27.8.11

Who is going to elect the Lokpal members, and how will it be effectively monitered against abuse of power and privilege?

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The answer to the above questions seems to be a lazy and a rather desperate"don't care, just as long as the Lokpal tackles "CORRUPTION".......or as the case with many Anna supporters, they don't have a clue what the Jan Lokpal is about even vaguely.

Can't run a country the size of India on sloganism or mob rule.

Presumably a simple pamphlet has been produced in simple jargon free Hindi to articulate and highlight the main points of the Jan Lokpal, AND on the reverse side the governments version...and why its wrong. That would be a good start.......5 annas a copy or even free.

Just because Ibrahim Dawood has the money and under world organization, he should not be able to use a local Indian front to mobilize a rent a crowd in front of parliament to give greater tax hikes to Goondawood, through which he launders his money.

Thats a rather stark and unfair example you might say.......but the principle and means of getting ones demand is the same. Hitler used mob tactics as did Mussolini under the cover of populism.....until they became absolute dictators with ALL powers of the state in their single hands.

How can we be sure that the Jan Lokpal is not a surreptitious eventual attempt to impose a dictatorship in India, through the back door? How can we be sure that Anna Hazare and his ilk don't launch populist crusades against not just corruption, but ALL OTHER ISSUES that would normally be the purview of the elected government? What solid verifiable guarantees do we have against this? Which constituency elected Anna Hazare to speak for India, besides the TOI....A center-right rag?

But let us agree that corruption is rampant in India, and that the problem requires an institutional approach. The fact that the Lokpal bill has been stalled for 43 years since 1968 may be an indication of the fear the Lokpal Bill engenders in corrupt officials, or simply that nobody can agree on its proper functioning (its a tricky complicated issue after all......issues that can't be wished away)

But let us for the sake of argument go for the Jan Lokpal Bill of Anna Hazare. It is bold and revolutionary. If it however does create constitutional problems a future elected government can presumably change it, and make persuasive arguments to change it through the mechanisms within government. The Jan Lokpal Bill is thus not set in stone.

Governance and government may be weak and ineffective in India, but nobody can dispute the sheer "power' of the Central government. It has at its disposal the police, the paramilitary, the military, the spooks, the courts to an extent, unlimited taxpayer and greasy funds from various sources, the media and the "ruling elite" who institutionalize their power through the Central government (The central government is a representation of the elite in India at the end of the day beyond the "aam admi" BS). Given such a huge leverage, the Jan Lokpal Bill is thus possibly a minuscule challenge to the status quo of "Power" in India, especially in a country where law and law enforcement is so weak.

Having read the Jan Lokpal proposals briefly, superficially,... my only counter-proposal is that the SC be vested with the sole power of appointing the Lokpal members. "Members will be appointed by (i)judges, (ii)Indian Administrative Service officers with a clean record,(iii) private citizens and (iv) constitutional authorities through a transparent and participatory process." sounds to too vague and complicated......the language is politically correct, but the devil is in the details. That devil can be overcome by simply giving the responsibility to the SC, who choose a team of about 20 people who serve 5 year terms from:

1. Civil Society making up at least half the members who have participated in anti-corruption activism for at least 10 years, and thus have proven themselves worthy through various SPECIFIC cases of anti-corruption.
CBI national security background checks required.

2. You need at least two senior chartered accountants who understand the mechanics of corruption and how funds are funneled and disappeared, or laundered. The Lokpal should focus strategically on big corruption cases, and let the States Lokpals deal with local corruption.

3. You need some senior lawyers, judges who are familiar with corruption cases.

4. You need retired police officers who are familiar with corrupt criminals.....they dealt with such cases.

5. You need some "Administrative & Constitutional Law" professors who have studied and written articles on corruption.

6. The 20 member body should represent ALL India from all corners of the country; ALL castes; all religions fairly.

7. It should have an annual budget of $100 million a year to freely pursue cases, fully independent of the government, based away from Delhi.

8. It should have a staff of about 500 people, recruited by the 20 Lokpal members, AND not drawn from the Indian Civil Service.


