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BW Businessworld

All Talk, No Act

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Only incurable optimists would have expected the Lokpal Bill to sail through the Parliament in this session. Although no politician would admit it, quite of few of them would have heaved a sigh of relief when the Rajya Sabha debate was finally guillotined at midnight on 29 December.

While the Congress blamed the opposition and also its allies, and they, in turn, blamed the Congress, the fact is that no one really wanted the bill to be passed, at least in its present form, and in this session. The bill had been put up because of the pressure exerted by the Anna Hazare agitation. But while many politicians and several political parties publicly supported Hazare and his quest to stamp out corruption, they were hardly committed to the cause in private.

The 187 amendments that were sought by various parties in the Rajya Sabha, on the top of the 86 amendments that had already been made in the Lok Sabha, was a pretty clear indicator of what politicians actually felt about a host of clauses in the Lokpal Bill.

At any rate, even if the Lokpal Bill had been passed — either the version worked out by the government or the one that Anna Hazare and his team wanted — it is unlikely that it would have made much of a dent in preventing or even reducing corruption.

Preventing corruption needs both administrative will and a certain amount of moral determination by the people.

If those two exist, even the current set of laws and institutions — including the Central Vigilance Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India — are enough. If either or both are absent, no Lokpal can help.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 09-01-2012)