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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Consumerist Laws


No economy, least of all ours, where half the people lead an existence below the poverty level, can support the middle class dream of unbridled consumerism.  So it has been quick to learn the ropes of the “world of market efficiency with its corruption and dirty tricks” to fulfil its essentially unachievable dream.  You cannot embrace the market, the profit society ruled by the consumer king and keep away corrupt practices.  But then the middle class does not only want to eat well and live well, it also likes to think well of itself.  A generalized and diffuse sense of grievance against the “system” nicely   relegates   the individual guilt to a “collective” from which they are automatically excluded.  The newly invented myth that the laws are inadequate justifies the demand for the all-conquering thunderbolt to strike the mightiest of the corrupt.  The unqualified support of the Jan Lokpal Bill is the most articulate expression of their middle class ontology.  Any serious discussion of the bill therefore, must be foregrounded in the Dr. Jekyll-and-Hyde character of the movement.  Many of those who light candles or keep vigil for the TV cameras are also part of the anonymous and shadowy “corrupt system”.


The utopian thinking which favours radical and subversive solutions even a recasting of the institutions and practices that create the social order has teamed up with the consumerist urge.  Never satisfied with what is on offer, these drives ceaselessly demand ever greater things; the bar is progressively raised, the aims go higher and higher.  The consumerist urge is both fuelled and satiated by a longing for newer and shinier merchandise and disposing off the old.  The use value is supplanted by the sign value.  Otherwise the proposed Lokpal bill – the authorized version of it – that we are so agitated about would not have been such a do-or-die imperative.  We have a roster of laws in the arsenal – precision guided to eliminate corruption, black money and acts of financial malfeasance.


It is in this context that one would like to raise the tactless and undiplomatic question – in what respect has the P.C. Act 1988 been tested and found wanting in the context of investigations.  In tandem with the RTI it can take care of the corrupt practices lowly peon as well the PM of the country.  If it shakes in craven terror when it comes to calling into account the mightiest, the fault certainly lies with those who are wielding the authority under that Act, not the Act itself.  I am all for the strongest possible Lokpal Act; it is always comfortable to have an ICBM tucked away somewhere in the silo.  My worry is our dismal track record in terms of our use of the available weapons.


The Prevention of Corruption Act by outlawing the giving and taking of crime obligates the entire society to an honest conduct and yet the nation is outraged and helpless before its all pervasive corruption.  What is the purpose of law if no one obeys it?  How do we administer a society which throws up people against whom the law itself hides behind legal lacunae and legerdemain?  The CBI, an organization which appeared to have been carved out of pure awe, (was it till yesterday?) - suffers from a serious crisis of credibility today.  The laws that it has been dealing with have become more lethal.  The institution of the CAG has been there all the while and no one took much notice.  Then comes a man called Vinod Rai and suddenly the nation wakes up to its tremendous powers and anti corruption potential.  To bring up the counterfactual, a serial grabber of post-retirement assignments has all but killed the Right to Information Act in a particular state.


Corruption just like AIDS: is not a disease but a syndrome.  It is the manifestation of a society which has turned immunodeficient; a society which can no longer depend on its own antibodies, its moral defences .  In the present context it is more important to make better men; for that we have to reform our society a little bit. One can be a very efficient minder of other people’s morality: the difficult part is watching your own conduct.


Gandhi sought the terms of his appeal by delving deep into himself; for him the political was never divorced from the moral.  Is there a Gandhi today who could lead a civil obedience movement to exhort his followers to obey just one injunction – of not paying or accepting bribe; admittedly an action as heroic as those of our forefathers, who faced bullets in the freedom movement?  In his second coming, could a Gandhi produce enough number of men commensurate in their moral worth on a regular basis to the the perfectionist Lokpal assignments?


If that were not to be, the Lokpal Act would be another consumerist indulgence.

12 comments:

Neeraj Singh said...

Absolutely in agreement. While I still like the way the team fought for government to re-think their strategy on an effective law on corruption, the government should have seized the opportunity & made the existing laws more effective. Anna's team nailed them to think but beyond that both parties failed - Both Anna's team as well as the government (parliament). They could still have made CBI removed from the govt clutches, they could have still made CVC just like the CEC, they could still have done what not, but that wasn't meant to be so.

Er. AMOD KUMAR said...

Respected Sir,
Since you have written every truth of Lokpal Act, I am Absolutely
agree with your all thoughts. utopian thinking is always harmful in all the manner.
This is exactly true sentence you have mentioned that "If that were not to be, the Lokpal Act would be another consumerist indulgence." We are very much thankful to you for a nice post.
With kind regards.

pratyush kaushik said...

