Wednesday, August 31, 2011

KPS-Distinguished Diplomat: Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

KPS-Distinguished Diplomat

Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Published in Deccan Chronicle on 21st November 1985

A tennis match was being played at Hyderabad under the patronage of Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan. He noticed a young lady, known to him, watching the match and asked her to sit by his side. He ordered an ice-cream for her and when it was brought by his principal caterer, the Nizam sent it back thrice, scolding him for bringing a large quantity of the dessert. Nizam made him reduce it further and further, until only a few mouth-full were left.

The lady was Mrs. Anujee Menon. This incident was narrated by late K.S.P. Menon, to tell how economical the Nizam was and how much he loved money. However to Nizam, ‘Menon was a Just Man’.

A distinguished writer and diplomat of India, K.P.S. Menon worked as Under Secretary to the Resident during the Nizam’s days and recalling his stay at Hyderabad, he mentioned about the city as a place where “all the forces of waning empire were there; autocracy, feudalism and paramountacy – and through them the voices of people”.

Mr. Kumara Padma Sivasankara Menon was born in Kottayam of Kerala State on 18th October, 1898. A member of the Indian Civil Service, he was Ambassador at China and Soviet Union and played a major role in the implementation of Non-alignment policy along with Jawaharlal Nehru.

Menon was fond of stories of Gods and Ghosts in his childhood and the characters of mythological stories narrated to him by his mother became his living companions according to him. Besides this, during his childhood, he liked his elephant Laxmi. He felt immensely happy and proud, when along with the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and the Major of Odessa, he received two of Laxmi’s species, Ravi and Shashi, the two baby elephants sent by Jawaharlal with a message of friendship from the children of India to the children of Russia, while Menon was in Soviet Union.

KPS had a superstition, that he had a “black tongue” or “evil eye”. He believed that when he says something good about any person or a thing, some misfortune will befall them. Once, when he admired one poultry of a friend in Colombo, within two days not even a single fowl was left.

Making allowance for his superstition, Joseph Stalin of Russia died within seventeen days of his statement to journalists that Stalin was in excellent health. This happened in 1953 when to disprove a talk, which was in circulation then, that Stalin was not in good health, Menon met him and after seeing him in perfect health, he spoke like that.

This scared the Hungarian Prime Minister Rakosi, who requested Menon not to speak well of his health anywhere. Menon felt sorry many times for obliging the Prime Minister, because later history proved that Rakosi was responsible for the miseries of Hungarians by thoroughly Russifying and Stalinizing their country.

According to Menon, a diplomat says “yes” to mean “Perhaps” says “Perhaps” to mean “No” and never says “No”. He foresaw about his becoming a diplomat while he was still a student in Madras.

After obtaining his degree from Madras University, in 1918, Menon left for Oxford and joined the Christ Church College and was always proud of being an Oxonian. In the year 1921, he got a first at Oxford in his post-graduation and a few weeks after that he found his name at the top of the list of successful candidates for Indian Civil Service examinations.

Back in India, he was posted in the Madras Presidency as Assistant Collector. He married Anujee, daughter of the well known reformer Sir Sankaran Nair in 1923.

Once on his way to Ceylon, Menon met Sarojini Naidu in Bombay’s Taj Mahal Hotel. A poem which was written by her and dedicated to him titled “To KPS from my Bath” thrilled him always. The theme for that poem came into her mind while taking bath, soon after their talk.

In Ceylon, he was introduced to Nehru, who came there to address a public meeting. Menon wrote “had Nehru asked me to follow him. I could not have said ‘No’ and perhaps I might have missed the privilege of serving Nehru as the first foreign secretary in independent India”.

In the war time China, Menon worked as Agent General for India. There he had a memorable association with the famous and formidable Soong Sisters: Soong-Chia-Ling, Soong-Mei-Ling and Soong-Al-Ling. They married the three most powerful figures of China between the revolutions from 1911 to 1948 and all of them were presidents of that country at one time or other. They were Sun-Yat-Sen, Chiang-Kai-Shek, and H.H. Kung. Menon’s association with them resulted in his earliest dispatches to the Government of India, known as the “Song of Soongs”. In the middle of his stay in Chungking, the war time capital of China, Menon performed an adventurous overland journey from India to China which lasted for 120 days.

K.P.S. Menon met V.K. Krishna Menon in 1946, at the UN General Assembly, after he was appointed as Chief Advisor to Indian delegation to the San Francisco Conference. KPS first reaction to VKKM was one of “vague irritation”. They argued over a speech prepared by KPS for Mrs. Vijaya Laxmi Pundit. When this was brought to the notice of Nehru, he reacted “So the two Menon’s could not get on with each other”!

A member of the Indian Civil Service, Menon described it as the “Steel Frame of the British Government of India”. To him Communism was a perpetual “Bugbear” and Congress is of communal and sectional dissentions. He was of the opinion that, though the Nehru era had survived in its essentials in the present day, the glory of that era had faded.

In his preface to the enlarged edition of “Many Worlds Revisited”-a book on his association with Jawaharlal Nehru in various capacities in various countries, was reflected in his book ‘Many Worlds’, but he was no longer in a position to view or present India in such rosy colours, subsequently.

According to him, the imposition of emergency in India could not stop the continuation of “bizarre” period, an era of politicking and the general elections of 1977 restored “demagogy” more than restoring “democracy”. The result of the happenings was that Menon had to remain a “bemused, bewildered and sometimes an indignant spectator”. Menon passed away on November 21, 1982 at the age of 84 years.

The greatest tribute to this distinguished personality of our country is, to understand his feeling so that his soul may visit India to present it in a rosy colour to the outer world.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reinventing the Wheel: Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Reinventing the Wheel

Accountable and Citizen Friendly Governance

Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Accountable and Citizen Friendly Governance was what probably the essence of Civil Society Leader Anna Hazare and his team demanded and put as a condition to end the twelve day old fast of Hazare. Both Houses of Parliament responded positively through identically worded resolutions read out by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee at the end of an eight hour marathon debate on August 27, 2011. He said that “the House discussed various issues relating to the setting up of a strong and effective Lokpal and unanimously resolved to endorse key ideas of Hazare as the Sense of the House”. The three basic issues which the Parliament agreed in principle to include in the Lok Pal Bill are, Citizen Charters for all Government Departments, Lower Bureaucracy to be brought under Lokpal through appropriate mechanism and establishment of Lokayuktas in states.

