Monday July 23, 2018
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Five reasons why AAP Lokpal is Mahajokepal

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Delhi chief minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal found himself in a fix after Swaraj Abhiyan leader Prashant Bhushan at a scathing press conference on Sunday elucidated how the Delhi Lokpal Bill 2015 had gone back on all the main promises of the Jan Lokpal movement, calling it a ‘cruel joke’ on the people.

Bhushan, flanked by AAP founding member and his father Shanti Bhushan, reminded Kejriwal and his supporters that one of the reasons of formation of the Aam Aadmi Party was to realize the long-standing dream of an independent Lokpal, which would curb corruption and weed out corrupt elements out of the system.

Yogendra Yadav, the expelled AAP founding member, in a Facebook post, mentioned the demands made by the Lokpal movement.

  • The appointment of the Lokpal was to be done in an open manner by involving the public in the search process.
  • The final selection of the Lokpal was to be done by a committee where independent, non-political and non-governmental appointees had a majority.
  • A special investigative agency was to be created by or controlled by the Lokpal.
  • The jurisdiction of the Lokpal was to be extended to all the functionaries of the relevant government.

When the fledgling party secured a historic victory in the Delhi Assembly polls last year, it was expected that the dream of having a strong, independent Lokpal would come true. However, Bhushan said, “Under pressure due to unjustified delay, the Delhi government has tabled a Jan Lokpal Bill, a cheating to the people and the Lokpal movement.”

Here are the five reasons why it’s ‘Mahajokepal’:

  1. Appointment of Lokpal

Bhushan, who reportedly has a copy of the Delhi Lokpal Bill 2015, in a statement said that the selection committee for the Lokpal would consist of High Court Chief Justice, the Chief Minister, Assembly Speaker and Leader of Opposition.

He alleged that this clause made it clear that the AAP government wanted the appointment of Lokpal to be controlled by the political class and would not let any appointment be made without the approval of ruling party.

Jan Lokpal movement’s promise

The Janlokpal bill had, on the other hand, envisioned that the appointments be made independent of the will of the political class.

“But the provision in the present bill cheats the spirit of an independent Janlokpal. Out of the four members in selection committee, three would be from the political class. This is completely contrary to what Arvind Kejriwal has had always said about the independence of the ombudsman,” Bhushan said.

  1. Removal of Chairperson or members of the Jan Lokpal

In the Jan Lokpal bill introduced by Delhi government, as per the provisions mentioned in section 6(1) of the proposed bill, the Lokpal can be removed by a motion passed by the Delhi assembly by a 2/3rd majority of the members present and voting in the assembly.

“Needless to say, if the act sees the light of the day, the Lokpal will be completely at the mercy of AAP government,” Bhushan alleged.

Jan Lokpal movement’s promise

The Jan Lokpal movement had always argued that the anti-corruption and investigating agencies end up becoming instruments in the hands of ruling governments. So there was a pressing need for an effective Lokpal that would be delinked from any interference of ruling governments and political control.

“It is sad to see the AAP bringing a bill which would ultimately leave the Lokpal at the mercy of Delhi government, making it a joke,” Bhushan said.

  1. Investing machinery not independent

Bhushan alleged that no investigative machinery has been given to or placed under Delhi Lokpal as per section 10 in the proposed bill. Without its own independent officers, solely recruited for and dedicated to the institution, the Lokpal would merely be like the various other commissions and tribunals.

“This effectively means that the Lokpal will have to carry its investigations through officers and machinery provided by governments. Needless to say the investigating officers would obviously be under the control of those governments which provide it.”

Jan Lokpal movement’s promise

The Janlokpal movement, Bhushan said, had always stressed that investigating officers should be free of the influence or control of any government. It was argued that no less than an independent investigative machinery vested with the institution of Lokpal would be effective in curbing corruption.

