Vipin Tripathi


Corruption, black money, nepotism, police atrocities – all are bad for any society. They are rampant in India. But Hazare and Baba Ramdev, the self-declared saviors of India, have another agenda. The article  by Tripathi suggests that their agenda might as well be to replace Manmohan Singh with Advani or Sushma Swaraj.


It is unfortunate that when a serious initiative to curb corruption and black money was needed two fasts, by Anna Hazare and Baba Ram Dev, have diverted the focus onto two minor issues, the Lokpal bill and Swiss Bank accounts. There are already several institutions in the country to check corruption, e.g., CAG, CBI, Police, Courts, JPC etc. If these are unable to contain it, how would the addition of one more uproot it? Corruption is not a phenomenon propelled by the present government alone. The preceding regimes can’t claim to be more honest. If it is an all party pervading phenomenon, then the system that sustains corruption must be understood.


Polity is intimately linked to Economy. Our present day economy is driven by market forces, dominated by the trader, corporate and industrial sectors. These sectors either put up their own men in Assemblies and Parliament or influence the elected MPs and MLAs to have policies and laws favourable to them. A large part of exploitation of toiling masses comes through unrestrained profit, approved by law. Where ever law comes in the way, these sections resort to bribes to get their work done. By paying a bribe of Rs. 1 crore they drive profit of 10 crore. The irony is that these real beneficiaries of corruption shout foul on politicians, often on relatively minor irregularities, and themselves remain untouched. Political parties remain dependent on them for their survival as funding comes from them.


Money generated through undue profit, tax evasion and bribes turns into black money. A major sector where black money is generated and circulated is real estate. In last eight years prices of land and homes in Delhi, for instance, have gone up eight fold and only a small fraction of money involved in these dealings is in white.  Swiss Bank offers 1% or 1.5% interest on its deposits, while real estate return is 30 times more, hence whatever black money goes to Swiss Bank, eventually returns to Indian real estate, as one economist has recently pointed out. Unless this source of black money, in which most upper and middle classes are involved, is chocked, Swiss Bank issue will have little value.


The corruption, that hurts common man directly is linked to  (i) day to day dealings with the government departments, e.g., police, tehsil, courts, trains, ration shops, etc. where one has to pay undue amounts of money to get the genuine work done and (ii) hoardings of essential commodities (to create artificial scarcity and price rise) and private money lending at exorbitant interest rates, up to 10% per month. It rests on the authority of bureaucrats and money and muscle power of the traders and money lenders.


Anna or Ramdev have not indicated any program or vision to fight the corruption at the grassroots level or to choke the sources of black money and bribes at higher levels. In fact their lack of emphasis on corruption-free conduct of their followers is gravitating the elements engaged in corruption, be they trading classes or the officers, towards them. As the same elements provide the support base for communalism, these campaigns are likely to strengthen the communal forces. Anna and Ramdev, so far, have not shown apathy to communal forces. Ramdev was, in fact, at the forefront of RSS led campaign against ATS Chief Hemant Karkare when he unearthed the involvement of RSS aligned extremists in terror attacks. Anna too had praise for sectarian figures and his campaign was largely picked by the sectarian elements. I am afraid the strategy of singling out only the ruling alliance for confrontation may effectively help the return of sectarian forces to power, though I do not doubt liberal credentials of some of the people around him.


On the issue of nonviolent doctrine I would say that all satyagrahas led by Gandhi had a strong component of mass involvement and preparedness through comprehensive constructive programs and these were directed against the system.  Gandhi never employed fast as a weapon of satyagraha. Whenever he underwent fast it was under deep agony and was meant to arouse self introspection and sensitivity in the masses. His historic fasts came against communal passions and untouchability. He never encouraged any one to undertake fast as a short cut to ground work on the issue at hand. He never undertook fast on any of the major satyagrahas he launched.

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