What chance it will make a difference to our lives?
“A society of sheep in time will beget a government of wolves” Why a French philosopher said so?
The Right to Information Act (RTI) enacted and now in force gives the citizens to demand all the information from the government depts. so that the citizens don’t get delayed on any of their demands and thereby are forced to pay bribes. There is a campaign on the TV channels on the fight against bribe and so much public education is only good for the society and for cleaning up our politics and the ever-growing bureaucracy in our daily lives.
So, it is now easy, just write a petition, attach a ten rupee DD or cash and post it to the Chief Information Officer in every dept. For this to become more effective we need to spread this culture through all sorts of public places, every PCO, every government dept must have a front desk so that RTI can be put into practice. In fact, e-governance schemes like E-Seva in AP. Bhoomi in Karnataka and in other such e-governance schemes the RTI must be tagged so that there is quick access to information from the government depts.
This is one development, a welcome development.
But then there are the backlogged. The Lok Ayukta is also need to be activated. As on date only there are three Lok Ayuktas in Karnataka but in other States the Lok Ayuktas are sleeping! Also, there is no Lok Pal to deal with corruption by politicians.
While we all lauded the Karnataka Lok Ayukta under the redoubtable Justice N.Venkatachala, we are yet to see how the new incumbent will turn out to be. Corruption by officials is only one aspect. What we have found in the unearthing of such huge unaccounted wealth, cash and jewellery from the Karnataka operations, we can say that similar hoards are held up by officials in similar fashion in other States too.
Also, the officials can’t go on to accumulate such huge hoards running into two digit crores, landed properties, urban properties, bank lockers etc for so long without sharing the booty with their political masters .We know from our experience, in Bihar and TN, to cite only two instances, the politicians are hand in glove in the ever=growing corruption, it is political corruption, it is departmental corruption and corruption at the top.
Political corruption is more pervasive, it is alleged routinely these days, and how Rajya Sabha nominations are bagged by paying hefty sums. Who receives these sums? That is a million dollar question!
Now, the point is not to point the finger here or there. The more important point is public education, public awareness and public sensitivity to issues. It is the sort of politics, the society we are all helping to create. Politics is all that lies at the root of three matters. It is said: “In the last 100 years some men had died for love but many more men, in hordes of masses, have died for politics! How true. All in the name of politics, in the name of some ideology or other.
Now, our politicians in India are all saying they are in power to serve democracy. But what these politicians had managed to do? They had enriched themselves so they had managed to keep the vast mass of people in poverty, in darkness and they at the top are becoming rich and also immoral. All known principles of governance are given a go and the ones in office are so insensitive. Even the known best, the really qualified don’t educate the public! Such is the conspiracy at the top!
From Plato down to our times, great minds have noted that unless the citizens become active or allowed to become active, no democracy, even the best in the world can serve the citizens. It is the rulers who would serve themselves, their families only would stand to benefit.
We see this dictum working today!
Where is transparent governance? Why no Lok Pal Bill gets passed? Why such hurry for the office of profit bill to get President’s assent? It is the French philosopher, Bertrand de Juvenal who said that a society of sheep would in time beget a government of wolves!
So, in India at least there are some positive developments. Civil society groups are now springing up. It is said that in India only 2 per cent of the society, those who are better off in economic and social status who display an active interest in civil society movements. This we have to expand, this base. Then, there are the World Bank report findings about how the many government depts. and services are delivered as on date.
E-governance projects are doing much good work; every village must have the info kiosks. Education sector now eats up nearly 90 per cent of the State budgets. So, there is a case for more private sector education. Health is in a bad shape. There are only three top officials for maternal mortality prevention target. At the grass roots the primary health centers need more funds. Health insurance is near zero. Social security is now only for the organized workers. So, it needs more democratic extension. Pay and pension are now going only to the organized sector.
Anti-corruption mechanism needs extension. It is the top bureaucracy everywhere that is a big handicap.
The Indian character, as we have been telling often, is historically a legacy of subservience. So, we need both Plato’s advice of improvement of character of the citizens, also we need Aristotle’s Constitutional and institutional improvements. So, there is much work for any citizen to contribute his or her part to the society and politics we are creating and living with!