The importance of the Anna Hazare movement

Anna Hazare fasting

Anna Hazare started his fast unto death at Jantar Mantar to force the government take constructive steps to control the tsunami of corruption that is eating away the country’s growth like an epidemic. Being physically restrained I haven’t been able to visit the place but my wife attended the gathering consecutively for two days and she also took our daughter with her the day before yesterday. On my part I have been trying to make people aware through Twitter and Facebook as much as I can manage.

What has caught me by surprise is the resistance by some prominent public figures including journalists, popular bloggers, people enjoying great social media following and socialites. I’m not mentioning politicians and bureaucrats because they are the target of the current Anna Hazare protest.

Most of the resistance has come in the form of misinformation and misrepresentation and this is what is disturbing. I mean these are the people I have trusted and admired (although I don’t go overboard when it comes to admiring people unless they are sex symbols). The Pioneer, the newspaper I’ve subscribed to for more than 10 years now has been publishing plain lies. From next month I’m certainly switching over to Times of India because if I want to read trash, why not get a newspaper that at least has a Page 3 section (aside from publishing trash)?

Similarly online magazines and blogs are full of innuendoes and twisted facts. If nothing else prominent Twitter and Facebook users post indirect jokes and inferences that constantly try to create doubts among people. They are constantly trying to portray Anna Hazare and some bogeyman trying to introduce a draconian law that is going to push the country into the throes of dictatorship.

Frankly, I haven’t gone through the entire text of the Jan Lok Pal Bill but considering the kind of people associated with its contents I’m pretty much sure it can never be draconian. All their lives these people have worked — including luminaries like Kiran Bedi, Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal — for a more open and just society and in no way they would associate themselves even remotely with something “Draconian”.

The current movement is about coming of age of the Indian Republic. In the times of reality shows and momentary uprisings to some it may appear as another middle-class time pass but this would be a great misjudgement. And anyway even if it is a middle-class uprising what is wrong in that? Any kind of uprising is better than no uprising. At least people are not sitting at home and watching their afternoons sitcoms. They’re coming out on the roads and expressing their anger. What more do you want?

The naysayers say that instead of bringing into existence a new authoritarian body we should strive to reform the existing system. No problem with that. But what have these people been doing till now? They have had a great presence. They have enjoyed some power. They have had public reach. They have had the platform with them. So far what has stopped them? Why haven’t existing systems been improved? A prominent journalist was saying that corruption is a nonissue? Why is it a nonissue? And even if it is a nonissue why haven’t these the so-called experts on democracy striven towards making it an issue? Now all of a sudden they are worried about the legislature and electoral system. Why do they never hit the roads when people like Pappu Yadav, A Raja and Kazimoni successfully become ministers?

If they are so averse to authoritarian bodies then why not do away with police stations, the Election Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioner? In fact why have a Prime Minister who has so much authority? And if we can have these bodies then why not a Jan Lok Pal?

The country has been seething under the grip of massive corruption for years. Some say previously it used to be thousands of rupees and now it’s millions of rupees and hence the scale of corruption has increased. That might be the case but the value of the rupee has also decreased so the scale has pretty much always been the same. Ever since we got independence we have been ruled by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats and it is simply because nobody is breathing down their necks.

And there has been an all pervading connivance between politicians, business persons, journalists, scholars and intellectuals because everybody works to serve each other. Newspapers and publications enjoy political patronage and it is well known. The creamy relationship between business persons and politicians was made quite apparent by the recent Radia tapes expose and Ratan Tata himself recently admitted that he lobbied for A Raja. Similarly intellectuals and scholars get their studies funded so that they can create history and science to further political and communal agendas (for instance the Aryan invasion theory). The masses are perpetually misguided so that they never rise against the current government. Whether it is Left, Rright or Center every political party resorts to corruption and that is why there is so much resistance towards having a watchdog.

