Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lokpal Bill – A journey into future

Courtesy: Wikipedia
August 15, 2020: Nine years ago, in the chilling winters of 2011, the Lokpal Bill came into existence with bench thumping and applause from all hues of politics and civil society. The nation gives credit for the Lokpal Bill to the movement which was aptly called second struggle of independence. In the years of 2010 and 2011. millions of Indians left their middle-classy comforts and hit the roads to protest against the delays to pass the Lokpal bill which was pending for the last 62 years and against the rather toothless version of it presented by the then government at center. Nine years, thirty six seasons, and 4 governments later, here we stand with eight amendments to the Lokpal Bill. Each of these successive amendments brought about major changes in the functioning of the institution of Lokpal and enhanced its efficiency in dealing with corruption.

Central Vigilance Commission had been dissolved and merged with Lokpal to streamline the institution of Lokpal. However, the departmental vigilance agencies have been retained as they were crucial for investigation. Vigilance departments, Lokayukta of each states, and Lokpal were kept independent of each other so if one is affected by corruption, others can still function independently.

Selection of the Lokpal members is made on the recommendations of the judiciary, civil society, and other constitutional authorities. However, to make sure of the integrity of the its member, a second check has been placed and selection of each member has to be approved by the parliament.

Additional safeguards have been provided to make sure the Lokpal is not misused to settle scores with political or business rivals. Though Lokpal is chiefly responsible to start proceedings and investigate cases of corruption, CBI would be responsible for dealing with the criminal aspects of the cases. In this way, the nation can be sure that the best minds of CBI are employed when it comes investigation of a crime. In other words, the Lokpal would initiate the process and provide recommendations to CBI for investigations and CBI would take it further, investigate the case, and start the judicial process. This will create a two-pronged approach towards corruption, Lokpal forms the contact point with the citizens and CBI the investigative arm, each independent of the other to ensure zero misuse of power.

Citizens have been given the right to complain about corrupt officials and public servants. However, given the low level of understanding of the workings of the government and bureaucracy among the citizens, an amendment in the Lokpal Bill made it compulsory to route the complaints through the people's elected representatives (MLA, MP, panchayat members, etc.). The people's representatives must judge the authenticity of the complaint before forwarding it to the Lokpal. This has helped curb the number of frivolous complaints and complaints with incomplete details.

The role of media in fighting corruption has been debated. Often times it was found that the media leveled charges of corruption against civil servants just to create sensational news pieces. Given the hostile attitude of media towards the ruling class and bureaucracy, the press, electronic media, or any other institutions associated in anyway with publication of news have been barred from being able to place complaints with Lokpal.

Also, since the media has the ability to influence public opinion on the cases of corruption and bring public sentiments to boiling points, they were a risk to impartial and just investigation and judgement of corruption related cases. The Constitution of India bestows the basic right of an impartial and complete trial and judgement to each citizen. Media's ability to influence public opinion and hence, judicial decisions were a direct attack on the constitutional right of a citizen. Hence, it was unanimously agreed by all the elected representatives of the land to keep media away from the proceedings of a corruption related case. In order to uphold the constitution, the media has been barred from investigating or publishing anything related to case which is being handled by Lokpal or Lokayukta. It was also made mandatory that all the proceedings and court hearings must be conducted within closed doors ensuring no leakage of information to the media and public.

The parliament forms the base of the Indian democracy. It is the representation of 1.6 billion souls and their collective political aspirations, representation of the sovereignty of the land and the sacrifice of martyrs who fought for its sovereignty. Hence, pointing fingers at the parliament and the publicly elected representatives is like insulting the democracy and the idea itself smells of anti-nationalism. Putting the sitting members of parliament under trial is equivalent to putting the Indian democracy and its sovereignty under trial. This was unacceptable. Soon after the realization of this aspect of Lokpal Bill, an amendment was passed and the members of parliament were given immunity from being prosecuted. However, a case can be registered against them once their term in parliament is over and they are not re-elected.

At the time of formation of the bill, the maximum time allocated for investigation and closure of a case was limited to 1 year. However, later it was opined by prominent constitutional experts that having a time limit this short overpowers the fundamental right of the accused to defend herself/himself. It was also felt that a year is too short a time period to do justice to fair investigation and judgement. The founding fathers of India had always been of the view that the state and judiciary must not punish a single innocent, that the benefit of doubt must rest with the accused, though this may leave someone unpunished for their crimes. Hence, respecting the views of the founding fathers, it was decided that 1 year was not enough to conclude corruption cases and both Lokpal and the accused were given rights to ask for time limit extensions. Extensions can be granted by the session court in whose jurisdiction the case falls.

