Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Anna - the way ahead, please move beyond NGO speak

 Anna Hazare is right.

The fight to rid India of corruption has only just begun. Fuelling outrage is easy. Channelling it democratically towards solutions requires real leadership.

Having won a spectacular victory in popular sentiment, Anna and his team now have to show they understand their responsibilities. They have to move on from NGOspeak and vaulting personal ambitions to the nitty-gritty of nation and confidence building.
Nelson Mandela, who was inspired by Gandhi, said a true leader is one who carries his opponents and friends along in pursuit of a goal.

More importantly, a true leader knows when his job is over and he must leave the stage. I am not sure Anna and his team will stop and listen. Law making succeeds when the historical time necessary for a debate to mature and the political time to capture that knowledge in a body of law meet. Policy work that precedes law making is often work in progress. Experience shows that five key stakeholders — the government, the media, NGOs, academic institutions and the corporate sector — play clearly defined roles in shepherding this process that includes framing issues correctly.

We need to see some confidence-building measures from Anna’s team — a task that can be easily carried out by their second and third rung leadership. Having wrenched the moral high ground from the government, Anna and his team would set a very healthy precedent if they could share a few of their learnings with the nation.

One is to tell us how, in a record time of a few months, they built their knowledge base to arrive at the conclusion that they speak for the nation that wants their version of the Lokpal bill to be passed immediately.

Secondly, it would be very helpful to know their selection criteria for fundraising and how they manage vested interests from donating to their cause. India Against Corruption has posted some lists on the website.

It’s a small start. If Anna could ask all his associates and donors to do the same, our confidence in him will grow. Failing to do so would leave the door open for attacks as the debate moves on to the level that Anna has identified as the fight to finish.

Many of the protesters want jobs. At a time when our economic indicators are a cause for concern, a second confidence building measure would be to tell us what role Anna and his team see for the corporate sector in building a robust economic space for the nation. Is it their final word that economic liberalisation is the root of all evil and that the corporate world is a mafia that is responsible for a lot of what ails India today?

Since some of the leaders with Anna accept corporate funding, it would be helpful if their criteria for differentiating between good and bad corporates could be posted online as a service to the nation. Since they will also require the support of legal luminaries and other NGOs, we come back to confidence building measures that is expected of all good politicians and statesmen.

As a third confidence building exercise and using the Jan Lokpal bill as an example, Anna and his team should tell the nation how they would have dealt with one of the many major scams in front of us or how would secure corruption free jobs for the deserving. It could be a Jan Lokpal roadmap to justice. This is not a hypothetical question. It is real time learning.

The government has no credibility on this issue. This is a historical moment for us. Anna has won hands down in the people’s court.
It is therefore expected of him to now go beyond flag waving, show statesmanship and governance, and convert this grand and popular victory into a robust nation building exercise engaging transparently not just with the media but with all sectors and people who have a stake in making India corruption free.

Having raised expectations all around, Anna and his team now have to prove with every act and word that they are right when they say they have earned the right to lead. The nation is waiting with bated breath.

Chitra Subramaniam Duella is founder, CSD consulting, Switzerland, a business development company that promotes ethical businesses practices. She is also a former award-winning journalist and author.
DNA / Chitra Subramaniam Duella / Wednesday, August 24, 2011 10:30 IST
URL of the article:
Permission to reprint or copy this article or photo must be obtained from

No comments:

Post a Comment