With the coming of 24-hour television and social media the game is totally altered. Previously as a common citizen the most you could do was write a letter to the editor to express your grievance and it was up to the publishers whether they published your letter or not. Television news channels and social media provide instant information consumption and information distribution tools. You can avail news immediately and you can disseminate your opinions and news immediately. Everybody has a mass reach in a big or small way. It certainly has its pros and cons but that is not the issue.

So naturally those who conventionally saw it upon themselves to “empower” people find themselves all of a sudden on the sidelines. Of course there are political and commercial motivations too.

Looking at the resistance objectively my personal understanding says there are political as well as intellectual agendas going on. All these people articulating their doubts against the Anna Hazare movement (some weirdos even termed his fasting as a form of terrorism — never knew Mahatma Gandhi was a terrorist!) have gotten used to representing people. Somehow they cannot come to grips with the idea that people can take up issues on their own and they don’t need journalists and politicians. A person who has no political or journalistic background can be a leader to and this is something they are unable to digest.

They also say that if you want to bring change then join politics and become politically active. Again nothing wrong in that. But do we have a conducive environment to be politically active? You will be beaten to death the moment you start your political campaign as a normal citizen and THIS is the reality of our country. It is very easy to say that fight the elections and then say something. Even an average election campaign requires anywhere between 15-20crore rupees. Can a common person get so much money without collaborating with the corrupt?

So first we need a system that is going to make politics redundant for those who want to join it to pursue their corrupt goals. They must know that after spending 15-20 crores they will not be able to earn 1500-2000 crores, or even 30-40 crores. Once they know they cannot earn the sort of money they want to earn by joining politics they will stop joining and this is when people who really want to work for the country will be able to join. Then they won’t require15-20 crores to fight elections. By merely being what they are they will be able to fight elections and win them.

But that is only going to become possible if we are able to break the current nexus between politicians, bureaucrats, business persons and all sorts of people who control the economy and the thought process of the country. It’s like antibiotics. You have two release germs in the body in order to kill the existing germs.

The Jan Lok Pal Bill may have some queer points here and there (after all people like Swami Agnivesh are associated with the movement and this is the same person who speaks on behalf of Maoists) but they can be easily ironed out as things move forward. If the country needs another surveillance body than let it be. Instead of intellectualising the issue and creating doubts among people everybody should work towards making the system more accountable.

My wife just told me that popular Bollywood dance directorFarha Khan is at Jantar Mantar and she’s saying that she’s not representing the film fraternity, she’s representing her 3 children. This is the philosophy we need to embrace. This is not a social phenomena and this is not a cultural phenomena. This is something that you have to decide for the sake of your children.

13 thoughts on “The importance of the Anna Hazare movement

  1. AJAY KUMAR ANNARAPU

    don’t stop the movement until reach the goal. Mainly it to be useful to realise the all polititions.

  2. S Gupta

    These fearless looters of Mother India has to be shown a lesson. Anna ji soft. The minimum punishment should be hanged till death.

    I am sure when 2-3 will be punished the system will clean.

  3. Farizad Kolah

    Change and belief has to be within us! We all want corruption to be wiped off…and it can only happen if we want it to happen.
    Being Aam Janata, there is little or no scope of being heard…considering that, if a Hazare stands up for us, the least we can do is get out of the slumber and support him in this selfless noble cause.
    We keep expecting others to change and criticize our society but do nothing about it. It is upon us, mainly the youth of the country, to keep the candle burning and not let go of the heat that has finally awakened some hope. The 73-year-old icon is an inspiration!!!
    Now is the time and opportunity to prove how PATRIOTIC we are!!!

  4. Bala Ullattil

    MARCH with HAZARE 2 Washout Corruption from our Country – Incredible India … Jai Hind! Bala Ullattil – Dubai

  5. RAVI

    Dear Sir,

    My small suggestion in the direction of erradication of corruption, black money, money laundrying, fake currency and hawala.

