Spreading the light of humanity & freedom
Editorial : Enact JANLOKPAL - An Appeal to Honourable
Prime Minister of India , GOI
We have suffered enough due to corruption. We are deeply hurt and
disappointed with any lack of a real and meaningful solution from you and your
government. The Parliament session meant
for passing Lokpal Bill was wasted by Unparliamentary behaviour of
We want change, and
we want accountability and we cannot wait any longer to have this! We will not
vote for you if an effective anti-corruption bill is not enacted. Not the farce
Lokpal Bill proposed by your government, but the peoples “Jan Lokpal Bill”
which is more stringent than the
ones proposed by GOI & Team Anna. We want strict and
effective punishment for the corrupt. They MUST go to jail! Or you Mr. PM, along
with your party, will fall from the people’s grace. We assure you, stand by us,
and we will stand by you. The opposite will also hold true.
Your government has
appointed a GoM to draft the Lokpal Bill. This GoM includes -
Moily and Kapil Sibal. Mr. Pawar and Mr. Moily have a past of allegations
of corruption and mis-deeds that the entire country is aware of. Mr. Sibal does not feel there was
corruption in the 2G scam. Having these people draft the anti-corruption law –
is it not an insult to the people of India? How can the corrupt be asked to
draft an anti-corruption bill? We urge you to consider the choice put forth by
the people – credible names such as Justice Santosh Hegde, Prashant Bhushan,
Shanti Bushan and others, to be part of the committee to draft the Lokpal Bill.
Just look at the draft proposed by GOI , it has left out many public servants and tax evading
corporate , industrialists (who are the origin & source of black money corruption) from lokpal ambit , only good thing is NGOs
Shri Anna Hazare, one
of the Greatest Social Reformers India has ever seen has demanded for a Lokpal
which has the power to investigate &
prosecute all public servants from peon to Supreme Court
Judges , president of india. We urge you to immediately accept the demands of
the people of India represented by the demands of Shri Anna Hazare lest the
discontent among the people grows out of control.
against rampant corruption in this country are quickly becoming as strong as
those that led to the uprising in Tahrir Square. The honest and hardworking
people of this country refuse to be innocent bystanders in the wholesale public
looting that is taking place as you read this letter. We request your immediate
and strong response to this concern of the people as corruption should be the
top priority of your government. If the challenge is not met effectively and
promptly, it has the potential of undermining every valuable effort made by
upright citizens of this country over the last century - including you. It also
has the potential of leaving your government with a legacy of shame.
Tahrir square can yet be a reality in India.
We trust you will
take immediate steps to give us our
solution, and not force us to take the above steps! Jai Hind. Vande Mataram.
The Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's ombudsman Bill) is a draft anti-corruption bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within a year and envisages trial in the case getting over in the next one year.
Drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and former Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (RTI activist), the draft Bill envisages a system where a corrupt person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint being made and his ill-gotten wealth being confiscated. It also seeks power to the Jan Lokpal to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without government permission.
Retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi and other known people like Swami Agnivesh, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Anna Hazare and Mallika Sarabhai are also part of the movement, called India Against Corruption. Its website describes the movement as "an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption. We have all come together to force/request/persuade/pressurize the Government to enact the Jan Lokpal Bill. We feel that if this Bill were enacted it would create an effective deterrence against corruption."
Anna Hazare, anti-corruption crusader, went on a fast-unto-death in April, demanding that this Bill, drafted by the civil society, be adopted. Four days into his fast, the government agreed to set up a joint committee with an equal number of members from the government and civil society side to draft the Lokpal Bill together. The two sides met several times but could not agree on fundamental elements like including the PM under the purview of the Lokpal. Eventually, both sides drafted their own version of the Bill.
The government has introduced its version in Parliament in this session. Team Anna is up in arms and calls the government version the "Joke Pal Bill." Anna Hazare declared that he would begin another fast in Delhi on August 16. Hours before he was to begin his hunger strike, the Delhi Police detained and later arrested him. There are widespread protests all over the country against his arrest.
The website of the India Against Corruption movement calls the Lokpal Bill of the government an "eyewash" and has on it a critique of that government Bill.
A look at the salient features of Jan Lokpal Bill:
1. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up
2. Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.
3. Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.
4. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.
5. How will it help a common citizen: If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.
6. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month's time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.
