Aam Jan Lokpal, UIDs: A third view

Today, in addition to Aam Jan Lokpal, the country seeks liberation from non-governmental institutions which takes birth due to legislations passed by British Parliament in 1860 and 1882. Gopal Krishnaexplains. Krishna is an environmental and civil rights activist. He can be contacted at krishna2777@gmail.com.

Gopal Krishna

इस लेख को हिंदी में यहाँ पढ़ा जा सकता है.

Is there even an iota of doubt that independence from this colonial legacy will make movements democratic and holistic? Will Parliament and the State’s legislative assemblies take steps to dismantle this colonial law that creates non-governmental institutions in the country?

Historical and political understanding of most non-governmental institutions can be gauged from the fact that the Unique Identity Number/Aadhaar number / National Population Register which is a chain for slavery deemed to be a solution just because of touching faith in discredited rulers and the companies.

One of the most recent Wikileaks indicates that former dictator Hosni Mubarak and his regime handed over the database of UID card to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

On June 29, 2011 Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh met six editors to speak on corruption and Lokpal, but instead, he implied that Unique Identity Number/ Aadhaar Number being created by the chairperson of Unique Identification Authority of India and former Infosys CEO Nandan Manohar Nilekani to deal with corruption.

Surprisingly, non-government institutions in general have failed to fathom the threats posed by commercials czars who have proposed the Centralised Identities Data Register.

If the goal is to change the system instead of change in the ruling party, Lokpal alone is not sufficient. Most people involved with the ‘total revolution’ movement in the 1970s have opened their own departmental stores, shops and non-governmental institutions who had led a similar anti-corruption movement.

Before they take retirement or be left in the pit of oblivion, they must answer as why did they abandon their own call for ‘total revolution’? Why they did not deconstruct in the context of their movement and failure in the context of world history. Why they made total revolution’ as meaningless word?

If it is indeed about change in the system, where is the manifesto of the change?  There are at least five things that merit attention in this regard. One is sarkari Lokpal Bill, the second Jan Lokpal, the third is Aam Jan Lokpal, fourth is National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 and the Companies Bill 2009.

With regard to the first three there is an apparent agreement that on one issue that country’s political and administrative system have been poisoned by the business enterprises and company’s owners. Quite cunningly, these enterprises and owners have engineered seemingly irreconcilable confrontation.

Among these three my consent is with the Aam Jan Lokpal. But the real issue is the intent of the government since early 1960s.

Recently, in the Parliament Library one came across Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill that was introduced on May 9, 1968 by the then Home Minister Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chavan was in the Lok Sabha.

Lokpal Bill, 1977 that introduced by the then Home Minister Charan Singh when Shanti Bhushan was the Law Minister in the aftermath of the call for ‘total revolution’ and after the change of ruling political party in the Lok Sabha in 1977.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 1971 was introduced by the then Home Minister Ram Niwas Mirdha, In 1985, Law Minister Ashok Kumar Sen, in 1989, the Law Minister Dinesh Govswami, in 1996, S.R.Balasubramaniam, Minister of State of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension, in 1998, M R Janarthanan, Minister of State of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension and in 2001, Minister of State of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension Kadambur Vasundhara Raje were introduced in the Lok Sabha.

Once again, the 40-page Lokpal Bill, 2011 was introduced on August 4, 2011 in Lok Sabha by V Narayanasamy, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension Minister. As per PTI news report dated August 8, 2011, Vice President and the Chairman of Rajya Sabha Hamid Ansari has referred the Bill to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances headed by Rajya Sabha member of Parliament and spokesman of Indian National Congress, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the Congress.

The government has introduced it and the parliamentary committee would look into it ‘This Committee has vacancy for six more MPs. In coming days, who all are recruited from different political parties would be interesting.

Is there anyone in the Parliament and outside the Parliament to explain why the Lokpal Bill was introduced from 1968 to 1977 by the Home Ministry, then by the Ministry of Law and from 1985 the Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension till 2011?

Does it not reflect lower priority accorded to the Bill by successive governments? Why is it that when it became clear that from 1968 to 2001 there was consistent failure to pass the Bill by the Lok Sabha, still why has it been introduced in the Lok Sabha? Why such a historic and vital legislation has again been put on the weak shoulders of the Lok Sabha?

While one wishes that there is genuine dialogue between Aam Jan Lokpal or Jan Lokpal which is likely to happen in due course, the fact is that government is not serious even about its own Bill else it would have introduced it in the Rajya Sabha as it did in the case of Women’s Reservation Bill.

The current government’s Bill is going to meet same fate of such Bills in the past. Almost all parties who are in the Parliament have been in the government. They worked very hard but so far the political parties have failed to muster enough political will to get the Lokpal Bill passed by the Parliament.

The same lack of political will is on display in the matter of Unique Identification/Aadhaar Number and the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 wherein a global surveillance regime is emerging as the real weapon against the government, the civil society and the present and future generation of citizens.

This exercise reveals that government of India holds Parliament in contempt because without Parliament’s consent dehumanising biometric data based 10.9 million unique Identity/aadhaar number/ number has been created which is linked to the National Population Register under Home Ministry.