The resolution is a beginning towards meeting the conditions of Hazare and there is a long way to go before an appropriate legislation is adopted in the Parliament and enacted. Towards this direction the House further resolved to transmit the entire proceedings of the Parliament to the Department related Standing Committee for its perusal while formulating its recommendations for a Lokpal Bill. The outcome is awaited. The “Sense of the House” before it was announced by the Minister, was however questioned by couple of Members in the House with regards the propriety of Parliament discussing issues raised by only a section of civil society that did not represent all segments of people. Vocal among them are also members of the Standing Committee that has to decide on including Hazare points.

The three key points of Anna Hazare to form part of proposed Lok Pal are not a fresh idea and certainly not for the first time to be discussed and implemented. All three as well few more ideas that Hazare brought out during the course of his speeches before, during and at the end of his fast are not new. No doubt a fresh impetus has been given. The Government too has been very careful and cautious in its commitment which was clearly reflected in the words of Pranab Mukherjee when he initiated the discussion. “The points suggested by Hazare deserve serious consideration. In case a consensus emerges at the end of the discussion, the Standing Committee will take into account their practicability, implementability and constitutionality.” Individual member’s approach is also equally important!

Probably a similar cautious approach of successive governments at the center-be it the Congress, non-congress, Congress led UPA or non-Congress led NDA-both in the past and at present might have prompted Hazare to bring pressure on Government. At the same time it is not correct to say that Government and Prime Minister in the past and now did not want Citizen Charters or Public Grievances Redress Mechanism or Cleansing of Public Services or Lokayuktas for states or Decentralization of Powers to be implemented!

BJP Leader Sushma Swaraj while participating in the discussion in Lok Sabha said that it was not the first time that Lokpal Bill was being taken up by the House and reminded the members that their government tried earlier but could not get it passed. Similarly Pranab Mukherjee said UPA Government has amply demonstrated that it is sensitive to the common man's concern at corruption. Who is at fault? May be none or all!

On the threshold of fifty years of Indian Independence a conference of Chief Ministers presided over by the then Prime Minister IK Gujral was held on May 24, 1997 to discuss an Action Plan for providing Effective and Responsive Government at Central and State levels. The Action Plan comprised of among others, Citizens’ Charter and Accountable Administration; Effective and Speedy Public Grievance Redress System; Code of Ethics for Public Services and Tackling Corruption and cleansing the Administration. Many Chief Ministers who attended that meeting are still in active politics either in power or in opposition.

Central and State Governments were mandated to formulate Citizens' Charters for “departments and offices”, starting with those, which have a large public interface. It was agreed that, Citizens' Charters would be formulated based on a “Consultation Process” involving different stakeholders. After formulation these charters would be prominently made available to the public concerned for making use of them. These Citizens’ Charters would specify standards of service and time limits that the public can reasonably expect as well as avenues of grievances redress and a provision for independent scrutiny with the involvement of citizen and consumer groups. Government departments have to publicize widely about facilities at various levels for the “prompt and effective redress of public grievances” from the secretariat downwards to the village.

Though the charter is not proposed to be made justifiable it would carry a moral commitment of the government and would provide a framework under which public services could be evaluated. Citizens’ Charter is based on the principle of wide publicity of standards of performance of public agencies and local bodies; assured quality of service; access to information, courtesy and helpfulness of staff; choice and consultation with the citizens; simplified and convenient procedure for receipt and acknowledgement of complaints and time bound redress of grievances and provision for independent scrutiny of performance with the involvement of citizen groups. While it is not justifiable, it represents the moral and democratic commitment of the government to service of the public. What else we need?

Many Central Agencies, such as the Railways, Post, Health, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Central Board of Excise and Customs, Petroleum, Industry, Delhi Development Authority, Nationalized Banks and Passport Office and others announced a series of citizen friendly initiatives. The Ministry of Home affairs set up a task force to formulate specific steps for citizen friendly law enforcement system and crime prevention. In AP with the active initiative of the then CM Chandrababu Naidu, more than fifty departments prepared and put in action Charters with the assistance of Dr MCR HRD Institute.

The Government (NDA) of India constituted a Core Group to evaluate the progress in November 2001. The group consisted of Additional Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India; Secretaries in-charge of Administrative Reforms from six state Governments (including AP) and Director, LBSNAA, Mussoorie as Convener. Evaluation confirmed that central as well as state governments and Union Territory Administration taken action. Citizens Charters were formulated by 17 Ministries and Departments of the Central Government and 21 States and Union Territories. The mechanism of redress of public grievances was also in place at the central as well as almost all the States and Union Territories. Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh Governments got Charters prepared by various departments. By and large all those states who have brought out the Citizens' Charters and to the extent they could formulate, was based on, some sort of a consultation process. Similarly there was considerable progress achieved in establishing Grievance Redress Cells.

Are we reinventing the wheel? Creating new version of something? Anna Hazare may not be aware of many of the Governments’ Reform Initiatives…but...What about his team members like former Civil Servant Kiran Bedi and senior Advocates the Bhushans? Why not they brief him?

(Jwala Narasimha Rao along with Sundeep K Nayak of LBSNAA was a Member of the Sub-Group constituted by Government of India to evaluate Action Plan in March 2002).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Civil Society may appeal but not dictate: Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Civil Society may appeal but not dictate

Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Today-with Anna Hazare’s indefinite fast entering twelfth day-name any party, any organization and any individual notwithstanding the fact that whether they had a corrupt background or a clean reputation, all with one voice talk of fighting against corruption. In media both print and electronic we see the views of all those for and against Hazare Team or for and against Government or for and against Aruna Roy and so on. Those political leaders who swear by fighting corruption tooth and nail but failed to initiate any legislative measure while they were part of Governments earlier indulge in fierce criticism of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh though he stood by what he committed.

Almost all the political parties at one time or other did get a chance to enact laws to fight against corruption but seldom had they utilised. On the name of fighting corruption how can there be a super-super institution above all constitutional bodies? Systems should have been developed over a period to bring in all that what Hazare and his team today are talking in to place and should have been woven and interwoven. Yes there were several initiatives in the past but did not take off.

Nearly a decade and half ago on the threshold of fifty years of Indian Independence a conference of Chief Ministers presided over by the then Prime Minister IK Gujral was held on May 24, 1997 to discuss an Action Plan for providing Effective and Responsive Government at Central and State levels. The conference recognizing the fact that during the 50 years of independence, people were assailed by growing doubts about the accountability, effectiveness and moral standards of administration, unanimously resolved that Central and State Governments should move together to justify the trust of faith of the people in the Government by taking up implementation of a Nine Point Action Plan in a time bound manner. Earlier, his predecessor H. D. Deve Gowda initiated Chief Secretaries’ meet in November 1996 and generated a national debate. Responses were received from retreats organized in Mussoorie, Hyderabad and a number of leading academic institutions in Delhi and other places. Written communications were received from officials, experts, voluntary agencies, citizen groups, and media.