  1. Jurisdiction of the Lokpal

The former AAP leader claimed that as per the present bill, the jurisdiction of the Lokpal would be to investigate any corruption offense in Delhi, be it various agencies and functions under the central government. It means that the state Lokpal can investigate the central government as well. This, he said, has been deliberately done to invite confrontation with the Centre

Jan Lokpal movement’s promise

“This is totally contrary to what was envisaged in our Jan Lokpal bill where the state Lokayukta were supposed to investigate the corruption of officers of state governments only and the Central Lokpal would investigate the officers from central government, “ Bhushan said.

He alleged that this provision has been introduced with malafide intentions to ensure that the central government does not approve and the bill never gets passed. The AAP will then claim that it tried to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill, but the central government obstructed it.

  1. Penalty on false complaints

Bhushan claimed the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill 2015 prescribes 1-year jail for false complaints, the falsity of which will be decided by this ‘Sarkari Lokpal’.

Jan Lokpal movement’s promise

“This is also what we had fought against since it will deter complainants. It is not there in the Uttarakhand bill which Kejriwal said this is modeled on,” Bhushan said.

The Swaraj Abhiyan leader slammed the AAP government for not making the draft public to enable public consultation and comments.

“The plan was to pass this Maha joke pal bill with a dramatic flourish and then play victim by claiming that the Central govt is obstructing it,” Bhushan said, adding, The Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill, 2015 is not what the anti-corruption Lokpal movement had fought so deeply for. It is merely an eyewash and not the bill which made thousands and thousands volunteer for a crusade against corruption.”

Bhushan reminded Kejriwal that in fact, the present bill was worse than the central government’s Jan Lokpal Bill, against which the present Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had spoken so vehemently.

“Leave alone ministers, not even a rat will go to jail on the basis of this Bill. No proper investigation will be possible under it,” Kejriwal had said in December 2013 regarding a proposed legislation by the central government while terming it a “Jokepal Bill”.

He posed following three questions to Kejriwal in this regard:

  1. We would like to know what compelled the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to now bring the Jokepal bill, which he had once fought against?
  2. Does he now believe that a corrupt rat will go to jail on the basis of this new bill?
  3. How would he guarantee that the proposed Lokpal will not end up becoming his political instrument against opponents/for corruption, as is the case with institutions like CBI or CVC?

It is hoped the ‘anti-corruption crusader’ Kejriwal would care to answer these pertinent questions, instead of terming anyone pointing out flaws in the Bill as ‘BJP supporters’. The Aam Aadmi Party that claims to represent the interest of the common man should clear the air as to what compelled it to introduce such a toothless and weak Lokpal as alleged by its founding members.

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  • Rakesh Manchanda

    Compromised Janlokpal Bill formality accomplished by the strongest state government in India.Why there is a Parivartan /Change behind Original Jan Lokpal Arvind Sir Ji ? Stop fooling people that search cum selection committee will follow.During the launch of a new vehicle does the producer promises selection of parts and its quality search search will be announced later.When you claim there is not even a comma or full stop change in the original Janlokpal version then why you kept it parked for almost a year.

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  • Rakesh Manchanda

    Compromised Janlokpal Bill formality accomplished by the strongest state government in India.Why there is a Parivartan /Change behind Original Jan Lokpal Arvind Sir Ji ? Stop fooling people that search cum selection committee will follow.During the launch of a new vehicle does the producer promises selection of parts and its quality search search will be announced later.When you claim there is not even a comma or full stop change in the original Janlokpal version then why you kept it parked for almost a year.

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India Can Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?

A total of 548 global experts on women’s issues , 43 of them from India

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BJP Leader Asks Parents Of A Rape Victim To Express Gratitude To Them
Can India Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?. Flickr

-By Deepa Gahlot

You read with a mixture of alarm and scepticism, the poll report by the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation that India is the most dangerous country in the world for women, beating Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

According to reports, a total of 548 global experts on women’s issues — 43 of them from India — were asked about risks faced by women in six areas: healthcare, access to economic resources and discrimination, customary practices, sexual violence, nonsexual violence, and human trafficking. And shockingly, India comes out as the worst!

