“Civil society good at flagging, not flogging”
New Delhi: A noted economist today backed
the UPA government`s handling of Anna Hazare`s agitation for a
strong Lokpal, saying the civil society was free to make
suggestions but it cannot be allowed to impose solutions.
Senior fellow at the Columbia University Jagdish N
Bhagwati said perhaps the greatest disappointment with the
country`s civil society activists was their presumption that
they can supplant the democratic process.
"The UPA government has been exactly right: civil society
can agitate, it can make suggestions, but it cannot be allowed
to impose solutions. They are good at flagging an issue; they
are not good at flogging," he said delivering the 24th
Intelligence Bureau Endowment lecture on `Designing
Institutions for Governance Reform`.
Bhagwati said the civil society is an important
supplement to parliamentary democracy but caveats must be
added if it is to play a creative rather than a destructive
"At minimum, they (civil society) also need to learn the
value of dialogue instead of diatribe. The Anna Hazare
movement was startling in the way that the NGOs fell out,
often with high decibel denunciations directed at their own
kind, turning into uncivil society instead," he said.
The internationally renowned economist referred to the
often reported diatribe between different civil society
activists like Arundhati Roy in one side and Aravind Kejriwal
"The mayhem among these activists reminds one of American
free-style wrestling where there are no rules or, more
cynically, the only rule is that you must hit below the
belt!," he said.