The CM’s conference was also attended by prominent Union Ministers, Cabinet Secretary, Chief Secretaries and senior officials in the Government of India. The Chief Ministers and Central Ministers attending the conference strongly endorsed the need for ensuring Responsive, Accountable, Transparent and Citizen Friendly Administration at all levels. This was considered to be a major step towards Reform Initiative in Administration in the country. Every political party was a party to that decision. Fighting against corruption was a major item in that.

The Action Plan comprised of Citizens’ Charter and Accountable Administration; Effective and speedy public grievance redress system; Empowering Elected Local Bodies in rural and urban areas and decentralized delivery of services; Review of laws, regulations and procedures; Transparency and Right to Information; Access of the public to information from public offices and creation of Facilitation Counters; Code of Ethics for public services; Tackling corruption and cleansing the administration and Stability of tenure and a scheme for Civil Services Board.

Many of the Chief Ministers who attended the meeting then are still in active politics either in power or in opposition. To name few of them are Shankersinh Vaghela the then CM of Gujarat and later Union Minister, Chandrababu Naidu the then CM of AP and now Leader of Opposition, Mayavathi then and now UP CM, Parkash Singh Badal the then CM of Punjab and now serving his fourth term as the Chief Minister of Punjab, Rabri Devi the then Bihar CM and now in the opposition, Manohar Joshi of Shiva Sena. IK Gujral, Deve Gowda and their successor Vajpayee who was supposed to take forward the Action Plan are still active in politics.

The specific areas to be addressed were also agreed. Central and State Governments would formulate citizens’ charter for Departments and Offices. All Central and State government departments would publicize widely, facilities at various levels for the prompt and effective redress of public grievances from the secretariat downwards to the village. Central and State Governments would work together for the simplification of existing laws, regulations and procedures as well as repeal of obsolete laws and reform of laws. Immediate steps would be initiated by different state governments, with the involvement of the Central Government to strengthen peoples’ participation in government. Steps would be taken to ensure easy access of the people to information relating to Government activities and decisions.

The Central and State Governments would open computerized information and facilitation counters in all their offices with large public interface. People-friendly and effective administration depends on cleansing of civil services at all levels, adherence to ethical standards and commitment to basic principles of the Constitution. The then existing rules and legal provisions in central and state governments would be amended. The then existing procedures for departmental enquiries and vigilance proceedings of government employees would be revamped. Areas of discretion available to various levels of administration would be reduced to the minimum, along with steps to prevent their arbitrary use.

In order to carry forward the Action plan for immediate as well as long term improvement in administration, it was further decided to set up a Committee under the Cabinet Secretary including some of the Chief Secretaries representing the different regions of the country as well as some senior officials of Government of India in order to elaborate the different elements of the Action Plan in terms of operational content, and to work out the decisions required at Central and State levels.

It was agreed that each state government would work for the implementation of an Action Plan, making appropriate allowance for variation on local circumstances. Necessary political will to implement these, which is essential, would be sought. They agreed to review the progress from time to time. Even Prime Minister promised for another conference by the end of that year. The action plan was to be initiated within six months as per the resolution passed by the CMs. Except few states like AP where there was some progress on formulation of Citizens’ Charters nothing worthwhile happened! A “Core Group” constituted by Government of India in March 2002 to review the progress felt that little progress was achieved.

IK Gujral was in office hardly for a year including the term as Caretaker from April 1997 to March 1998. Atal Bihari Vajpayee succeeded him. The National Agenda for Governance announced by Vajpayee on March 18, 1998 among others included a paragraph exclusively on corruption and committed to enact “the Lok Pal bill with adequate powers to deal with corruption charges against anyone, including the Prime Minister”.

Freedom of Information Act was passed during NDA regime, but the government failed to frame rules and regulations and as a result it never took off. Dr Manmohan Singh succeeded Vajpayee in May 2004. UPA Government initiated the process of RTI Act. It was passed by Lok Sabha on 11th May 2005, President assented on 15th June 2005 and Gazette Notification was issued on 21st June 2005. It came in to effect in October 2005 as that year’s Dasara Gift. Today lakhs of Indian Citizens were benefited by it. Aruna Roy and her RTI activists actively supported the government then.

On 31 August, 2005 the President of India set up the “Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC)” to prepare a detailed blueprint for revamping the public administration system under the Chairmanship of Veerappa Moily. The Commission was asked to suggest measures to achieve a proactive, responsive, accountable, sustainable and efficient administration for the country at all levels of the government. After four years study the Commission submitted fifteen reports beginning with Right to Information in June 2006. The consideration and implementation of the recommendations are awaited. The central theme in all of these initiatives is fight against corruption.

Against this background in April 2011, Anna Hazare initiated a Satyagraha movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal bill in the Parliament. Initially it was for a demand to form a joint committee of the representatives of the Government and the civil society to draft a stronger anti-corruption bill which the Government of India accepted. Hazare ended his hunger strike but set a deadline of 15 August 2011 to pass the Lokpal Bill in the Parliament.

Government members opposed the inclusion of the prime minister, higher judiciary and the acts of the Parliament Members under the purview of the Lokpal in the draft bill. Civil society members boycotted the meeting of the joint Lokpal Bill drafting committee and Hazare threatened to go on indefinite fast from 16 August 2011. On 28 July 2011 the Union Cabinet approved a draft of the Lokpal Bill and was introduced in the Parliament. Hazare was arrested four hours before the planned indefinite hunger strike and was sent to Tihar Jail. After release on 20 August 2011 Hazare left the Tihar Jail for the Ramlila Grounds and began his fast there.

All sorts of demands started coming from Team Hazare. No one less than PM or Rahul Gandhi is acceptable to the team for negotiations. Nothing short of Jan Lok Pal bill is acceptable to the team. Several self-styled mediators surfaced with their own solutions. For all of them it is not the Government or the Executive of the Government that is important. For them the Parliament is not at all important. Judiciary in their eyes has to come under their Jan Lok Pal purview. For them, whatever they say and demand has to be agreed to by Parliament and should become an Act.

While this is so, after the Planning Commission meeting on 20th August 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said to the media that, “It is our hope that we should generate a broad climate in which all political parties can unite to push forward an agenda, which is in broad national interest. That will be our priority number one, to push the reform process forward.” Dr Manmohan Singh also said that, “If you look at the reforms programme, when we launched it in 1991, there was lot of opposition both from the Right and the Left. But subsequently we have had the governments of the Right and the Left at the Centre. I think in the last 20 years broadly, they have all kept to the path that was outlined by us in 1991-95.”