7. But won't the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won't be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.
8. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.
9. What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.
10. It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.
By Dr Kailash Chand OBE
From Greece to London; from Spain to Syria; from the occupiers in Zuccotti Park to the milling crowds at Ramlila ground - the forms are different but the anger and frustration of the people with the state of affairs is the same.
Be it the denial of human rights or economic deprivation, be it a clean system of governance or lack of transparency, be it price rise or corruption, the anger of the people is directed against those responsible for the manifold multiplication of their problems. It may be premature to draw parallels but only the naïve would miss the common thread running through such movements across the globe.
Analysts, many of whom represent the interests of the establishment are busy dishing out local, regional and social explanations for this world wide unrest because they would not likes to challenge the system that has benefitted them so long.
Sooner or later the world has to recognize that at the root of this unrest lies in the unviable economic system, concentration of power and wealth in a few hands and the unabashed corporate greed.
One cannot treat a malady without finding the bug that causes the ailment. People in the more advanced western democracies have been closer to the diagnosis while in countries like India we are striking at the symptoms of the disease.
While the slogans in the west are “one per cent versus 99 per cent”, “fight the rich, not their wars” and “human need, not corporate greed” the ire in India is directed against the scheming politician, the bribe taking babu or the Hawala trader with Swiss accounts.
In India the contribution of big business and the corporate world to the all prevailing corruption and social degeneration has not received the attention it deserves. Even the more ‘enlightened’ and ‘educated’ organizers and supporters of the Anna movement are silent on this issue. The western protester seems to be more aware of the reality.
The common man in India is perhaps too harassed by the day to day corruption, bribery, human rights violations etc to look beyond his nose and indentify the real culprit. In fact a section of the middle class is in awe of the corporate culture and views them as ‘achievers’ rather than ‘usurpers’. They are willing to be fodder for the corporate machine in the false hope of being in the driver’s seat sooner or later.
Their beliefs were strengthened by a corporate controlled media and entertainment industry that presented a rosy picture of the system run by them and a distorted picture of any economic system different than theirs.
Bedazzled by the glitter of wealth and extravagance; oblivious of the ugly reality that was clothed in an attractive attire of democracy and free market; the educated middle class in India has been behaving like hypnotised zombies.
The global discontent against the status quo is an indication that the zombies are coming out of the hypnotic spell. They may not be able to pin point the malady in political, social and economic terms but they are very near the mark.
The diehard supporters of the system are loath to admit this and are using all the tricks in the trade to ignore, belittle or defame this movement. One finds a striking similarity in the tactics of the critics of the occupiers and the detractors of the Anna movement.
They have been called naive, directionless and trouble makers. They have been called commies in the US and lefties in India. On their part the protesters have set up kitchens, organized medical care set up information cells and taken extreme care to prevent the protests turning violent be it the Zuccotti Park or the Ramlila ground.
Such commentators are either divorced from reality or are consciously trying to prevent the inevitable: the overthrow of an unviable, undemocratic, one sided political and economic dispensation. The weaknesses of capitalism stand exposed. It is not only a bad economic system but a poor democracy as well.
The real face of democracy is apparent from the fact that the biggest exporter of democracy is busy these days firing plastic bullets and tear gas shells on the protestors.
This what Stephen Lendman, radio host and author says about the system:
“Whoever controls the power of money has supreme power.
“The bankers in Wall Street have the power of money and literally run the government. Goldman Sachs runs the government, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America - they run the government. This has to stop. The people in the streets across America have to understand this and demand that the power of money returns to the Congress.”
Recent reports from the US have exposed the tall claims of this country on human rights and freedom to protest.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told the local Fox 25 News in Boston:
“Civil disobedience will not be tolerated.”
Another report says:
“A new chapter in the annals of American police brutality has been written, as two Vietnam war veterans who joined Occupy Boston protests suffered injuries after being beaten by police and arrested along with some 50 other demonstrators.”
The Guardian reported:
“In New York a section of Occupy Wall Street protesters are planning a “millionaires march” to wealthy Manhattan residents’ homes.
“The action is being planned by UnitedNY, the Strong Economy for All Coalition, the Working Families Party, and New York Communities for Change, all of whom helped swell the largest Occupy Wall Street march so far last Wednesday”.
If the ‘experts’ are unable to see a precursor of a class division in the “millionaires march” they are either pretending or being a bit too clever.
