Kangaroo courts

IT IS always dangerous when an individual, or a group of individuals, take on the role of accuser, prosecutor, judge and even executioner. Unfortunately, many activists, political aspirants and even television channels and anchor persons in India believe in hijacking these different roles, hauling up public personalities and then condemning them and seek their resignation and even arrest.

Indian Law Minister Salman Khurshif is the latest victim of this trial by the media that has been launched by Arvind Kejriwal — a former aide of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare who is now eager to launch his political career by starting his own party — and quite a few television channels in a desperate hurry to raise their TRPs (television rating points).

In a cynical, hold-no-bars strategy, Kejriwal and his team have launched a veritable witch-hunt against the UPA government. Kejriwal and his coterie of supporters believe in breaking down the present political system in India and introducing some kind of a vague, neo-Luddite, grassroots-level democracy, where apparently unelected, yet clean, representatives will be involved in day-to-day decision-making for the nation. And with the government’s credibility at its nadir, urban, middle-class sympathies are undoubtedly veering around to the impractical views of people like Kejriwal.

The anti-corruption activist believes in conducting his ‘kangaroo courts’ in front of an array of television cameras, where he spouts hatred against the political class. And with cut-throat competition in the Indian news television bazaar — where literally hundreds of channels are desperately seeking viewers — Kejriwal manages to get his 15 minutes of fame daily during prime time.

As the allegations against Khurshid show, Kejriwal and his associates are impatient to throw mud on ministers and want the government to act — by sacking or even arresting those arbitrarily accused by them — without giving them the opportunity to defend themselves. Corruption is undoubtedly a major issue in India, but the root cause is the continuation of the era of controls, especially in sectors such as natural resources, mining, land, real estate and infrastructure.

Unless the government dismantles the licensing regime and initiates transparent processes, corruption will continue to play havoc with the economy.

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