The TOI blog posted below by TK Arun is thus a cautionary tale that should be borne in mind, BUT that the government should go ahead and relent on the fundamentals of the Jan Lokpal Bill AFTER negotiations, and AFTER the Lokapl Bill has been discussed in the relevant parliamentary committees properly.

Can't have, " Anna Hazare has proposal, ManMohan Singh hands enacted Bill for Anna Hazare to sign" pronto or else.......even though the idea and motivations behind it may be good.
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Do not yield to mobocracy, the Lokpal cannot end corruption



Barring the very corrupt, everyone would support the ongoing campaign against corruption. But not either Team Anna's specific solution or the means it employs. In fact, there is every reason to oppose and condemn the move to blackmail the government into conceding a very flawed demand.

A monolithic, all-powerful body that would hold every functionary of the state including the judiciary to account, and investigate and prosecute them if necessary, while itself being accountable to no one except to the noble conscience of its exalted members — this, in effect, is Jan Lokpal. If the good Lord delivers on his promise to sambhavami yuge yuge and takes birth as the Lokpal, this might work. But, otherwise, it is completely hostile to democracy, in spirit, principle and practice.

In a democracy, a system of checks and balances is supposed to guard against concentration of power. In India, at present, the judiciary is accountable to no one, and the executive, which controls the administrative machinery that runs the country, is accountable to the legislature.

The legislature is accountable to the people who elect its members. Administrative personnel are supposed to be accountable, as to both performance and ethics, through their chain of command, to the political executive. In practice, the administrative machinery is accountable to no one. This absence of accountability has spawned poor governance and corruption.

But how come the administrative machinery is not accountable to anyone? If the elected offices, manned by people's representatives, are effective, governance would stream into and light up our lives as naturally as sunlight does. But our elected offices are compromised. They make use of the administrative machinery to filch official funds, sell government patronage and extort money from the public. When administration is thus suborned, only a minority of civil servants stay ethical or even work.

What makes our elected offices so compromised? This is the central question to be addressed in the battle against corruption. Without clarity on this, the battle cannot succeed.

The politics of the world's largest democracy runs on the proceeds of corruption. All political parties finance their activity through funds that are amassed by loot of the exchequer, sale of patronage and plain extortion. Since political funding is an objective necessity, and the accepted form of funding is corruption, elected offices are compromised.

Even if individual functionaries are not corrupt, the parties they represent run on corruption and are compromised in this fashion. This is true of all parties today. Corruption is not just endemic, but also systemic. Reform of political funding is the key to ending corruption.

All political expenditure should be declared and made contestable by political rivals and watchdog bodies. All validated expenditure must be accounted for, and all sources of financing, fully transparent. Once parties and politicians have transparent funding, they will not need to be corrupt. Corruption will cease to be systemic. Only then can the political executive hold the administrative machinery to account for delivery of governance and ethical conduct.

A Lokpal only offers a layer of deterrence. This is like relying on tough inspection alone to check automobile pollution, without making cleaner fuel available, minus lead and sulphur, and without an engine technology upgrade. Similarly, without institutional reform of political funding, corruption cannot be tackled. Yes, we need deterrence as well. A strong Lokpal is essential. The entire political executive, including the PM, and senior civil servants should come within its purview.

But neither the judiciary nor Parliament can be accountable to this ombudsman. The judiciary must be independent of the Lokpal to keep a check on it. And Parliament's accountability should be directly to the people. If MPs misbehave, voters must have the right to recall them.

It is entirely justified for a popular agitation to press for reform of laws and institutions. So, the Anna mobilisation is most welcome. But not its disdain for the institutions and procedures of democracy or its demand to overturn the system of checks and balances that makes democracy work.

If it is sufficient to mobilise a million people in Delhi, leave alone the lakh Anna has brought out, to demand that Mayawati or Narendra Modi should be made prime minister, they can do it, easily. But that would not be right. What is right matters when it comes to making laws and institutions.

Its size, however large, or zeal, however self-righteous, cannot make a mob the people of India. The people of India take decisions through Parliament and cannot be railroaded by a mob.