Posts Tagged ‘Land Acquisition’

Excerpt from Corruption and the Right to Participate ( Ashish Kothari )

In Perspective on August 27, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Excerpt from:
The Economic and Political Weekly, VOL 46 No. 35 August 27 – September 02, 2011

Corruption and the Right to Participate

by Ashish Kothari

The last few years have seen a spate of rights-related legislations related to information, employment, and education. But this package of laws is incomplete without a fundamental right to participate in decisions relating to development, welfare, and conservation. Such a right, and concomitant responsibilities, should be enshrined in the Constitution, and be enforceable through one or more laws.

Our democracy is still only skin deep. This is one of the many lessons we should have learnt from the differential way in which the government and media dealt with the two babas on fast earlier this year. This is a lesson with a crucial bearing on the ongoing churning that is taking place in India, on issues such as corruption, black money, land acquisition, and price rise.

Baba Ramdev, fasting on the issue of black money and corruption, captured the headlines and the attention of the highest decision-makers. Completely sidelined was Swami Nigamananda who was fasting on the issue of mining and stone crushing along the Ganga. The former, health rapidly declining after only a few days (as an aside, what sort of yogi is this?), was “persuaded” by several political and religious dignitaries to break his fast in nine days even though the government had not met his demands. The latter, refusing to break his fast till the mining was stopped, had no public attention, no government officials visiting him, no media scrambling over each other to get some bytes. He died virtually alone after 114 unbroken days of fasting. Ironically, in the same hospital where Ramdev broke his fast.

A number of issues stand out. First, we seem to be blind to or not as bothered about the various forms of corruption other than financial. Second, that a number of issues quietly but seriously affecting the “common” person due to these other forms of corruption are not yet on the political and media radar as they should be. Third, that unless we move towards a deeper and more participatory form of democracy, the ills plaguing us (including corruption) will not go away; setting up the Lokpal will help to some extent but not funda- mentally. Let me take each of these issues.

Corruption is not only about financial irregularities intended for personal enrichment. It comes in many other forms also: the abuse of power by those in decision-making positions, the use of personal relationships and influence to gain out-of- line favours, and so on. We have in India a pervasive corruption of political and bureaucratic power, enabling policies and decisions that benefit one class while un- dermining the basis of life and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of less powerful people. The forcible takeover of farmlands for industry or infrastructure, the selling of natural resources to the highest bidder mindless of the dependence of poor peo- ple on them, and the conversion of agricultural focus from food self-sufficiency for the rural poor to the consumer demands of the urban rich, are examples. The fact that it happens in the name of “development”, and that such development continues to be forced down our throats in the name of eradicating poverty, is symptomatic of the State’s double-speak, which, unfortunately, we have all become accustomed to accepting.
Tackling black money and financial corruption is essential. But unless this is com- plemented by fundamental ways in which our economy is governed, it will do little to put the majority of Indians on the path of true welfare. In fact, if all the black money stashed away abroad is rescued and put into the same hands that today control India’s economy, it may make things worse. [. . .]

FULL TEXT AT: http://epw.in/epw/uploads/articles/16465.pdf

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