Millennium Post

Kejriwal is serious about ending graft

With thousands of calls received on the anti-graft helpline barely a day after it was launched, it seems that Delhi is more than ready to embrace Arvind Kejriwal’s vision of a corruption-free politics in the national capital. While the UPA government passed the Lokpal Act in December last year, nothing could be more ironical. Already, the government is in the dock for trying to tamper with cost audit rules in new Companies Act, which, when it comes to effect in April this year, might pave way for mammoth corporations to get away with even bigger chunks of public money and leave gaping holes in the government exchequer. India is a glaring example of how policies, that sound brilliant on paper and appear pro-people, in effect turn out to be as hollow as any other, letting certain sections of the corporate and political elite enjoy still greater perks in the garb of helping the masses. Hence, while it’s wonderful that AAP has launched the anti-bribery helpline, where people can call and register their complaints, the moot point still remains how effective this new strategy is going to be. The cleanup that AAP has launched is certainly a good start and it bodes well for a future of more accountability and transparency in the system, if it is able to keep up the momentum. Halving power tariff and allotting 650 litres of free water to every domestic connection were promises kept, and Kejriwal has already proved that he is serious about delivering on all the party’s pre-poll declarations. Since bribe taking and giving happen to be one of the cardinal evils eating away at the heart of the state apparatus, Kejriwal’s helpline would, at least in symbolic terms, cut ice in people’s minds and perhaps might also succeed in instill a fear of resorting to graft (which hitherto has been a way of life among the public officials, including cops, bureaucrats, ministers), thus making a dent in the wider psychology of accepting corruption as integral to the system.  
AAP’s ‘experiment in truth and anti-corruption’, with their insistence on record-keeping, digital specifically, is in sync with its larger citizen-driven participatory politics. Hence, when the Delhi CM says that everyone now is an ‘anti-corruption inspector and prosecutor’, he creates a sense of power and a force to sweep clean the dust of dishonesty that has buried the governance structures and public institutions. By promising to empower everyone, AAP has been tapping into the gigantic reservoir of civil energy, and by fueling a quasi-vigilantism, albeit also preaching tolerance for each other, the party is striking at the heart of the rigid and multi-layered apartheid that dictated political and social formations in the country. Of course, whether or not it succeeds in reality will be for time to tell but AAP certainly has roused the political sentiments in everyone, bringing out the political animal, the inner citizen, from the disgruntled hearts and minds of the common people. Moreover, unlike the Congress and its penchant for overstatements, AAP must steer clear of gimmicky rules and regulations built around hypes and insist on creating a mythology of their own.
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