Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hazare’s “Solution” does Not Solve Anything

The basic problem with Indian activist Anna Hazare’s “solution” to the problem of corruption is that it only adds to the bureaucracy. If passed in any form, the so called Jan Lokpal or Citizens' Ombudsman Bill would subordinate the judicial- as well as some portions of executive-branch of the government to arbitrary and uncontrolled power, while adding another layer of bureaucrats, who will be less accountable and more powerful than the elected ones.

Hazare’s evil lies in his advocacy of statism, his version of which is an expanded and more arbitrary form of government in India. His “solution” to corruption does nothing to address its root cause: the arbitrary power of the democratically elected looters to redistribute wealth (some of which they unsurprisingly keep in their pockets). Instead, the only difference under Jan Lokpal would be that the loot and bribes would be divided among a larger number of bureaucrats. Even worse, the consequent increase in legal and judicial complexity would make the redistribution of loot even more non-objective and difficult to track—all in the name of “transparency”.

No matter how the deck chairs are rearranged, the corrupt will remain attracted to politics as long as the winner gets to distribute Rs. 2,00,00,00,00,000 in non-defense activities (hint: look up "2G scam"). The Hazare “solution” is a recipe for attracting even more corrupt power-mongers to politics.

An alternative political method to prevent corruption does exist. It consists of eradicating the disease, and not merely treating the symptoms. Begin by scraping the power of the bureaucrats to implement “welfare” programs. Scrap their coercive monopolization of electricity distribution, roadways, dams etc. Cut their hold on corporate mergers, bond markets, polio vaccines, and 2G licenses. In principle, separate the government from economics. Strip the government to its only legitimate functions: the police, the army, and the judiciary. The economic liberalization of India in the 1990s was a step in the right direction. It is time to advocate for a consistent and non-contradictory implementation of the free-market.

Not only does Hazare hold fascist political ends (meaning tyrannical in spirit, but freedom-enhancing in pretense), his means are consistent as well. Hunger strike is not an argument—it is a knee-jerk crybaby reaction. Consequently, some have criticized Hazare for not being truly Gandhian, who was arguably much more intellectually versed than Hazare. True, but I would argue that even though Hazare’s interest in ideas might be weaker than Gandhi’s, his tactics are Gandhian to the core (where, by “Gandhian” I mean marked by an appeal to emotion as opposed to reason.) His choice of hunger-strike rather than a political treatise is insulting, non-intellectual, and non-mindful of individual judgment.

There is an irony in Anna Hazare supporters singing “Ek dokha kha chuke hain aur kha sakte nahin” (translated: “Having been deceived once [by the British], we cannot be deceived again”). Who really needs to sing this line is the Indians who have so far resisted the brainwash, and they need to start singing it soon.


  1. All that it will do is to see that one more layer will be created in the looters hierarchy, viz. Lokpals . Who will select the thousands of Lokpals that will be needed to police the millions of bureaucrats.
    It is quite easy to get carried away by noise and media hype. Are we sure that we do not contribute towards corruption. How many of us are giving genuine figures for Income tax, property registration etc.
    About the extra constitutional methods used by the agitators, the less said the better.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I just deleted a comment.

    Please be careful before posting. Criticism is fine, but it must be directed towards content and ideas, and not be an ad hominem. A good example of what I will remove is: "You haven't read Jan Lokpal".

  4. There are no universal remedies to a problem such as corruption. We have no proven formula that is sure to work.

    However, the fact is that we are a relatively young nation especially compared to large developed nations.

    Typically a mature society will result in a developed nation and not the other way round. For a society to become mature, it needs time but more importantly, it needs guidance and education.

    This guidance in a budding society can be given through laws. Had we been a more mature society, I would have supported your view that we need lesser laws.

    But I dont think we have reached that stage yet.

    Take for example a crossing where we can legally cross only upon the green signal. Typically we see the car in front of us break the rule almost every time there is no policeman.

    The same Indians when living in US become better citizens. They follow regulations even if noone is watching. They stop at the crossing even if there is no signal at all!

    To me this is the effect of living in a mature society.

    Until we become that mature society, we do need some more laws and their strict implementation or their may be chaos.

    The other point I would like to make is that for all of us filling pages, this group went ahead and actually did something on the ground. I concede that a majority may not even know the difference between the versions of Lokpal Bill but the massive support is not for Lokpal Bill. it is against corruption. I think if someone else with a different path but the same goal would have seized the moment, people would still have supported.

    The moment is still there to be seized. Lets go ahead and take steps whether we support Anna or not.

  5. Just to clarify, I came here through a link on Anirudh Bhati's profile and posted this there too.