Corruption, an empty signifier: the need for a Bahujan Lokpal Bill

by Khalid Anis Ansari

I agree broadly that a caste slant will not help much even when it is writ large in the agenda of the forces that are supporting Anna. This is out and out a populist movement and populism has coexisted along with formal democracies right since its inception. In a way populism is also the barometer of democratic functioning and its emergence signals the lacunae in the principle of representation. The basic problem is that peoples’ concerns and issues are not finding expression in the formal democratic apparatus and so this movement is a reality check for the system and must pressurize it to deepen democracy by initiating and launching debates on electoral, judicial and other much needed reforms. It is not only the mechanism of Lokpal which finds mention in the Constitution but other important features like the setting up of an All India Judicial Commission on the patterns of UPSC (Article 312), etc, are also there. Why a certain issue (corruption) becomes a matter of life and death and other equally relevant issues (Article 312, etc) are marginalized are political moves and are governed squarely by class/caste interests. Obviously, corruption is a grave problem. But corruption is also an empty signifier and its meaning is fixed and produced through the hegemonic struggle. From the vantage point of dalit-bahujan politics the first task would be to contest Anna’s articulation of corruption and then to indicate at its superficiality and class/caste character. Then a counter-hegemonic bahujan populist movement can be launched that focuses on systemic reforms in a more substantive manner.

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I cannot support this present movement by Anna Hazare. I am in favor of those populist movements that can pressurize democracy and create openings for reforms that benefit the subaltern. A supra-parliamentary Jan Lokpal and a very interventionist and unaccountable judiciary are a horror for the dalit-bahujan masses. All said and done the legislature is most respectful of social diversity as far as the three organs of government are concerned. The executive is bad and the judiciary is the worst in this regard. So I am presently in favor of taking the ‘political’ route than the civil society one which is in any way a club of the chattering classes. And, the option of entering Anna’s movement and hegemonizing it from within still looks a distant reality to me at present given the enormous corporate, media and civil society support to the movement. I think the dalit-bahujan has remote chances in creating a discursive shift in the present Anna movement as the factors, are structural and not merely subjective in nature. The caste-class antagonism is a structural feature of India’s political economy and informs the social stratification in various direct and indirect ways. So I am in favor of a separate dalit-bahujan movement that can take up popular issues like corruption, electricity, schooling, etc. The ‘reservationist frame’ dominant in dalit-bahujan politics has eclipsed that so far but in time the popular issues will have to be taken up the bahujan organizations as well. I think Anna’s team knows exactly what they are doing. We should know what we can and what we should do! Now it is time to introduce dalitbahujan clauses in the bill. We need to think further on this and develop meaningful strategies.

Image: Round Table India presents Unnamati Syama Sundar’s cartoon on the Anna phenomenon

R.Prakash
Post Box # 46,Mavelikara-690101
Kerala,India.
Mob- +91 99 46 75 71 78 / +91 8907704079

WHO IS AFRAID OF CASTE CENSUS…?

Kancha Ilaiah

Ever since the Centre announced that it would collect data on various castes during the ongoing Census, the media has created a hue and cry saying that this would harm the nation and open a Pandora’s Box of caste conflicts. On the other hand, those who seek caste enumeration are of the view that this would clear the cobwebs and deliver proper data on other backward classes (OBCs) that will help implement reservation policies and welfare schemes better.

The collection of caste data was not a decision taken by the government on its own. The OBC leadership across the country has demanded it and the Supreme Court advised the Centre to go for such a Census to ensure that an accurate population database was made available.

Let us not forget the fact that even at the time of the 2001 Census there was a strong demand for caste census. The then deputy Prime Minister L.K Advani, in fact, went on record to say that caste data would be collected. But Right-wing academic forces — particularly a group of sociologists and anthropologists — advised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government not to go for such an enumeration as it would go against the interests of the ruling upper castes and communities.

It should be noted that the opposition to caste data has been coming from upper castes that still control the levers of power. The lower castes have never opposed such a proposal.

It is fallacious to argue that society would get further divided if the population of each caste is known to the policymakers and to the public.

Caste culture is all around us. In the dalit-bahujan discourse, the upper castes are being shown as constituting less than 15 per cent. This could be totally wrong. Even within the lower castes there are several false claims about numbers. Every caste claims that it is numerically the strongest and keeps asking for its "rightful" share.

