke it away “Who’s this chick, Anna, then?”) That article on Great Bong’s blog is fairly accurate manifestation of what I felt. As a matter of principle, the proposal feels all wrong. A committee of guiding ‘Elders’, no matter how benign it sounds, is ultimately placing power in the hands of people who have no accountability to anyone.
Anna Hazare may be a man of great virtue and his intentions may be noble, I have no doubts about that. Yet, I find myself disagreeing with campaigns he has run in the past such as banning the sale of alcohol and tobacco in the ‘model village’ he set up. What seems like a beneficial idea, on the surface, is actually a measure that inhibits free will. It is lecturing from a pulpit, saying “I know better; you are too poor/stupid so do this instead.” The idea of a Lok Pal smacks of similar holier-than-thou sentiments.
I do not profess have a better solution. However, I do agree with the argument that measures are needed to prevent corrupt politicians from running for elections in the first place, rather than try to clean up after they have been voted into power. At least Anna Hazare’s campaign has piqued the country’s interest and got the youth interested in taking action. What isn’t so good is the shrill “YOU MUST OBEY US” cries.