The Indian middle class and their largely apolitical leadership have not yet grasped the dangerous dimensions of the ‘new world order’. The middle class is being rapidly pushed downwards as a result of price rise, increased cost of housing and shrinking job opportunities. The agriculture sector, an important component of Indian economy is severely affected by a slow growth.
On the other hand despite recession the number of the super rich has gone up. India has 55 billionaires, according to 2011 Forbes’ list. The combined fortune of the wealthiest citizens in India was pegged at about $247 billion by Forbes, which was well above 2010 total of $222 billion.
India has been aptly called “a rich country, where poor live.”
Indian rulers are ignoring the writing on the wall and are persisting with implementation of a western style economic system. And the common man is yet to realize and see the negative impact of corporate greed and power on their day to day life.
They dictate government policies; they corrupt government officials and have no hesitation in sabotaging the public sector enterprise. While they pay a pittance to their employees they fix absurd and astronomical salaries for themselves and their CEOs at the cost of shareholders. They oppose subsidy for the poor but want more for themselves in the form of SEZs, excise concessions and tax holidays.
How much they owe to the nation in the form of bank default, tax arrears, and Swiss Bank Accounts is not revealed to the nation. The tree of corruption gets its nutrition through its corporate roots. The wily politician, the bribe taking bureaucrat, the crafty middle man; they are all the front men of the corporate word.
Despite all this they are projected as image builders and flag bearers of the nation by the corporate controlled media and governments alike.
Successive governments of the “free world” have not only allowed this pathological greed for money to flourish but have actually helped it to grow into a monster that is threatening to devour the very system that created it.
This monster is not only cornering all the wealth and resources but is devouring the very fabric of society. Ethics and morality have been relegated to the background; money, money and more money is the modern mantra of success.
Gone are the days when intellectuals, poets, teachers, philosophers were the role models. The role models today are the successful and the only parameter of success is accumulation of assets or wealth for their companies.
The destruction of the value system, the deterioration of living standards, the concentration of wealth in a few hands and the blatant misuse of money as power to manipulate governments was bound to take its toll. The frustration, the anger and despair has burst out in the form of a global protest. The 99 per cent in the US are already braving plastic bullets and tear gas shells of the one per cent.
Whether the anger and frustration of the Indian 99 per cent translate into a struggle for economic equality and justice is yet to be seen. Will the Indian David be able to stand up to the corporate Goliath? Will the proponents of globalization of business in India get a taste of globalization of protest?
In the absence of a competent leadership there is always the danger of this movement losing its way.
World over there is a huge a vacuum of leadership for many reasons. The society has been systematically depoliticized by a corporate controlled media and entertainment industry. One hardly comes across a movie, a TV serial or a theater show that highlights any social issues. The emphasis is on religion, superstition and fundamentalism.
In such circumstances what type of leadership can one hope for?
The mainstream left has not just abdicated its responsibility but has covertly crossed the fence.
What is left of the left has been so demonized by the corporate controlled media that many genuine activists are avoiding the label. David stands alone with his sling broken and half the stones stolen. It is a tribute to his grit that he is still standing.
In fact the people are ahead of the leaders. Whether or not the protests evolve into a significant political force with a clear agenda or a concrete set of demands remains to be seen.
For this to happen, India needs more than anything a mass social and political movement to reassert the democratic control over the economy and the State and to effectively end the control of the corporate-driven neoliberal capitalism. The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement offers just the spark to trigger such a movement needed in India.
Will the civil society throw up a leadership that has the political maturity to indentify the genesis of the present moral, social, political and economic crisis? Will the progressive left in India rise to the occasion and grab this opportunity?
OCCUPY WALL STREET
Occupy Wall Street is the original protest that began the worldwide movement beginning September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City's Wall Street financial district, initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters. The protests are against social and economic inequality, high unemployment, greed, as well as corruption and the undue influence of corporations on government—particularly from the financial services sector. The protesters' slogan We are the 99% refers to the growing income and wealth inequality in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. The protests in New York City have sparked similar Occupy protests and movements around the world.
The phrase "The 99%" is a political slogan of "Occupy" protesters. It was originally launched as a Tumblr blog page in late August 2011. It refers to the vast concentration of wealth among the top 1% of income earners compared to the other 99 percent, and indicates that most people are paying the price for the mistakes of a tiny minority. Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center told NPR that the slogan is "arguably the most successful slogan since 'Hell no, we won't go,' going back to the Vietnam era." According to Taylor, majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans see the income gap as a cause of friction in the United States.
