“Quotes Compiled” from Shiva Kant Jha’s Legal Potpourri published in 2008-2009 on taxindiaonline.com

“Quotes Compiled” from Shiva Kant Jha’s Legal Potpourri published in 2008-2009 on taxindiaonline.com
By Nandini Choudhary, Maryland U.S.A.
“Success in litigation, or anywhere else, does not mean always that Truth is on its side.” (Legal Potpourri, Nov 14, 2008)
“Strange somnambulism and the Brownian motion seem endemic as much with our government as with its decorated advisors.” (Legal Potpourri, Nov 28, 2008)
There is a point when it is said that decisions are first taken, reasons are then arrived at. Logic is the obedient servant to its masters, whosoever they be. (Legal Potpourri, November 28, 2008)
“But the pursuit at meaning is most often to negotiate through the Scylla of Mnemonic Irrelevances of the judges and the Charybdis of their Stock-respnses: the first is the impermissible intrusion of the judge’s own past and personality, the second is their rigidness not to leave their groove come what may.” (Legal Potpourri, November 28, 2008)
“In such situation the only way to protect the Constitution would be the ultima ratio of ‘We, the People’: change through a referendum, if possible; or through a revolution if no other option left.” (Legal Potpourri, Dec.12. 2008)
“…. it is the destiny of all who dedicate themselves to public good to work trudge on the life’s difficult ridge with iron in his soul.” (Legal Potpourri , Dec.12. 2008)
“The real cause of the crisis in the global economic architecture is Greed which subsumes into its sinister service inventiveness and imagination.” (Legal Potpourri, Dec. 26. 2008)
“The real cause is, when all is said, the inexorable operation of the Law of Karma. Krishna was right in telling Arjuna that we are ourselves our friends and foes.” (Legal Potpourri , Dec. 26. 2008)
“The problem of the judicial delay is best solved by balancing what is stated in the well-known dicta: “Justice delayed is justice denied” and ” Justice hurried is justice buried”. To work this calculus one requires skill and judicial sensibility.” (Legal Potpourri, Dec. 26. 2008)
“But Justice must see realities of our society to respond to the deeds of Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ of the Market, and also the misdeeds of the economic gladiators of our day.” (Legal Potpourri, Dec. 26. 2008)
“In life’s frustrating criss-cross, Goddess of Justice assures some soothing vernal breeze. More she reigns with majesty, higher we ascend in culture and civilization.” (Legal Potpourri , Dec. 26. 2008)
“But it is a strange irony that what is most devastatingly important principle is most often not recognized It is TIME.” (Legal Potpourri of Jan. 9, 2009)
“We cannot afford to go back to the days of the Nawab of Awadh when, whilst the imperial forces were on his head, the Nawab was playing with pigeons.” (Legal Potpourri of Jan. 9, 2009)
“Great judges of our times do not feel cribbed and confined by the narrow perception of Judicial Role cut to the Procrustean bed of the maxim “Judicis est jus dicere – non Dare, which pithily expounds the duty of the court: it is to decide what the law is, and apply it, and not to make it.” (Legal Potpourri of Jan. 9, 2009)
“Judges are artists with moral vision. They administer justice with materials more malleable than 24-carat gold. This puts on them great responsibility. Whilst many mortals stand before their bar as the suppliants, they themselves stand before the Bar of ‘We, the People.'” (Legal Potpourri of Jan. 9, 2009)
“At times we tend to become the victims of our romantic visions of figments and phantoms.” (Legal Potpourri of Jan. 23, 2009)
“The citizens of this Republic, miserable and destitute though they often are, are the holders of the highest office under this Republic: they are its citizens before whom all institutions, the executive, legislative, and judicial are on trial.” (Legal Potpourri of Jan. 23, 2009)
“We believe that, in the end, the verdict of destiny would surely attest our national motto Satyameva Jayate (Truth Alone Triumphs) and our national conviction in Tamaso Ma Jyotrigamaya (Lead me from darkness to Light). For the present: just ‘Amen’.” (Legal Potpourri of Jan. 23, 2009)
“We have seen in the recent years an evident a atherosclerosis in judicial creativity mainly because of the high pressure pleadings for the ideas spawned by the neo-liberal paradigm now being battered by the most worrisome financial melt-down, at best singing only its swansong.” (Legal Potpourri of Jan. 23, 2009)
