Panel Discussion on “roots of corruption”

A Panel discussion on "roots of corruption" was organized in Delhi on August 8, 2011 by the Lok Raj Sangathan. This discussion assumes importance in the light of the great anger and concern of the working masses and the intelligentsia at the blatant way the ministers, the capitalists, dalals, bureaucrats, judges, MP's and MLA's have been looting the state exchequer.

A Panel discussion on "roots of corruption" was organized in Delhi on August 8, 2011 by the Lok Raj Sangathan. This discussion assumes importance in the light of the great anger and concern of the working masses and the intelligentsia at the blatant way the ministers, the capitalists, dalals, bureaucrats, judges, MP's and MLA's have been looting the state exchequer.

The discussion was initiated by the President of LRS, Shri S Raghavan. The panelists were Prakash Rao, Prashant Bhushan, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Prof Bharat Seth and Prof Arun Kumar. The discussion was moderated by Sucharita.

Comrade Prakash Rao initiated the discussion with a keynote speech that energized all the participants and set the tone for the evening. Referring to the government’s proposed bill on creation of a Lokpal, he said that it is an affront to the masses of people and their proposals to curb corruption and enforce public accountability. The government bill keeps the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary out of the ambit of the Lok Pal. It keeps the wheeling and dealing in parliament, the buying and selling of legislators for saving a government or toppling it, and for pushing through anti people laws and policies out of the ambit of Lok Pal. Most importantly, it is the government which will appoint members of the Lok Pal, precisely from the same set of people – the ministers, the bureaucrats, and the judiciary – who are either guilty of corruption, or of shielding the corrupt.

Why are the parliamentary parties wanting to create such a toothless institution? Why are the Congress, BJP and CPI(M) virulently attacking people for putting forth alternative legislations? Why are the Congress and CPI(M) attacking the mass campaigns which are not led by the established parliamentary parties? Why is CPI(M) calling for defence of parliamentary democracy and secularism, and asserting that the opposition of the people is weakening parliamentary democracy? If we address these questions, we will know the roots of corruption, and more importantly, we will then have an idea of what needs to be done to develop the struggle to root out corruption.

Prakash Rao pointed out why corruption had become so glaring at the present time. India, China and some other countries have been attracting massive amounts of capital as they give higher rates of profit compared to US, Europe and Japan. These high rates of profit are being made by superexploiting the working class and people, and plundering the land and natural resources of our country. The ruling class as a whole is united in pushing policies that enable plunder of the country by all the capitalists. They have no concern for the working masses or for the long-term interests of our society.

All the monopoly capitalist groups of India and the world are fighting it out amongst each other to get the biggest share of this loot and plunder. There is intense competition amongst the different groupings of monopolies. These groups involve both Indian and foreign players. Amongst Indian monopoly groups within India, as well as between foreign monopoly groups over India,the competition is over who will profit most through maximum plunder aided by the state machinery.

Each group is looking for special favours to put one over their rivals. Bribery of MP's and MLA's of different parties, installing particular ministers and officials in key positions, bribery of judges, deciding which party or coalition should come to power, using the "opposition" parties to fix the ruling party — all these are a reflection of the inter monopoly contradictions that are sharpening in our country. Even the leaks organized through the media, about how much money who has stashed away in Swiss banks, are mainly a result of the inter monopoly and inter imperialist contradictions over the loot and plunder of Hindostan.

The anger of the toiling majority of people against corruption is also a factor fueling the exposures of the corruption scandals. There are also some within the ruling circles who are opposed to the corrupt deals because they want a more even playing field for all capitalists. All these factors have contributed to the exposure of the scandals.

It must be noted that the ruling class as a whole wants to keep the inter capitalist contradictions within limits, to make sure that is does not get out of hand. The rulers do not want the working class, peasantry and progressive intelligentsia to advance the struggle for extending democracy, the struggle for constitutional guarantee with enforcing mechanisms for rights, the struggle for empowerment. They do not want their system to be rocked.

