The concept of civil society evolved in eighteenth century Europe when the socilal organisation based on the 4 estates started disintegrating under the twin impact of secularization and economic changes engendered by the Industrial Revolution. Groups of professionals loosely associated with political factions, coffee shops, newspapers--constituting what Habermas would later designate as the public sphere--started asserting their point of view against the entrenched political and social elites. The newly emergent groups were called civil society and political philosophers like Voltaire and Rousseau and even Montesquieu termed as civil society those organised and articulate members of society that struggled for political and economic rights, freedoms and were at the forefront of what in the last century came to be called the Human Rights movement.
India does not have a civil society in the real sense of the term and if we are to apply the western concept of civil society then it is the caste based social organisations such as the Khap panchayants which constitute civil society. Along with the Khap Panchayants we can include sectarian and identity groups, bhajanna mandalis, charity organisations and the like. We harly hear any of them ever making a political demand. Civil society in India, particularly parts of northern India, are bastions of social evil and nothing good can ever come out of Indian civil society.
Suddenly we have the media speaking of Anna Hazare and his designer dress wearing cohorts as the "civil society". I find this situation absurd. 5 self appointed front runners cannot appropriate for themselves the right to speak for the dispossessed masses and who gave them the right or the mandate to represent the non political calsses. I agree that the Congress led UPA II is a corrupt regime and I have always said that the dynastic fascist Congress Party will always remain corrupt and criminal. The only way to get rid of corruption and criminalization of India is to get rid of the Congress Party by any means possible. A Lok Pal will not be able to reign in corruption. See how the Cong res managed to appoint P J Thomas as Chief Vigilance Commissioner even though he stands ac cued in a number of criminal cases. We have a situation in which the Courts at different levels alone seem to stand for decency and justice. Now this present Lok Pal bill as suggested by the Regime in power will take the Prime Minister out of the purview of the Lok Pal.This immunity to the PM does not exist even in the Constitution and by asking for a Lok Pal the so called civil society activists have further insulated the Office of the Prime Minister from proper political and judicial accountability.
There is another problem about the concept of civil society. The more articulate members of the so called civil society are always on the defensive over the issue of the RSS. The RSS represents a point of view and in a democracy it has the right to express that point of view. How can Arvind Kherjiwal call that organisation "communal". Is the Congress Party not a criminal organisation given its track record in 1984 and the present 2G scam. I feel that Corruption, dynastic fascism and criminalisation all stem from the Congress Party and the fight for a better and more civilised India should mean a struggle to liberate India from Congress rule.