“POWER is always delicious: brute power is most delicious whether exercised from the stage or via green-room.” (Legal Potpourri of Feb. 6, 2009)
“We hope, some institution of this country of the ‘low arousal’ people rises to the occasion to do something effective to remove the democratic deficit.” (Legal Potpourri of Feb. 6, 2009)
“In the society of our low arousal people and low arousal institutions, a PIL petitioner brings a cause before the Court only to get administrative lawlessness stopped, and to compel the public authorities to discharge their legal duty.” (Legal Potpourri of Feb. 6, 2009)
“Bereft of all temporal and spatial excrescences, the Bhagavad-Gita , the Koran and the Bible have this profound vision of the moral structure of the universe at their heart.” (Legal Potpourri of Feb. 20, 2009)
“It is obvious to any discriminating person to see that the political ideas wrung from the operative political realities of the 18th to the 20th centuries have controlled, cabined and confined the prevailing juristic thinking.” (Legal Potpourri of Feb. 20, 2009)
“The western oeuvre proves, most so in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, that the greatest logician that the West has yet produced is Satan, and his lieutenant Mephistopheles.” (Legal Potpourri of Feb. 20, 2009)
“Gandhi is now in our country almost forgotten…. Now the Mahatma laughs at the currency notes, but is downcast on gazing at us in the Supreme Court campus!” (Legal Potpourri of Feb. 20, 2009)
“The ‘socialist ‘mission, as conceived under our Constitution, has its roots, and is derived from, the collective consciousness of our people most powerfully expressed in the Bhagavadgita. What has been done over these years is a morbid story of bathos, pathos, and sinister irony.” (Legal Potpourri of March 6, 2009)
“EVERY reader must be aware of a proverb: “Fools & their money are soon parted”. (Legal Potpourri of March 6, 2009)
“Our Government suffers from ‘financial deficit’, ‘moral deficit’, ‘democratic deficit’ and no less gruesome ‘knowledge deficit’ when up against the foreign sharks and the multinationals who rule the roost the world around.” (Legal Potpourri of March 6, 2009)
‘But the most worrisome problem that we face is that our citizenry is anesthetically naïve about what is happening to our country on account of the sharp and sullied operations from outside.” (Legal Potpourri of March 20, 2009)
“But the most worrisome problem that we face is that our citizenry is anesthetically naïve about what is happening to our country on account of the sharp and sullied operations from outside.” (Legal Potpourri of March 20, 2009)
“The wielders of power must accept what the Delhi High Court had said: ” No law encourages opaque system to prevail.” We hope soon a new chapter would begin.” (Legal Potpourri of March 20, 2009)
“I told the Court the story of A Rickshaw Puller Vs A Rickshaw Puller.” (Legal Potpourri of April 3, 2009)
“Management. The Economic Globalization is a contrivance begetting the present-day economic architecture of the world in which there is a ruthless subjugation of the political realm to the economic realm.” (Legal Potpourri of April 17, 2009)
“Neo-liberal capitalism in the present form is surely a collective sin: its remedies lie in honest collective efforts.” (Legal Potpourri of April 17, 2009)
“The purpose of this short leaf is to initiate a discussion on the points suggested. If this ever happens, my drudgery is well rewarded.” (Legal Potpourri of May1, 2009)
“Assumptions’ and ‘assertions’ seem to rule the roost in economic deliberations.” (Legal Potpourri of May1, 2009)
“Einstein wrote to Lorentz in Holland “that men always need some idiotic fiction in the name of which they can face one another. Once it was religion, now it is the State”. On scanning the present realities, shouldn’t we say: “Once it was religion, then it was the State, now it is the Market, Pax Mercatus”. (Legal Potpourri of May1, 2009)
‘I hope that this good work thus begun would not get lost in sand. Didn’t Lord Krishna say in the Gita: “A noble work is never lost even if it precedes only a few steps towards its goal”. (Legal Potpourri of May 15, 2009)
“Not to say of questioning Kings, we have even questioned God who without demur accepted His duty to explain”. (Legal Potpourri of May 15, 2009)
‘Such words facilitate the work of the crooks and cranks, knaves and fools, the go-getters and the greed-setters (or suitors).” (Legal Potpourri of May 29, 2009)
“So, after all, what is there in face? We would, like Titania , love to kiss the face of a donkey rather than that of a Leviathan who could smile and smile and yet be a villain…..What mattes, when all is said, is whether one posses ‘human heart’.” (Legal Potpourri of May 29, 2009)