In fact Planning Commission’s Approach Paper to the 12th Plan, said: “Corruption at various levels of administration is weakening the confidence of citizens in the quality of governance and is also imposing enormous costs since a system vulnerable to corruption is more easily manipulated by the rich and the powerful.” Planning Commission advocated setting up of institutions such as Lokpal and Lokayuktas.

On the other hand The National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) has openly come out against the methods adopted by the Team Hazare and their civil society group. It also disagreed with the provisions of their Jan Lokpal Bill. NCPRI also objected to the demand of Hazare supporters that the government should introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill by 22nd August and get it passed immediately. Aruna Roy and her colleagues expressed the view that “Nobody has the right to say we alone are right. Democracy means recognizing and allowing multiple and diverse views”. NCPRI finds fault with Team Hazare that Hazare to be consulted before finalizing the draft and for amendments.

Aruna Roy says that Jan Lokpal Bill concentrated too much power in the hands of a single institution, running the risk of becoming authoritarian and over bureaucratized. Hence NCPRI wants not one single Lokpal but a principal Lokpal to tackle political corruption and corruption among the senior bureaucracy; a strengthened Central Vigilance Commission to investigate and prosecute the remaining categories of civil servants; a Judicial Accountability Commission brought into force by a fortified Judicial Accountability and Standards Bill; an independent Grievance Redress Commission to address everyday corruption and complaints and a Whistleblower Protection Law.

Anna Hazare launched the People's Movement against Corruption in 1991; protested against alleged malpractices in the purchase of power looms by the Maharashtra Government in May 1997; undertook fast unto death on 9 August 2003 to fight against the corruption charges on NCP Ministers; led a movement in Maharashtra state which forced the state government to pass a stronger Maharashtra Right to Information Act and fought against Maharashtra Government’s policy to promote making liquor from food grains in 2007. Why did he not either actively or even passively supported or opposed Union Governments from Deve Gouda to Manmohan Singh as and when they initiated measures to fight corruption?

Why can’t Anna Hazare and Team Hazare be bit practical than being ultimate? It is time that he ends his fast now that the Government is almost ready with a resolution to pass in the parliament accepting Anna’s three latest riders to include Citizens’ Charters, Grievances Redress mechanism and bring lower bureaucracy in to the fold of Lok Pal.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

విజ్ఞప్తి చేయాల్సిన పౌర సమాజం ప్రభుత్వాన్ని ఆజ్ఞాపించడం తగదు: వనం జ్వాలా నరసింహారావు

విజ్ఞప్తి చేయాల్సిన పౌర సమాజం

ప్రభుత్వాన్ని ఆజ్ఞాపించడం తగదు

వనం జ్వాలా నరసింహారావు

ఏ రాజకీయ నాయకుడిని కదిలించినా, ఏ ప్రభుత్వేతర సంస్థ ప్రతినిధిని పలకరించినా, అంతో-ఇంతో పరిజ్ఞానం వున్న ఏ వ్యక్తిని మాట్లాడించినా, వారి నోట వచ్చే ఒకే ఒక వాక్యం అవినీతికి వ్యతిరేకంగా పోరాటం సాగించాలన్నదే! అలా మాట్లాడుతున్నవారికి అవినీతి గత చరిత్ర వుండవచ్చు-వుండక పోవచ్చు...ఐనా పోరాటంలో ముందేనంటారు. టెలివిజన్ ఛానళ్లు, దిన-వార-మాస పత్రికలు, హజారే బృందానికి, ప్రభుత్వానికి, లేదా అరుణా రాయ్ లాంటి పౌర సమాజం కార్యకర్తలకు అనుకూలంగానో-వ్యతిరేకంగానో వెల్లడి చేసే వారి అభిప్రాయాలకే పెద్ద పీట వేస్తున్నాయి. అందరిది ఒకే నినాదం..."అవినీతి అంతమొందాలి, లోక్ పాల్ చట్టం రావాలి" అని. ఆ చట్టం ఎలాంటిది అనే విషయంలో మాత్రం భిన్నాభిప్రాయాలు-ఎవరి దారి వారిదే! గతంలో కేంద్రంలోను-రాష్ట్రాలలోను ప్రభుత్వం ఏర్పాటుచేసే అవకాశం వచ్చినప్పుడు అధికారంలో వుండి కూడా ఏమీ చేయని-చేయలేని వారితో సహా, ప్రతి రాజకీయ నాయకుడు, ఆపాదమస్తకం తానేదో నీతిమంతులకు ప్రతిరూపం అనుకుని, తనకున్న పరిధిలోనే లోక్ పాల్ బిల్లును చట్ట సభలో ప్రవేశ పెట్టడానికి కారణమైన ప్రధాని మన్మోహన్ సింగ్ ను తీవ్రంగా విమర్శించే వారే. ఇలాంటి వారు తాము చేయక-చేయలేక పోగా చేసేవాడిని చెయ్యనివ్వరు. విమర్శించడానికి మాత్రం వెనుకాడరు.

అవినీతికి వ్యతిరేకంగా పోరాడాలి అన్న సాకుతో, పార్లమెంటుకు, కార్య నిర్వహణ వ్యవస్థకు, న్యాయ స్థానాలకు, రాజ్యాంగానికి, రూల్ ఆఫ్ లాకు అతీతమైన ఒక సూపర్-డూపర్ నామినేటెడ్ బాడీని ఏర్పాటు చేయాలని పౌర సమాజం ప్రభుత్వాన్ని ఆజ్ఞాపించడం ఎంతవరకు సబబు? దానికి ఈ మహానుభావులంతా వంత పాడడం ఎంతవరకు న్యాయం? అరవై నాలుగు సంవత్సరాల స్వతంత్ర భారత దేశంలో-అరవై రెండు సంవత్సరాల భారత రాజ్యాంగ చరిత్రలో, అంచలంచలుగా బలపడాల్సిన రాజ్యాంగ వ్యవస్థలను, పటిష్టం చేయాల్సిన బాధ్యతను విస్మరించిన రాజకీయ నాయకులనేకమంది, అదే బాధ్యతను ఇన్నాళ్లు విస్మరించిన పౌర సమాజం నాయకులకు వత్తాసు పలకడంలోని ఔచిత్యం ఏమిటి? నలభై రెండేళ్ల క్రితం నాటిన లోక్ పాల్ మొక్కకు నీరు పోసిన వారు-పోయనివారు ఏకమై పోయారిప్పుడు. వాస్తవానికి మనకు రాజ్యాంగం ప్రసాదించిన అవినీతి వ్యతిరేక అస్త్ర-శస్త్రాలను, అదే రాజ్యాంగంలోని అనేకానేక ప్రకరణాలను, ఒకదానికి మరొక టి అనుసంధానం చేసి అవినీతి పరులపై ప్రయోగించడానికి, ఇదే రాజకీయ నాయకులు-పౌర సమాజం ప్రతినిధులు ఆదినుంచి పూనుకున్నట్లయితే, సమస్య ఇంత జటిలమయ్యేదా? అంతా జరిగినాక, ఇప్పుడు రాత్రికి రాత్రే, "సర్వోపతి" లాంటి ఒక దివ్యౌషధం కావాలని ప్రభుత్వంపై పౌర సమాజం ఒత్తిడి తేవడం సమంజసం కాదు.

