2011 Indian anti-corruption movement
|2011 Indian anti-corruption movement|
Anna Hazare's hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, on the second day of his fast
|Date||4 April 2011 – 28 December 2011|
Corruption in public life
|Methods||Non violent protest|
The Indian anti-corruption movement, commencing in 2011, was a series of demonstrations and protests across India intended to establish strong legislation and enforcement against perceived endemic political corruption. The movement was named among the "Top 10 News Stories of 2011" by Time magazine.
The movement gained momentum from 5 April 2011, when anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare began a hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The chief legislative aim of the movement was to alleviate corruption in the Indian government through introduction of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Another aim, spearheaded by Ramdev, was the repatriation of black money from Swiss and other foreign banks.
Grievances of mass protesters focussed on legal and political issues, including political corruption, kleptocracy, and other forms of corruption. The movement was primarily one of non-violent civil resistance, featuring demonstrations, marches, acts of civil disobedience, hunger strikes, marches and rallies, as well as the use of social media to organise, communicate, and raise awareness. The protests were nonpartisan and most protesters were hostile to attempts made by political parties to use them to strengthen their own political agendas.
Issues regarding corruption in India have become increasingly prominent in recent years. The country was subject to socialist-inspired economic policies dating from independence in 1947 until the 1980s. Over-regulation, protectionism, and government ownership of industry led to slow economic growth, high unemployment, and widespread poverty. This system of bureaucratic control by government is called the License Raj and lies at the core of endemic corruption.
The Vohra Report of 1993, submitted by the former Indian Union Home Secretary Narinder Nath Vohra, studied the issue of the criminalisation of politics. The report contained several observations made by official agencies on the criminal network which was virtually running a parallel government. It also discussed criminal gangs who enjoyed the patronage of politicians and the protection of government functionaries. It revealed that political leaders had become leaders of street gangs and rogue elements in the military. Over the years, criminals had been elected to local bodies, State Assemblies, and the Parliament.
The Right to Information Act (RTI) of 2005 helped civilians work effectively towards tackling corruption. It allows Indian citizens to request information, for a fixed fee of ₹10 (US$0.22), from a "public authority" (a body of Government or "instrumentality of State"). In turn, this public authority is required to reply to the request within thirty days. Activists have used this to uncover corruption cases against various politicians and bureaucrats – one consequence being that some of those activists have been attacked and even killed.
In the years immediately preceding the 2011 anti-corruption protests there were various notable examples of alleged corruption in the country. These included the Adarsh Housing Society Scam, the 2010 housing loan scam, the Radia tapes controversy, and the 2G spectrum scam. In February 2011, the Supreme Court of India ordered all trial courts in the country to expedite handling of corruption cases and the President of India, Pratibha Patil, stated that measures to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and other legislative and administrative measures necessary to improve transparency would be taken. A month later, Chief Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas was forced to resign on charges of corruption by the Supreme Court.
April 2011 protests
Anna Hazare wanted a joint committee to be formed, comprising members of the government and of civil society, to draft tougher anti-corruption legislation. Manmohan Singh, then Prime Minister of India, rejected Hazare's demand and so Hazare began a hunger strike on 5 April 2011 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. He said that the fast would continue until the legislation was enacted. His action attracted considerable support, including some people who joined him in fasting. Prominent representatives of opposition political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), indicated their support for Hazare and demanded government action. Hazare would not allow politicians to sit with him and those who tried to join, such as Uma Bharti and Om Prakash Chautala, were turned away.
Protests in sympathy with Hazare spread to various Indian cities, including Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, and Ahmedabad. Prominent figures from Bollywood, sports and business indicated their support and there were also gatherings outside India, including in the US, Britain, France and Germany.
The government squabbled with the activists, insisting that the drafting committee would be headed by a government-appointed minister and not a civil society member as the protesters had demanded to avoid allowing the government to make the bill less powerful.
