Sunday, August 14, 2011

A friend writes to Dr Manmohan Singh

14-40-4/1 Gokhale Road
Visakhapatnam 530002
Tel. Nos. 0891-6619858/ 9866021646


Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister

Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh,

From what I have gathered from the news reports and TV broadcasts during the last couple of days, you issued a “terse” reply to a letter addressed to you by Shri Anna Hazare to intervene in the ongoing face-off between him and the government. You have evidently adopted a righteous approach by advising Anna Hazare to approach the police.

These reports also indicate that some of your responsible Cabinet colleagues and equally responsible UPA colleagues have cast serious aspersions on Anna Hazare’s personal integrity.

If these reports are accurate, I think it marks a very sad day for India’s democracy.

In today’s scam ridden environment, Anna Hazare has emerged as the civil society’s undeclared leader to symbolize the public anger and anguish against corruption. The people of this country have helplessly watched in dismay and disgust one scandal after another unfolding ad nauseam, not because that the executive that you head is over anxious to unravel it but more as a result of the fearless investigations carried out by the media, the objective analyses conducted by C&AG and the timely interventions made by the judiciary. At every stage, you and your esteemed colleagues, frowned upon the actions of each of theseinstitutions.

The people at large have read about these scams in the vernacular news papers, heard about them on the radio and viewed them on the TV channels. These scams stand out clearly because they are ugly, exploitative and are in the nature of plundering the country’s resources. Their dimensions are truly mind boggling. To think that the people of this country are not moved by what Anna Hazare has done during the last few months is like the proverbial ostrich hiding its head, unwilling to face the harsh reality!

Let us see why this diminutive man, leading a simple life, incurred the Prime Minister's displeasure.

Has he asked you for thousands of hectares of land as some industrialists nurtured by post-1991 reform have done? Has he approached you to give him a mining franchise in violation of the law of the land, as the mining lobby that permeates the political system today has often done? He has not asked for captive mineral blocks as Poscoe has done. Has he requested you to allot 2-G spectrum against all cannons of ethics as some of your own former Cabinet colleagues had allowed the influential industrial houses to do? Has he arm-twisted you for a remunerative berth in your Cabinet, as some of your coalition partners have done? Nor has he ever tried to stay in a 5-Star hotel as some of your Cabinet colleagues did!

You are an extraordinarily courteous person, as I have known you. I am sure you have not been terse to any of these influential persons anytime. I am therefore particularly surprised and distressed at the “terseness” that you have reportedly displayed to a physically fragile but morally strong person like Anna Hazare!

On behalf of the civil society, may I appeal to you, Mr. Prime Minister, to treat Anna Hazare with the respect that is due to him as an important member of the civil society and as a highly liked person among the youth of this country? You should remember that Shri Hazare has single-handedly woken up the nation to rise as one entity against the scourge of corruption. While I appreciate that the Constitution has bequeathed us an elaborate legislative machinery in the name of democracy, you should realize that the people of this country who are sovereign in their own right have no patience to wait for the machinery to go through the procedure of processing a draft law that ab initio falls short of their basic expectations. This is particularly true in the present context in which the UPA government is getting surrounded by scams and scandals galore, as never before.

On behalf of the civil society, I appeal to you to treat Shri Hazare as our representative and invite him for an interaction as such an interaction is what the public wants. I would welcome the government inviting for a similar interaction, the rights activists working in different parts of the country, the various NGOs known for their work, eminent concerned citizens and so on. In a democracy like ours, consultation is the essence and despotic methods of law making, the anathema. I hope good sense will prevail on the government and the ongoing face-off is resolved at the earliest without leaving a sense of bitterness among the people.

I write this letter on the eve of the 64th Independence Day. Sixty four years have gone by but the freedom we gained in 1947 at the national level is yet to percolate down fully to the disadvantaged sections of the people. To them, governance has become synonymous with corruption and harassment. I hope there is all round realization of this bitter truth.


Yours sincerely

Former Secretary to GOI

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