The top 1 percent of income earners have more than doubled their income over the last thirty years according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report. The report was released just as concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement were beginning to enter the national political debate. According to the CBO, between 1979 and 2007 the incomes of the top 1% of Americans grew by an average of 275%. During the same time period, the 60% of Americans in the middle of the income scale saw their income rise by 40%. Since 1979 the average pre-tax income for the bottom 90% of households has decreased by $900, while that of the top 1% increased by over $700,000, as federal taxation became less progressive. From 1992-2007 the top 400 income earners in the U.S. saw their income increase 392% and their average tax rate reduced by 37%. In 2009, the average income of the top 1% was $960,000 with a minimum income of $343,927.
In 2007 the richest 1% of the American population owned 34.6% of the country's total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%. Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country's wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%. Financial inequality (total net worth minus the value of one's home) was greater than inequality in total wealth, with the top 1% of the population owning 42.7%, the next 19% of Americans owning 50.3%, and the bottom 80% owning 7%. However, after the Great Recession which started in 2007, the share of total wealth owned by the top 1% of the population grew from 34.6% to 37.1%, and that owned by the top 20% of Americans grew from 85% to 87.7%. The Great Recession also caused a drop of 36.1% in median household wealth but a drop of only 11.1% for the top 1%, further widening the gap between the 1% and the 99%. During the economic expansion between 2002 and 2007, the income of the top 1% grew 10 times faster than the income of the bottom 90%. In this period 66% of total income gains went to the 1%, who in 2007 had a larger share of total income than at any time since 1928. This is in stark contrast with surveys of US populations that indicate an "ideal" distribution that is much more equal, and a widespread ignorance of the true income inequality and wealth inequality.
 GoalsProtesters targeted Wall Street because of the part it played in the economic crisis of 2008 which started the Great Recession. They say that Wall Street's risky lending practices of mortgage-backed securities which ultimately proved to be worthless caused the crisis, and that the government bailout breached a sense of propriety, and created a state of moral hazard in the banking industry. The protesters say that Wall Street recklessly and blatantly abused the credit default swap market, and that the instability of that market must have been known beforehand. They say that the guilty parties should be prosecuted.
The protesters want, in part, more and better jobs, more equal distribution of income, bank reform, and a reduction of the influence of corporations on politics, which they sometimes refer to as corporatocracy. Adbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn has compared the protests to the Situationists and the Protests of 1968 movements. and addresses critics saying that while no one person can speak for the movement, he believes that the goal of the protests is economic justice, specifically, a "transaction tax" on international financial speculation, the reinstatement of the Glass-Stegall Act and the revocation of corporate personhood.
Some journalists have criticized the protests saying it is hard to discern a unified aim for the movement, while other commentators, such as Douglas Rushkoff, have said that although the movement is not in complete agreement on its message and goals, it does center on the problem that "investment bankers working on Wall Street [are] getting richer while things for most of the rest of us are getting tougher". According to Rushkoff, "... we are witnessing America's first true Internet-era movement, which -- unlike civil rights protests, labor marches, or even the Obama campaign -- does not take its cue from a charismatic leader, express itself in bumper-sticker-length goals and understand itself as having a particular endpoint".
The General Assembly, the governing body of the OWS movement, has adopted a “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,” which includes a list of grievances against corporations, and to many protesters a general statement is enough. However, saying, "‘Power concedes nothing without a demand' " others within the movement have favored a fairly concrete set of national policy proposals. One group has written an unofficial document, "The 99 Percent Declaration”, that calls for a national general assembly of representatives from all 435 congressional districts to gather on July 4, 2012, to assemble a list of grievances and solutions. OWS protesters that prefer a looser, more localized set of goals have also written a document, the Liberty Square Blueprint, a wiki page edited by some 250 occupiers and still undergoing changes. Written as a wiki the wording changes, however, an early version read: "Demands cannot reflect inevitable success. Demands imply condition, and we will never stop. Demands cannot reflect the time scale that we are working with." The Guardian interviewed OWS and found three main demands: get the money out of politics; reinstate the Glass-Steagall act; and draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.