How to tell them that their claims are wrong? When caste has become such an important category of day-to-day reckoning it is important to have proper data at hand to tell communities that they constitute this much and cannot ask for more than their share.

It is true that we cannot distribute everything based on caste. But caste census is the right basis for statistics such as literacy rate and issues like the proportion of representation. Once we cite the Census data there cannot be any authentic opposition to that evidence.

The upper caste intelligentsia is afraid that once detailed data on number of people in lower castes is available it would become a major ground for asking for accurate proportional representation in certain sectors, such as education and employment.

For example, once the caste data is available, the 50 per cent limit on reservations imposed by the Supreme Court could be questioned on the basis of numbers. This would in turn help in sustaining the overall system of liberal democracy. The system of democracy would only get deeper with the discourse of numbers.

Democracy is in effect a system of numbers unlike communism, which does not deal with numbers while institutionalising a government. In a democracy, the governing system is institutionalised through an electoral process and in such a system the people must be counted from all angles — sex, race, religion, caste and so on. In a democracy based on numbers, any section of society can come to power.

Based on the counting on the basis of religion, Hindus have realised that they are the majority. And because of that understanding they have claimed power. When Mahatma Gandhi suggested that Muhammed Ali Jinnah should be made the first Prime Minister in order to avoid Partition, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel put forth the argument that India was a Hindu-majority nation and would not accept a Muslim as its first Prime Minister. Where did the notion of Hindu majoritarianism come from? It came from numbers.

With the same logic what is wrong if women, cutting across religious divides, count themselves, and organise themselves to come to power? They constitute about 50 per cent of the population and if they want to fight for gender democracy, they too can come to power. So should there be a demand for abolition of gender enumeration, too?

If caste census is done, the India democracy would thrive on the firm support of the lower castes who keep hoping of getting their share based on their numbers. The upper castes may feel desolate with the system of democracy itself, if this shift begins to take place. They might call such a shift "castocracy". But would they call a state or a nation being ruled by women "womenocracy"?

Cognitive social psychology says all such theories are constructed on a convenience known as "comfort zone". If brown upper castes live in white societies they see brown bashing but black bashing remains hidden in their blind spots. In white societies the browns are not in their comfort zone but in India they are and do not want to see the other’s "discomfort zone".

Many upper caste intellectuals say that caste was a construction of the colonial census system. They talk as if caste never existed before the British started an enumerative process. By their logic we should come to the conclusion that before the British enumerated people based on religion, there were no religions in India. There are many such blind spots in India and that is why we still remain backward in theories of knowledge.

Let all castes — not just OBCs — be counted for strengthening our democratic system. I know that even mine is a blind-spot theory but it may have the effect of an antidote.

[ Courtesy: The Asian Age, June 11, 2010 ]

R.Prakash
Post Box # 46,Mavelikara-690101
Kerala,India.
Mob- +91 99 46 75 71 78 / +91 8907704079

MEMORANDUM OF VIEWS AND SUGESTIONS ON LOKPAL BILL 2011 (BILL NO 39 OF 2011)

by Savidhan Bachao Andolan

Constitution_of_India.jpg

To,

Shri K P Singh,

Director,

Rajya Sabha Secretariat

201, Second Floor,

Parliament House Annexe,

New Delhi – 110 001

MEMORANDUM OF VIEWS AND SUGESTIONS ON LOKPAL BILL 2011 (BILL NO 39 OF 2011)

Sir,

This is in reference to the Newspaper advertisement No davp 31202/11/0019/1112, where in Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievance, Law and Justice have invited views and opinions on the Lokpal Bill that is posted on the website of Rajya Sabha. I have read the bill in detail and my views and suggestions are as follows:

(1) The heart of the Lokpal bill is to constitute a mechanism for dealing with complaints of corruption against public functionaries in higher places. However there are many instances of corruption by functionaries in the corporate sector which had duped the public in the past. To cite a few examples – Harshad Mehta scam, Satyam, Telgi, Citibank scams and school admission donations. At the moment, accountability is disproportionately inclined towards public functionaries in comparison to corporate. Also the Right to Information Act 2005 is not applicable in corporate or private institutions. Hence it is suggested to include corporate and private functionaries within the ambit of Lokpal Bill.