On 6 April, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar resigned from the group of ministers that had been charged with reviewing the draft bill. Hazare had accused him of being corrupt. On 9 April, the government agreed to establish a joint committee. This came from a compromise that there would be a politician chairman, Pranab Mukherjee, and an activist non-politician co-chairman, Shanti Bhushan. Bhushan was one of the original drafters of the Lokpal Bill along with Hazare, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, advocate Prashant Bhushan and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.
The first meeting of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee was held on 16 April. The government agreed to audio-record the committee's meetings and to hold public consultations before a final draft was prepared but refused Hazare's demand that the proceedings be televised live.
Ramdev had announced in April that he would launch a people's anti-corruption movement called Bharat Swabhiman Andolan. On 13 May it was announced that India had completed ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption, a process that had begun in 2010. Then, in the early days of June, four senior Union Ministers - Pranab Mukherjee, Kapil Sibal, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Subodh Kant Sahay - met Ramdev to discuss his concerns.
Ramdev supported Hazare's fast and subsequently led a second major protest at the Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi on 4 June 2011. He intended to highlight the need for legislation to repatriate black money deposited abroad. He demanded that such untaxed money should be declared to be the wealth of the nation and, further, that the act of caching money alleged to have been obtained illegally in foreign banks should be declared a crime against the state.
The Ramlila Maidan was booked for 40 days to allow the protest to happen. Preparations included setting up toilet, drinking water and medical facilities, as well as a media centre. Ramdev claimed that more than 100 million people were directly involved with the Bharat Swabhiman Andolan. Almost 3.2 million "netizens" joined the campaign.
On 5 June, police raided the Maidan, detaining Ramdev and removing his supporters after firing tear gas shells and lathicharging. 53 people, including 20 police officers, were treated for injuries. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee called the police action "unfortunate" but added that the government had to do that as Ramdev had no permission to hold the protest. Ministers said that permission had been granted for a yoga camp with 5,000 attendees but not for a political protest that had gathered 65,000 people.
It was alleged that the action was not a spontaneous decision but had been planned for several days. The police said Ramdev had been informed shortly beforehand that permission to continue his agitation had been cancelled. By that time, over 5000 police officers had been prepared for action. There was an allegation that CCTV footage of the raid was missing.
On 6 June, the National Human Rights Commission of India requested that reports of the events be provided within two weeks by the Union Home Secretary, Delhi Chief Secretary and the Delhi City Commissioner of Police. Hazare responded to the events by holding a one-day hunger strike. Protests were held in many parts of country, including the cities of Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jammu, and Lucknow. They also spread to Nepal.
Civil society response
Ramdev accused the government of not being serious about discussing issues of corruption and black money, alleging that government negotiator Kapil Sibal had cheated him through a "scheming and cunning" attitude. He alleged that there was a conspiracy to kill him and a "threat" was given to him during a meeting with senior ministers. He also claimed that the ruling government chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the United Progressive Alliance government will be responsible for any threat to his life and alleged that he was nearly strangled by the police. After being evicted from Delhi, Ramdev wanted to continue his fast from Noida but was denied permission to do so by the Uttar Pradesh government. He decided to continue his hunger strike and satyagraha from Haridwar only until 12 June 2011.
Hazare said there might have been some faults with Ramdev's agitation but that the beating up of people at night rather than in the day-time was a "blot on democracy" and that "there was no firing otherwise the eviction was similar to Jallianwala Bagh incident." He said that the "strangulation of democracy" would cause civil society to launch protests throughout the country to "teach government a lesson". Civil society leaders, such as Arvind Kejriwal, said that the use of police force on non-violent sleeping protesters was undemocratic.
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh said that the government had reached an agreement before the protests were held. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to Ramdev, asking to cease-and-desist from holding the protests. Nationalist Congress Party General Secretary Tariq Anwar said that "Both Hazare and Ramdev are blackmailing the government and they should first peep into their own hearts." Pawan Bansal commented on the midnight police action and said that "It was not a crackdown, we [the government] had to do it to maintain law and order".
All India Congress Committee secretary Janardan Dwivedi described Ramdev's protest as a "political game" by the Bharatiya Janata Party, pointing out that despite being treated in the same hospital as Nigamananda, a protestor who had fasted for over two months regarding a different matter, Ramdev got more attention.
