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Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Parallel Government is Injurious to Democracy
Mirza A. Beg
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Anna Hazare has captured the imagination of the Indian body politic. His clarion-call to end the exponentially growing, endemic corruption in India has been reverberating and gathering supporters with each passing day. The news media in India has become his megaphone.
The corruption has been increasing over the decades in magnitude as well as pervasiveness. The developing economy, increasing disposable income of the middle class and much larger workforce provide more opportunities for bribes. At the top levels of the government the bribes have grown from thousands to tens of millions of Rupees.
On my visits to India, I enjoy asking probing social and political questions in conversations with a wide spectrum of very friendly and talkative fellow travelers. Everyone is against corruption as a simple nebulous principle. But the answers get clouded and muddled when it benefits their lives.
The Indian Government finally realized that the evil of corruption has reached the tipping point and drafted a legislation to create an independent office of Lokpal (ombudsmen) to watch over various agencies with independent, but limited authority. It would have the power to investigate. Based on evidence, it would recommend and direct the judicial system to take action. Obviously it would take time for such a system to mature and work. Unfortunately the judicial system is not beyond corruption either.
The office of Lokpal would be similar to the office of the Election Commissioner, which has worked rather well, notwithstanding all the ills of the society. Indian elections are by and large fair and have successfully changed the government many times.
Yet the corruption at all levels including the legislature has grown, because the most important driving force for voting for a candidate is not honesty, but sectarianism – a substantial majority votes based on religion, cast and regional advantages. Political parties put up candidates based on these considerations. Once elected, they distribute economic largess as well as jobs and contracts to their most important supporters and casts in their constituency. Ironically, it is not considered corruption by a large majority of the populace.
Anna Hazare and his companions proposed a much stronger and aggressive office of the Lokpal (ombudsman). They insist that all the branches of the government would be under its authority including the Prime Minister. It would have independent police and judicial powers. In effect, it would be akin to a parallel unelected government, and would have minimal check on its authority.
When aroused, people like simple and fast remedies. It appealing that and Anna Hazare proposes to cut the Gordian knot in one strike. To force his ideas on the government, he first threatened and then took up a fast unto death. It sounds enticing, especially coming from a person who has put his life on the line and has a long record of service to the poor and personal honesty.
Taking advantage of the situation, all sorts of people have jumped on his band wagon for their own purposes, while many opposed to him have unearthed records, where he appears to have supported unsavory ideas and people. Many in the minority community want to join him but are weary of some of the Anna’s unsavory backers. No one is perfect, and he may have some explaining to do.
I applaud his taking a stand and galvanizing the placid electorate to demand reform. One needs to look at it not from sectarian perspective, but a long range national perspective. Means and ends should be carefully considered. Democracy is not easy to nurture. A system that changes with the changing wind of public opinion does not last very long. An unaccountable parallel government is an idea fraught with danger. Impetuously designed laws with the best of intentions have unintended consequences. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
That is why most stable democracies have a bicameral legislature, so that a part of the legislature, called the upper house or senate --is protected from the immediacy of the impetuous public emotions.
Democracy by its very nature is inefficient. The system of checks and balances is an impediment to quick solutions of long festering social problems. Simplistic and draconian solutions against an evil are easy to understand and support. Anna Hazare has projected himself as a leader in the Gandhian tradition. But there is a difference.
Gandhi Ji agitated and fasted to give voice to the people, against an unelected imperial colonial government. Hazare is holding hostage, a legitimately elected government of the people. With his popularity growing by the day, the government is being held on ransom with a false choice of Hazare’s bill or widespread chaos.
In a democracy, the government is only as good as the people vote for. If the electorate really wanted honesty and integrity, they could have voted for them as beacons. But they did not, they vote for personal aggrandizement on the basis of cast etc. Impetuous quick solutions often bring unintended consequences. Thoughtful people should take time to bring in change without injuring the constitution and the essence of democracy. The start has been made to check corruption. Anna Hazare should compromise to get a good bill instead of throwing the country in to chaos.
