Arundhati Roy Blasts Hazare's Fast and Anti-Corruption Bill

Novelist, essayist and civil rights activist Arundhati Roy is not impressed with social activist Anna Hazare's campaign in support of the Jan Lokpal anti-corruption bill and expressed her distaste in an Indian newspaper on Monday.

In an opinion piece for The Hindu, Roy chastised Hazare's efforts, calling them "embarrassing and unintelligible."

Hazare began a fast on Aug. 16, urging Indian Parliament to strengthen and instate the Jan Lokpal Bill, which will mandate that the government police over corruption in India.

An ongoing problem in the country, corruption has lead to a significant downgrade in the credibility of the Indian government, Roy says. However, she suggests that the proposed bill will do little to remedy the issue and may provoke even more corruption.

Roy describes Hazare's fast as a "spectacle," stating that "the people" would simply be watching a 74-year-old man starve himself to death if the bill doesn’t pass. She adds that the current comparison of Hazare to Gandhi is unwarranted.

"While his means may be Gandhian, Anna Hazare's demands are certainly not," she wrote.

Roy details that while Hazare has become a media sensation, his cause against corruption may be filled with corruption in itself, due to his association with companies and organizations that may be involved in unjust practices.

"Anna, has received $400,000 from the Ford Foundation in the last three years. Among contributors to the India Against Corruption campaign there are Indian companies and foundations that own aluminum plants, build ports and SEZs, and run Real Estate businesses and are closely connected to politicians who run financial empires that run into thousands of crores of rupees,” she wrote. “Some of them are currently being investigated for corruption and other crimes. Why are they all so enthusiastic?"

Roy also says that the bill may not make clear exactly what counts as corruption as a punishable offense. She details that the act of corporations and NGOs taking on government responsibilities such as regulating water supply, electricity, transport, telecommunication, mining, health and education should be the aspects policed under the bill, but are not.

"One would think that these institutions - the corporations, the media, and NGOs - would be included in the jurisdiction of a Lokpal bill. Instead, the proposed bill leaves them out completely," she wrote.

"Will the 830 million people living on Rs.20 a day really benefit from the strengthening of a set of policies that is impoverishing them and driving this country to civil war?"

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