దశాబ్దంన్నర క్రితం, స్వాతంత్ర్యం వచ్చి ఏబై వసంతాలు పూర్తి చేసుకోనున్న తరుణంలో, నవంబర్ 1996 లో నాటి ప్రధాని దేవె గౌడ, మే 1997 లో ఆయన వారసుడు ఐకె గుజ్రాల్, అన్ని రాష్ట్రాల ప్రధాన కార్యదర్శుల, ముఖ్య మంత్రుల సమావేశాలు నిర్వహించారు. కేంద్ర-రాష్ట్ర స్థాయిలలో బాధ్యతాయుతమైన, పారదర్శకతతో కూడిన పాలన ప్రజలకందించాల్సిన అంశంపై ఏకగ్రీవ తీర్మానాలను ఆ రెండు సభలు ఆమోదించాయి. ప్రభుత్వాలపై ప్రజలకు సడలుతున్న నమ్మకాన్ని ఏ విధంగానైనా నిలబెట్టుకోవాలన్న ఆందోళన వారిలో అప్పట్లో ప్రస్ఫుటంగా కనిపించింది. ఆ సభల దరిమిలా దేశవ్యాప్తంగా ప్రజాభిప్రాయాన్ని, ప్రత్యక్షంగాను-పరోక్షంగాను, సేకరించే ప్రయత్నాలు చేసింది ప్రభుత్వం. ముఖ్యమంత్రుల సమావేశం ముగిసిన ఆరు నెలల లోపు అ సభలో ఆమోదించిన "నవ సూత్ర కార్యాచరణ ప్రణాళిక" కు సంబంధించిన అంశాలను అమలు చేయాలని, అమలు ఎలా జరుగుతున్నదనే విషయాలను ప్రధాన మంత్రి స్వయంగా సమీక్షించాలని నిర్ణయం కూడా జరిగింది. అవినీతికి వ్యతిరేకంగా పోరాటం చేయాలనే ది ఆ ప్రణాళికలో ప్రధానమైన అంశం. అలనాటి నిర్ణయాలే అక్షరాలా అమలు జరిగివుంటే ఈనాడు హజారే ఆందోళన చేయాల్సిన అవసరమే లేదు.

అవినీతికి వ్యతిరేకంగా ఆందోళన చేస్తున్న అన్నా హజారే ఆ నాడూ పౌర జీవితంలోనే వున్నారు. నవ సూత్ర కార్యాచరణ ప్రణాళిక అమలుకు సంబంధించి వైఫల్యాల విషయంలో మాట మాత్రంగా నన్నా, నిరసన తెలియ చేసినట్లయితే, బాగుండేదేమో! అప్పట్లో ఉద్యోగాలలో వుంటూ, నేడు హజారే ఆందోళనకు మద్దతిస్తున్న "పౌర సమాజం నాయకులు" కేజ్రివాల్, కిరణ్ బేడి తదితరులు కొంచెమన్నా గళం విప్పినట్లయితే పరిస్థితులు ఎలా వుండేవో? అలానే శాంతి భూషణ్, ప్రశాంతి భూషణ్ లు తమ న్యాయవాద వృత్తికి కేటాయించిన సమయాన్ని కొంతలో కొంతైనా ప్రజల సమస్యలకు కేటాయించినట్లయితే సమంజసంగా వుండేదేమో! అంతెందుకు...అప్పట్లో ముఖ్యమంత్రుల సమావేశానికి హాజరైన అతిరథ-మహారథులెందరో నేటికీ రాజకీయాలలో చురుగ్గా పాల్గొంటున్నారు. వారిలో కొందరు అధికారంలో, కొందరు ప్రతిపక్షంలో వుంటూ కీలక పాత్ర పోషిస్తున్నారు. ఉదాహరణకు కొన్ని పేర్లు చెప్పుకోవచ్చు..నాటి గుజరాత్ ముఖ్య మంత్రి-ఆ తర్వాత కొన్నాళ్లకు కేంద్ర మంత్రిగా పనిచేసిన శంకర్ సింగ్ వాఘేలా; నాటి ఆంధ్ర ప్రదేశ్ ముఖ్య మంత్రి-నేటి ప్రతిపక్ష నాయకుడు నారా చంద్ర బాబు నాయుడు; అప్పుడు-ఇప్పుడు ఉత్తర ప్రదేశ్ ముఖ్యమంత్రి మాయావతి; ఇప్పుడు నాలుగో దఫా ముఖ్యమంత్రిగా పనిచేస్తున్న నాటి పంజాబ్ ముఖ్యమంత్రి ప్రకాశ్ సింగ్ బాదల్; నాటి బీహార్ ముఖ్యమంత్రి రబ్రీ దేవి-ఆమె భర్త లాలూ ప్రసాద్ యాదవ్; శివ సేనకు చెందిన నాటి మహారాష్ట్ర ముఖ్యమంత్రి మనోహర్ జోషి వీరిలో ప్రముఖులు. ఒకరి వెంట మరొకరు ప్రధానులుగా పనిచేసిన దెవె గౌడ, గుజ్రాల్, అటల్ బిహారీ వాజ్ పాయీలు కూడా రాజకీయాలలో ప్రధాన భూమిక నిర్వహిస్తున్నారింకా. వీరంతా వ్యక్తిగతంగనో-కలిసికట్టుగానో అలనాటి నవ సూత్ర ప్రణాళిక అమలుకు కృషి చేసి వుంటే అవినీతి కొంతలో కొంతన్నా కట్టడి అయివుండేదేమో? ఇప్పుడు మాత్రం వీరంతా అన్నా హజారే జపం చేస్తున్నారు. తప్పంతా తమదికాదని-ఇతరులదేనని వీరి నమ్మకం.

