India Needs to Learn from the Arab Spring and Have a Peaceful Indian Summer

As protesters gather around India’s Parliament to express their frustration with India’s inability to properly address corruption, many wonder what should be done next to best help India address the endemic problem of corruption. The people of India need look no further than Egypt or Ukraine or even their own India to see the next logical step, and take to the streets.

India’s Lower House (Lok Sabha) has tabled the LokPal (Ombudsman) bill over partisan bickering. In the process, the government has also alienated the people who elected them. Now the bill is in such a watered-down state that leading icons of civil society are saying the bill should not be passed.

The LokPal Bill is a fatally flawed piece of legislation, drafted to appoint an ombudsman to investigate charges of corruption within parliament. It falls short of doing anything effective to prevent corruption as it states blatantly that corruption will be tolerated at the highest levels by excluding the Prime Minister, MPs, the judiciary and civil servants from the reach of the Lokpal. Strangely, however, all those who serve below them, will be held accountable.

The protests outside India’s Parliament and across the nation are a form of civil disobedience that will help draw attention to the problem and hopefully force India’s leaders to address the issue seriously. Now that Anna Hazare has been arrested it is time for us to lead ourselves.

I applaud those who have let their voice be heard. What I suggest now is that others join them and take it to the next level, by using social media and grassroots organizations to let their voice be heard in unison around the world.

This saved the Ukrainian people from a fraudulent election. This allowed Egypt to evict a tyrant and hold him accountable for his crimes against the people. This also helped the process of drafting this legislation this past spring as many stood with Mr. Hazare and his calls to draft proper legislation.

Have we already forgotten the scale and the shame of the recent telecoms scam the cloud of corruption hanging over the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games and the allegations that houses intended for war widows ended up in the hands of civil servants?

Since 1969 there have been soft inklings and failed efforts to draft legislation addressing government corruption head-on. Each time, without fail, MPs eventually voted against it. It is time to take destiny into our own hands.

If the people of India take to the streets, mimicking the peaceful and powerful methods of our nation’s leader, Mahatma Gandhi, we will see real change. It is up to us.

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