Friday, October 1, 2010

Corruption and development are Strange bedfellows: Dr. JP

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said today that India is at the crossroads of history, with an unprecedented opportunity to become the world’s second largest economy at one end and the tremendous danger of becoming a failed State at the other. Paraphrasing novelist Charles Dickens, Dr. JP said, “It is the best of times and it is the worst of times” in India’s history.

Interacting with the media on the eve of the party’s fourth anniversary, Dr. JP recalled that India’s share in the world’s GDP was 25 percent until 1700 AD. It plunged to about 8 percent by 1900, two percent in 1947 and one percent in 1991. Thanks to the corrective steps taken since 1991, it has grown to about 2.5 percent now. “If we do the right things, our share in the world’s GDP can go up to 18 percent by 2040, making India the second largest economy in the world, next only to that of China.

Dr. JP said that such a miracle would not happen on its own. “We have to make the miracle happen with every one of us joining hands.”

By weathering the global recession and recording an annual growth rate of around 8 percent, India has demonstrated its potential to leap forward economically. A high growth rate, however, will not last if we pursue 19th century politics of plunder, partisanship, and divisions.

The corruption and incompetence that marked the organization of Commonwealth games has not merely sullied the country’s reputation but also posed a threat to the continued foreign direct investment and institutional investment and trade relations with other countries. Scandals over allocation of 2G spectrum and mining leases highlight the unprecedented plunder of the State exchequer. Now even the integrity of the highest judiciary of the land has come under a cloud.

“We cannot achieve a high growth rate, eradicate poverty, and maintain ecological balance if people remain passive spectators and allow plunder to go unchecked.”

Dr. JP appealed to sane elements within and outside political parties and civil society organizations to join hands for bringing about fundamental changes in the nature and practice of politics. Constitution of a strong and independent anti corruption commission to ensure swift and exemplary punishment to the corrupt, a national judicial commission for appointment and removal of judges, and empowerment of local governments and citizens are some of the immediate tasks before the nation.

“Ushering in new politics is everybody’s task. The young and the enlightened of the country should assume leadership in this battle for India’s soul.” The Lok Satta Party, he said, has provided a platform and has been practicing what it preaches. It has provided an unmatched clarity to public issues and stood for upholding constitutional values and maintenance of integrity in public life.

Dr. JP said that all people should unite to banish “the seven scourges” plaguing India. They are poverty, corruption, centralization, absence of rule of law, deliberately created divisions in society, rural-urban divide and drug abuse and alcoholism.

Andhra Pradesh, said Dr. JP, exemplifies what is wrong with India. Nowhere else, there is so much of unbridled lust for power, exploitation of caste and money power, and abuse of invective as in Andhra Pradesh. “We have mastered the art of replicating the worst practices, instead of learning the best, from all over the country and making them national norms.”

“What the Lok Satta is waging is not a battle for power; it is a battle for transformation of society. The Lok Satta is humble enough to realize that it cannot fight the battle single-handed. It, therefore, would like to work with all those who are prepared to eschew politics of dynasty, caste, parochialism, and corruption. The uphill journey is bound to be long and arduous but we will succeed if we have the will.”

The Lok Satta movement, as an NGO, has demonstrated what citizens can accomplish through sustained movements. It rescued consumers from being fleeced tens of thousands of crores of rupees year after year through under-measurement of fuel at petroleum outlets. It was instrumental in ushering in many reforms like disclosure of criminal antecedents of contesting candidates in elections, transparency in campaign funding, tightening of anti defection law, limiting the size of Cabinets, right to information, village courts, National Rural Health Mission and autonomy for cooperatives.

Dr. JP said the nation had for the first time showed remarkable respect for rule of law a couple of weeks before the Ayodhya verdict was out with every section of people deciding to leave the matter to courts. The quiet and dignified manner in which the people reacted to the verdict demonstrated their maturity.

Dr. JP launched a website developed by young IT professionals titled Mr. M. Sidhhanti, speaking on behalf of the developers, said the site would help people of Kukatpally, which Dr. JP represents in the Assembly, get their grievances redressed.

Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma, Lok Satta Party Working President, said the Lok Satta enjoyed enormous goodwill among people. The party was now engaged in the task turning out change agents.

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