Political party response
- The Bharatiya Janata Party called the police action to break up the hunger strike "undemocratic". Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the incident comparing atrocities on Ramlila ground with Ravana-Lila, adding that “It is one of the worst days of Indian history. The Prime Minister had said during the elections that he would bring back black money stashed in Swiss banks within 100 days of coming into power. But today, it is two years and nothing has happened.” L. K. Advani said that the police action reminded him of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and added that the police crackdown on Ramdev is a "naked fascism". Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said: "This is not democracy. .. the police cannot alone have taken such a step. It had the approval of the Prime Minister and full approval of the Congress President.
- Bahujan Samaj Party leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, condemned the government's midnight crackdown on Ramdev and demanded that Supreme Court of India order an investigation into the incident stating that justice cannot be expected from the Central Government.
- The Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav condemned the incident saying that the action shows Centre has lost its mental balance. Charging the ruling Indian National Congress party, Yadav further said: "A Congress leader said that Baba is a thug. I want to say that Congress is the biggest thug and it should introspect its deeds. "The government swooped down on Ramdev and his supporters as if it were carrying an attack on a foreign enemy," Yadav told reporters at a press conference.
- Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad Yadav accused Ramdev of being a front for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
- The Communist Party of India (Marxist) termed the police action at the protest site of Ramdev as "deplorable and shortsighted". However, they found fault with the yoga guru for making the issue of black money "farcical" by entering into a secret agreement with government. "The manner in which Ramdev's demands were drafted and the way in which he has conducted his interactions with the government, coming to a secret agreement to withdraw the hunger strike on the basis of assurances, then reneging and announcing its extension trivialised the seriousness of the issue of black money and made it farcical," the party said.
- The Shiv Sena strongly condemned the police action against Ramdev.
- Nitish Kumar, leader of Janata Dal (United), and the Chief Minister of Bihar, condemned the attack saying "It is a major blow to democracy and an attack on the democratic rights of the people ... It is also an attack on the fundamental rights of the citizens.”
Suo Moto cognizance by the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of India issued notices to the Union Home Secretary, Chief Secretary of Delhi, Delhi administration, and Delhi Police Commissioner expressing its displeasure that the entire contents of the petition had been leaked to the media before the matter came up for hearing. On 29 August 2011, the Court blamed the Delhi Police for the forcible eviction.
By mid-June, the Jan Lokpal drafting committee was in disagreement and government representatives said that if a consensus was not reached then two drafts would be sent to the Cabinet, being those of the government and of the civil society representatives. Hazare declared that if the government version of the bill was passed by parliament, he would start a hunger strike from 16 August 2011. On 15 August, he announced that the fast would begin on the following day.
The government imposed Section 144 at Jayaprakash Narayan Park, Rajghat and Delhi Gate, prohibiting assembly of five or more people. Hazare was detained by Delhi Police in the early morning of 16 August before he could start his hunger strike. More than 1200 supporters, including members of Team Anna, were also taken into preventative custody. Most of the supporters, including Kiran Bedi and Shanti Bushan, were released by early evening. Hazare was remanded to Tihar Jail after he refused to sign a personal bail bond. Within hours, a Team Anna spokesperson said that he had begun a hunger protest in custody and was not accepting even water to drink. The arrests set off a groundswell of protests across the country and were condemned by opposition political parties and some non-government organisations. Parliament was unable to conduct business after an uproar on the issue forced an adjournment for the day. In Chennai, Mahatma Gandhi's secretary, V. Kalyanam, led the protesters. He said
India will get a sure gold medal if corruption is entered as an item in the Olympic Games. We may not be a force in football or athletics or hockey. But India is the undisputed global leader in corruption.
Delhi police commissioner B. K. Gupta said that the police were not keen for Hazare be sent to judicial custody and had been prepared to release him if he had given an undertaking not to break Section 144 and ask his supporters also not to do so. In a message released after his detention, Hazare said this was the beginning of the "second freedom struggle" and he called on people to participate in a "jail bharo" agitation.
