The Lokpal Bill is unlikely to be the silver bullet to end corruption. It could, however, become a powerful weapon to aid the common man’s battle against the scourge of our times. These were the conclusions of an INDIA TODAY round table on August 29 in Delhi. The eminent panel comprised a sociologist, legal luminaries, a former bureaucrat and social activists besides core members of Team Anna. They sat down to discuss the issue just 48 hours after Anna Hazare called off his fast. There was, surprisingly, no unanimity on the bill. Team Anna believes the Jan Lokpal is the need of the hour and can be set up by hiving off existing corruption-fighting agencies like the CBI.
Social activists believe that the Lokpal could lead to the creation of another gigantic bureaucracy, accountable to none. In the words of a panelist, everybody was united in concern over corruption but divided on how to tackle it. It was the perceived dissonance among the three pillars of governance: legislative, judiciary and executive that fuelled a nationwide mass movement coalescing into the anger at Ramlila Maidan. The perception that these pillars had failed to deliver led to the chorus for an independent watchdog. But clearly it will take a massive reform of these institutions if the Lokpal is to become truly effective in the form it is envisaged. Otherwise, as a panelist put it, the act could end up becoming a Delhi flyover: merely shifting its problems from one traffic signal to the next.