దేవె గౌడ-గుజ్రాల్ ల తర్వాత ప్రధాని పీఠం ఎక్కిన అటల్ బిహారీ వాజ్ పాయి, తమ రాజకీయ కూటమికి చెందిన ఎన్డీఏ జాతీయ ఎజెండాలో (మార్చ్ 18, 1998) అవినీతి నిర్మూలన విషయం పొందుపరిచారు. "పటిష్టమైన లోక్ పాల్ చట్టాన్ని తీసుకొస్తామని, ప్రధానిని కూడా అందులో చేరుస్తామని" ఎన్డీఏ నొక్కి వక్కాణించింది. ఆ తర్వాత, పార్లమెంటులో, ఆ చట్టం తేకపోయినా, "సమాచార స్వేచ్ఛ చట్టం" తీసుకొచ్చింది. చట్టం కాని లోక్ పాల్ కు ఏ గతి పట్టించిందో, అదే గతి సమాచార స్వేచ్ఛ చట్టానికి కూడా పట్టించింది. అది ఎన్డీఏ కాలంలో అమలుకు నోచుకోలేక పోయింది. ఇప్పుడేమో, అన్నా హజారే ఉద్యమానికి భారతీయ జనతా పార్టీ, ఆ పార్టీతో ఎన్డీఏ లో భాగస్వాములుగా నాడు-నేడు వున్న మరికొన్ని పార్టీలు, తమ సంపూర్ణ మద్దతునిస్తున్నాయి. ఇంతకంటే "హిపొక్రసీ" ఇంకేముంటుంది? వాజ్ పాయి ఎన్డీఏ ప్రభుత్వం తర్వాత అధికారంలో కొచ్చిన యుపిఎ ప్రభుత్వం ప్రధాని మన్మోహన్ చొరవతో సమాచార హక్కు చట్టాన్ని తీసుకొచ్చి పటిష్టంగా అమలు చేస్తుంది. ఆ చట్టం రూపకల్పనలో, హజారే నడుపుతున్న పౌర సమాజం లాంటి దానికే సారధ్యం వహిస్తున్న అరుణా రాయ్, నేటి హజారే ఉద్యమంలాగా కాకుండా, సంయమనంతో తన వంతు సహకారాన్ని అందించారు. ఇప్పుడు మన్మోహన్ సింగ్ లోక్ పాల్ బిల్లును కూడా పార్లమెంటులో ప్రవేశ పెట్టారు. అంతవరకు మాత్రం ఆయనను అభినందించాల్సిందే!

రే అయిందేదో అయిందను కుందాం. తన మాట నెగ్గ లేదనుకుని, మరింత పటిష్టమైన లోక్ పాల్ బిల్లు తేవాలని ప్రభుత్వాన్ని కోరటంలో తప్పు లేదనుకుందాం. దాని కొరకు దీక్షకు దిగడంలోను న్యాయం వుందను కుందాం. ఆయన వెంట నడుస్తున్న ఇతర పౌర సమాజం సభ్యులు, హజారే కంటే అధిక స్థాయిలో పట్టుదల ప్రదర్శించడాన్నీ ఒప్పుకుందాం. కాని, తమకు-తమ పౌర సమాజానికి-తమకు మద్దతిస్తున్న వారికి తప్ప ఇతరులెవరికీ లోక్ పాల్ బిల్లు విషయంలో, ఏమీ తెలవదని వాదించడం మాత్రం అన్యాయం. హజారే ఆరోగ్యం పట్ల ఆందోళన చెందిన ప్రభుత్వం-ప్రతి పక్షాలు, పరస్పరం సంప్రదింపులు చేసుకుని, అందరికీ ఆమోదయోగ్యమైన పరిష్కార మార్గాన్ని అన్వేషిస్తున్న సమయంలో తమవంతు సహకారం అందించడంలో హజారే బృందం సరైన పద్ధతిలో వ్యవహరించడం లేదనేది స్పష్టంగా కనిపిస్తోంది.

ప్రభుత్వం ఎన్ని ప్రయత్నాలు చేసినా-ప్రతిపక్షాలు ఎంత సహకారం అందించినా, పరిష్కారం కను చూపు మేరలో కనిపించడం లేదు. జన లోక్‌పాల్‌ బిల్లు పెడతామని ప్రధానమంత్రి లిఖిత పూర్వంగా హామీ ఇవ్వాలని , హజారే బృందం అనడం కంటే విడ్డూరం మరొక టి లేదు. ఒక వైపు తాను మరో తానింకా తొమ్మిది రోజులు దీక్ష చేయగలనని హజారే అంటుంటే, క్షణ-క్షణానికి ఆయన ఆరోగ్యం విషయంలో జాగ్రత్త వహించాలన్న పరోక్ష సలహాతో, ఆయన బృందం సభ్యులు, హజారేకేమన్నా జరుగు తే, ప్రభుత్వం బాధ్యత వహించాలని హెచ్చరికలు చేస్తున్నారు. తాను ఆసుపత్రికి పోయే సమస్యే లేదని చెప్తున్న హజారే, తనను నిర్బంధంగా పోలీసులు పట్టుకెళితే వారిని అడ్డుకోవాలని ఒక వైపు చెప్తూనే-మరో వైపు శాంతియుతంగా ఆందోళన చేయాలని భోదిస్తున్నారు గాంధీ తత్వం పుణికిపుచ్చుకున్న అన్నా హజారే!

ప్రభుత్వం ఎన్నో మెట్లు దిగి వచ్చింది. జన లోక్ పాల్ బిల్లులోని మరికొన్ని అంశాలను, పార్లమెంటు ప్రక్రియ నిబంధనల ప్రకారం ప్రభుత్వం ప్రవేశ పెట్టిన బిల్లులో చేర్చేందుకు సుముఖత వ్యక్తం చేసింది. పార్లమెంటు స్థాయీ సంఘం ఆమోదం పొందడానికి రాజ్యాంగపరంగా ఎలాంటి వెసులుబాటు వుందో పరిశీలిస్తోంది. హజారే నిరసన దీక్ష విరమింప చేయడానికి-ఆయన బృందం సభ్యులు వేసిన పీట ముడిని విప్పడానికి, ప్రభుత్వం, పౌర సమాజం సభ్యులతో, అఖిల పక్షం సభ్యులతో ఉమ్మడి సమావేశాన్ని నిర్వహించింది. పౌర సమాజం సభ్యుల ప్రతినిధులైన కేజ్రీవాల్, కిరణ్ బేడి, ప్రశాంత్ భూషణ్ లు తమ పట్టు సడలించేది లేదన్న రీతిలో వ్యవహరించా రక్కడ. సిపిఎం నాయకుడు సీతారాం ఏచూరి, బిజెపి నాయకురాలు సుష్మా స్వరాజ్, ఇతర రాజకీయ పార్టీల నాయకులందరూ ఒక్క విషయంలో ప్రభుత్వానికి అండగా నిలిచారని చెప్పొచ్చు. పార్లమెంటు సార్వభౌమాధికారం, శాసన ప్రక్రియ, న్యాయ స్థానాల హక్కులకు ఎలాంటి భంగం వాటిల్లకుండా లోక్ పాల్ బిల్లులో మార్పులు-చేర్పులు చేయాలన్నది వారి మాటల్లో స్ఫురించింది. అలాగే హజారే దీక్షను విరమించుకోవాలని కూడా అందరూ అభిప్రాయ పడ్డారు.

