I must confess that in the last few years, I have never so deeply followed any issue as much as I have followed the agitation to implement the Lokpal bill. To put it simply, the bill aims to grant authority to the civil society to investigate corruption against politicians. It’s effectiveness depends on whether the highest political authority in the country viz. the Prime Minister and all the bureaucrats are brought under its purview. No wonder, Mr. Sharad Pawar had to resign from the GOM to draft the bill citing conflict of interest. Indeed, there could not have been a bigger conflict of interest!!
Why I am so deeply influenced by this issue is because it’s the only one which seeks to address the need for systemic political change in India. My beliefs have changed over the last decade from being against politics to supporting the cause of effective & professional governance. There have been many agitations in India in the past viz. the fight by medical and engg students against reservation, protests against purchase of sub-standard equipment for the armed forces (esp. the infamous MIG-21), fight to implement a strong anti-terror law to protect its citizens etc. However, all of these sought to merely address a particular issue in isolation. This is not to say that the Lokpal bill is the panacea to all problems. However, like the RTI, it is a step in the right direction. For a change, it’s nice to see media houses providing more coverage to Mr. Hazare’s fast and social activism rather than focussing on the cheerleaders who will perform in the forthcoming IPL.
And talking of IPL, what else can be a more elaborate example of corruption. All the investigation which started with so much fanfare last year – Flow of IPL money into tax havens, hidden stakes by politicians & BCCI officials in IPL teams, lack of accountability & transparency by the BCCI who are yet to show their financial accounts to the public – merely died down with an 80,000 pg long report by the ex-IPL boss and the corrupt nature of the ex-BCCI chief and current ICC president. It’s sad to see the IPL, which aimed to provide lucrative opportunities for our domestic players, still proceeding ahead with its 4th season without the corrupt officials being brought to book. Lalit Modi continues to evade investigation by parking himself in UK. If all IPL accounts were to brought out in black & white, it is quite possible that the event that we Indians so lauded of will prove to be a matter of great shame as we seek to become the global powerhouse of the 21st century!!
Sports has always been a passion for me and is one area where I wish to contribute. I was speaking to my good friend, who has worked with a popular sports marketing firm & the CWG 2010 sponsorship team, yesterday about the condition of sports in India. And all his experiences only pointed towards one conclusion – India can indeed become a great sporting nation if we could weed out corruption. And I do not wish to further rant about the CWG scam, the National Games in Jharkhand, the pathetic facilities given to our athletes & sportspersons, the number of years spent by our sports bosses in different federations (which will soon exceed the years most sports-loving youth in India would have spent alive) etc.
I learnt from him that our union civil aviation minister is also the secretary of AIFF, not to mention his substantial contribution in creating one of the new IPL teams and his enthusiasm for cricket given the amount of time he spends in VIP pavilions during cricket matches!! Ofcourse, nothing could beat our current ICC president holding the post of Union Agriculture Minister in India!! While it’s fascinating to have such multi-faceted people governing us, it begs to ask the question if India can afford to provide 2-3 key roles to a single politician in a country of 1.2 billion where nobody really cares about unemployment rate, job creation or social security status. The counter argument could be that we do not have enough skilled people for these positions which begs the question as to if these people were indeed interviewed and chosen to be the sports bosses based on their resumes. My friend told me that a former Indian Olympian is pushing the agenda with the sports ministry to get paid professionals to govern Indian sports. Well, I would love to witness the day when the Kalmadis and the Gills of this country are thrown into oblivion with no remorse!!
Just as sports requires passion, so does national leadership. The other day I was talking to another friend of mine who is a social entrepreneur. He told me that for a social enterprise to benefit from any of the ‘generous’ government schemes aimed at supporting rural development & employment, one has to ‘pay’ bribe and that too at the highest level (read Union Cabinet Minister). There exists an organized procedure to collect such bribes even if none exists to address complaints against corrupt practices. No wonder some of the ministers in the ‘jumbo’ cabinet almost never make a public appearance or statement!! For all the supporters of parliamentary democracy who cry out loud asking citizens to file complaints in a court of law, I only have one question to ask – Was any politician convicted over the defence scandal exposed by Tehelka? Has any politician ever been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment or death for the numerous crimes for which they are chargesheeted and will continue to be since citizens have only a limited lifespan!! No wonder, our politicians have ensured that India has remained largely uneducated so far. Coz if we could not just read and write but also think like a concerned citizen, there is certainly no way some of these ‘old warhorses’ will survive in our parliament.
It is indeed time for a revolution, possibly the biggest after India’s freedom struggle, for people to unite together and overthrow some of our leaders. Hope to be part of governing our nation someday!!