‘I was wondering why a person is ill at ease with the judicial creativity in the permissible zone; unless under the present-day rule of market (pax mercatus ) he believes in the noxious idea of judicial withdrawal rhyming and chiming well with the much-hyped withdrawal of the government from welfare activities.” (Legal Potpourri of May 29, 2009)
‘ …..this Economic Paradigm of the Economic Globalization under which ‘patriotism’ stands quoted at the national stock exchange at minus zero!” (Legal Potpourri of May 29, 2009)
“The syncretic culture about which the Ramayana speaks is more pro bono publico than our present-day ‘secularism’ and egalitarianism whose combined spectrum surges from religious neutrality to outright public immorality.” (Legal Potpourri of May 29, 2009)
“THERE are good reasons to believe that our constitution-framers’ socialist vision received a powerful expression in our Constitution, a virtual ‘objective correlative’ to express their aspirations.” (Legal Potpourri, July 10, 2009)
“It is really tragic to note that our jurists have never appreciated this fact because their western orientation never freed them from the blinkers forged out of the Western borrowings.” (Legal Potpourri, July 10, 2009)
“‘Social Justice’ is the very purpose of our polity, and the very heart of our Constitution and this requires creation of conditions for all so that quality of life improves.” (Legal Potpourri, July 10, 2009)
“Consumerism is sin till the last man receives just treatment. Human beings must not be treated as commodities for trade.” (Legal Potpourri, July 10, 2009)
“A little bird bids me to reflect on the model of the economic growth we have set in our country.” (Legal Potpourri, July 24, 2009)
“No society has ever escaped the consequences of its deeds done, suffered, or even tolerated tongue-tied.” (Legal Potpourri, July 24, 2009)
“Lull is not peace. Often peace is craved by those who want the exploited to remain supine, suppliant, and silent allowing them to sip blood from their heart without protest.” (Legal Potpourri, July 24, 2009)
“The ‘Taj Mahal Economy’ had destroyed in the past civilizations much more advanced than ours: I mean the civilizations that had once developed in Egypt , Greece , Rome, and the Byzantine flowering. There is an increasing dread that we may become victims of polarized wealth.” (Legal Potpourri, July 24, 2009)
The Executive Government erroneously believes that it possesses plenum dominium.” (Legal Potpourri, August 7, 2009)
“A corporation evolved as a form of business organization in which public interest was greatly interested as its enterprise generated huge amount of wealth. It was not conceived as an impervious coverlet for abuse.” (Legal Potpourri, August 7, 2009)
“A society, which keeps on quietly accepting aberrations & injustice over a long span of time, is surely most unfortunate.” (Legal Potpourri, August 7, 2009)
“WHEN we see the degradation in public life, wrought primarily by what the Shah
Commission Report calls, ‘the Root of All Evil’, we have no option but to think that ours is ‘a tale of the evasions of reality’ resulting in a chronicle of missed opportunities.” (Legal Potpourri, Sept 18, 2009)
“Variating on what Prof. John Kenneth Galbraith said about the present-day economic history, I can say: here is a constant in political life: as between grave ultimate disaster and conserving reforms that might avoid it, the former is frequently much preferred.” (Legal Potpourri, Sept 18, 2009)
“The degradation gets more and more shocking on account of the conspiratorial collaboration of the economic gladiators, marauders and the manipulators for whom the present phase of economic globalization is the most fertile field.” ( Legal Potpourri, Sept. 18, 2009)
“It is submitted that the right approach is what is suggested in the oft-quoted remark by Carl Schurz in his address in the United States Congress: “My country, right or wrong. If right, to keep right, if wrong, to put right.” (Legal Potpourri, Sept. 18, 2009)
“The ‘Root of All Evil ‘ must not be nourished to grow into an ever-growing, luxuriant and noxious embracing tree for our nation to rue” (Legal Potpourri, Sept. 18, 2009)
“The 16th century painter Marinus van Reymerswaele, well known for his satirical paintings, painted ‘the Two Tax Gatherers’ showing an imperious tax collector before whom cringed a commoner to whom the collection of taxes had been outsourced (or ‘farmed’ or ‘privatized’).” (Legal Potpourri, Sept. 18, 2009)