(2) As per the clause 17 (f) of the Lokpal Bill, the jurisdiction of inquiry of Lokpal extends to the societies or associations or trust that are wholly or partially funded or aided by the Government. While this is a welcome move, the media is completely left out from the ambit of the Lokpal Bill. ‘Paid news’ and ‘Paid opinion polls’ that influence the public opinion is a bad precedent. Hence it is suggested that media be brought under the ambit of Lokpal as it the fourth pillar of democracy.

(3) As per the clause 17 (f) of the Lokpal Bill, the jurisdiction of inquiry of Lokpal does not extend to societies or associations or trust that are constituted for religious purposes. Large numbers of people donate money in religious institutions which is managed by these societies or associations or trust. Sadly, some of these societies or associations or trusts have become safe havens of black money which some people dispose off in the name of donation. The societies or associations or trust have become richer day by day at the cost of loss to the Government exchequer. Take the most recent example of Sai Baba Trust where unaccounted crores of rupees and other wealth were found after Sai Baba’s death. And the trust itself is worth Rupees 1.4 lakh crores as per media reports, which is 50 times the annual budget of Government of India’s flag ship program – Sarva Siksha Abhyiyan. On top of that, majority (80 percentages) of the population in India are Hindus, who worship in Hindu temples. However many of these Hindu temples are controlled by the Brahmins, as is their birth right, as prescribed by the Hindu religious scriptures. Also the bylaws of these societies or associations or trust are formulated in such discriminatory way that they directly or indirectly exclude non Brahmi sections from their management. Isn’t it strange that Brahmins are entirely excluded from accountability to the public? Hence it is suggested to include in the ambit of Lokpal such societies or associations or trust that are constituted for religious purposes.

(4) The clause 4 (1) of the Lokpal Bill lists the members of selection committee to recommend appointment of Lokpal. The selection committee does not have representation from disadvantaged sections of the society viz – women, SC, ST and minorities to safe guard their interest. Hence it is suggested to include (a) Chairperson of National Women’s Commission, (b) Chairperson of SC / ST Commission and (c) Chairperson of National Commission of Minorities in the Selection Committee.

(5) The clause 2 (b) of the Lokpal Bill specifies that the Members of the Lokpal should not exceed eight of whom fifty percent shall be judicial member. There is no mention of inclusion of members from disadvantaged sections of the society viz – women, SC, ST and minorities communities as members in the Lokpal. The representation needs to be in terms of proportions in the population and recommendations made by various commissions from time to time. Hence it is suggested that apart from fifty percent judicial representation to include fifty percent representation for women, twenty five percent representation from SC / ST and twenty percent for minorities in the Lokpal.

(6) The clause 49 (1) of the Lokpal bill deals with offenses and penalties when a false and frivolous or vexatious complaint is made under the Act (Lokpal). Sometimes, it is seen that such a false and frivolous or vexatious complaint is knowingly made against an SC / ST functionary for harassment due to the prevailing societal prejudice. Hence it is suggested that if such a false and frivolous or vexatious complaint is made against and SC / ST functionaries then the relevant clauses under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 also need to be invoked and needs mention in the Lokpal Bill. These clauses from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 could be clauses 3.1 (ix), 3.2 (i), 3.2 (ii), 3.2. (vi) and 7.

(7) I have my full concurrence to all the clauses and sub-sections in the Lokpal Bill 2011 other than that mentioned above for suggestions to improve upon.

(8) The suggested additions other than the clauses and sub-sections in the Lokpal Bill 2011 are as follows:

a. It is observed that many a times the common man is connected with lower level of public functionaries and suffers due to indulgency in corrupt practices by any functionary. Hence it is suggested to include the lower level of public and private functionaries in the Lokpal Bill as well.

b. There needs to be a mechanism in which common man can blow the whistle and indicate corruption. Hence a website to register complaints and a common telephone number needs to be provisioned for this purpose as a via media for the common man to indicate possible corruption. Necessary clauses need to be included for the protection of rights of such whistle blower.

c. There have been instances in the past where funds allocated for the SC / ST subplan from the Government of India have been misused / diverted for the use that have not benefitted these disadvantaged communities. Take an instance of diversion of funds from SC / ST subplan to the Common Wealth Funds. This is against the Planning Commission guidelines. Hence it is suggested that diversions of funds from the SC / ST subplan should come automatically under the preview of Lokpal and the treated as offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989. If required then necessary amendments need to made under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989.

d. It has been observed that there are numerous cash flows during the election time. The marginalized communities viz: women, SC, ST and minorities that are the most disadvantaged and have less cash stands deprived. Hence it is recommended that election expenses also be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal Bill.

