We have seen the issue of the Lokpal bill capture our attention like nothing before. Tempers have run high on both sides - the civil society and the political class. Most of the political class realise that this is the potential time bomb waiting to blast, and, blast if it did, many so-called leaders will sink in oblivion..forgotten for ever.
The question that comes to mind is whether this struggle to create an institution will in itself help in the fight against corruption. Lokpal, by itself, would be an authority with powers to investigate and bring the rich and powerful political class and others at deciding levels in governance or other authorities to book So, in a sense, Lokpal is sought to be a deterrence. So were the police and judiciary, when we started out.
Will deterrence help in curbing corruption? or is it possible that we see a replay of all that has happened to our institutions in the past. Vested interests shall try everything in the book or otherwise to impede the Lokpal and weaken the whole institution by appointing "men of straw" to office.
Deterrence has never helped in curbing crime and it will not help in curbing or eliminating corruption.
How does this go forward?
Do we wait for the process of evolution to take its own time - people to reform from within so that the need to be corrupt itself is eliminated..This sounds utopian and almost impossible given current social conditions and especially when the current underlying theme of acquiring money, power, pelf and control runs very strong.
Is there sense in creating such institutions and hope that innate goodness in humans takes over and we start moving to the right track.There is no clear answer and it appears that cynics are having a field day. Sceptics seem to say "I told you so....there is nothing one can do"...
I am more sanguine and perhaps feel that awareness amongst people about such matters is very high. There is an emotional identification with the revolution sought to be started by Anna Hazare. There is anger and disgust amongst the middle classes. It will require the frail and dimunitive figure of Anna saheb to convert this to a mass revolution with a belief that the change we so desperately need can be ushered in.
When I looked at it from all angles, I felt that the Lokpal is a new institution brought into existence with a lot of thought and wide participation. Further, we can be vigilant and prevent its deterioration. More importantly, when every other institution is deeply mired in mess and has lost credibility, we have something that may deliver what is expected of it.
Society can, .meanwhile, make all efforts to voluntarily clean up its act.