Hazare on 16 August asked government employees across the country to go on mass leave to show solidarity with the movement. Union Home minister P. Chidambaram hoped they would not respond, describing the call as "completely wrong." Hazare's close associate and lawyer Prashant Bhushan urged government servants to join their cause and take a mass leave for a day and join the protests in their city.
It was decided to release Hazare after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, who disapproved of the arrest, on the evening of 16 August. Congress sources said that the Government decided to release him and his supporters after coming to the conclusion that keeping him in jail would disrupt law and order unnecessarily. Over 1,500 people who had been detained for taking part in protests demanding Hazare's release were also freed. However, Hazare then refused to leave the jail until the government agreed to give unconditional permission to hold protests at Jai Prakash Narayan National Park.
Hazare agreed to leave after Delhi Police granted him permission to fast for 15 days at Ramlila Maidan, a larger venue than Jai Prakash Narayan National Park. However, he had to spend another night in jail because the venue was not ready. Greeted by crowds, he left jail on 19 August for the 25,000-capacity Ramlila Maidan, where he said that he would not leave until the bill was passed.
- Hazare's camp called their supporters to confront individual Members of Parliament and Union Ministers at their residence and also warned the UPA government that its days would be numbered if it failed to pass the Bill by 30 August.
- Over 100,000 supporters had thronged Ramlila Maidan on Sunday, to show their support against corruption.
- Around 50,000 supporters marched in the streets on Mumbai to support Hazare. This was reportedly one of the biggest protests in Mumbai.
|“||This kind of peaceful movement is possible only in India which is the birth place of Sathyagraha||”|
- An all-party meeting was chaired by Manmohan Singh at his official residence in New Delhi represented by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. However the meeting ended with Mukherjee appealing for Hazare to end his fast, prompting the civil society to declare that they were "back to square one".
- Manmohan Singh said that all proposed versions of the Lokpal bill, including those prepared by Aruna Roy's NCPRI and Jaiprakash Narain, would be debated in Parliament.
- Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh met Hazare at his protest camp at Ramlila Maidan. Deshmukh reportedly conveyed a message from the Prime Minister to urge Hazare to end his fast and also asked him to consider the Prime Minister's offer to debate all versions of Lokpal Bill in Parliament.
- Hazare had asked Manmohan Singh to start the parliamentary discussion the next morning. He also put forward his three demands to the Prime Minister – a Citizen's Charter, Lokayuktas in all states with Lokpal powers, and inclusion of lowest to highest bureaucracy.
- Initiating the Lok Sabha debate on the bill, Pranab Mukherjee requested Hazare to end his fast, as the government had also done on the previous day. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj expressed her party's support for Hazare and said that the BJP largely agreed with the three pre-conditions (Citizen's Charter, Lokayuktas in all states with Lokpal powers, and inclusion of lowest to highest bureaucracy) laid down by Hazare to end his hunger strike. The government agreed to a voice vote on the debate. Both houses of parliament passed the resolution accepting all the three pre-conditions set by Hazare.
- Hazare ended his 12-day fast after 288 hours and was taken to Medanta Medicity to recover. He had been under medical supervision throughout the fast. Thousands of his supporters congregated at India Gate to celebrate.
A debate on the Jan Lokpal bill was held in Parliament on 27 August 2011. With Hazare demanding three principles, (i) citizen charter, (ii) lower bureaucracy to be under Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism and (iii) establishment of Lok Ayuktas in the states, both houses of Parliament agreed to the principles. Hazare announced that he would break his fast on 28 August.
On 11 December, Hazare sat on a day-long fast at Jantar Mantar. This protest was against proposals of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the anti-graft measure. It was the first at which politicians shared the stage with Hazare, with leaders of the BJP, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Janata Dal, Akali Dal, Telugu Desam Party and Biju Janata Dal participating in the public debate on the Lokpal bill.