I am of the view that the Lokpal should not be above the Judiciary and the Prime Minister and a separate mechanism similar to the Election Commission needs to be constituted in the country. I trust that there will be a favorable response to my proposition.

Yours sincerely

All Members

Savidhan Bachao Andolan

R.Prakash
Post Box # 46,Mavelikara-690101
Kerala,India.
Mob- +91 99 46 75 71 78 / +91 8907704079

Israel: God’s Chosen People@ The fate of Palestine……………………….?

Israel: God’s Chosen People

Israel: God’s Chosen People


Israel, a country the size of New Jersey can make almost EXCLUSIVE claim to the following achievements:

• Israel was established upon the ruins of another nation that it destroyed; Palestine
• Israel hold the world record in the number of towns & villages it ethnically cleansed…500+
• Israel holds the world record in the number of refugees it deported…4 million +
• Israel holds the world record in the number of homes it demolished…60 thousand +
• Israel is the country with the highest record of UN condemnation…500+ times
• Israel is the country with the highest number of protective US Security council vetoes…100+ times
• Israel has killed more innocent civilians per capita than any other country…50 thousand+
• Israel has imprisoned more civilians per capita than any other country…250 thousand+
• Israel has rendered more innocent civilians handicapped per capita than any other country…50 thousand+
• Israel has injured more innocent civilians per capita than any other country…200 thousand+
• Israel has only two countries to defend its policies in the United Nations. These countries are America & Micronesia. The population for Micronesia as of June 2008 is only 108,000
• Israel is the only country on Earth that denies the right of return of refugees
• Israel is the only country on Earth that still occupies a whole other country & parts of two other countries
• Israel is the only country on Earth that publicly, steals the water of its neighbors
• Israel is the only country on Earth that has legalized home demolishing as a method of collective punishment
• Israel is the only country on Earth that uproots trees as a method of collective punishment


• Israel is the only country on Earth that deliberately targets civilian infrastructure and justifies it
• Israel is the only country on Earth that legalized assassination
• Israel stands unique in using human shields in military operations
• Amongst all countries, Israel is the only one that has legalized torture
• Israel is the only country on Earth that builds illegal settlements in occupied lands
• Israel is the only country on Earth that publicly jails activists without trial
• According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Israel has created the highest number of checkpoints
• According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Israel holds the world record in the number of curfew it has installed on the Palestinians
• Israel is the only country on Earth whose checkpoints deny women access to hospitals, they give birth alone and babies usually die
• Israel is exceptional in being the only country on Earth whose checkpoints deny patients access to hospitals, and they end up dying
• Israel is the only country on Earth whose checkpoints are where wedding parades come to an end
• Israel is the only country on Earth who check points schoolchildren, denies them access to school, and puts an end to their classes
• Israel is one of two countries that, against International Law, use cluster bombs and depleted uranium bombs. America is the other…what a surprise huh?
• Israel holds the world record in the number of soldiers refusing to serve in the army
• Israel despite being a rich country, receives the highest financial aid, more than the sum aid to all sub-Saharan Africa!
• Israel claims its enemies want to wipe it off the map, but it has indeed wiped a whole country called Palestine off the map!
• Israel is the country that has introduced nuclear weapons into the Middle East. But the only country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty

• Israel is the only country that still has a segregation wall
• Second to South Africa, Israel is the only country to establish an apartheid regime
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first iron gates on roads
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first cities turned into jails with gates and opening hours
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first apartheid walls
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first electrified segregation fences
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first ‘eyes specific’ rubber bullets
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first abortion efficient, infant killing tear gas
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first humiliation guaranteed human cages
• Israel is the only country on Earth that has a political party that publicly advocates ethnic cleansing of native citizens (Palestinians)
• Israel is the only country on Earth that still has racist laws that discriminate against native citizens (Palestinians)
• Israel is the only country on Earth known to have a memorial dedicated to a terrorist where his followers gather and dance
• Israel is the only country on Earth that imprisons kids for political reasons
• Israel is the only country on Earth where you get a one month community service for intentionally, smashing the head of a child! How much more proof do people need to see that Israel is a terrorist nation? Confused?
• Israel is the only country on Earth that does not hold its soldiers accountable for shooting peace activists in cold blood
• No other country on Earth has towns and cities allocated exclusively for one ethnic group
• The only country on Earth, where people live in homes stolen from living refugees is, Israel
• The only place on Earth where people cultivate fields stolen from living refugees is, Israel
• Israel has the highest number of towns built upon ethnically cleansed villages, whose former residents are living refugees
• Israel ranks amongst the top countries in lack of security

Posted by Faisal Tehrani at 9:24 AM

Never Forgive, Never Forget

– by Stephen Lendman
My Photo
After covering Libya’s rape since last winter in dozens of articles, no forgiving or forgetting is possible for one of history’s great crimes.

