When the chronicle is revisited, the manner in which the Indian political class closed ranks against Anna Hazare looks absolutely stunning. They set aside their mutual acrimonies over ideology, personalities, economic policies, foreign-policy issues, etc. and simply hunkered down when it came to the Lok Pal Bill — like donkeys who could be taken to the river bank but nonetheless stubbornly refuse to drink. Alas, the stance of the Left parties is particularly obnoxious. They saw the groundswell of public opinion applauding Hazare’s campaign and they thought it prudent to try to tap into it — but, only for a fleeting moment, after which they stealthily moved away, realising where their class interests would ultimately lie in a bourgeois democracy.
The Left made a mistake, if the media reports from Jantar Mantar are any pointer. In the coming weeks, when the election of the vice-president takes place and when the parliament meets, Lok Pal Bill could come to the fore again and it may become difficult for the political class to asphyxiate it, as had happened once on the floor of the Rajya Sabha. But if they manage a repeat performance, it will be in full public view and that is going to look rather ugly. Hazare is campaigning over a national issue, an issue that won’t easily go away but will keep popping up as the day follows the night. Hazare is not the issue.
Of course, the malaise of the super-rich hiding wealth in offshore accounts is a worldwide phenomenon. By coincidence, an exhaustive study titled “The Price of Offshore Revisited”, has just been released in the West. The research was commissioned by the Tax Justice Network, which was originally mooted by the British parliament and was supervised by a former chief economist of the global management consultant firm McKinsey & Company. As regards India, the TJN estimated in March 2010 that the country had lost 213 billion dollars in illicit financial flows, with a present value of at least 462 billion, conservatively estimated. Wow! Am I right? The amount is Rs. 2541000 crores.
To my mind, the finest legacy that the newly-elected president and vice-president could bequeath to the Indian nation during their 5-year term in office will be to ensure that this time around at least, the Lok Pal Bill is enacted. For that, of course, they need to rise far, far above the political class. The TJN report is here.
Posted in Politics.
– July 31, 2012