I do agree with you sir, that Lokpal act is going to be another sheer indulgence in sheer consumerism that is bent upon shearing off anything that is old instead of upholding and adhering rules that has already been laid down.

abhishek said...

Respected sir,
Corruption and the like evil practices as we know them today are like gravity, all it takes is a little push. Dear Sir, as it is clearly pointed out by you that laws like Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 already exists but what does not exists is the adherence to such laws. To this my opinion is that the – ‘Best judge is our inner conscience’ and we must focus on introspection of our own conscience. The purpose of any law (whether Lokpal or any other) would be frustrated till we elevate this conscience, so that even a push into so called “gravity” would not make us fall down but make us soar high.
With due regards...

Manoje Nath said...

thanks neeraj ,amod pratyush abhishek. with every passing day the goal to a corruption free socity is receding further and further. may be younger people like you have a solution.

Khandelwal PK said...

I agree that India has more laws then we need including on anti corruption. Bottom line is, how to make citizens follow this and governing agencies implement against those who don't. There are so many silly laws that its difficult to comply with all and at some time or other everyone end up doing something illegal, and that's waht adminstration want. Such opportunities give the adminstration to show their authority and most of the time its not for resolving but for settlement.

रजनीश said...

Sir, I am fully agree with your view. Proper implementation of existing rules are needed in stead bothering a new one.

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Ujjwal said...

Totally in agreement Mausa. The laws of this country are a subset of our value system and are reciprocal in nature. One cannot delineate one from the other. We cannot afford to engage in any shadow boxing of any mythical corrupt figure. Corruption is insidious and pervasive through all classes and professions. Just the way we elect the government we deserve, so also the laws that govern us are reflective of who and what we are.
In a perfect world, a public collective awareness should replace jingoism. When the dust settles after the nationwide dharnas / vigils on lokpal and it’s time to go home, then is a time, to evaluate and monitor ourselves.
I attribute reasons for corruption even beyond the economy and consumerism and all related evils. Our every day values need to be revisited and which get relegated to grandiose phrases such as “ Cultural Heritage, Rich Social Diaspora and Sexual Values” . The Indian on the street is imbued with a false moral superiority and frequently confuses –“the moral for the cultural”. Yet the very same person is not averse to a little bit of cheating on the side and an active double speak. Our every day value systems have to be that much stronger so as to effect a change in the laws that govern us.
Ujjwal

ajoyipsbhr85 said...

The Janlokpal Bill of Team Anna is absurd.. undemocratic... and unlikely to make a dent in the Corruption Scene of India...
a much Stronger Janlokpal Bill is available on www.badalav.com
i am entirely in agreement with the view that it is not the problem with the law, it is the Implementing Agency which is the problem...
The Executive, the Judiciary have not been able to deliver to the Citizen of India...
those who are impressionable and optimistic, may get carried over by the media propaganda over Janlokpal Bill of Team Anna [which does not have the blessings of Anna anymore] but the fact of the matter remains that it was drafted by individuals, who had/have no idea about fighting corruption and championed by individuals, who have not been able to demonstrate unimpeachable integrity..
we the people of India must respect Institutions, if we want to keep Anarchy away, and the Janlokpal of team Anna has the potential of bringing in anarchy...
serious National Issues are not matters of time-pass and need deeper study and in-depth analysis...
India cannot get rid of the menace of Corruption, unless the Citizen of India gives to itself the Right against Corruption and the Right to Fight against Corruption...!
how will the Peshkar of a Court feel if someone starts to video-record the Court-room proceedings, when every witness is demanded and made to pay the Customary Dastoori to the Peshkar in full view of the Court...?
once as SP Vigilance when i witnessed this inside a Court-room, and asked the Presiding Officer of the Court about whether he was unable to see it... he was unable to answer. he at once retired to his Chamber and i would have been lynched in the Court-room itself, had i not been a Police Officer of substance... and that gave me the idea of a Right against Corruption and the Right to Fight Corruption...

Anonymous said...

sir,
now that u r a free citizen of India and no longer a Zealot, why don't u do away with the Comment Moderation...?
give unto others the same freedom that u give to urself

Manoje Nath said...

anonymous,
I am in absolute agreement abut the freedom part but only spams are moderated and i get them in a ratio of 100 to 1 .should you be suspecting that critical comments are moderated well you can look up the one in hindi
in one of the newer posts .