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Democracy Watch India (as on Feb 5, 2013)

FEB. 5, 2013
Dear friend,
[Please visit my http://www.shivakantjha.org]
In the ‘DemocracyWatch India’ segment of my website [www.shivakantjha.org] and Blog [https://shivakantjha.wordpress.com/], I have published my comments on certain topics of public interest (see the list below). Perhaps, you will find them of some interest. I would be grateful for your comments on any of the points made therein. You may send your response at democracywatchindia.skjha@gmail.com
With best wishes
S K Jha

Democracy Watch India
Introduction to DemocracyWatch India: Dated Date: July 9, 2012
The Line of Thought
• Our Republic Is In Crisis: What Went Wrong With The Roman Republic Date: August 1, 2012
• Our Constitutional Socialism: Its vectors and praxis Date: August 1, 2012
• Mauritius Turns Into A Tax Haven: A Historical Perspective Date: July 17, 2012
• Let Our Country Hear: No More Que Sera, Sera (What Will Be, Shall Be)
A warning against the Mauritian trap, perish the thought, if Mauritius offers the North and South Agalega Islands as part of the deal for the continuance of the existing Indo-Mauritius Tax Treaty Date: July 17, 2012
• My Musings on Pranab Babu’s Presidential Candidature Date: July 9, 2012
• Something is Rotten in Our System: Come Together to Set the Spreading Rot Right Date: July 9, 201
The Line of Action
• Re-structuring our Political Process : the Electoral Process Reforms Date: February 4, 2013
• Reflections on Anna’s Movement Date: February 4, 2013
• The Anna Movement enters decisive phase through its Response to the Challenge. My Reflections on the day he decided to cross the Rubicon, and blew his Panchajanya Date: August 3, 2012
• I suggest that time has come to Restructure our Polity Date: August 1, 2012
• also see ‘Certain proposed changes in our polity: now there should be a Partyless Democracy’ Date: July 17, 2012

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Re-structuring our Political Process : the Electoral Process Reforms

(i). Introduction
I believe only some radical changes in our electoral process can ensure our Parliament play its right constitutional role in our polity. Parliament has to perceive its role with perspicacity, and to assert the people’s will through its legislative and constitutional powers. It is under duty to provide the nation with pro-people vision. I have felt that certain reforms in the electoral process are needed to equip this institution to play its right role. I have suggested certain changes in Chapter 22 ( pp. 338-339) of my Autobiographical Memoir, On the Loom of Time [ see http://www.shivakantjha.org]. When I heard Anna’s queries on the possible reforms, consequent on his decision, on August 2, 2012, to provide the nation with ‘a political alternative’, I wrote an article setting out my suggestions which are in tune with what I have stated in the said Chapter. You can read that article at http://www.shivakantjha.org [entitled ‘The Anna Movement enters decisive phase through its Response to the Challenge. My Reflections on the day he decided to cross the Rubicon, and blew his Panchajanya’. It can be read in the folder ‘DemocracyWatch India’ on the website.] It is unfortunate that this clarion-call seems somewhat lost in the vacillations on the part of Anna himself. But point survives for us to consider pro bono publico.

What ‘We, the People ‘ can do
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that in a political society the whole gamut of the ‘sovereignty’ of the realm resides wholly, and exclusively in the people of the realm metaphorically described in our Constitution
In my considered view, ‘We, the People’ of India possess all the powers which come within Segments ‘B’ and ‘A’, the powers coming under Segment ‘B’ can be exercised only in terms of our Constitution and law, whereas the ‘powers’ within Segment ‘A’, can be exercised by our people in those rare, but most demanding moments, when the exercise of this ultima ratio of a free political society is considered justified in the collective consciousness of a political society. At page 338 of my On the Loom of Time, I had drawn up the Line of Fire on which protests and movements tend to ascend to acquire the dimensions, velocity, and efficacy of a revolution. The nodes ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ of that Line of Fire come within the Segment ‘B’ of the above diagram, whereas the nodes ‘D’ and ‘E’ on the Line of Fire come within the zone of extra-constitutional powers which inhere in people, and in people alone.

E

D

C

A – Public Criticism
B – Organised Protests
C – Parliamentary Actions
D – Revolutionary Sparks
E – Revolution

Such extra-constitutional acts ensue from the sovereign people’s ultimate political creativity.

(ii). Let us build our political trajectory in our villages: Let us evolve our Panchayati Raj to provide solutions.

Two movements must go on to achieve a sound and satisfactory political process (analogically as distinct and as integrated as the Earth’s well known two movements going on simultaneously: ‘rotation’ that causes day and night, and ‘revolution’ that causes seasons): these to be well revealed in —
(i) Steps to make the Panchayati Raj work effectively to achieve its ideals, and
(ii) Steps to make our Parliament effective, mission-conscious and accountable to our people.

Granville Austin has aptly appreciated the reasons that Nehru had advanced to go ahead with the community development and panchayati raj programmes ‘whose purpose may be said to have been integration through decentralization and unity through participation, in addition to their obvious aims of economic development and social improvement in villages. These programmes were to be the ideal combination of the grand themes of unity, democracy, and social revolution’[Granville Austin, Working a Democratic Constitution p. 167]. “One of the big problems of modern life is to find a balance between the tendency toward concentration and the need for decentralization,”’ Nehru believed. It was this high idealism that led to the framing of the Article 40 of our Constitution prescribing, as a directive principle for state policy, the organization of village panchayats to function as the units of self-government. Now the Part IX of our Constitution deals with the Panchayat by clarifying its role and prescribing its wide powers, and reach. Article 243G contemplates that this institution would play a role in ‘the preparation of plans for economic development and social justice’, and also in ‘ the implementation’ of such schemes as are entrusted to the Panchayat.

