“Civil society good at flagging, not flogging”
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Last Updated: Thursday, December 22, 2011, 21:32
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 role. "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 in other. "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.


First Published: Thursday, December 22, 2011, 21:32

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