'Hazare campaign hints at maturing democracy'

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 29 2011, 10:00am hrs
With anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare calling off his 12-day fast on Sunday morning following Saturday's Parliament resolution that his key demands on Lokpal Bill will be considered favourably by the standing committee, India Inc hailed the development as a triumph of democracy.

Meanwhile, some of the people who had descended at the protest site told FE that while corporate corruption also needed to be tackled, corruption at the government level had to be checked first. Their solution was simple: government corruption breeds corporate corruption; if the first is fixed, the second will be automatically eradicated.

Commenting on the developments after Hazare broke his fast, Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and group CEO, Bharti Enterprises told FE: This is a defining moment and marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of our democracy. We commend the spirit of the people of the country and the lawmakers for their determination to take this major initiative to root out the evil of corruption from our system. We are confident that the willingness shown by the civil society and policy makers will help this historic beginning reach its logical conclusion, further helping India achieve its true potential among the global economic superpowers.

Rahul Bajaj, chairman, Bajaj Auto shared the sentiment: The last 12 days have brought the scourge of corruption to national prominence. And it has succeeded.

Deepak Puri, chairman, Moser Baer said: We can say today that the movement has forced the government and political set-up to understand the common man. But the question in many people's mind is whether a Bill will be able to stop corruption or not. The root of corruption lies in the lower bureaucracy which needs to be brought under Lokpal.

Board member of Fortis Healthcare and head of Impact Group Harpal Singh told FE that the movement was truly historic. He, in fact, had sent out an email to his employees on Saturday midnight drawing their attention to the significance of the movement. He had said: There is every reason to celebrate the resurgence of idealism and hope amongst the Indian people as a day on which India has recaptured the initiative and demonstrated to the world and to itself that it has empowered itself in a way that will give real meaning to the word Freedom. He added that the movement was a symbol of the Indian democracy maturing. It struck a deep chord among many. At the end of the day, it was quite a remarkable movement which brought out the inherent strengths of Indian democracy and its parliamentarians. The power of democracy lies in its ability to voice opinions and that is what has happened today, he told FE.

Rajiv Kumar, secretary-general of industry body Ficci said: Its a historical moment in Indian history. All corruption is on notice now.

A cross section of people who had reached the Ramlila ground to support the fast against corruption gave their verdict thus: Since common people have to deal with the government on a day-to-day basis, corruption was a bigger malaise here. If stopped, corporate corruption would automatically get checked.

Corruption is there in the corporate sector also as was evident in the 2G spectrum scam, but it stems from the government. In the telecom scam, it was the government which gave all the licences and quotas, said Nilesh Kumar, who hails from Madhya Pradesh.

A government official from the irrigation department of Punjab, who didnt want to be named, and wholeheartedly supported Anna: Though I work in the government, I can say that corruption levels are much higher here. Moreover, the public in general has to deal with the government on an everyday basis vis-a-vis the private firms.

Corporate crime came in the limelight with the Satyam scandal and Indian money in Swiss banks. But corporates usually are bribe givers while the government is the bribe taker. Hence, both affect us equally, said Rashmi, an economics student of Lucknow University who came all the way to Delhi to lend support to Hazare.

Financial frauds can be tackled by the ministry of corporate affairs and the Companies Act but what about corruption at the lower bureaucracy levels Who will look into it We must understand that corruption at any level will tarnish Indias image and that will hinder its business prospects, Kumar added.

(Inputs from Parul Chhaparia, Kirtika Suneja & Ronojoy Banerjee)