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Anna Movment: Strengthening Democracy in India



In democracy, government must be responsive to legitmate aspirations of  its people. In strong and vibrant democracies, if government fails  to fulfill the aspeirations of people, then civil societies  come forward to fight for the same. Anna's movement in India is an example of the same. Most of the Indian people have been bearing the scourge of corruption since long and as a result development of common people specially downtrodden has been compromised. Even after more than half century of independence corruption could not be controlled, as it is evedent from the corruption perception index issued to India by various organizations working in this field.  Transparency International has ranked India at Sl. No.87, where Denmark is at the top of the list being least corrupt country and Somalia is most corrupt among 178 countries in 2010 corruption perception ranking index. Though, there was anguish among the public at large against corruption, but it remained hidden due to lack of credible leadership. And when a credible leadership emerged to fight for this cause, many civil societies also came forward to support this cause whole heartedly, and government had to bow down to consider their proposal,even going against the procedures and norms followed. This is a very good sign for a strong and vibrant democracy.

Having said above, it can not be advocated and agreed that legitmate responsbility of Parliament of drafting and passing a legislation is shifted outside parliament  and outside constitutional framework. The Parliament symbolically represents the people of entire country in a democratic set up and any decision taken by majority in Parliament under constitutional framework should be considered by and large the decision of entire country. So what is rationale for adopting Anna's version of draft bill on Lokpal setting aside government draft. There are set of procedures for passing a legislation, where a bill after its introduction in either house of Parliament  is send to Standing Committee of parliment on the subject where members across political parties deliberate and  scruitnise  clause by clause of bill, and they have mechanism to invite the views of various stake holders and interest groups while scrutinising the various provisions of the bill. And if any suggestion was not acceptible same could have been communicated stating the reasond. In this case also government could have invited comments from Anna team on bill drafted by others and put the same before Standing Committee to scruitnize, and whereever suggestions of any group were not acceptable same could have been communicated to various stake holders and interest groups and public also through print and electronic media stating clear reasons be it political, administrative, financial etc.

However, government failed in convincing team anna and large number of people supporting Anna that government is  sincere in bringing an effective and strong piece of legislation to curb corruption. Apprehension of ruling governmet was that BJP is supporting this movement and success of this movement would benifit opposition political party mainly BJP and erode its vote bank in favour BJP. This  wide mistrust between government and team Anna and failure of government in convincing team Anna and public to follow the standard procedure of taking views of public and stakeholder  led to this situation that government had to bow down before team Anna in order to save its electoral base. Though the intentions of Anna were good and demands might have been legitmate, but method used by Anna to force his version of bill was not legitmate. However, pressure of public and civil society led by Anna is worth appreciating for strethening democracy in India.

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