With these amendments, finally India has a robust law against the evils of corruption. The workings of this law have been very effective. The number of sensational cases of corruption has dropped dramatically. We now hardly hear of any scams or misappropriation of public assets. Annual report of Lokpal also shows that very few complaints of corruption are received. All this indicates that corruption has been tackled at the point where it originates. This is something that must be celebrated with as much enthusiasm as we celebrate our independence after all it was corruption that threatened the independence of India and its economy. And now the country has effectively tamed this demon.

PS: It's a satirical imagination.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Durga Puja in Bangalore & Cultural Programs - 2011

For schedule and location of 2012 Durga Puja, check out Durgotsav 2012 page.

Information is scattered and there is chaos everywhere. Here is a tiny bit from me to bring order into this world. It might not be complete or entirely correct.

Please help me add or correct information by means of comment. If you happen to be at one of the location, post the link of your pictures in the comment as well.

Durga Puja Locations: There are 27 places where Durga Puja is organized in Bangalore.
  1. The Bengalee Association -
    Gayatri Vihar, Palace Grounds
  2. Jayamahal Sarbajanin Durga Charitable Samiti -
    Adjacent to Jayamahal Park, Jayamahal Extension
  3. Socio Cultural Association -
    Defence Colony, Near 100 Ft Road, HAL 2nd Stage (Indiranagar)
  4. Bengali in Bangalore -
    Aicoboo Residents Welfare Association Ground, Opp to Udupi garden, behind Bharat Petroleum Pump, 2nd Stage, BTM Layout
  5. Poorva Bangalore Cultural Association -
    VSR Convention Hall, Brookefields, Opposite Hindustan Lever, Post, Marathalli
  6. Sharathi Socio Cultural Trust -
    Mangala Kalyana Mantap, 8th Block, 80 Ft Road, (Opp. Ganesha Temple), Koramangala
  7. “SORRBA” Durga Puja -
    “SUN City” Apartment. Outer Ring Road, Sarjapura Circle
  8. R T Nagar Durga Puja Committee -
    Sai Baba Mandir, HMT Layout, Anand Nagar, Next to R.T. Nagar Bus Depot
  9. Probasi Aassociation
    Canara Union Hall, 8th Main, Malleshwaram, Near - Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy
  10. North Bangalore Cultural Association
    “Mandir”, 8A, FTI Colony, Nandini Layout, Opp. ISKCON Temple
  11. Air Force Training Command
    Mekhri Circle, Bellary Road
  12. Air Force Station, Jalahalli West
    Air Force Station, Jalahalli West, Near Peenya Circle
  13. Air Force Station, Jalahalli East
    Air Force Station, Jalahalli East, Near HMT Circle, Gokula
  14. Vivekananda Cultural Association
    New Town, Yelahanka
  15. South Bangalore Cultural Association
    N R Kalayana Mantapa, Bannerghatta Road, J P Nagar 2nd Phase, Opp. Shoppers Stop
  16. Antaranga Bengali Cultural Association
    Ramana Maharishee Heritage Centre, Near Food World, Sanjay Nagar, Off Bellary Road
  17. Banaswadi Bengali Cultural Union
    Sitarama Kalyana Mandap, Kullappa Circle, Banaswadi Main Road
  18. Command Hospital
    Old Airport Road
  19. Bangalore Rural Association
    Sedul Dassappa Kalyana Mantap, Near Attibele Bus Terminal, Hosur Road, Attebele
  20. Murugeshpalya Durgotsva
    Air Force Campus, Wind Tunnel Road, Airport Road, Rifco Apartment
  21. Hebbagudi Durga Puja
    Near Hebbagudi Bus Stand, Beside BIOCON Factory, Hosur Road
  22. Swarnakar Samiti Durga Puja
    Near Corporation, Beside GEO Hotel
  23. Kaggadasa Pura Durga Puja
    SCT College, Kaggadasa Pura, C V Raman Nagar, Bangalore
  24. Magadi Road Durga Puja
    Industrial Area, Kamakshi Palya, Magadi Road
  25. Purvankara Apartment Residential Association
    Marathalli, Near Spicy Garden Restaurant
  26. Sahakara Nagar Durga Puja
    Sahakara Nagar, Kodigehalli, Bellary Road
  27. Munikolala Durga Puja
    Munikolala, Opp Innovative Multiplex, Ring Road, Maratahalli

Cultural Programs: There may be other programs happening but this is all that I could find online. Please comment if you know about other programs.

