MUJTABA FAROOQ, the first National President of Welfare Party of India, talks about the latest confrontation and ruckus between the civil society and the government in the perspective of the secular and democratic Constitution of India, and also presents an Islamic alternative to the prevailing perilous corrupted society, in an exclusive interview with KAMRAN SHAHID ANSARI. Excerpts:
Corruption has always remained an indispensable part of society and in fact umpteen numbers of scams have taken place before as well. But why do you think this time it has reached the level of a national issue. And why people are coming and supporting in humungous numbers for the cause?
This problem of corruption can be traced back to the period of Indira Gandhi, when she said about her irregularities and malpractices in the elections, that “all parties used the same methods”, claiming that this corruption and the grafts are global phenomena. Since then people have been used to this corruption and have adapted themselves aptly with this exploitative practice. But now for the past few years the situation has gone awry and simply unbearable and has created a sense of anger and angst among the people.
It has been reported that the black money that amounts 70 lakh crore has been deposited in the Swiss Banks, which in actual is 13 times of the Indian Debt. It has also been said that if this black money is given to every Indian, it will suffice for the food problem of the Indian population for another 60 years.
On the other hand the Arjun Sen Gupta Report says that 77 per cent of the Indian population earns less than 25 rupees a day. To add more injury to the common people inflation has gone up and food prices have sky-rocketed. It is also in news that the maximum black money in Swiss Banks is that of the Indians, and at the same time the stark contrast is that India has maximum number of the poor as well. So in short after the change of the economic policy in the early 90s, the majority in our country is in crisis. It is India where 4.5 lakh people live in slums. And finally the last nail in the coffin was added by the CWG in which trillions have been wasted for the futile and unnecessary activity and of course a huge amount was siphoned off by the organisers.
So with this kind of contrast and irregularity it was quite natural that people will turn against the government, and Anna Hazare gave the cue to the people and they joined the campaign with Anna against the government.
Another reason for the civil society to rise up is that people have lost faith in all parties, including opposition as all are involved in fleecing the citizens of the country.
Anna Hazare has himself said that the proposed Lokpal Bill will be able to curtail corruption up to 60 per cent. How do you rate this Lokpal Bill and how much do you think this bill will be instrumental?
The Lokpal Bill is not a new concept and laws have always been made to curb corruption and other irregularities in the system. The point to be noted here is that it will only put some check on the grafts and irregularities, and according to me it will not be able to curtail corruption even up to 60 per cent, but it will be way below 60 per cent. According to the government Bill, only the deputy secretary and officers above would be covered, and for the rest of the lower rank employees there will be Lokayukta, which is powerless. But the Civil Society wants all the government officers to come under the ambit of Lokpal as these government officers deal with the common man and bribes are a common practice. Hence if this Lokpal Bill proposed by the civil society gets cleared, then definitely it will be helpful and instrumental in putting a check on corruption, but the figure of 60 per cent decrease in corruption is still out of sight.
India is the biggest democracy and everyone has the constitutional right to protest peacefully. Then why is there so much hullabaloo over the protest of Anna Hazare? And why did the government use force to end the protest of Baba Ramdev? Don’t you think this act of government is unconstitutional?
Absolutely, the government’s actions are unconstitutional and they are now resorting to force and violence as we have seen in the case of Baba Ramdev. Laws are made in Parliament, and these laws are for the people, but if there is a confrontation and the people of the country are not convinced with the law then it needs to be changed. We all know the famous cliché that democracy is of the people, for the people and by the people. So if it is for the people then clearly the government has to budge to the demands otherwise people of the country will not choose them to be their representatives. Hence with such a commotion, it is apparent that this democracy is lacking transparency and is not working in the interest of the citizens of the country.
How can Islam as an ideology solve the conundrums of corruption? And how can it put an end to this menace?
The first point Islam emphasises upon is the spiritual and ethical elevation. Islam teaches that humans are only the owners of the properties that belong to them and encroaching into somebody else’s property or money is ghasab (illegal seizing or siphoning off of money). Hence bribe is illegal.
So Islam primarily teaches man ethical and moral values. And Islam gives the concept of resurrection where every individual will have to face the grand accountability. Besides this, it is also common sense that justice must be given to the victim and the culprit be punished.
Another point which is the corollary of the first is the concept of “all seeing eye” and every individual will be held answerable for the actions he does. It will not matter whether a person is guilty or acquitted by the courts on earth, but the final justice will be done before another JUDGE (Allah), and in the divine court, where none will go scot-free.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) sent one of his companions to Yemen as a Revenue Officer, and on his return from Yemen, he brought with him a lot of gifts (not any bribe), the Prophet ordered him to submit the gifts in Bait-ul-Maal as the gifts were because of the post that he was holding. Thus Islam closes the doors of bribe by not accepting even the gifts.
And lastly Islam says that no one has absolute powers, and by this statement Islam does not portray double standards. Even the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) presented himself before the people during his last days. Islam gives the common man right that even he can ask for explanations from the caliph.
Hence with all these measures Islam can solve the prevailing crisis of corruption.
Now the question that comes to surface is that why we are not presenting Islam as an alternative?
The problem is that we are lacking in the essentials required to present Islam. We have to give much emphasis on the character building of the Muslims. We have to display individually and collectively high morals and characters to draw the attention of the people who are looking for alternatives.
Secondly there is a vacuum in the political front, there is no political party which can be trusted by people and which is value-based. So there is a need of a value based political party, which displays high moral standards and shuns double standards and presents Islam as a solution.
You are the National President of Welfare Party of India yourself, still your party has not delivered as yet. What is the reason?
Actually our party is in its formative years, as it is only 3-month old. We are now focusing on its expansion and have made it activated in nine states, most of them in south. So at this time we are lacking in public strength. Hopefully in the near future we will gain strength and will try to bring out a positive impact on the society. However, meanwhile we had a word with the Anna Hazare team and expressed our will to support them, but they said that right now they do not want to be associated with any political party.