The arrogance of the powerful

17 AUGUST 2011

Those in power tend to believe they have a right to be there.

And anyone who questions that power - or challenges it - is an enemy of the State.

Their State.

So Mrs. Gandhi - for all her credentials as the daughter of one of India's key freedom fighters - imposed the Emergency in June 1975 and shovelled thousands into jails all across India. All this because the basis of her being in power had been successfully challenged in a court of law and she felt no need to heed the verdict of the courts.

And now we have the government putting freedom fighter Anna Hazare into jail, in anticipation of trouble. His intended crime? He wants to lead a protest march to root out corruption.

The crime is not that he is corrupt - though the Congress government is probably making attempts to find something ugly from his past - but that Anna Hazare wants to fight corruption. By the creation of a Lok Pal.

The August 10th issue of the Economic Times has this comment from Congress leader Rashid Alvi:

"Nothing happens by sitting on fast at Jantar Mantar. Anna Hazare and his team should find constitutional ways to get their demands accepted," Congress leader Rashid Alvi said.

"If the legislation (Lokpal bill) is not according to their choice, instead of taking the unconstitutional way, they should make their candidates fight the next general elections, come to parliament and get their legislation," Alvi said.

Congress leader Mr. Alvi is right.

The Home Minister, P. C. Chidambaram, echoed his views. According to a report in Business Standard on August 16th on the arrest of Anna Hazare:

"Police met Anna Hazare this morning and he told them that he intended to defy the prohibitory orders. At that time, police came to a conclusion that he will commit a congnisable offence. They invoked article 107 and 151 of CrPC which calls for preventive measures," he told a press conference.

Chidambaram was replying to a volley of questions on why Delhi Police detained Hazare and his supporters even before they defied the prohibitory orders.

He said around 1,200-1,300 people have been detained across the national capital. Six members of Team Anna Hazare were also detained, he said.

Chidambaram said if Hazare and his supporters were not happy with the conditions imposed by the Delhi Police for their proposed stir they could have challenged it in a court of law.

"They are free to go to court even now," the Home Minister said.

He also ridiculed Hazare's contention that their Jan Lok Pal Bill draft has to be considered, saying, "Laws cannot be made by social activists in a maidan."

That last sentence hit me: Laws cannot be made by social activists in a maidan.

That is, indeed, very true.

Mahatma Gandhi did not set the laws of an independent India in a maidan.

Nor did Martin Luther King set the laws that gave equality to blacks in a maidan.

Nor did the women who fought for their right to vote three hundred years ago change the law in a maidan.

They began the awareness of the wrongs in a maidan.

The laws were changed in bodies built by the constitution.

This fits beautifully with Rashid Alvi's statement that Hazare should stand for election.

Chidambaram is saying make all the noise you want in a maidan, but you cannot change any laws.

Alvi is saying come meet me in Parliament and lets settle this issue there.

Very consistent. Very logical.

That is, if you are a tyrant.

Is Congress turning into an intolerant beast?

Imagine what would have happened if Mahatma Gandhi was dealing with Hitler. He would probably have been executed in 30 seconds. End of freedom struggle for a few decades.

Or if Martin Luther King was dealing with Hitler and wanted equal rights for the black race?

Well, we know what happened to the Jews who wanted to be treated as human beings.

Luckily, Mahatma Gandhi dealt with the British - who had a conscience and listened to the voices of those who had no seats in their governing councils. No seats in their Parliament.

Martin Luther King's blacks had no seats in most government bodies. But he dealt with people who could reason, who could understand the desire to improve the state of a large minority population. Hence, he succeeded.

The woman fighting for the chance to get elected had no seats in Parliament - the men sitting there had to change it. And change the rules they did.

What chance does an Anna Hazare party - with no access to corporate funding, with no ability to give gifts to win votes - have to win an election? To win enough seats in Parliament to change the laws?

An Ancient Chinese emperor, on hearing that the peasants could not afford to buy rice to eat said, "Why don't they eat meat?"

Or the great French princess who - on hearing that her subjects had no bread - said, "Why don't they eat cake?"

Over the last decades, I felt happy that the Congress was elected back into power - even though with coalition partners.

But are our political leaders - across parties - getting arrogant?

Even if 1.2 billion Indian are not present in the maidan, is there any doubt that a majority of people of India are fed up with corruption?

True, Anna Hazare's mission may start attracting media-hungry god men and film stars but that does not dilute the desire to get rid of corruption.

The fight against corruption does not stop.

The Congress has a party manifesto and a mission - but Suresh Kalmadi is a member (and in the same jail as Anna Hazare). Does that mean that the Congress Party needs to shut down? That the Party's mission or reason for existence is no longer relevant?

Dictator or Representative? Asset Gatherer or Asset Manager?

Those in power must ask themselves why they sit in those seats of power.

If they believe they represent the wishes of the people, the path they will take is clear.

If they believe they are guarding some family fiefdom or some ancestral birth right that is perpetually theirs to own, then the path will be clear - and very different.

Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and much of the Middle East is immersed in a struggle between those who want change and those who fight to retain some ancestral god-bestowed right to rule.

And we have that same dictatorial attitude in the mutual fund industry where every fund house out there is more focused on how much money they collect from investors rather than what good they actually do for their investors.

They are a brand name, they are large - what they do must be right.

And must never be questioned.

They have an asset management license, but they are in the business of asset gathering.

And if any Chairman of SEBI changes the rules of the maidan that they play in, they will lobby for his removal. Like they probably did with Mr. Bhave.

We all know the truths that we must fight for. We all know the outcomes of a corrupt society - after all, we live in one! Sitting in a maidan may not be a fun thing to do whether you are Anna Hazare or C. B. Bhave, but freedom from corruption and equality are wonderful things to fight for.

Count me in.

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Why you
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30 Responses to "The arrogance of the powerful"

Pradeep

Aug 17, 2011

Well written. The government is intoxicated with power. They could loot the country for another two years and a half. Thats why they are not interested in a strong Lok Pal Bill for that much time.

The arrogant MPs need to represent people's views in the parliament. Democracy is by the people, of the people and for the people. So, if the MPs dont represent the voice of the people, they need to step down and make way for others. Perpetuating backwardness is a big business wherein the subsidized programs get you both votes and notes.

Should we not review the constitution, which is very old? The constitution should set right the provisions which gave draconian powers which Britishers needed to rule over India. And, this includes land acquisition by the government for public use.

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v.janakiraman

Aug 17, 2011

Canons of financial propriety are the first lessons any government service entrant is made aware of.
I wonder whether these are followed at all by our rulers.
How can they frame laws that blatantly favour themselves, without any scrutiny by Audit?
I wish there were a Jyotirmoy Basu as Chariman PAC to give a reply to those who want to dump the CAG's report. His was the real answer to the arrogance of power, as witnessed today.
The present law on corruption is a mere eyewash. Let there be a national referendum, as they have in Switzerland on which draft should be used-civil society's or the entrenched vested interests' to fight this menace of corruption raised for 64 years by the ROYAL HOUSE.

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Sthithapragnja

Aug 17, 2011

Ajit Dayal Ji,
A humble Kudos from an "asli aam AADMI of India" !!
You have indeed spoken the " HONEST TRUTH " about the present day conditions prevaling all over the country.
I am prompted to cite the instance I often hear about ; "YOU SHOW ME THE PERSON and THEN I WILL SHOW YOU THE RULE OR LAW APPLICABLE TO HIM " Needless to say it is one law for the High, mighty and powerful and quite another for the ordinary Janta(common ordinary citizen)!! It is no wonder that Law (as is seen in many films is depicted with a balance(weighing scale with two pans) in her hand but with her eyes blindfolded with a black cloth. !! The Indian version of law is not blindfolded but is blind (made wilfully !!)!!

Should I continue further Ajit Dayal Ji ??

I hasten to conclude !!

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Vishwas Mehendaley

Aug 17, 2011

Excellent article!

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bimal madnani

Aug 17, 2011

freedom and equality are sworn enemies;what we are witnessing is the true nature of the congress party.

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sundara ram

Aug 17, 2011

YES. What PC says is 100 % correct. But he talks today because thousands of thousands shed their sweat,blood and life for the freedom of this NATION. And he sits in Parliament enjoying all the comforts and talks like this. WAIT MR. PC, let elections come, you will see where you are...

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Om Prakash Sharma

Aug 17, 2011

It is said,' Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely' Dr. M M Singh only is a pawn in the hands of Sonia who represents the feudal Dictators of Nehru-Gandhi(the stolen title).

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Ashutosh Bose

Aug 17, 2011

Full support for Anna Hazare's declared objective, also for his 'non-violent' methods, if they indeed remain so, but he cannot impose his version and his friends' (so called 'civil society', what is uncivil society anyway?) Also no comparison with Mahatma Gandhi.

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Jayesh Mehta

Aug 17, 2011

Very true, you have expressed the people's anger in most apt words.

These corrupt politicians WILL be punished by the people, and the day is not far. The writing is on the wall, if they could read it.

There are no enough words to describe these rascals. Only people like Anna will lead India into right path. JAI HIND

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Shashank Nabar

Aug 17, 2011

I fully agree with you that congress party is leading the country towards another dictatorship of Nehru family.

After independence Jawaharlal Nehru remained virtual dictator till death leading the country on socialistic path that protected only the select few business houses.

His daughter Indira Gandhi along with her son Sanjay Gandhi went a step further and declared full dictatorship under the name of emergency.

After her death her son Rajiv continued the licence and permit system of sociatistic pattern until he died.

After that India saw some freedom with Mr Narasinha Rao opening up our businesses again.

The good days lasted until the country was back in control of Nehru family with pupet PM and ineffective President with actual dictator Sonia Gandhi nurturing the next generation Rahul Gandhi.

Basically we are not seeing anything new.

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