I have enormous respect for the people in this whole India Against Corruption effort: Anna Hazare, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and many other names, some of whom I know personally. I have great respect for the cause itself: the corruption that's such an apparently indelible part of Indian governance will, I worry nearly every day, destroy us all. I don't say that lightly.
So given all that, why am I less than ecstatic about this victory after Anna Hazare's fast?
There are some reasons that others before me have expressed far more lucidly than I can manage (e.g. Gautam Patel, Shuddabrata Sengupta), so I won't repeat those. As an aside, given some of the comments on the TV coverage of the last few days, I'm glad -- yet again -- that I don't possess a TV.
Here are some of my concerns. There may be more.
* Half of this country does not care to go vote at election time. There is anecdotal (my own, among others) and other evidence to suggest that an even greater fraction of the urban middle- and upper-classes stay away from the ballot box. Yes, we need some way to tackle corruption. But it seems to me that any such method can only languish in the face of electoral apathy on such a scale. After all, if more of us had cared to vote all along, and therefore demonstrate our engagement with democracy, it's likely corruption would not have the vice-like grip on India it does today.
* There's a difference between making the best use of what we have and reaching out for something new. It's not always clear to me that we've made the best use of what we have before, in our frustration, reaching for something new. This applies to flashy bridges across the sea just as surely as it does to tough-sounding laws. (Think: traffic planning, public transport, implement existing laws).
* I'm a big fan of the Web, of blogs and Twitter (though less of Facebook). But I am not convinced that these tools, marvellous as they are, can substitute for active engagement with our democratic system. I worry that this victory by Hazare will subtly persuade people that these tools can indeed be such a substitute.
* Perhaps my greatest worry: where are the clean people who will root out corruption? The notion that all's well with us except that we are ruled by a rotting political mafia makes no sense to me. Face it: Politics reflects the rest of our society.
I wish the newly set-up committee good luck in drafting this new bill, and more than that, in addressing the concerns a lot of us have.
But you'll forgive me if I cannot shake a certain pessimism, even through today's euphoria, about ridding ourselves of corruption.