సమస్యకు పరిష్కారం దొరుకుతుందన్న ఆశాభావం ప్రధాని పదే-పదే వ్యక్తం చేశారు. లోక్ సభలో అవినీతిపై జరిగిన చర్చకు తనదైన శైలిలో సమాధానం ఇచ్చారు. లోక్ పాల్ బిల్లును చట్ట సభలో ప్రవేశ పెట్టడానికి ఒకరకంగా కారణ భూతుడైన అన్నా హజారేకు "అభివాదం" చేస్తున్నానని వినమ్రంగా చెప్పారు. జన్ లోక పాల్ ముసాయిదాతో సహా, అరుణా రాయ్, జయప్రకాశ్ నారాయణ్ లాంటి వారి ముసాయిదాలను కూడా పార్లమెంటులో చర్చకు చేపట్టి సభ్యుల అభిప్రాయాలను తెలుసుకునేందుకు ప్రభుత్వం సంసిద్ధతను వ్యక్త పరిచారు ప్రధాని. ప్రతిపక్ష నాయకురాలు సుష్మా స్వరాజ్, సభాపతి మీరా కుమార్ లు కూడా అన్నా హజారేను దీక్ష విరమించాలని విజ్ఞప్తి చేశారు. ఇంతకంటే ముందు, సుప్రీం కోర్టు మాజీ ప్రధాన న్యాయమూర్తి జస్టిస్ వర్మను జోక్యం చేసుకోమని-హజారే నిరాహార దీక్ష విరమింప చేయాలని ప్రధాని ఆయనను కోరినట్లు వార్తలొచ్చాయి. ఇదిలా వుంటే, మరోవైపు మంకు పట్టు వీడని అన్నా హజారే బృందం, ప్రధాని నివాసం ఎదుట ఆందోళన చేయాలని పిలుపిచ్చింది.

దీక్ష చేపట్టడం ఎంత ముఖ్యమో, సమయం వచ్చినప్పుడు దీక్ష విరమించడం కూడా అంతే ముఖ్యమని మహాత్మా గాంధీ నిరూపించారు. గాంధీ స్ఫూర్తితో దీక్ష చేస్తున్నానంటున్న హజారే పట్టుదలకు పోకుండా, చర్చల ద్వారా అందరికీ ఆమోదయోగ్యమైన లోక్ పాల్ చట్టాన్ని ప్రభుత్వం తెచ్చేలా చేస్తే మంచిదే మో!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

“Mad Dog of the Middle East” is finished: Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

“Mad Dog of the Middle East” is finished

Libya’s Colonel Qaddafi-Longest Serving Ruler in History

Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Libyan leader Gaddafi’s four decade long rule and his six-month-old battle for control over Libya has come to an end. US President Obama expressed his total happiness on the Libyan developments and commented that “Qaddafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Qaddafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya and needs to relinquish power once and for all”. What else can he say?

Thanks to Obama and his team, Tunisian President Zine Ben Ali stepped down after 23 years in power. Hosni Mubarak was ousted following large scale demonstrations in Egypt. Thousands of protesters poured in to streets in the biggest antigovernment demonstration in the Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain. Arab state Yemen saw mass protests demanding change in government. And now it is the turn of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi to face the wrath of his country people similar to that of Tunisia, Bahrain and Egypt. Qaddafi is on his way out.

Libya-an oil-rich nation has been under the firm and erratic control of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi since he seized power in 1969. But in February 2011, the unrest sweeping through much of the Arab world erupted in several Libyan cities. The faltering government of Qaddafi struck back at the mounting protests of rebellion.

Qaddafi took power in a bloodless coup in September 1969 and has ruled with an iron fist, seeking to spread Libya’s influence in Africa. He has built his rule on a cult of personality and a network of family and tribal alliances supported by Libya’s oil revenues. Internationally, he is regarded as an erratic and quixotic figure that travels with an escort of female bodyguards and likes to live in a large tent of the kind used by desert nomads.

The modern history of independent Libya began in 1951. On 21 November 1949 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution stating that Libya should become independent before First January 1952. Prior to 2nd World War Libya was a colony of Italy until Italian forces were driven out by the Allies in 1943. Libya came under the control of France and the UK as a UN Trusteeship in 1947 when Italy formally relinquished its claim to Libya. As part of the arrangement the United Kingdom and France governed the three historical regions of Libya, namely Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan. On 24 December 1951, Libya declared its independence-the country being called as the United Kingdom of Libya, and Idris being offered the crown. Two years after independence, on 28 March 1953, Libya joined the Arab League.

In April 1955, oil exploration started in the kingdom and oil drastically improved Libya's finances. The monarchy came to an end on 1 September 1969 when a group of military officers led by Qaddafi staged a coup against King Idris while he was in Turkey for medical treatment. After that the popular revolt in Libya in February 2011 is the latest and bloodiest so far.

Colonel Qaddafi - an admirer of Egyptian President Late Gamal Abdel Nasser and his Arab Socialist and nationalist ideology while he was in his teens - is the longest serving of all current non-royal national leaders and is one of the longest serving rulers in history. He is also the longest-serving ruler of Libya. Qaddafi took part in anti-Israel demonstrations during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Following the removal of King Idris the 27-year-old Qaddafi proclaimed the “Libyan Arab Republic”. Qaddafi turned Libya into anti-western radicals’ center. Qaddafi instead of calling himself as General accepted to be called as Colonel.

In 1977 Libya became a Direct Democracy governed by the people through local popular councils and communes. Qaddafi based his new regime on a blend of Arab Nationalism, aspects of the Welfare State, and what Qaddafi termed as "Direct, Popular Democracy". He called this system “Islamic Socialism" and imposed a system of Islamic morals outlawing alcohol and gambling. In March 2008 Qaddafi announced his intention to dissolve the country's existing administrative structure and disburse oil revenue directly to the people. He has been a strong supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which support ultimately harmed Libya's relations with Egypt resulting in Qaddafi’s seeking closer relations with the Soviet Union.