As I have observed in Bihar, the institution has not worked well for many reasons, which include these: (i) the political parties do not allow people’s participation at the grass roots levels as they fear that their monolithic and vertical power-structure, under the top-down command system, would suffer [Granville Austin aptly said : “State politicians resisted village power for fear of losing influence]; (ii) the political parties love controlling power at the top because it delights their controlling caucus which in turn builds up a hierarchy of their Samurais (fighters) down the line to promote their powers, and to reap and distribute the ill-gotten gains; (iii) the transparency, natural under the Panchayati Raj, is disliked by all the beneficiaries of the Realm of Darkness which permit the crooks and looters operate unseen and undetected; (iv) the Panchayati Raj, if successful, would set afoot a system under which ‘economic development’ would get priority over the idea of the GDP-indicated ‘economic growth’; (v) the ‘corporations’, the MNCs, their mentors, protégées and lobbyists want centralised government where things can be easily managed, and manipulated; (vi) the crooks and the criminals dislike the Panchayati Raj as they cannot afford to play their game under people’s direct gaze, and also because they cannot build filters, shelters, hiding places and Alsatias to escape being caught. Granville Austin correctly felt that the “State politicians resisted village power for fear of losing influence”, as the ‘segmented structures and primitive institutions’ of rural society ‘could not generate a responsive and creative leadership’. Austin felt that these “same factors would continue to inhibit the development of panchayats and community programmes for years to come.” [Granville Austin, Working a Democratic Constitution p. 168-169]. We must build up a well-functional system of our grass-root level democracy to frustrate the corporate conspiracy , already afoot, to claim even weighted voting rights to send their representatives to our Parliament, thus providing legitimacy to their attempts to establish corporatocracy.

(iii). I Revisit my Suggestions for Restructuring our polity
I revisit my suggestions set forth in Chapter 22 pp. 338-339 of my Autobiographical Memoir, On the Loom of Time for restructuring our democratic polity. I would deal with some points under two tiny segments which follow: one in which I plead for the vibrant Panchayati Raj; and the other in which I plead for organising our national political system with its trajectory in the villages.

The Gram Sabha-centric village Panchayats
History tells us that the decentralization of powers makes a polity participative, accountable and shared. Decentralization of powers eliminates all tendencies to arrogate powers. The best way to organize our polity is, as done under our Constitution, by an amalgam of the right measure of ‘decentralization’ through the rural republics that the Panchayati Raj aims to establish, and by the legitimate and purposive centrality through our federal structure integrated to work symbiotically with the strong central government, but wholly under constitutional restraints. I have shown how this model of political restructuring is in tune with our people’s genius, and our long and rich traditions.

The Gram Sabha of the villages, and the Lok Sabha of our country, are essentially ‘deliberative’ assemblies’. The skill that can be learnt from the right functioning of the Gram Sabhas would stand us in good stead when our representatives function in our Parliament, and in other similar bodies. The Panchayat would provide a close and inter-active world for integrated cordial actions, where the participants can themselves see that what they reap is only the consequence of what they do. .

The ‘decentralization of powers’, through Panchayats, would establish nearness between the wielders of power, and the people under their care. The absence of such a close bond between people and the government would always imperil ‘democracy’. J. Bronowski had aptly said in his The Ascent of Man (p. 435):
“We must not perish by the distance between people and government, between people and power, by which Babylon and Egypt and Rome failed. And that distance can only be conflated, can only be closed, if knowledge sits in the homes and heads of people with no ambition to control others, and not up in the isolated seats of power.”
If the Panchayati Raj works to set up vibrant village republics, great socio-psychological changes would be brought about under our polity and governance. The possibilities of this great experiment in the decentralization of powers were recognised early. Our leaders had great expectations from these indigenous and village-centric political experiments. Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze have rightly noticed that the ” implicit belief, expressed in some writings, that government interventions are, by and large, guided by the demands of social progress is surely a gigantic folly.” They have recognised what can be done best: to supplement ‘reforms’ with a more active programme of social change going “hand in hand with an expansion of public initiative and social movements aimed at more widespread literacy, a stronger political organization of disadvantaged groups, and a more vigorous challenge to social inequalities, they would represent a real opportunity to transform village politics in rural India.” It is possible to develop good education in the villages only after involving the grass roots level institutions. I would endorse the view of Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze: “In most states, teachers are accountable to the Education Department, not to the village community. Official complaints have to go through complicated bureaucratic channels, and are particularly difficult for parents to understand…..” Reforming the chain of accountability, and bringing the levers of control closer to the village community, are important means of improving teaching standards.” Socio-economic measures can work better if they are conducted under the local vigilance, supervision, control and audit. The authorities at the higher structural levels should only help, and supervise.