The expected introduction of the Lokpal bill in the Lok Sabha did not occur. Instead, the Food Security Bill was first introduced and subsequently the process of the Lokpal Bill was hindered by procedural and party political issues. The Lokpal Bill that had been proposed had been discarded by the government, who put forward a revised proposal, along with a constitutional bill, in an attempt to resolve the issues that were being raised during the session regarding reservation for minorities and other under-represented groups.
Hazare announced on 22 December that a hunger strike would take place between 27–29 December, with a Jail Bharo Andolan subsequently to pressurise the Government. He began his fast on 27 December at the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai rather than in Delhi because of the cold climate in the latter city. Turn-out was well below expectations, which was perhaps in part because of the cold weather. IAC members asked him to end this latest fast because of his poor health but he refused. Hazare had been suffering from cold and mild fever for few days previously.
On the second day of the fast, a day ahead of schedule, Hazare repeated his threat to campaign against Congress in the five poll-bound states for not bringing a strong Lokpal. His deteriorating health and the low turn-out across the country were among the reasons for then ending the fast. He said that the movement was not stopped, merely postponed. He also announced the cancellation of the "Jail Bharo" movement due to his bad health.
The Lok Sabha debated the Lokpal Bill on 27 December 2011. The debate resulted in the bill being passed to the Rajya Sabha but the new nine-man Lokpal panel was not given constitutional status because the government failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority of MPs present.
The Lokpal Bill was sent for review to the Indian President, Pratibha Patil, on 28 December 2011. This is standard operating procedure for any legislation that will have financial implications. She later gave her assent for the Bill to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha.
|2012 Indian anti-corruption movement|
|Date||25 March 2012 – 26 November 2012|
|Goals||Jan Lokpal Bill/The Lokpal Bill, 2011 enactment & Political opportunism|
|Methods||Non violent protest|
Team Anna split and India Against Corruption forming Aam Aadmi Party(Political opportunism)|
Enactment of The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013
The movement was reinvigorated following an initial mass gathering at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on 25 March 2012. Attempts to introduce some form of legislation, even though weaker than that demanded by the activists, had timed-out with the end of the parliamentary session on 27 December 2011. The government reintroduced the bill in the Rajya Sabha in February 2012 but the bill was not timetabled for debate and the session ended without this bill being passed.
Hazare declared that the protest movement would recommence and a mark of protest he sat on hunger strike on 25 March 2012 for one day. A month later, Hazare sat a token one-day fast focussed on remembrance of whistle-blowers such as Narendra Kumar and Satyendra Dubey who had died as a result of their support for the anti-corruption cause. On 3 June, Hazare undertook another one-day fast at Jantar Mantar, where he was joined by Ramdev, a yoga guru.
Hazare and Bedi reformed Team Anna, while Kejriwal and some others split from the erstwhile apolitical movement with the intention of forming what was to become the Aam Aadmi Party.
Jantar Mantar was the scene of an "indefinite" fast that began on 25 July and involved various members of Team Anna, although Hazare was not involved until four days later. The focus on this occasion was a protest against the government's refusal of an inquiry against the prime minister and 14 cabinet ministers, whom they had accused of corruption. The fast ended on 3 August. Three days later, Hazare announced that since the government seemed to be unready to enact the Jan Lokpal Bill, he and his fellow activists had decided to end their fast, to discontinue talks with the government and to cease any protests under the Team Anna name.
After failing to press government to pass The Lokpal Bill, 2011, the Team Anna split on issue of formation of political party. Anna Hazare and some others did not want to enter mainstream politics while Arvind Kejriwal led India Against Corruption opined to join politics. Arvind Kejriwal and others finally formed new political party, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on 26 November 2012. A year later, the party made its electoral debut in the 2013 Delhi legislative assembly election held in December 2013. It emerged as the second-largest party, winning 28 of the 70 seats. With no party obtaining an overall majority, the AAP formed a minority government with conditional support from the Indian National Congress. The AAP failed to pass Jan Lokpal Bill in Delhi assembly and resigned from the government after rule of 49 days. The President's rule imposed in the state for a year.
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