News / Asia

India Lower House Passes Graft Bill

A supporter of Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare holds a placard supporting strong anti-graft legislation during a protest in Hyderabad, India, December 27, 2011.
A supporter of Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare holds a placard supporting strong anti-graft legislation during a protest in Hyderabad, India, December 27, 2011.

India's powerful lower house of parliament has passed a landmark anti-corruption bill that seeks to create an independent ombudsman with powers to investigate corruption charges against bureaucrats and politicians.

The bill was passed Tuesday following hours of heated debate in parliament and a staunch defense from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare launched a three-day hunger strike in Mumbai to coincide with the parliamentary debate.  He called on the government to redraft what he called the "toothless" legislation, saying the proposed ombudsman will be controlled by the government, making it ineffective in tackling rampant corruption.

The 74-year-old activist also threatened a wider civil disobedience campaign starting Friday in which activists will voluntarily go to jail if their demands are not met.

Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj of the Bharatiya Janata Party denounced the Lokpal Bill as flawed.  But the government says the proposed law is a fine piece of legislation and will be instrumental in fighting corruption.

The Congress Party-led government failed to get the two-thirds' majority it needed in the lower house to make the bill a constitutional amendment.  The legislation now must gain approval in the upper house and be signed by the president before it goes into effect.

The government hopes to pass the landmark legislation by Thursday.  But its fate is uncertain, with opposition parties expected to seek many changes.

Public frustration over a series of multi-billion-dollar corruption scandals involving top politicians has been growing.

Hazare, who claims inspiration from Mohandas Gandhi, held a similar 12-day fast in August to protest an earlier draft of the legislation.  That strike stoked public anger against what is seen as widespread corruption in Indian society, and brought millions of Indians onto the streets nationwide.

Rishi, an organizer of the latest fast, says his group is preparing for tens of thousands of protesters to show solidarity with Hazare in Mumbai. "The preparations started two days ago.  The carpeting area in the front can accommodate 15,000 people who will come here to support it," he said.

Hazare's critics say his methods go outside the bounds of India's democratic system, adding that he is forcing his political views on parliament.

"It is the job of the parliament to make the legislation. We had several rounds of discussions with Shri Anna Hazare and his team," said Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. "We know their viewpoints, but it is for the parliament to decide what would be the final shape of the legislation."

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid