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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is Anna India?

There has been quite a resistance from my side to express my views on the whole issue of agitation, anna and India.  However after going through the Lok Pal Bill, Jan Lok Pal Bill (JLPB), submissions of Aruna Roy and views of many people in print media, television and discussions with friends, I write this piece of mine on the current situation in India.  What has been happening at Ramlila ground and where I stand, where do I find myself?

There is absolutely no face saving on the issue of corruption.  All political parties, individuals, social activists, agitationists are sounding in unison that corruption is one of the most important issue in India.  We need to tackle this, punish the guilty, set good examples, put proper regulation in place and implement it honestly, cautiously and expeditiously. 

Since last 42 years the Lok Pal Bill has been waiting the nod by the parliament which is a supreme body to enact laws in india.  There have been voices from many corners in all these years for having a lok pal at the national level in order to look into the cases of corruption, however some of the states have Lok Ayuktas but they are ineffective in the absence of strong laws and proper implementation.  Surely I agree no law can correct people untile people themselves resolve to be honest and to fight corruption.  But laws do matter as at times fear drives a person not to get into corrupt practices.  Fear forces one not to indulge in something which one's conscience does not agree with.  Thats how fear becomes a strong restraint as insecurity becomes a strong motivation. 

Last time (April 2011, 97 hrs fast) when Anna Hazare sat at Jantar mantar in demand of strong Lok Pal Bill, it culminated into inclusion of five members (Anna Hazare, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejrival and Santosh Hegde) in the drafting committee as representatives of the civil society.  Many have raised fingers on that including the opposition parties.  Were these representatives really represented the civil society?  What I understand from this is a simple thing, if you make noise you get heard, otherwise the government (hereinafter called Rulers) has a hearing problem.  After the inclusion, the rulers started showing their reluctance on listening to these members and incorporating their views in the bill and sent the draft bill which was drafted by these rulers to the standing committee for consideration.

Anna had already warned the rulers after Jantar Mantar fast that if the bill is not passed before 15th august (4 months time), he will sit on fast again on 16th August.  Indian children called Anna a second Gandhi.  It was well in the notice of the rulers and having looked into the credentials of this great leader called Anna Hazare, who has through his determination and strong concern for different causes has sat on anshan more than dozen times, it must have become obvious to the government that he would do so.  To this end they should have atleast, a) heard their voices, b) shown their strong commitment for a strong Lok Pal, c) should have taken him seriously.  On the contrary, as usual, following delaying tactics and thinking that they would be able to deal with the issue of Anna's Anshan (scheduled from 16th Aug) the same way as they dealt with Ramdev's Anshan.  The success story of dealing with Ramdev's anshan was expected to be repeated by the core successful team which could demolish the character of the whole issue by behaving like no less than britishers on the midnight of the 4th June 2011, by attacking on unarmed people silently sleeping on the ground, convinced about the causes raised by their yoga guru, travelled several miles from different parts of the country, to join him, ignorant about the political vendatta and conversations that transpired between their guru and the political gurus (the rulers).   

The rulers were well prepared to repeat the same this time, the learnings of the last victory was their strength and the weaknesses of their action was their guiding restraints for the action to take shape may be on 16th night.  From the first week of this August the rulers first played all tactics in order to stop him from sitting on anshan, by all kinds of means which included putting false allegations against Anna.  One of the representatives of these rulers (Manish Tiwari) went on to say that Anna is corrupt from top to bottom in a very desparate effort to put down the public image of Anna.  Undettered, Anna called on him publicly and stated the facts related to the statement so made.  The rulers started bargaining on the location, Anna wanted jantar mantar again, they refused, they allowed JP (Jai Prakash Narain - popularly known as JP, for JP movement which shook indian polity in 1974) Park, with lot of conditions, 5000 people, 50 cars, 50 bikes, 3 days......... It showed their unruly arrogance to allow a citizen of India to sit on anshan in order to raise his/her voice.  As the day was approaching section 144 Cr PC was clamped at many important places in Delhi which included all these parks, surroundings of Indian Parliament etc.

