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Symbolic Fast Held By 5th Pillar To Support Hazare
BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
To "Encourage, enable and empower every citizen of India to eliminate corruption at all levels of society" is the objective of 5th Pillar, an organization designed to fight against corruption in India. In sync with the motto, a symbolic day of fasting was organized by 5th Pillar in support of Anna Hazare and passing of Jan LokPal Bill at the Global Mall in Norcross on Saturday, April 9th.
As it turned out, Anna Hazare called off his 98 hour fast on the morning of April 9th, as the Indian government had conceded to most of the demands for a better anti-corruption bill. Hazare was determined to continue his fast until the Jan Lokpal Bill, a law that establishes an ombudsman with power to deal with corruption in public offices, was passed. However, in an attempt to create more awareness, volunteers of 5th Pillar and supporters of the cause gathered in the Global Mall on the 9th and held discussions and handed out flyers with information about the bill.
Satheesh Pachiappan, volunteer and IT in charge of 5th Pillar tells us that the organization has supported causes against corruption in various ways, such as fasting on April 9th and a worldwide Indian walk against corruption in India, Dandi March. Major cities in USA, 32 major cities in India and 10 other countries globally he tells us joined the movement by organizing supporting events on March 26th.
5th Pillar has a unique Zero Currency approach to battle crime. Satheesh credits their organization president, Vijay Anand, for popularizing the concept of zero currency to fight corruption. An expat Indian physics professor who was fed up with the corruption created the zero rupee. The note looks like a regular rupee bill complete with the image of Mahatma Gandhi. Its monetary value has zero in the right hand corner with a header that reads "Eliminate Corruption at All Levels”. Vijay believes it works because bribery is a crime in India and most officials are only comfortable asking for bribes when they know they won't get caught - the zero-rupee notes diffuse crime by acknowledging it.
The Jan LokPal Bill envisages a system wherein an institution called Lokpal at the centre and Lokayukta in each state will be set up, completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations. Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction. If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month's time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years. All Lokpal members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months. CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician. It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.
While it is undeniable that corruption is rampant, it is always encouraging to know that there are voices, getting stronger by the day against it.
Here’s wishing 5th Pillar and all the associations trying to fight corruption best of luck in their endeavors.