Thursday, June 16, 2011

Some Ancient Lessons from Buddha- For Contemporary Discourse on Lokpal Bill

Much has been said about the drafting of Lokpal Bill and the contentious clauses therein. But, have we heard anything other than the shrill noises? Are we any more enlightened on the real issues? I can vouch that most of us are not.

I think the TV Channels have taken out the communication from the debates. It is not about putting forth your views and ideas on the subject. It is about winning the noise match than winning the debate.

The more you shout, the less you have to convey. The less you convey, the more you confuse your audience. The more you confuse them, the less they retain their interest.... well, there comes the happy ending... you can go about things, the way they were... this seems to be the logic that great personalities, appearing on TV debates to enlighten us on the issues related to drafting of Lokpal Bill, following.

While the above is true about most of the current debates, I am looking at Lokpal debate, for the simple reason that the debate itself is completely lost in the noises that are being generously generated by all the stakeholders. Congress party does not communicate to people the real issues they see with the Lokpal Bill as suggested by Team Anna (Thankfully Media has now changed the term to ‘Team Anna’ from ‘Civil Society’... allowing people like me to be a part of civil society again!). Instead, they are trying to discredit the members of Team Anna/ Ramdev etc. On the other hand, members of Team Anna have lost all the proportions and are talking in voices that are so arrogant and beyond all reasoning. That leaves the principal opposition, BJP whose spokespersons are willing talk for hours on what wrong is being done by Government in Lokpal Bill drafting, but easily shies away from even the basic issues, when raised.

In all these, we are losing out a golden opportunity to reform our much abused anti-corruption systems. I have no doubt and no hesitation to state that we Indians are corrupt. I don’t know about others, as I am not exposed much to them. As for Indians, we find very less people who are neither willing to bribe nor willing to take bribes! We always find an excuse to fault the system/others and thereby justify our actions. We need a change in our mindset as well, if we have to remove the corruption from its roots. However, that being not an easy task, at least let us strengthen the laws and enforcement systems to restrict corruption in our country.

We can’t achieve that war, if we continue to try winning the battles by discrediting the opponents (opponents? who can be an opponent in this just war against a common enemy!). That is why I am taking this risk of trying to remind about some ancient wisdom stated by Buddha, to these illustrious people from all sides of the table, as to how we should conduct ourselves in reaching a viable and practical outcome in this whole debate!

Buddha, the great guru, after reflecting a lot on a fight between two factions of his Bikshus in a monastery, came to the conclusion that the only way we can ensure harmony in a group is by following certain principles in our interactions. I leave out the first three as they are more related to living together and therefore not relevant to current subject. The remaining three principles are as follows:

1. Using only words that contribute to harmony, avoiding all words that can cause the community to break

2. Sharing insights and understanding together

3. Respecting other’s view points and not forcing another to follow your own view point

(as quoted in ‘Old Path White Clouds’ by Thich Nhat Hanh)

I do not have to tell you, how each of the above principles was broken by the participants in the current debate on Lokpal Bill. More words have been spoken to damage the harmony than for throwing any light on the issues. People are arriving at their conclusions first and then debating to prove how wrong others are. Utter lack of respect for each other is so visible in the whole affair and the efforts are not to understand others’ view points but to force the other side with your views, be it through fasts unto death or private army or midnight evacuations!

Again, I do not have to tell you how easily they can arrive at a better result by following these simple principles!

None of them are fighting this war for their own personal gains and all of them are ostensibly fighting against the common enemy of corruption. Yet, they can’t find harmony in their debates! Hope better sense will prevail and all parties will climb down from their respective high pedestals and meet at a common ground to arrive at the best available solution rather than fighting for an ideal one.

Believe me... it is so crucial for our country; both in fighting corruption and in its very survival.


  1. Democracy is all about will of the majority. Now majority of the people are against corruption, they are fed up with politicians. People want an independent body to investigate all corruption charges against all the Ministers including PM. There is nothing wrong in correcting the constitution of India to uphold clean corruption free governance. Corruption free government is the most important thing than our constitution. Leaving PM out of Lokpal bill is a joke. Lokpal is all about setting up a mechanism for corruption free government of India.

  2. I hear you. I have thoughts churning too. Watching events unfolding with concern too. Fingers crossed.

  3. Things are becoming more confusing out there..nothing is working is really very sad a situation..As you said no one is listening..everyone wants to put forth their view and want to fight corruption at any many are speaking at a time..having their own conclusions and deciding that it is their view point which is more perfect and what they say is the only right thing..Unfortunately it is a case of Ego clash too..Anna team speaking out and Govt not relenting ..Obviously..Govt. has its own stand and just cant bend to pressure tactics whatsoever..

    Hopefully the Government and Anna team will arrive on decision soon..

    Will the Menace called Corruption go away from our Country Forever ? The question still keeps on crossing my mind.. looking at the attitude of ppl around