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 - Shashti
  1. Musical Programme by Indian Blue - The Bengalee Association (Palace Grounds)
  2. Sukumar Ray’s “Ha Ja Ba Ra La” by Bannerghatta Banar Sena and Dance Drama by Dishari - Jayamahal Sarbajanin Durga Charitable Samiti (Jayamahal Extension)
  3. Songs by Kavita Krishnamurthy (8 PM) - Sharathi Socio Cultural Trust (Koramangala)
  4. ‘Phire Esho Aronyo’ (Children’s dance performance) - RT Nagar Durga Puja Committee (RT Nagar)
  5. Performance by Anupam Roy (6:25 PM onwards) - “SORRBA” Durga Puja (Sarjapur Circle)
  6. Rabindra Sangeet by SBCA group - South Bangalore Cultural Association (JP Nagar)

Monday, October 3rd, 2011 - Saptami
  1. Dance recital "Probaho" and vocal recital by Chandrabali Rudra Datta - The Bengalee Association (Palace Grounds)
  2. Bangla Band Cactus - Jayamahal Sarbajanin Durga Charitable Samiti (Jayamahal Extension)
  3. Odissi Dance by Sangita Ghosh (7:00 PM), Song by Aditya Vittal (7:20 PM), Dance by Rupa Mondal (7:30 PM), Classical Fusion Dance by Dishari (8:00 PM), Bengali Folk Rock by Manjira (9:00 PM) - Poorva Bangalore Cultural Association (Marathalli)
  4. Retro and Contemporary music by Kohal (7 PM), Fusion music by Indian Blue (8:30 PM), Dance Drama by Shyama (9:30 PM) - Sharathi Socio Cultural Trust (Koramangala)
  5. Sonar Tori (Reciation skit) (7 PM), Rabindra Sangeet "More Bare Bare" (7.30 PM), Bengali Drama "Sandhatara" (8.15 PM), Garwa (9.30 PM) - RT Nagar Durga Puja Committee (RT Nagar)
  6. Performances by Suthirtha and Tannishtha Sarkar (6:30 PM onwards) - “SORRBA” Durga Puja (Sarjapur Circle)
  7. Bangla Band "Alpin", Comedy drama for kids "Ha Ja Bo Ra La" (6 PM onwards) - Bengali in Bangalore (BTM Layout)
  8. Bharatnatyam dance program, Music program "Ek Sham 7 Surke Naam" by 7 Sur - South Bangalore Cultural Association (JP Nagar)

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 - Ashtami
  1. Bangla Band Dhumketu and Dance recital by Saptarshi and Troupe - The Bengalee Association (Palace Grounds)
  2. Rabindra Sangeet (Tumi Sondhar Meghomala) by Debjani Dutta Group and Dance Drama “Shyama” by Probal & Group Jayamahal Sarbajanin Durga Charitable Samiti (Jayamahal Extension)
  3. Rabindrasangeet by Chandrabali Rudra Dutta (7:00 PM), Musical Night by Emon Chatterjee (9:00 PM) - Poorva Bangalore Cultural Association (Marathalli)
  4. Bengali songs by Barnali (7 PM), Dance based on Tagore songs "Praner Shara (7:30 PM), Contemporary Hindi songs by Sinchan-Biji (9 PM) - Sharathi Socio Cultural Trust (Koramangala)
  5. Bengali Modern songs "Surer Jhankar" (7 PM), Dance Recital ‘Ami Sei Meye’ (8.15 PM), Dhunuchi Nach (9 PM) - RT Nagar Durga Puja Committee (RT Nagar)
  6. Indian Classical "Sur O Chondo" by Tamashri Ghosh Deb, Rock music by fusion band Indian Blues (6:25 PM onwards) - “SORRBA” Durga Puja (Sarjapur Circle)
  7. Indian Band "Sarangsh", Fusion Band "Tannishtha & Pulse Craft" (6:45 PM onwards) - Bengali in Bangalore (BTM Layout)
  8. Dance program by Priyodarshini Dance Academy, Bangla Band Maseeha - South Bangalore Cultural Association (JP Nagar)

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 - Nabami
  1. Collage “Hashi Kanna”,  Fusion Dance by Sapphire and Dhunuchi Dance Competion - The Bengalee Association (Palace Grounds)
  2. Musical Extravaganza by Biju Nair and Party and Amaader Gaan by Priyanka Mitra Jayamahal Sarbajanin Durga Charitable Samiti (Jayamahal Extension)
  3. Song by Swagata Mitra (7:00 PM), Rock Nite by Cactus (8:00 PM), Dandiya with Live Band (10:30 PM) - Poorva Bangalore Cultural Association (Marathalli)
  4. Rabindra Sangeet "Bhanga Gaan" (7 PM), Contemporary music by Emon Chatterjee (8 PM) - Sharathi Socio Cultural Trust (Koramangala)
  5. Drama Recital "Birpurus" (7.30 PM), Ganer Asor by Debaroti Mitra (8 PM)
  6. Music by Bangla Band Chandra Bindoo (6:30 PM onwards) - “SORRBA” Durga Puja (Sarjapur Circle)
  7. Open air freestyle music sessionn "Maddox Square Recreated" (7 PM onwards) - Bengali in Bangalore (BTM Layout)
  8. Dhunuchi Naach, Bangla Band Indian Blues - South Bangalore Cultural Association (JP Nagar)
Thursday, October 6th, 2011 - Dashami
  1. Dandiya Dance - South Bangalore Cultural Association (JP Nagar)