Such identification which the Prime Minister feels is required for combating corruption is based on like fingerprints etc is done for criminals and even Mahatma Gandhi had opposed it.

This transformational government project that has failed in United Kingdom is being undertaken by the prime minister and Nilekani at the behest of an international financial institution is divorced from democratic pulse of India and caters to new generation biometric technology and self-identification companies.

Nilekani says, “When this law is in front of the appropriate standing committee, why do we need an agitation? It escapes me why this is going on,” in the country against corruption, as if he is an alien who does not know the fate of the reports of the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Lokpal Bill that was prepared and tabled in the Parliament in 1996, 1998 and 2001.

Will the PM and Nilekani explain as to what is the worth of these parliamentary reports now and what is meaning of Parliament when Ministry of Planning inserts Section 57 challenging the might of the Parliament in the National Identification Authority Bill that makes Parliament a rubber stamp in the matter of globally abandoned anti-corruption tool UID Number.

As long as Section 57 is there in this Bill Parliament’s sovereignty and its competence to deal with even the Lokpal Bill stands compromised.

Political will has been compromised due to up to five per cent of annual profits of companies reaching the treasury of political parties otherwise how Companies Bill, 2009 based on the recommendations of JJ Irani Committee be deemed a Bill where citizens’ will is reflected.

The Bill makes provision for only one person to make a company-One Person Company Limited. The India Economic Census 2005, revealed that the country has 4.2 million non-farm enterprises and less than 3 lakh Companies.

This is an exercise in the corportisation of the whole of non-farm enterprises. It appears to be an engineered act of legislative corruption that merits more consideration than Lokpal Bill before it is passed by the Parliament given the fact that Verappa Moily, the new Minister of Corporate Affairs has stated that its passage is his priority.

How can Lokpal Bill be accorded more time energy and space of country when at stake is collective intelligence of citizens and the Parliament so that companies do not become more powerful than our Parliament and laws become their artifacts and not the artifacts of the legislature.

How the ‘company’ as entity be dealt with present callousness in law making by ignoring that June 23rd 2011, the 254th   Anniversary of our collective defeat and exploitation at the hand of the British East India Company?

It was this defeat that gave British Parliament the authority to legislate in relation to undivided India. How can Companies Bill 2009, an instrument of future loot by companies be accepted with innocence or ignorance?

This is an instrument which is likely to eventually corporatise government and parliament. Will corporate media and creations of British Parliament-the NGOs be expected to act to stop privatization of government and the legislatures?

Jan Lokpal is showing a mirror to sarkari Lokpal, which is fine. While Hazre’s team and related NGOs seem to be articulating the repressed anguish of vast majority of those who suffer from black money, but they have so far not shown any blueprint of that can dismantle the political and economic system that is based on corporate corruption and show what changes will enable its replacement.

The formation of non-governmental institutions through laws of 1860 and 1882 is legal but it isn’t social, democratic or constitutional.

Most of these NGOs do not remember the that Mahatma Gandhi had opposed the Asiatic Registration Act, 1907 because he opposed finger print based identification of the British government under the law which gave identity cards to Asians and Indians.

He had termed this law as Black Act and burnt it after his research showed that “fingerprints based identification was needed only for criminals”.

Anna Hazare’s team and related NGOs must look in the mirror of Mahatma Gandhi too.

In fact, except for few non-governmental institutions most are banyan trees in a pot and rootless. Their existence alone is a constant reminder of the acts of omissions of the British Parliament in the aftermath of 1857.

These institutions do not represent the general public. If some of them speak about the dictatorship of companies, their crimes and about their funding of political parties openly, one can respect them, but they cannot say that they represent the citizens of India.

As per a 2009 estimate there are 3.3 million Non-Governmental Organisations more than schools and hospitals in the country. If all of them come together even then none can say that they are speaking on behalf of all the citizens of India.

As a consequence of the legislation of 1860 and 1882 by the British Parliament, undivided India (including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Sri Lanka) although people of this region are crying tears of blood, there is apparently an insurmountable difficulty in building a robust people’s movement.

Non-governmental institutions in general have fragmented the people’s movement by usurping citizens’ space by ‘representing’ them and not letting them represent themselves through sponsored platform politics instead of people’s politics.

For the sake of citizens sovereignty of the present and future generations and as a step in the direction of freedom movement that commenced in 1857, these laws must be repealed. There is a need for a white paper on non-governmental institutions that came into since 1860.

There are some people among them who realize that NGO-based movements will eventually reveal their fake character but still they remain associated with them in the absence of visible alternatives for peoples’ movement.

There is surely a scope for dialogue between Aam Jan Lokpal who hope for genuinely democratic  peoples’ movement and the Jan Lokpal if they can communicate that they support the call for repeal of NGO-related laws of the British Parliament, Company Bill, and National Identification Authority of India Bill that is meant to provide pre-dated legislative approval for the UID exercise, besides creating a shared holistic manifesto for change, instead of talking in fragments, then a democratic platform can be built where being citizen is the only condition for its membership and not being a professional or the association with any corporate entity in myriad disguises.