This system would make the Right to Know, granted under our Constitution, more effective. Besides the participative political process would give our people the satisfaction of discharging public duties, and would also help them develop their skill better. We find in our villages many persons illiterate, but they are not unwise. I feel it is the time to trust our villagers’ wisdom. They are loyal to our country, and are patriotic: they are under no temptations to steal our country’s wealth to carry that to the tax havens and other dark destinations abroad. Let us structure our polity by giving it a creative touch best done by reposing trust in people.

II

An Extract from my Autographical Memoir, ON THE LOOM OF TIME on the Electoral Process Reforms

“I suggest that time has come to Restructure our Polity
It is high time for the citizenry of this Republic to think about the restructuring of our polity to achieve the objectives of our Constitution; and to provide ways for the eradication of corruption. I suggest for the consideration by my fellow citizens two sets of ideas: (a) to improve the present party system; and (b) to go in for partyless government.

It is worthwhile to consider prescribing the following as mandatory requirements:

(a) Only the persons really domiciled in a constituency be selected to stand for election from that constituency. It would reduce election expenditure as the people of the constituency would not require a propaganda to make people aware of the worth of the candidates, and their views on matters of public interest. Secondly, such candidates will always be under the electors’ critical gaze. Thirdly, such candidates would have better sense of attachment with people amidst whom they lived. Fourthly, they would be subject to socio-cultural pressure from the people of their areas. Fifthly, they would hesitate in resorting to unfair means as they would be under their own men’s scanner, and they would hesitate in amassing ill-gotten wealth as they would shudder at their humiliating plight after being found out.

(b) The people of the constituency electing its representatives must have ‘right to recall’ their representatives if they have acquired ill reputation, or have betrayed people’s trust. This procedure underscores the fact that the ‘sovereignty’ lies with the people. This procedure would not let the representatives forget the people whom they represent. This procedure would inhibit the lobbyists of the corporate world from trying to subvert our institutions for their unworthy ends. No foreign powers or lobbyists would be able to get things done to their heart’s content by bribing, or persuading our representatives through pressure and persuasion. How the procedure to give effect to these suggestions would work should be considered, discussed and devised so that proper balance between stability and change is ensured. A People’s Tribunal can be set up in every constituency which can consider serious allegations of omissions or commissions by the representatives, if made on affidavit signed by one-fourth of the voters of the constituency. The Tribunal’s decision can be overseen by an Appellate Tribunal, presided over by at least two High Court Judges. In case the final decision is to recall a sitting member of a legislature, the order must be given effect.”

***
You are requested to send your comments on
democracywatchindia.skjha@gmail.com

REFLECTIONS ON ANNA’S MOVEMENT

[NOTE: I had made the following comments sometime back. I am putting them into the public domain so that my friends may keep them in their mind when they think it worthwhile to cast their verdict on this Movement. ]

1.
Anna’a Movement: Exploring Anna’s Line of Thought
Anna builds on the Gandhian ideas and ideals

Anna’s Movement is for a strong, comprehensive, and effective Jan Lok Pal Bill aiming to set up an effective mechanism to eradicate corruption from public life.
Deeper reflections bring to mind two ideas of the greatest importance:
It is quite likely that the anti-corruption movement would, for pragmatic reasons, annex more and more areas of our social, economic and political life. It can be reasonably considered that only a broad-spectrum approach can provide the right remedy. For doing that, we shall have to wade through the shark-infested waters about which I would say something in Chapter 29 of my Memoir, On the Loom of Time).
We are free to gather ideas from all realms in order to pursue our agenda. We believe in what the great Rigveda said: ‘Let Noble Thoughts come to us from all sides’. But here I am limiting myself to Anna’s ideas which I find no different from Gandhi’s, and also in tune with our cultural tradition. I am summarising a few points which, I wish, you carry in your mind when you think about the various steps and measures involved in our nation’s political restructuring.
(1) The structure of our polity should be so designed as to make our villages the grass-root matrix of our economy, and the effective units in our democratic organization. Gandhi had told us in course of our Struggle for Freedom:
“Independence must begin at the bottom. Thus, village will be a Republic or panchayat having full powers. It follows, therefore, that every village has to be self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs even to the extent of defending itself against the whole world.” ( Harijan 1-7- ’47)
This vision was expressed by our Constitution in: its Article 40says —
“The State shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.”
(2). Anna has, through his precepts and practice, worked against the hedonist consumerism surging up in our times. His life and ideas bring to our mind what Mahatma Gandhi kept on emphasizing, and what he expressed with excellent pithiness and resonance, in Young India of 5 February 1925:
“India is essentially karmabhumi (land of duty) in contradistinction to bhogobhumi (land of enjoyment).”