Mirza A. beg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or mirzasmusings.blogspot.com
Saturday, August 13, 2011
My Dear Fellow Indians,
We are Indians and nothing but Indian.
Our combined philosophies believe in one world ; Hinduism describes the world as Vasudaiva Kutumbukum, the whole world is one family, the idea of Ek Onkar(one) in Sikhism, you are all created from the same couple as Quraan puts it and Jesus embraced every one regardless of who anyone is... similar philosophies are grounded in all our religions.
A few don't follow their own heritage and resort to thievery, loot, murder, terrorism, rioting, rapes, infanticide and other evils that destroy the fabric of the society, but a majority of every group goes about their own way, living their life with struggles and ease and don't even bother others. We should build upon the 99% of the population and not on the less than 1% that does not follow any principles.
We are inherently secular and economically capitalistic. We believe in "live-and-let-live" lifestyle, which is the essence of capitalism. We respect everyone's right to eat, drink, wear or believe in whatever they want after all God created each one of to be a unique being with our own thumbprint, eye print, taste buds, religious buds, and DNA.
Through the years we have expressed the highest degree of maturity on handling extreme situations; the more divergent opinions we hear, the larger our heart grows, the bigger our embrace would be and we can cushion more differences. Let’s continue to honor the concept that there is always another side to the story, as finding the truth is our own responsibility. I am proud of my heritage and am proud to be an Indian-American.
Indian Pledge of Allegiance
We have to figure out how to co-exist with least frictions. It is in your interests, my interest, and everyone's interest to have justice, which gives birth to sustainable peace and prosperity
We have to find solutions for people who go to the extremes; be them be Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian or other, hoping they would recognize the God-given space to each one of us and eventually see the benefits of co-existence.
I propose that the parliament of India introduce a bill for every political, cultural and religious organization in India to register with the Home Ministry, state their purpose, list their assets for public scrutiny, list the membership roster to be updated annually. Include a modified version of the 7 items into Indian Penal Code, and make it into the law to punish the violators of the law.
Patriotism should be defined in terms of what you do to uplift the hopes of people, in terms of education to all, jobs to as many as we can in each successive year, home for every human, and a better lifestyle to every Indian.
Every public office holder from the Peon to the President of India and everyone in between must take this pledge and live by it. Violation should disqualify him or her from holding the public office. Let it be monitored publicly.
1. I pledge allegiance to India, indivisible nation that stands for liberty and justice for all.
2. I pledge that I honor and treat every Indian with "full" dignity.
3. I pledge that all individuals would be treated on par.
4. I pledge that I will treat all religions with equal respect, equal access, and equal treatment.
5. I pledge that I will oppose any act that treats any Indian less than myself.
6. I Pledge that I will work for an India, where every individual can live with security and aspire for prosperity.
7. I pledge that I will protect, preserve and value every inch of India and every human soul in India
This would be the first step towards ensuring a Just, peaceful and prosperous India, that can sustain its progress and peace.
- Vande Mataram - AR Rahman
- Vande Mataram
- Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna ab
- Saray jahan say achha -1
- Saray Jahan say achha - lata
- Mere Desh Ki Dharti
- Mera rangde basanti chola
- Kar chalay hum fida,
- Jahan Daal Daal par sone
- Hum laye hain toofan say kishti
- Hai preet jahan ki reet sada
- Ganga Meri Maa ka Naam
- Apni azadi ku hum hargiz
- Apni Azaadi ko hargiz hum
- ai watan ai watan, tujh ko
- Ai mere pyaare watan,
- Aao bachcho tumheien sire
- A jo des hai tera - Shahrukh
- A desh hai veer jawanon ka
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel,India, interfaith, and cohesion at workplace and society. He is committed to building aCohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He believes in Standing up for others and a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links. Most of his work is at www.CenterforPluralism.com
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
In memory of our soldiers and Navy Seals who died on Saturday, please observe a minute of silence honoring them. May God bless them and give patience to their families. May God give us the wisdom to end Wars and find solutions through mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. Amen
I urge fellow Muslim Americans to pray for their well beings, Insha Allah I will pray special prayers for them after Iftaar and Maghrib prayers this evening.