Notable in Qaddafi’s politics was his support for liberation movements in West Africa as well as Muslim groups. The Reagan administration viewed Libya as an aggressive rogue state because of its support for revolutionary Iran in the 1980–1988 war against Saddam Husain’s Iraq, and its backing of liberation movements in the developing world. Reagan called Qaddafi the "Mad Dog of the Middle East”. Later developments led to strained diplomatic relations between USA and Libya for a long time.

Following the overthrow of Saddam Husain in 2003, Qaddafi announced his willingness to allow international inspectors into his country to observe and dismantle weaponry of mass destruction program by them. International inspectors unearthed several tons of chemical weaponry in Libya, as well as an active nuclear weapons program. As the process of destroying these weapons continued, Libya improved its cooperation with international monitoring regimes. In March 2004, British PM Tony Blair became one of the first Western leaders in decades to visit Libya and publicly meet Qaddafi. Blair praised Gaddafi's acts, and stated that he hoped Libya could be a strong ally in the international War on Terrorism.

On 15 May 2006, the USA announced that it would restore full diplomatic relations with Libya. However in June 2008, Qaddafi strongly criticized US presidential candidate Barack Obama for saying Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel. During the G8 Summit in July 2008 as Chairman of the African Union Qaddafi shook hands with US President Barack Obama - the first time the Libyan leader has been greeted by a serving US president.

As one of the continent's longest-serving post-colonial heads of state, the Libyan leader enjoys a reputation among many Africans as an individualist statesman. Qaddafi is also seen by many Africans as a humanitarian, pouring large amounts of money into sub-Saharan states. Large numbers of Africans have come to Libya to take advantage of the availability of jobs there, despite the weak private sector.

Mass movements, agitations, rebellions and large scale protests and demonstrations that have been taking place in the Arab World in the recent past are different from the military coups of yester years. Neither in the past nor at present there remains little hope that the people there would be able to get in to a democratic system. It looks like the army personnel in these countries have chosen a different strategy different from the past and provoking people to achieve their game plan. Only when democracies are established in these countries, there is a meaning to revolt. Or else it is just moving from one dictator to another dictator. But…the Million Dollar Question is about the role of USA in the Arab World Destabilization? Is it not USA that is going to be the ultimate beneficiary?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Anna Hazare: Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Anna Hazare

Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Hazare was born on 15 June 1937. Hazare started his career in the Indian Army as a driver in 1963. He took voluntary retirement from the army in 1978 and went to his native village. In 1980, the Grain Bank was started by him at the temple in his village and later milk production was promoted. It was Anna Harare’s moral leadership that motivated and inspired the people of his village to shun un-touchability and discrimination against the Dalits. Hazare campaigned between 1998 and 2006 for amending the Gram Sabha Act, so that the villagers have a say in the development works in their village. In 1991 Hazare launched the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Aandolan (BVJA) - the People's Movement against Corruption. In May 1997 Hazare protested against alleged malpractices in the purchase of power looms by the Maharashtra Government and was imprisoned in the Yerawada Jail to serve a three-month sentence from September 1998. The sentencing came as a huge shock at that time to all social activists. Leaders of all political parties except the BJP and the Shiva Sena came in support of him.

In 2003 corruption charges were raised by Hazare against four NCP ministers of the Maharashtra Congress-NCP coalition government. He started his fast unto death on 9 August 2003 and ended on 17 August 2003 after Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde formed a one-man commission headed by Justice PB Savant to probe his charges. Three trusts headed by Anna Hazare were also indicted in the P. B. Savant commission report. Rs 220,000 spent by the Hind Swaraj Trust for Anna Harare’s birthday celebrations was concluded by the commission as illegal and amounting to a corrupt practice.

In the early 2000s Hazare led a movement in Maharashtra state which forced the state government to pass a stronger Maharashtra Right to Information Act. This Act was later considered as the base document for the RTI Act 2005. On 20 July 2006 the Union Cabinet amended the Right to Information Act 2005 to exclude the file noting by the government officials from its purview. Hazare began his fast unto death on 9 August 2006 against the proposed amendment. He ended his fast on 19 August 2006, after the government agreed to change its earlier decision.

Anna fought hard for a law whereby a government servant must clear a file within a specified time and that transfers must take place only after three years. After many years of relentless efforts of Anna, finally on 25 May 2006 state government of Maharashtra issued a notification announcing that the execution of the special act, The Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act 2006, aimed at curbing the delay by its officers and employees in discharging their duties. This act provides for disciplinary action against officials who move files slowly and enables monitoring officials who stay too long in a post, or in a department, and for involvement in a corrupt nexus.

In 2007, Anna Hazare opposed the Maharashtra Government’s policy to promote making liquor from food grains in Maharashtra. Hazare was on fast for five days at Shirdi in March 2010 and ended only after government promised to review the policy. Among the beneficiaries of that policy were BJP leader Gopinath Munde’s daughter Pankaja Palwe and her husband Charudatta Palwe. Anna filed a PIL against the Government. Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court refused to hear a Public Interest Litigation.

In 2011, Hazare initiated a Satyagraha movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal bill in the Parliament. Hazare began his fast unto death on 5 April 2011 in Delhi to press for the demand to form a joint committee of the representatives of the Government and the civil society to draft a stronger anti-corruption bill. On 8 April 2011 the Government of India accepted all demands of the movement. On 9 April 2011 Gazette notification was issued on formation of a joint committee. On 9 April 2011 Hazare ended his hunger strike and set a deadline of 15 August 2011 to pass the Lokpal Bill in the Parliament and if not will call for a mass nation-wide agitation.

During the meeting of the joint drafting committee on 30 May 2011, the Union government members opposed the inclusion of the prime minister, higher judiciary and the acts of the Parliament Members under the purview of the Lokpal in the draft bill. Anna Hazare and other civil society members decided to boycott the meeting of the joint Lokpal Bill drafting committee scheduled on 6 June 2011 and sent a letter to the chairman of the committee, explaining reasons for their absence at the meeting and also asked government to make its stand public on the contentious issues related to the proposed draft legislation. They also decided that the future meetings will be attended only if they were telecast live. Anna Hazare threatened to go on indefinite fast from 16 August 2011 if the Lokpal Bill is not passed by then.

On 28 July 2011 the Union Cabinet approved a draft of the Lokpal Bill, which keeps the Prime Minister and Judiciary from the ambit of the proposed Lokpal. Hazare rejected the government version by describing it as “cruel joke’’. On 16 August 2011, Hazare was arrested four hours before the planned indefinite hunger strike and was sent to Tihar Jail. Government agreed to release Hazare from jail and allow him to begin a public hunger strike of fifteen days. On 20 August 2011 Hazare left the Tihar Jail for the Ramlila Grounds and began his fast there.

(Source: Google Search Engine)