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Bharat Nirman:STRENGTHEN ANNA’S HANDS, By Dharmendra Nath, 22 June, 2011 Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 22 June 2011

Bharat Nirman


By Dharmendra Nath, IAS (Retd)


Anna Hazare is no ordinary person. He has served the community around him for many years and transformed it beautifully. The results are there for all to see, though the direct beneficiaries are the affected people i.e. the residents of Ralegaon village and its surrounding areas. The village stands out as a shining example of rural development.


Anna has incarnated there a role model covering water and energy conservation, solar lighting, biogas cooking, cleanliness and sanitation. Besides all this there is compulsory schooling for boys and girls and social reform steps such as ban on liquor and untouchability. All children are treated as ‘ours’ and there is a great sense of the community. All this has been brought about largely through the efforts of one individual though I am sure there must be others as part of his team.


I have seen all this with my eyes not once but twice, first as a trainee at the National Institute of Bank Management, Pune way back in 1988 and again on a visit in some other connection. That convinced me that it is not a show put up for some special occasion as so often happens with Government programmes.

Critics may say that Anna’s impact is in a limited area, but what more can an individual do? And how many of us have even tried to do some such thing. The point of describing this is that Anna Hazare has to be taken seriously. He is no armchair intellectual philosopher. What he says is based on his perceptions as a grass-root field worker. He has a handicap in operating at the national level but that is so because he is unused to it. However, he is no yogi or a spiritual person, who has just strayed into the practical world. Like us, he is living a day-to-day life trying to do whatever little he can.


Anna is basically a good man, who speaks, a whistle-blower par excellence. He, therefore, deserves the support of all right-minded persons. The fact that he speaks goes to his credit since it is the silence of good men – as in the Mahabharata - that is at the root of many of our problems.


Others may be trying to highjack him, his agenda for their ulterior motives and he is trying hard to steer clear of them. In fact, at heart he is just trying to share his sadness and anxiety with all of us in the hope that we will do something about it.


We cannot say that he is a man in a hurry. He has waited long enough but as noticed by many things have only gone from bad to worse. Besides, he too is advancing in years. Do we want him to keep quiet? See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil?


Despite our professed socialism, over the years the number of concealed billionaires (many times over) has gone up astronomically in this country. We kept capitalism as a system in check but our corrupt system compensated many times over for its excesses.  Today, the concentration of unaccounted wealth in the country is shockingly mind-boggling. It is making a mockery of the Reserve Bank of India’s liquidity control measures and queering the pitch in the fight against inflation. Controls can regulate only that which is visible and accounted. How do we control the unaccounted?


Corruption and unaccounted money are hurting us not only by creating and widening social contrasts, but these have assumed such horrific proportions that they are making a mess of our economic policies and projections. In such a confused situation the Government’s fight against inflation looks more like shadow-boxing! Inflation cannot be checked without controlling corruption and black money. Our economist Prime Minister surely knows this.


It is our good fortune that Anna Hazare is amongst us to help us. His presence is an opportunity, not a threat. However, he is a threat for only the unaccounted billionaires and their silent partners. Unfortunately their numbers are a legion. If we do not belong to their ranks, there is nothing to fear in what Anna stands for. He is not asking for any sort of revolution which may be disruptive of the society.


Also our fight against corruption should not be like Pakistan’s fight against terrorism. Our neighbour kept fighting terrorism all these years while concealing its king pin in its backyard! The corrupt like terrorists have a long reach in the corridors of power and a greater tendency to flourish in the shadows.


Clearly, our struggle against corruption has so far been inadequate. Else it would not have acquired the generous proportions of today. The question is: Has it been deliberate shielding? Or is it the handiwork of loopholes in the mechanism left intentionally or accidentally? Whatever be the case now is the time to make a fresh start. Let us come clean. There is no conflict of interest if we do so.


Let it also be accepted that corruption is not purely a Government malady. All those who take unfair advantages, practice hit-and-run strategies or indulge in cheating (hoping to keep it within covers) like our Munna Bhais are equally guilty of corruption. But today’s Governments standing at the intersection of politics, business and money need to be a lot more vigilant. Earlier, Governments were smaller and simpler. What these did or didn’t do mattered little. It no longer is so.


In fact, we today are anxiously awaiting the coming of our second independence. Our first was merely political. Post-independence many unintended distortions have crept in. We long for that heaven of freedom where “the mind is without fear and the head is held high…where words come out from the depth of truth”. Obviously, that cannot be a corrupt society. Let us ask: Is it possible? Can we do it? Can our Achilles’’ heel of lack of enforcement be cured? Or will our efforts only parallel Pakistan’s fight against terrorism? That is the Anna Hazare issue. Importantly, Bharat Nirman is an empty slogan without our first fulfilling the premise of corruption-control.


Should we be unable to make any constructive use of this opportunity to improve matters then let us go in for the desperate remedy-- of introducing in our country numbered accounts like those of the Swiss banks. At least the corruption money would not emigrate and instead can be utilized within the country for whatever its worth. That will give us some growth fall-out – maybe skewed - and some trickle-down effect. Shall we make a beginning? ---INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)



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