Anna Hazare: I Asked PM Whether His Team Shares His Values

On April 5, Anna Hazare will begin a fast unto death if the Prime Minister does not commit to instituting a tougher Lokpal (or Ombudsman) Bill. Hazare believes this Bill will go a long way in reducing corruption

Published: Mar 31, 2011
Anna Hazare: I Asked PM Whether His Team Shares His Values
Image: Indiatodayimages.com
Anna Hazare

Kisan Baburao Hazare a.k.a. Anna Hazare
Age:
73
Career: Served in Indian Army as a driver for 15 years. He has been an activist since he left the army around 1975 and has been one of the main persons responsible for the Right to Information Act. Has been working in other areas like development of villages, and against corruption
Education: Studied till the standard seven; has a doctorate from Gandhigram Rural Institute, Deemed University
Hobbies: Reading, especially Swami Vivekananda’s works

What is lacking in the current draft of the Lokpal Bill?
The current legislation gives no power to... people. If a person has any complaint then he... is expected to get in touch with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. We should use things such as SMSes to ease the process of raising a complaint. Secondly, this law should not be under the government. This institution should be independent of the government just like the High Courts or the Election Commission. To dissuade corruption, we must have strict action against the guilty.

Is that not the case right now?

No. At present the penalty is not commensurate to the amount of corruption. For example, A. Raja has swindled Rs. 1.76 lakh crore. He went to jail and within four months he is out while he has made enough money for five generations... the money should be recovered from his property and other assets. Only then will the people be afraid of committing corruption.

So how can we improve the prosecution process?
The Bill should be drafted by equal number of members from the civil society and the government. If we leave it to the government... the Bill will not have [strict enough] provisions.

Corruption has been a long-standing problem in India. What prompted you to call for a fast unto death now?
Today, the poor man in India can barely survive. This trend has increased under the UPA because it is a coalition. Bulk of their [the coalition partners’] time is spent managing each other like in the case of A. Raja. But the prime minister (PM) has repeatedly said that the guilty will be punished. That is just misleading the people. He is the PM… why doesn’t he decide? When I met the PM... I asked him whether all his Cabinet colleagues share his values and views.

So what was his response?
He just kept quiet (laughs). It seems he does not have the power to effect change… matters are remote controlled [by someone else]. So now there is just one way [to bring about change]. And that is through public pressure. The government will only listen when it feels there is enough public pressure to threaten even its existence.

Corruption is not limited to the government. It is more widespread. Are you confident that the people will join you in this fight against corruption?
Yatha raja, ratha praja [The people closely follow the ruler]. If the ruler is corrupt then even the ruled become corrupt. Today there is a decline in the moral rectitude of the ruler... the situation has reached a tipping point and that will ensure that people join in.

How do you plan to take this movement forward?
I do not know how many will join. But I have Arvind Kejriwal, Baba Ramdevji, Swami Agnivesh and Sri Sri Ravishankarji... We have already received six crore SMSes... and 55 lakh [people] have assured that they are with us. And this inspires me and gives me hope.

(The interview was conducted in Hindi)

(This story appears in the 08 April, 2011 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Dhivakar Gopal

    Sir , I believe in youth politics . Is there any sign for it ?

    on Apr 24, 2011
  • Sasha

    Keep doing ur hardwork surely u will succeed. Ma bestest hopes r wid u.

    on Apr 17, 2011
  • Mohammad Waheed

    What a Development in Bihar without water & power supply. Visited Siwan town for four days hardly one hour electricity within duration of 12 hours. Siwan is one of important town of north Bihar. Latest Bihar government Development since last six years: some construction of roads and control of crime through police power. Corruption is extreme by Police and 'Babus', power supply became from bad to worse. Who is praising Bihar on what basis? I am asking to follower of Mr. Anna Hazare explain reason for praise. Political power shifted from mafia to Police and 'Babus'

    on Apr 16, 2011
  • Jaya Nair

    India, a beautiful nation with all natural resources and brilliance. I am a proud Indian but at times disappointed why some of the politicians are greedy and selfish. Over 60 years of independence we are still struggling to have a good administration. It is time now for all educated women, men and youth should extend all their support to Anna Hazare and should work together for a clean sweep in civil administration across the country. It is not as simple as we think, but nothing impossible with todays young generation who is well focused with broader outlook. It is time for a United India Movement. There are many born leaders in our country, request, it is time for them to come out and act to save the nation. Jai Hind !!!

    on Apr 10, 2011
  • Dr K Chaudhry

    We do not have provision to pay what our national leaders deserve in lieu of their service. Since 1950, ALL leaders had been deriving their genuine remunerations through corruption. They developed the country in return. India would not suffer if every minister siphons away money in crores and works for development of nation. Now situation has transformed into nation sell out. As per financial strategy of technocrat prime minister, every minister tends to mint money from cheating, prostitution, gambling, and such other activities. A billion rupees every day, every hour, every minute. The Indian economy cannot bear that quantum. Telecom Minister is perpetually the most corrupt constituent of government - as evident from Sukh Ram episode. Unfortunately, the current most corrupt constituent is from my own Jalandhar. Anna Hazare and Ram Dev's cleaning operation should begin with Kapil Sibal.

    on Apr 9, 2011
  • D

    EVERY town in India has a sex racket run by a magistrate, a revenue officer (ITO/STO), a police officer, some teachers and politicians. Sex racket members receive instant employment and speedy promotions - particularly as special police officer and girls' hostel warden.

    on Apr 7, 2011
  • Balagopal Keeran

    Politicians who care for the country and its citizens will agree that Anna's campaign is in line with the need of the hour and help them overcome their corrupt colleagues. It is only the anti-national or corrupt politicians/sarkari babus/criminals who are plundering the nation who are afraid of this movement and trying their best to do what they have been successfully doing for the last 42 years. Their time is over for Anna has awakened the sleeping common man. You cannot fool all the people, all the time.

    on Apr 6, 2011
  • Prakas V K

    Yes Anna Hazare is on a very good mission. Our PM, Chairman UPA should ensure that it better not to be in power than with corrupt coalition partners. Very very... very dis-heartening to see missing good opportunities. Surely Govt and UPA is decaying day by day.

    on Apr 6, 2011
  • Ravinder Reddy

    We are with you to fight against corruption in this prestigious country. Not all the public are MAD as the leaders are presuming.

    on Apr 5, 2011
  • Ravinder Reddy

    It is the right time to fight against corruption which is our main hurdle to our nation development.

    on Apr 5, 2011
  • Dev Padhi

    I support anna hazare and baba Ramdev. Almost all corrupted political leaders r now afraid of Bharat Swabhiman Movement.

    on Apr 2, 2011
  • Umashankar Sharma

    Great thought I , my All Friends & my family with you---with wishes

    on Apr 2, 2011
  • Jagoindia

    We are with you....Best Wishes !!!

    on Apr 1, 2011
  • Jagoindiajago

    Great Thought ! From long time many Indians thinking of some leader who can initiate the fight against corruption. Definately all Indians will join you...Best Wishes !!!

    on Apr 1, 2011
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