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Saturday 29 October 2011


Dr Navdeep Singh Khaira
While the Tihar Jail plays host to many VIPs on charges of corruption, the 'anti-corruption' Anna Brigade has received its fair share of controversy.
As expected, their opponents have stepped up the offensive with renewed vigour in the hope it will provide them an excuse to dilute the Lokpal Bill. Whether you are for or against Anna for his methods, no one can deny the fact that but for Anna, corruption would not have received the attention it deserves. The voices against an all-inclusive Lokpal mainly come from people who want to be excluded from scrutiny in the name of 'institutions of democracy', 'independence of judiciary', 'freedom of press', etc.
The bill may not provide the benefits touted by the Anna Brigade but the debate around it has already benefited a large number of people.
Experts are having a field day debating the pros and cons of the Anna movement.
Politicians in the opposition, who never bothered to have a Lokpal during their tenure, are attacking the UPA with the 'Anna missile'. The 'grave threats' posed by this movement to the very foundations of democracy are being highlighted by others. Those who defile Parliament day in and day out are harping on 'parliamentary supremacy'.
Politicians, who hire 'mobs' to provide 'audience' for their
political masters, are calling the movement a mobocracy.
Like the proverbial blind men, different people are interpreting the Anna elephant in different ways. Some perceive them as the RSS while others think they are leftists and Maoists.
Another set of people trying to benefit from the movement are those who are not themselves above board. They are jumping on to the Anna bandwagon to extract mileage for themselves. There are godmen, who advertise false claims about curing cancer, kidney failure. The journalists and
media are in the forefront with their 'expert' comments and 'advice'. The film stars who have no hesitation advertising goods of doubtful value just for money have not lost the opportunity to hog the limelight. LK Advani, the original 'charioteer' has started another yatra. Most such people are supporting the movement for self-projection.
And now Kiran Bedi has been found fudging figures.
The critics of Anna have not lost the opportunity to hit back once again in order to weaken the anti-corruption sentiment.
In such a situation, it is important to identify what exactly is corruption and be vigilant about people who try to use such movements for personal or political gains. Whereas it is imperative that those who talk about eradicating corruption
have to be above board, it is also important that mistakes or misdeeds of individuals are not used for weakening the movement.
The detractors of the anticorruption sentiment will do well to remember that the public anger against mismanagement and misappropriation of their wealth is not the 'creation' of Team Anna; it is the other way round. Also, neither Anna nor the public anger against the system is the creation of the media as some would have us believe. If the present leadership is not up to the mark, public sentiment will produce a new leadership sooner than later. Therefore, the time has come to tell everyone that the public sentiment cannot be wished away.
(The writer is a Ludhiana-based surgeon)

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