Nor is ignoring those responsible, condemning them forthrightly, and explaining why all wars are waged.

NATO outdid Orwell on this one, killing truth by calling war the responsibility to protect – by terrorizing, attacking, and slaughtering civilians like psychopathic assassins.

As a result, honest historians will redefine barbarism to explain NATO’s savagery. It includes ongoing crimes of war and against humanity for the most malevolent reasons.

When is war not war? It’s when committing cold-blooded murder is called the right thing. When major media scoundrels cheerlead it, and when most people believe it because they’re too indifferent, uncaring or lazy to learn the truth.

NATO’s rape of Libya is too ugly for proper words to describe. Only honest images can do it, and lots of them.

Instead, the Big Lie substitutes for honest journalism, especially on television where real (not fake) visuals can show mangled bodies, mass destruction, and other evidence of NATO crimes.

Where civilian deaths can be shown graphically in living color. Where responsibility can be placed where it belongs. Where right and wrong can best be explained. Where repetition can arouse public outrage. Where proper analysis in advance perhaps can prevent all wars.

None are liberating, lawful, or virtuous. All are shamelessly exploitive. Libya’s one of the worst – unscrupulously benefitting powerful interests criminally, ruthlessly, and diabolically.

It doesn’t get any worse than that. Ask Lybians. They’ll explain.

Leading America’s Pack Journalistic Lying

The New York Times is America’s lead propaganda instrument, its reports getting enough global coverage to make a difference.

From the start, it cheerled war with Libya. It played the same role in Afghanistan, Iraq, and all previous US wars, deceiving its readers by dishonest journalism, commentaries, and editorials.

August 26 was no different. Two articles among others stand out. David Kirkpatrick wrote one headlined, "As Qaddafi Forces Retreat, a Newly Freed Imam Encourages Forgiveness," saying:

Pro-NATO Sheik Abdul Ghani Aboughreis helped incite last winter’s uprising "with a fiery Friday sermon at the Mourad Agha mosque. His words sent thousands of demonstrators pouring into the streets. (His) mosque and neighborhood became a center of revolt and resistance…."

After six months of shamelessly supporting death and destruction against his own people, he now encourages "forgiv(ing) each other, to make sure to leave it to the law and not take revenge on each other."

As in all his Libya war articles, Kirkpatrick left unexplained months of crimes of war and against humanity, committed by NATO and paramilitary killers.
Instead, he highlighted alleged evidence of ongoing Gaddafi loyalist crimes.

In times of war, both sides commit them, but whatever government forces did pale compared to NATO’s savagery and its hired assassins. Kirkpatrick and other Times writers failed to notice.

Anthony Shadid and Kareem Hahim were no better headlining, "Grim Evidence of Fighting’s Toll Becomes Clearer in Libya," saying:

"As the fighting died down in Tripoli on Friday, the scope and savagery of the violence during the nearly weeklong battle for control of the capital began to come into sharper focus."

Evidence he cites is a shameful Amnesty International report (based on freed Al Qaeda and other paramilitary prisoners), saying:

AI "uncovered evidence that forces loyal to (Gaddafi) have killed numerous detainees held at two military camps in Tripoli on 23 and 24 August."

Perhaps so if other insurgents freed them, attacked Gaddafi forces in the process, and they fought back.

Instead, AI said:

"Loyalist forces in Libya must immediately stop such killings of captives, and both sides must commit to ensuring no harm comes to prisoners in their custody."

Like UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, AI tries to have it both ways, ruining everything it gets right by reports like this – equating horrendous NATO crimes with lesser ones committed by Gaddafi forces, perhaps many less than imagined. The fog of war makes it hard to know precisely.

Instead, Shadid and Hahim’s article was shamelessly one sided. While citing clear evidence of rebel-committed atrocities, their article claimed:

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