It was the morning of 16th Aug 2011 when Anna along with Arvind were picked up by Delhi Police when they were planning to proceed to JP Park.  The police is believed to have told them that they are taking them and they were not arrested yet, once they reached the guest house, they were asked to hand over their mobiles and told, they are under arrest.  What really was the intention of the rulers?  Shashi Tharoor (former minister and congress MP) said Annaji's brief detention by the Delhi Police was unwise, further he mentioned that the rulers did not realise that they can only arrest an individual but not an Idea. 

They were taken to Tihar where Kalmadi, Raja, Kanimojhi are arrested for CWG and 2G allotment corruption charges.  The rulers equated Anna with them may be not in a literal terms but surely they wanted to convey to Anna that this is where you belong since one of their representative himself had alleged about Anna's top to bottom corruption.  The rulers were found mindless and in hurry the 7 day judicial detention was reduced to 12 hours detention and in the evening he was asked to leave.  But Anna refused to go anywhere, he just wanted to go to JP Park for agitation and the rulers were still in their high spirit on an issue of allowing him to sit on fast, he sat in Tihar and addressed, met, communicated with the masses through Twitter, Youtube and other sources.  These days technology dominates human imagination and facilitates the creative genius in individuals.  May be Kapil Sibal (one of the great ruler who heads science and technology ministry) did not realise it specially when it came to its use in reaching out to people, especially the younger ones. 

The rulers were lost in their thoughts when they saw this 74 year old adamant creature sitting in Tihar jail.  I just liked and admired this man for his adamant behaviour, it was required, it was just, it was tit for tat and it was well convincing for the cause this person was standing for.  After two days of negotiations he was released and allowed and given Ramlila ground for going on fast unto death for 21 days on a condition that if needed to be extended it could be done so with 4 days notice time.  Anna started his agitation at Ramlila maidan for ending the life of Ravan called corruption.  Today is 9th day of this and his health is deteriorating, the rulers are sounding coming to some terms, things are beginning to take shape for good (I hope so).  This is just small reporting, now I would like to raise issues from my personal concern.

Many people including Arundhati Roy have very vehemently criticised the movement and questioned the credibility of Anna and his team members. I feel the cause is well taken and if even after 64 years of independence, we are not able to live in a country, known for its rich culture, without giving bribe to different agencies for small routine works, we need to be concerned with this.  Favouritism is the most cheap commodity available in the market at the price one can easily bargain at times.  So the cause is well taken.  Some of my friends keep telling me that corruption is part of indian culture, we carry gifts, presents, sweets to the people's houses from whom we seek favor, we keep pleasing bosses, we don't mind helping our relatives, friends, near and dear ones and at a later stage at a more formal level it is reflected through our behaviour while we sit on a chair which is vulnerable to such causes, concerns, favors and benfit.  We get lured by the market forces and are not able to resist the temptation to get corrupted.  The reason as many of my friends give me is that Corruption is part of our culture.  I dont buy this defense fully, though to a small level, it might be a fact.  There is corruption in many countries even when their culture does not resemble that of ours.  I feel we have failed to implement laws and the legal mechanism is so tiresome, costly and time-taking that one does not mind being a victim of corruption.  It has become part of our system.  Once the legal system is prompt many would really take up the cases and try finding a solution.  It took Kalmadi 8 months to get to the place he deserved, Dayanidhi Maran is still enjoying after leaving the ministry, must be busy in finding proper counsel, defense and washing off the evidences.  Cant we have a system which is prompt.

The issue of Anna team being adamant has been finding quite the takers, however I dont agree on this.  From day one, they have been saying we are open for talks, though media and many people have mentioned that it is as if JLP and only JLP that they are fighting for, it is not so.  If the intention of the rulers was clean they could have honored their participation, and may be agreed to talk to these issues.  The rulers have been quite smart in buying time and delaying this bill.  In politics it is always that you keep the issues open and does not get it resolved so that in case of need it can be capitalised.  

Many of my friends question whether the crowd really knows what is JLPB, for them it is just corruption.  Let me put my mind here.  Anna's credibility is such that bring people together.  We are ought to have trust in the rulers, we allow them to rule over us with good intentions and go with the policies they decide, even when we do not know them, understand them.  Each one of the person supporting Anna does not really need to know JLP.  When India got freedom, does everyone who fought for it knew what is freedom?  Did we fight the British for the freedom that we are having today?  It is a matter of credibility.  Credibility catches the crowd. It is the brand which makes the product saleable, not really always the product per se. 

Where do we go from here?  This is a strong question in my mind.  Are we going to get rid of corruption?  Are we going to have public awakening like this for all issues?  For sure corruption is not going to come to an end.  Anna has been saying it several times, it is not that such a bill or strong Lok Pal shall remove corruption.  It all depends on the individuals involved in the process.

What I personally feel that there has to be a middle path for the provisions on Lok Pal Bill. The rulers version is very weak and the JLPB is very strict or very impractical.  We need to have a middle path to this.  The worst that I feel at present that on all these issues there is no word from Rahul Gandhi who has been under preparations for taking up the reign of this great nation or for that matter, no one knows where is Sonia Gandhi, she chose this time for her medication, she is totally silent, she is unfortunately the president of Indian National Congress.

There must not be any effort to question the supremacy of Indian Parliament.  It is just because of this strong democratic values which are enshrined in our constitution that we get organized and raise our voice against issues of concern.  The problem has been that as our rulers are ruling against the constitutional provisions and there is no one to question it, such practices have become their system and they have started taking it for granted that.  Corruption somehow has become an acceptable system to get speedy responses and favors.

The peaceful protest and questioning the corrupt system in my opinion is purely justified depending on the nature of issues, assertions and suggestions.  Many of my friends keep saying that Mean is equally important as the End, for a justified End the mean has to be justified as well.  Sure, I think the only question is how we define what is justified.  When there is visible resistance from the rulers, one has to put pressure through different approaches which can lead to justified end.  The mean of peaceful agitation, hunger strikes, driving the elected members to have an opinion, are all justified means in my opinion.

The question of Is Anna India has to be taken from the context of a political statements which were in currency in the 70s by the present rulers, India is Indira and Indira is India.  If at all we look at the context, I personally vouch the fact that yes Anna is India, not for anything else but for standing up with all self-less motive and honest intention to start a renewed process of reducing corruption in India through 13 days purely non-violent, countrywide agitation.  I stand for India Against Corruption and for the moment I am not really interested to know much on who are the people behind it as I have never cared if at all the intentions are honest.

As I wind up this write up through additions on the earlier version, I am fully convinced that the present agitation against corruption shall surely lead our way for the making of great nation.  Surely one should not expect that suddenly things would take shape.  As mentioned earlier and as I keep telling my friends, charity begins at home, can we take an oath that we shall never get involved in corrupt practices.  This agitation has certainly galvanized the Indian youth, the future of this great nation, for the cause of corruption free India, a sense of great pride in holding the national flag and wearing annatopi (gandhi cap).  Emotions play more important role than intelligence, heart is more important than the brain, intangibles value more than tangibles.  This whole movement has awakened India to fight this cancer of corruption irrespective of caste, creed, color, gender, tribe, region and religion.  After purna-swaraj, this seems to be a great resolve, if at all it is.

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There has been a great debate on the whole issue of Lok Pal, Agitation, Anna Hazare, supporting as well as opposing the agitation.  This is our democracy where it is respected and taken in positive way.  Many people have questioned the credibility of Anna, I have also read criticism of Gandhi and there are people at present living in India who oppose Gandhi as well as Gandhian philosophy.  It is basically one's mindset that one looks for its defense.  Guha wrote that there were 4 lac people against nuclear plants in Calcutta agitating and it could not become the voice of India, no media called it so, where as just about 50 thousand people gathered at Ramlila are called the voice of India.  I feel it is not a wise comparison.  It is not just 50 thousand in Ramlila, had it been such, the rulers would never had given it any weight. It was all because Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Guwahati to surat, everywhere people were on streets.  Anyways I am just putting some links here for a better judgement of the readers.

Some important links:







28th Aug 2011, Shillong