We see women progressing in every field in India, but, there is also the increasing violence against women and young girls reported every day; not long ago, female tourists felt safe in India; but now, women travelling solo are constantly targeted. Everyday there are reports of the rapes and murders of minor girls, often accompanied by unimaginable torture and mutilation.

There has been outrage in India, and also holes punctured in the survey that has such a small number of respondents, but can we really take an ostrich approach to the condition of women? Even as education and healthcare improve for women — at least in metro cities — the contempt for women is socially and culturally ingrained in the Indian psyche. In a city like Mumbai considered progressive and relatively safe for women, the girl child is unwanted even by many educated and wealthy families. In spite of laws being in place, female foeticide and infanticide is rampant, to the extent that there are large territories where there are no girl children and brides for the men have to be ‘imported’ from other states.  As dowry murders and rapes rise, the more unwanted the girl child becomes.  The fact is that India’s gender ratio is deplorable.

And if the male child is valued over the girl child, he grows up believing that he is special and if he is thwarted in any way, he can resort to violence. In spite of education and exposure to progressive ideas, in the case of rape or sexual violence, the tendency to blame and shame the victim persists.

To give just one small example, in the West, accusations of sexual harassment resulted in united shunning of a man as powerful as Harvey Weinstein and many others in the wake of the #MeToo movement, that helped many women speak out about their experiences.

In India, Malayalam actor Dileep, who has been accused in the abduction and rape of an actress, and was boycotted by the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), was recently reinstated. This caused shock and dismay among women in the film industry.

A statement by a group of over 150 women film practitioners says it like it is, “A body that is meant to represent artistes of the Malayalam movie industry showed complete disregard for its own member who is the victim of this gross crime. Even before the case has reached its conclusion, AMMA has chosen to validate a person accused of a very serious crime against a colleague. We condemn this cavalier attitude by artistes against women artistes who are working alongside them. There is misogyny and gender discrimination embedded in this action.

“We admired and supported the Women in Cinema Collective that was formed by women film artistes in Kerala in the aftermath of the abduction and molestation of a colleague, a top star in the industry. We applaud the WCC members who have walked out of AMMA to protest the chairman’s invitation to reinstate the accused. We pledge our continued support to the Women in Cinema Collective who are blazing a trail to battle sexism in the film industry.

“Cinema is an art form that can challenge deeply entrenched violence and discrimination in society. It is distressing to see an industry that stands amongst the best in the country and has even made a mark in world cinema choose to shy away from using their position and their medium responsibly at this important moment. Today, women form a significant part of the film and media industries, we reject any attempt at silencing us and making us invisible.”

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Indian women. VOA

The preference for male children has had some unexpected ramifications. In a working paper published by the American non-profit, National Bureau of Economic Research, by Northwestern University’s Seema Jayachandran and Harvard University’s Rohini Pande (quoted in Quartz Media), finds that stunting in Indian children could also be blamed on the cultural preference for sons.

“In India, on average, the first child — if he is a son — doesn’t suffer from stunting. But, if the first — and so the eldest — child of the family is a girl, she suffers from a height deficit. And, then, if the second child is a boy, and hence the eldest son of the family, he will not be stunted. This happens because of an unequal allocation of resources to the first child”.

According to the report, “When Jayachandran and Pande compared India and Africa results through this lens, they found that the Indian first and eldest son tends to be taller than an African firstborn. If the eldest child of the family is a girl, and a son is born next, the son will still be taller in India than Africa. For girls, however, the India-Africa height deficit is large. It is the largest for daughters with no older brothers, probably because repeated attempts to have a son takes a beating on the growth of the girls.”

Also read: Has Legal Framework Turned a Blind Eye towards Under-representation of Women in Indian Politics?

In spite of all the Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao rhetoric, the required shift in the male-centric attitude towards a more egalitarian one is simply not happening; or, it is a case of one step forward, two steps backward. The Thomson Reuters Foundation report may be unfair and skewed, but being known as the rape capital of the world does nothing to improve the image of India in the world or even in its own eyes. (IANS)