(3). Gandhi and Anna expounded the ideas which I would describe compendiously as our ‘constitutional socialism’ about which I have written in brief in Chapter 21 of this Memoir. These thoughts had been expressed by Gandhi with greater precision and emphasis: to quote from Gandhi —
“I suggest that we are thieves in a way. If I take anything that I do not need for my own immediate use and keep it, I thieve it from somebody else. It is the fundamental law of Nature, without exception, that Nature produces enough for our wants from day to day; and if only everybody took enough for himself and nothing more, there would be no pauperism in this world, there would be no man dying of starvation.”( Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi p. 384).
These ideas are pithily stated in the various Articles of our Constitution, but they are most assertively stated in the Directive Principles of State Policy which prescribe the normative principles for our government’s actions.
(4). Anna treads on the Gandhian path in emphasizing the ideas of Swadeshi, Gandhi had said:
“European civilization is no doubt suited for the Europeans but it will mean ruin for India, if we endeavour to copy it. This is not to say that we may not adopt and assimilate whatever may be good and capable of assimilation by us as it does not also mean that even the Europeans will not have to part with whatever evil might have crept into it. ” ( Young India, 30-4-’31)

(5) Like Gandhi, Anna emphasized on the importance of Charitrya (or ‘Chharitrya’ as Anna pronounces the word with Marathi accent), generally translated into English as ‘character’ though its comprehensiveness and moral vision are not captured by that word of English language.

We all know that Article 51A of our Constitution prescribes the Fundamental Duties of ‘every citizen’. It requires every citizen to ‘abide by’ the ideals of our Constitution; it mandates every citizen ‘to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom’; ‘to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so’; ‘to promote harmony and common brotherhood amongst all the people of India…’; ‘to value and preserve the rich heritage of our culture’; ‘to protect natural environment…’ ; ‘to develop scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform’, ‘to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective excellence’….. We have several cases decided by our Supreme Court which say that the duties prescribed for citizens, be taken into consideration even by our courts. Whilst framing norms for restructuring our polity, and the systems of governance, we must take into these duties. What is the duty for the citizens is also the duty cast on the State, and all its organs.

(iv). Charitra (Character ?)

At school, I had read in the Free India Reader Book IV, Mahatma Gandhi’s short essay on ‘What the Students can do’. He had stressed that without good character a man always falls, and a system that he builds up always collapses. Anna is perfectly right in holding that our country can grow under conditions of social justice and airplay only if we succeed in establishing a corruption-free, and accountable polity, in fact, the entire system of governance. But it is not likely to happen if ‘character’ is lost.
I think it is worthwhile to consider what Anna means by ‘character’, and how it differs from the concepts, like “character,” “duty,” “will,” “hard work”, and “thrift” about which we read in the Victorian literature. We all have found good ideas stated by Samuel Smiles in Self-Help (1859). To the Victorians, ‘character’ provided traits which helped them to acquire more power and amass great wealth for the Victorian upper crust, and to evolve institutions and norms to protect and promote such gains. The general run of the fortunate Victorians considered it their ‘duty’ to build up an acquisitive society which never had the qualms of conscience at the abysmal inequality, inequity, and social injustice. The Victorian ‘will’, ‘earnestness’, ‘hard work’ were at work to promote an unjust society in which the corrupt power elite ruled, and suffering masses sobbed unnoticed and ignored. You may read H.G. Wells’s Tono-Bungay (1909) in which “English society is seen as a large country house, with the lower classes concealed below stairs in the servants’ quarters, while the upper classes enjoy life in the elegant drawing-rooms.” [Bernard Bergonzi in his article in The Oxford Illustrated History of English Literature edited by Pat Rogers (at pp, 403-404).]
In the novel The Man of Property (1906), John Galsworthy portrays the Victorian upper middle class, “whom he saw as reducing everything to property values, including life itself….The story is centered on two pieces of ‘property’: a country house Soames is building for himself; and his wife Irene, whom he is losing to another man.” The political and economic leaders of the Victorian era entertained the ill-informed notions about certainties and assumptions (which we find also being shared by the fundamentalists of the present-day economic liberalism). I would conclude my reflections on the Victorian culture with certain words from The Encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. 29, at p. 81): “Many Victorians were as eager to read about crime as to read the Bible.”
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2.
Anna’s Movement: WHY DOES ANNA ABHOR ‘POLITICS?

I felt that Anna and his team of activists realized that ‘politics’ could not be cast off to a quarantine zone in a ‘democracy’. We cannot consider ‘politics’ sinful as all our benefactors in public realm had played politics. Krishna was Himself a great politician whose politics illustrate the objectives for which polity exits. In effect, it involved the art of managing the public; and its objectives are thus stated by Aacharya Kautilya in his Arthasastra:.
प्रजासुखे सुखं राज्ञः प्रजानां च हिते हितम
नात्मप्रियं हितं राज्ञः प्रजानां तु प्रियं हितम
(‘In the happiness of the subjects lies the king’s happiness, in their welfare his welfare; what pleases himself the king shall not consider good.’)