This is the reason all the parliamentary parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist), are united in opposing the struggle of people to be decision makers. This is why all of them are upholding the sovereignty of parliament and pitting it against sovereignty of the people. They want the battle inside parliament and outside parliament to be under their control. They do not want people to take the initiative.

However, the reality is that the ruling class is unable to prevent the sharpening of inter capitalist and inter imperialist contradictions. It is unable to quell the struggle of people for their empowerment. This is what present day India is revealing, on all questions, including the struggle to end corruption.

Developing the theme, Prakash Rao said that he would leave it to the other panelists to discuss the merits of various proposals on rooting out corruption, such as those of the Anna Hazare Team, and the Swami Ramdev Team. The preamble to the Constitution declares the people of India to be sovereign. However the fundamental law, the Constitution, violates this principle. The political system and process violates it on a daily basis. People have no way to exercise their sovereignty. We have no role in decision making. Our role is confined to voting, and to pleading with the powers that be through various forms of struggle.

The Directive Principles make lofty declarations. They are violated on a daily basis. Most importantly, when our people make concrete proposals to ensure their implementation, they are attacked, they are discredited, and the proposals are diluted beyond repair. The state machinery is used to attack and discredit all those opposed to the government. For instance, why is it that just now, the state has "discovered" irregularities in the passport of the assistant of Baba Ramdev?

On the burning issues of the day like Right to Food, Universal Public Distribution, rights of farmers including right to their land, right of social security, right to work, and so on, various proposals have been put forth by the people to ensure that the rights of people are constitutionally guaranteed with enforcing mechanisms. They are demanding rights that the government is duty bound to ensure.

The government has continuously stonewalled every proposal of the people on all these issues, including the issue of corruption in high places. It declares that it has the monopoly of wisdom, and ridicules the people’s proposals. What stands out starkly is that PEOPLE HAVE NO CONTROL over the political system and decision-making process, no control over their lives and future. They have no say in governance.

Kapil Sibal's reaction to the proposal on referendum on Jan Lok Pal versus the government's version was to express contempt for the people. How can people vote on a law clause by clause, he asked. This is misrepresenting the issue. An actual vote was taken in different constituencies, including Sibal's own, and the enthusiasm shown by the people reveals that if a referendum is properly formulated, people can make informed decisions. The point is that the ruling circles are afraid of extending democracy towards empowerment of the people.

Therefore to root out corruption, as well as to ensure that the state and the political system serve the people, we must ensure that mechanisms and institutions are put into place that will ensure that people become actual decision makers. THIS IS THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM, the problem requiring urgent solution.

 Ultimate power should vest in people. The people cannot lose their power, once the vote is cast. They must retain the most important portion of power. Decisions of parliament and assemblies must be under control and supervision of people. To ensure this, we must demand right to referendum on issues of vital importance to the people.

We must ensure that the people retain the right to initiate legislation, the right to vote for such a legislation, and the right to vote out anti people legislations.

The legislators must be accountable to the people and under their control and supervision. The right to select candidates before election must belong to people and their organizations, and not to political parties. Those elected are representatives of the people of the constituency, not of this or that party. People must have the right to recall those found unfit.

The Party system of rule must be ended. That is, the present system in which a political party or coalition manufactures a majority, forms a government, and then does what it wants to enrich the biggest capitalists, and itself, with total disregard for the people, must be put an end to. There must be no ruling party and "opposition" parties. All those elected together constitute the body which is answerable to the people. The executive power must be answerable to the legislature, which in turn must be accountable to the entire people. The judiciary must be answerable to the people, and under their control and supervision.

We must redefine the role of a political party in the system of governance. A political party cannot be an electoral machine fighting to come to power to plunder the whole of society to the benefit of the capitalists and imperialists. The role of a political party is to organise and enable the people to exercise power and protect their rights from ever being violated.

Comrade Prakash Rao concluded by pointing out that political reforms in the direction of empowering the people is the necessary condition for uprooting corruption from our society.

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