It might be positive to explain the muted response to the reported selection of a Lokpal to the fact that a formal announcement that the former judge of the apex court, Mr Pinaki Chandra Ghose, would head the anti-corruption ombudsman organisation was still awaited. A more negative view could be that even a crusader like Anna Hazare has only diminished hopes that the eventual setting up of a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayaukta in the states will rid the nation of the scourge of corruption that has plagued the political/administrative system for over 50 years. For it was only after some strong words from the Supreme Court at the fag end of the Modi government’s tenure that the selection process was initiated, and it was not free of the controversial politics that have marked other selections in the absence of an official leader of the Opposition in the 16th Lok Sabha. There was little sincerity of purpose, amplified by the fact that no formal announcement was immediately forthcoming. Yet again have the Indian people been betrayed by their “leaders” ~ who can deny that the fizz had dissipated from the movement which Anna had led that had shaken the UPA to its foundations. It is another sick story that even Hazare concedes that the Aam Aadmi Party which his crusade created has miserably failed to live up to expectations. When last did he speak of a Lokpal as a dire national necessity? What happened to the dream he floated at the Ramlila ground? As much of a flop as Gulzari Lal Nanda’s cleanliness drive in the 1960s. Is corruption now an integral part of national life?

It is thus a heavy cross that Justice PC Ghose will have to bear. He certainly has all the right credentials but can there be any ducking of the question if the “system” will enable him to deliver what he might seek to achieve. He will not have a free hand in picking his team and will be heavily dependent on the central and state governments for the financial and material resources to put a credible anti-corruption mechanism in place. His efforts will require solid and consistent backing, and it is difficult not to be cynical about the prospects of that materialising. Still, we must wish him well, for his task is onerous, monumental. There is little in the functioning of the governments at the Centre and the states that inspires confidence that what has been spoken about for 50 years or more is anywhere near becoming a reality. For had the intentions always been honourable, there would have been no need for Anna to undertake repeated fasts, nor the Supreme Court to ask the government to spell out its position.

Yet Mr Justice Ghose merits all our good wishes. He has promises to keep…