    I am greatly moved by the pasting going to be undertaken by you. In India by applying the below simple method one can remove the corruption from grass root level :

    1. Govt of India (GOI) should remove the currency notes in all denominations above 10/-. i.e. coins, 5/- & 10/- only to be there in circulation : This can be implemented through parliment by passing necessary resolution to which gives the citizens to deposit the cash denomination in the bank account with in a stipulated period.

    2. The existing Credit and Debit card usage & EDC machines charges in total to be reduced to .25% or below with the immediate effect.

    3. All transactions to be done through bank account or credit card account only.

    4. Going forward every bank account KYC i.e. identification of account proof to be done only with UID card and also all the existing accounts.

    Advantages:

    1. No act for control or eradication of corruption is not required.
    2. No fake currency will be getting circulated in the market.
    3. Every pai will be getting counted.
    4. GOI can completely wipe out the black money in the country.

  6. Dr. Seshadri Kumar

    Hi,

    I agree with your views.

    You might find my website interesting: http://leftbrainwave.blogspot.com . Specifically, I have written an article analyzing all the misinformation spread in the media on the Anna Hazare movement. That is the reason why many well-meaning people wrongly think that there is something wrong in the Anna Hazare agitation. There is a lot of phooey that this is unconstitutional, undemocratic, and disrespectful of parliament. All of that is not true. It is a long article, so I am referring the webpage here, rather than copy/paste the whole article here.

    Thanks,

    Dr. Seshadri Kumar

  7. Manju Agrawal

    Beyond Lokpal Bill
    Now no one would say “nothing can happen in this country”.

    Prof Manju Agrawal

    Lucknow

    In History 27th August, 2011 would be remembered for victory of Anna Hazare and his Lokpal Bill. I wish history books also mention the Anna Hazare movement for its much wider and very positive repercussions for our country and the youth particularly. They are the nation builders but I often felt very sorry and concerned when I saw them disoriented in absence of right models before them. In my childhood I was made to remember a proverb “if wealth is lost nothing is lost, if health is lost something is lost, if character is lost everything is lost”. We have seen the proverb getting reversed: “if character is gained nothing is gained, if health is gained, something is gained, if wealth is gained everything is gained”. With loss of values we have observed the magic of vanishing models for our children and youth from their homes, schools as well as nation.. Being a behavioural science professor and a social worker I have closely interacted with youth. In my behavioural science classes I often ask students who is their model. To my surprise spontaneous responses that were common when we used to study are totally missing. They will take time to think, very few who respond will mention their parents. National leadership and national models are found to be completely missing for our youth. I had been observing a sense of despondency, frustration and apathy in their thought processes. Youth had accepted corruption as part of life for which nothing can be done The movement has therefore not only paved way for formation of a strong Lokpal Bill but has:

    • Given a model to our young generation, a youth icon.
    • It has created hope among hopeless citizens that country can improve that netas can be brought to task and that beurocracy can be made accountable to public.
    • It has created a culture of honesty which was considered a taboo being totally crushed under the burden of rampant corruption. The challenge is to sustain and keep it alive.
    • It has made people of our country realise that if we rise above drawing room discussions of corruption, unite and willing to contribute our bit for the country, everything is possible and the sacrifices of our freedom fighters will not go waste.

    Hence, in principle acceptance of Lokpal bill, for me, is a much smaller achievement to the hope it has given to our youth, the model it has given to the nation and the road it has shown to citizens of India. Now no one would say “nothing can happen in this country”. And that is our greatest achievement.

  8. solid stuff

    me too agree that Anna is doing a respectful job and he’s a great humanitarian too. but there are few more hidden agenda when you analyze it from the view of any indian poilitician who is presently active. The cunning and Clever will always wait for few more years to become the chancellor/president of the position at the centre from where the entire outcome of Jan Lok Pal Bill will be controlled. And of Course the profit will be much more than what he’s gaining now. Can anybody assure that after few years, Sharad Pawar/Raja/Kanimozhi/Kalmadi will not be at a leading position in this ????? let us hope for the better future of our country. The Law designers need to be futuristic to enhance the fruitfulness of this movement for a better India, at least for the next generation.

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