Anna's zero-tolerance policy will sober the army

Mar 28, 2012, 01:17 IST | Ranjona Banerji

My father has come up with what I think is a brilliant, if radical idea, for Anna Hazare and his team to take up in their fight against corruption: the armed forces.

Clearly, our military is riddled with corrupt generals cutting all sorts of deals -- land, jeeps, coffins, helicopters, submarines and whatever else. As for Hazare, he has two extra draws here -- he is a former army man himself and people in the army drink alcohol. Since discipline is an integral part of the armed forces, all officers accused of corruption and suspected of a tipple or two should be tied to trees and flogged in Ralegan Sidhi. Therefore, regardless of whether CBI enquiries and stuff prove anything, swift and severe justice would have been meted out.

Lost Allies: By calling MPs rapists, dacoits and murderers, Arvind Kejriwal has even turned his earlier
champions, the BJP, against the movement against corruption

I feel that I agree with this thought. Right now, the Hazare movement against corruption is running on empty. By calling MPs rapists, dacoits and murderers, Arvind Kejriwal has even turned his earlier champions, the BJP, against the cause. Plus, the BJP is part of the brigade which believes in some federal structure of India (The Federal States of India or FSI? Certainly, the builder-developer lobby should be happy with that) and therefore objects to the state lokayuktas being part of the Lokpal Bill. (Remember Karnataka being the legend looming like Banquo’s ghost presumably.)

Speaking of FSI (the current one, not the BJP dream -- so close to the US and yet so far, no wonder they’re squabbling so much about who should be elected to the Senate, sorry Rajya Sabha), there is an allegation by a well-respected RTI activist Krishnarao that Mayank Gandhi of India Against Corruption had some not-so-savoury builder-developer dealings when he was part of an NGO involved in the cluster development of the Chira Bazaar area in Mumbai.

This is not a completely new allegation but the “how dare you suggest we are not above board” motto of Hazare and friends accepts no complaints. If you doubt them, you are clearly evil, corrupt, shameless, conscience-less, uncaring, callous and all the rest of it. It is another matter that Kiran Bedi’s association with Vedanta is also being probed. This armed forces idea can shift the focus away from their own little tax fiddles and on to the larger issue -- the honour of India.

Back to the armed forces: Not only are officers openly stealing land meant for war widows to build flats for themselves, they are also walking around bribing each other on behalf of suppliers. This suggests a level of confidence in themselves and their colleagues that is commendable. The army chief says he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore over a year ago.

He tells the defence minister who clutches his head and tells the army chief to do something. So the army chief, who tends to forget things like his date of birth, only just remembers about the bribe while talking to a journalist. More, says the army chief will be revealed soon, especially the “sutradhar” of this conspiracy within the army.  This will include -- and I hope this is true for his sake -- someone who knows exactly how old he is. You can see that in his mind, DOB is more important than FSI and BOO (bribing other officers).

In this, I hope I have made a case for Anna Hazare to follow. You may balk at the violence -- as do I -- but remember that Hazare has his own unique twist on Mahatma Gandhi and his ideas -- quite suitable to the FSI version of India. Bapu would be turning in his grave if he had one, but a TV-fed audience has shown itself to be quite happy with this plywood version.

By the way, does flogging help with memory loss?

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist.You can follow her on twitter@ranjona

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