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Prophet Micah speaks to India

“Its rulers give judgment for a bribe, its priests teach for a price, Its prophets give oracle for money; Yet they lean upon the LORD and say, Surely the LORD is with us! No harm shall come upon us”. Micah 3:11

These are the words of a prophet of Ancient Israel of 8th C BC.

Israel became truly a free country after Saul, when David became king. It had all the resources to stand on its own feet.

But it did not last very long. Solomon introduced a new wave of establishing diplomatic relation with neighbouring nations. He had several wives and had to construct independent houses for them. So he raised tax and the money thus collected did not go to the welfare projects of people. Rather it went in to construction contractors’ pocket.

People became restless and unhappy. They could not take it any more. Solomon was a wise person in his own way. But had lost contact with people. His son was even more of less contact. Then came Jeroboam a truly people’s person.

After Solomon the nation was divided in to two leaving just two tribes for the son of Solomon Rehoboam and Jeroboam a popular leader went away to north with ten tribes. That was the end of a united free Israel of the dream of Joshua.

But that also did not save any one. Unrest and uncertainity prevailed in both countries.

Then came the prophets of Social reformation and religious vigour, Amos, Isaiah, Hosea and Micha (Who is like Yahweh – 737 to 690 BC. The kings mentioned in the book are from 756 to 697 BC).

Micah started prophesying just before the fall to Israel to Assyrians.

He was addressing a nation that had long lost all its fundamentals. These fundamentals were set by none other than Yahweh, a just and righteous God according to words of Amos Micah’s predecessor, who said, “let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever rolling stream” (5:24). Amos addressed only the Northern nation.

Micah prophesied with the same principle but addressed both Israel and Judah.

He specifically points out one of the anti-divine practice in the society.

I am afraid Micah was talking not only to Israel and Judah but also to us, the Indians? He is very much alive and is talking to us today through these words, because that is what we are today.

Look at our situation!

India became an independent nation in 1947. Great leaders gave their lives for this noble cause.

What does it mean to be independent?

The people get the privilege of deciding their own future and destiny. It was freed in to a democratic system of administration!

The people and their welfare became primary to the nation. Elected representatives and administrators should do their job for and on behalf of the people and work for the welfare of the people.

Any thing that happens in our country should have people as its base. Mahatma wrote: “I hold that self government is not an end in itself, but only a means to good government. And true democracy is that which promotes the welfare of the people, the test of good government lies in the largest good of the people with minimum of controls. The test of autocracy, socialism, capitalism, etc is also people’s welfare or good government. In themselves, the various approaches are of no value. Any system of government can fail if people do not show scrupulous honesty and a feeling of brotherhood. There may be work, there may be men to do the work and also the tools with which to do it: yet in my view, any system which admits poverty and unemployment is not fit to survive even for a day…” (Hindu. 31/12/1947).

As early as 1921 while leading the first non-cooperation movement Gandhiji had stated that ‘one of the objectives of the movement was to purify India by fighting against deceit, corruption, terrorism in political life and the incubus of white superiority’.

In 1928 he wrote in Young India (Dec. 6, 1928) “Corruption will be out one day, however much one may try to conceal it: and the public can, as it is its right and duty in every case of justifiable suspicion, call its servants to strict account, dismiss them, sue them in a law court, or appoint an arbitrator or inspector to scrutinize their conduct, as it likes”.

Former president of India, Mr. K. R. Narayanan during his first address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day of 1997 quoted this and said, ‘we should educate people to fight against corruption’.

Now I see people well educated against corruption and are on the streets against it.

Look at the chart that gives you a glimpse of the corruption scandals recorded in our history:

Jeep Purchase (1948) 80 Lakh, BHU Funds (1956) 50 lakh, MUNDHRA SCANDAL (1967) 1.25 crore, Teja Loans (1960) 22 crore, Kuo Oil deal (1976) 2.2 crore, HDW Commissions (1987) 20 crore, Borors Pay off (1987) 65 crore, St Kitts Forgery (1989) 9.45 crore, Airbus Scandal 1990 2.5 crore, Security scam 1992 5000 crore, Indian Bank Rip off 1992 1300 crore, Sugar Import 1994 – 650 crore, JMM Bribes 1995 1.2
crore, In a Pickle 1996 – 10 Lack, Telecom Scam 1996 – 1.6 crore, Fodder scam 1996 – 950 crore, Urea deal 1996 – 133 crore, CRB Scam 1997 – 1000 crore, Vanishing Companies scam 1999 – 2563 crore, Plantation Companies scam 1999 – 2563 crore, Ratan Praksh scam 2001 – 137 crore, Stock Market scam 2001 – 1,15,000 crore, Home trade scam 2002 – 600 crore, Stamp Paper scam 2003 – 30000 crore, IPO Demat Scam 2005 –140 crore, Bihar Flood re;oef sca, 2005 – 17 crore, Scorpene submarine scam 2005 – 18978 crores, Punjab city centre project scam 2006 – 1500 crore, Taj corridor scam 2006 – 175 crore, Pune Billionaire Hassan Ali Khan tax default 2008 – 50000 crore, The Satyam Scam 2008 – 10000 crore, Army ration pilferage scam 2008 – 5000 crore, 2 G spectrum swindle 2008 – 176000 crore, State Bank of Saurasta scam – 95 crore, Illegal money in Swiss Bank as estimated in 2008 – 7100,000 crore, The Jharkhand medical equipment scam 2009 – 130 crore, Rice export scam 2009 – 2500 crore, Orissa mine scam 2009 – 7000 crore, Madhu Koda mining scam 2009 – 4000 crore, Commonwealth game scam 2010 – 40000 crore, Kargil coffin scam ?, Adars Housing Society Scam ?, Israel arms deal scam 2010 – 500 crore, ISRO Satalite Broadband scam 2011 – 1000 crore, Total 910603234301500+/

Few more facts: According to ‘One India’ News report that came out on 17 Feb 2011 quoting Global Financial Integrity, a Washington Base Organization, the illicit outflow of Indian money since 1991 to foreign banks amounts to a total Rs. twenty one lakh (21,00000) crore.