Jesus was Himself a great politician (see Chapter 20 of my Memoir, On the Loom of Time). Guru Gobind Singh was an astute politician, and he worked to promote good cause in the political realm praying to his Lord ‘subh karman te kabhu na taron’ ( never to indifferent in duty in good cause). Gandhi was an astute politician the story of which is an integral part of our Struggle for Freedom. My father and my uncle had worked for our country’s political change. To Aristotle, the word ‘politics’ meant the ‘affairs of the art of governing and the organization and the operation of governments’. Its referents were ‘citizens’, ‘civil’ ‘civic’ and the affairs of the State. ‘Politics’ becomes dirty when corrupt persons play dirty games which are made to pass for ‘politics’. Anna’s initial decision to exclude the so-called politicians from his dais was an initial jerk reaction. But he carried his idealism in doing so to the point of imprudence. When some movement to achieve a noble public cause is carried on, every Indian citizen can participate in the endeavour. Please read again the story of Bindumati in Chapter 25 p. 405 of my Memoir, On the Loom of Time . Even one carrying on the ancient profession had helped Emperor Ashok in working for public cause where even the Emperor found himself nonplussed. Satyagraha works, but not always. The poet ‘Dinkar’ suggestively said:
परन्तु वश चलता नहीं सदैवपतित समूह की कुवृतियों के सामने ( satyagraha does not work amidst those with sinister traits).

3.
Anna’s Movement: the Worrisome Muddle yet, Hope survives.
(by Shiva Kant Jha : see http://www.shivakantjha.org)

Immediately after what came out as Anna’s decision to work for providing a political alternative to our nation, we heard that Anna and the members of his team faced perceptual differences in adopting operational protocol and effective strategy, though they share the common quest to restructure our polity free from corruptions. Discordant voices have been used to muddle the things about the ‘movement’. I do not intend to focus on their perceptual differences, but I think such differences are not unusual. We know the great patriot Jean-Joseph Mounier, who had drafted the cahiers (‘notebooks’) presented to King Louis XVI, and was the author of, the Tennis Court Oath, and had been a major light of the third estate in the States General of 1789 that led the French Revolution, had resigned from the Assembly in order to highlight his differences with others on some vital points. But he worked with great vigour in his own way to take the revolution move forward. We had seen how during our Struggle for Freedom, after the1906, the new creative spirit of high nationalism revealed itself in the sharp differences of ideas and actions of our great leaders: Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lajpat Rai became ‘extremists’, whereas Surendranath Banerjea, Pheroze Shah Mehta, and Gokhale turned ‘moderates’. We all know how Subhas Chandra Bose differed from Mahatma Gandhi on many points pertaining to the strategies to be adopted. Bose became the Congress President against Gandh’s wish, and later he left the post fed up with the maneuverings of inner clique.
It is the ‘public protest’ that leads to a ‘movement’; it is the ‘movement’ from which emanates a ‘revolution’. Often we have seen, at dawn or dusk, a host of birds on wings to the east, or the west. They seldom grumble so long they are on their right course. The finest example of the synergic and symbiotic operation of the lines of ‘thought’ and ‘action” is Krishna representing the former, and Arjuna, the latter. Krishna guided, and Arjuna acted: though there is no harm if Krishna and Arjuna both think and act. Differences are good to run a vibrant ‘movement’ as they cross-fertilize to equip it with vision and verve. Within the shared ambit and reach, diverse experiments in creating protocols of actions, or the structuring and re-structuring of polity would show practical prudence. A ‘movement’ has its inner creative logic in marching towards its goals. It can annex more and more spheres of operations if experience teaches that as the only prudent course.
Seeing as things are emerging these days, my hope falters at the fate of this crusade against corruption. But even in the moments of dismay, we can recall what Krishna had told Arjuna when he asked Krishna, in the battlefield of Kurukshetra: of what worth is the entire endeavour if it seems likely to turn futile in the end. A ‘movement’, or a ‘revolution’ is a march with a mission towards the future. We are scripting our deeds only in the passing moments of the living present. What the Lord said is valid for all times as this states the very existential truth:

पार्थ न एव इह न अमुत्र विनाशः तस्य विद्यते
न हि कल्याण कृत कः चित् दुर्गतिं तात गच्छति
( ‘O, Partha (Arjuna), neither in this life nor hereafter is there destruction for him; for never does any one who does good, dear friend, tread the path of woe.’ Chapter VI.40 )
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