6 Apr 2011

Anna Hazare is 72, India is 62, and the Lokpal Bill is 42

There is bitter irony in the fact that it took a man 10 years senior to Independent India to take a stand about the nation's future.

One can only hope it's not too late.

In his open letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Anna Hazare asks: "You say that your Group of Ministers are drafting the anti-corruption law. Many of the members of this Group of Ministers have such a shady past that if effective anticorruption systems had been in place, some of them would have been behind bars. Do you want us to have faith in a process in which some of the most corrupt people of this country should draft the anti-corruption law?"

A fair point - but surely, Anna must know that bills take time - sometimes years - to be drafted, debated on, possibly amended, and finally voted upon in parliament... Or do they?

About three years ago, I had come across this rather interesting piece of news: In 2008, the Lower House (Lok Sabha) of the Indian Parliament set a record of sorts by passing 8 Parliamentary Bills in just 17 minutes! A little over 2 minutes per bill.

The feat was accomplished amid the chaos and din of the final hours of Winter Session.

The action apparently did not go un-noticed... “So many important Bills were passed without any discussion. The Congress and BJP have killed democracy,” said CPM leader Basudeb Acharia. “The Congress tried to bulldoze the institution of Parliament,” said BJP MP Kiren Rijiju. Even Congress MP Bagun Sumbrui, who was first elected to the 6th Lok Sabha, said what happened was “unusual”.

Hmm... It would be interesting to find out what exactly were in those 8 super-urgent bills.

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