According to the data provided by the Swiss bank, India has more black money than rest of the world combined. India topping the list with almost $1500 Billion, followed by Russia $470 Billion, UK $390 Billion, Ukraine $100 Billion and China with $96 Billion.

This amount is 13 times larger than the nation’s foreign debt. Every year this amount is increasing at a rapid speed. The total black money accounts for 40% of GDP of India, if all the money comes back to India then that could result in huge growth burst for India. The account holders include politicians, IRS, IPS, IAS officers, religious leaders and industrialists

The Supreme court with Mr. Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Niijar on Jan 19, 2011 expressed displeasure over the government’s reluctance in coming forward with full information on the black money stashed by Indians in foreign banks, saying it as a theft of national wealth and amounted to “plunder’ of the nation”.

A news from Indian Express daily Aug. 23, 2011 tells us, Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy a congress MP in the Upper House of Parliament filed his tax return showing an annual income of Rs. 9.19 lakh in May 2004. In 2011 Lok Sabha bypoll from Kadappa, he declared an annual income of Rs. 36 crore. He has declared movable assets for Rs. 365 crore and immovable assets for Rs. 25 crore. His wife has an asset of Rs. 41 crore. His father Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy is the Congress party chief in AP. Jaganmohan recently moved to a newly built 53,000 sq.ft. house in Hyderabad that cost 99 crore.

Recently the Chief Minister of Karnataka had to resign for his alleged involvement in mining scandal. His family members are also in the list of accused. The amount of money pocketed goes up by thousands of crores.

It is in this context we are asked to look in to the movement of Anna Hazare against corruption and people’s response to it.

Who is Anna Hazare any way?

Kisan Baburao Hazare commonly known as Anna Hazare was born on June 15th 1937 in a small village called Bhingar near the city of Hingangahat in Bombay Province of those days (presently Maharastra state) to a very poor family. He studied only up to 7th standard. He came to Mumbai and became a flower vendor in Dadar. Later he opened his own shop. In 1963 he joined the Indian Army as a driver at the age of 25. He was influenced by the writings of Swami Vivekananda through his book “Call to the youth for nation building”. Later he also read the works of Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave. When he survived his second accident, he took an oath that he shall dedicate his life to the service of humanity and that was at the age of 38. He was honourably discharged from service in the army when took voluntary retirement in 1978. While in the Army he had won several medals of honour (This was confirmed by the Army in an RIA petition).

Then he went to Ralegaon Siddhi, his native village to see people’s suffering in the drought prone rain shadow region of Ahamadnagar district in central Maharastra. With the participation of the local people he made the village an oasis. They planted about three lakh trees to prevent soil erosion. He made the land fertile with water shed development program and organic farming. He made the administration proclaim the region alcohol free. Tobacco, cigarette and beedi were also prohibited in the village. In 1980 he started a grain bank for the villagers to deposit and loan food grain. They used low water consuming and high yielding crops and avoided high water consuming corps like sugar cane. He also helped several other villages to follow the pattern. This method of farming helped them to cultivate 2500 acres of land in place of 70 acres in 1975. He was also able to promote milk production. They produce about 2500 litters of milk per day now. Along with this a child nutrition program was also introduced. Literacy rate now is much above the national rate. Removal of un-touchability, collective marriage, Gram Sabha are some of the other initiatives.

The first ever anti-corruption movement was launched in 1991 under the banner of ‘Popular Movement to Fight Against Corruption’. (Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Aandolan . BVJA). It was against 40 corrupt forest officers. Next protest was against 4 NCP ministers of Maharastra in 2003. Other initiatives include Right to Information Movement in 2005, Regulation of Transfer and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Officials Duties Act (2006), Campaign against liquor from food grains (2007). The last one in the list is for a Jan Lokpal Bill (April 5, 2011).

He was criticized of his positive comments about Narendra Mod (April 2011). Later he clarified his statement. Some people alleged that his Hind Swaraj Trust spent Rs. 2.2 lakh for his birthday party against the laws of the Trust. He is also accused of being anti-dalit.

He has won several awards and honours including Padmabhusan and Padmasree

How do we look at this movement? To me the methodology may be a bit unacceptable, but we can not ignore the issue he raised. There are lot of people who have difficulty in accepting the methodology he adopting to press his case. But the question is if we do not approve what he is doing what is the other option to check corruption? Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Sing the other day said, ‘corruption can not be done away with by just one method or one Lokpal Bill. The answer would, why don’t he try some more? Has he done any thing on that? He stated some time back that he is not in control when a coalition government is in power we people asked about he doing nothing or rather protecting Mr. Raja on 2G spectrum case.

Are we to let what Micah said about Israel happen to our country?

Micah said in 3:12 “Therefore because of you Zion shall be ploughed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, And the mountain of the temple Like the bare hills of the forest”.

Look at the countries like

What has happened to US and several European countries are to be studied in this context. A documentary by Charles Ferguson called “Inside Job” will tell that story.

Some of the questions we may have to ask under the circumstance are,

Is there any relation between globalization/ privatization and current escalation of corruption?

Our Prime Minister yesterday said, there is none. But look at the data, the number of scams and amount of money went up from 1990 when we opened our country up the world corporations!

How do we deal with this?

What are the measures that could be taken by the Church in this matter?

My question: We have house full attendance every Sunday in the Church, do we dare to use the pulpit to talk about what Micah said?

God be with us; God! save our country please.