Edit/Op-Ed

Demons within, Crusade outside

Saiful Islam for BeyondHeadlines

I am in déjà vu moment looking at the way Anna Hazare’s anti corruption crusade is being carried out. I still remember few years back the UPA-brouhaha surrounding the nuclear deal; it seems Anna has taken a leaf out of Congress book. There is a very striking similarity between the way Lokpal bill and nuclear deal was handled.

There is very strong public opinion on Lokpal as if it will end all corruption from the country in the same manner the government was marketing the nuclear deal as if it will solve all the energy woes of the country. Maybe my children will get too see the effects of the nuclear deal. The similarity does not end here, back then anyone who was not for the nuclear deal was a traitor and today one who is not supporting Anna is corrupt. There is ombudsman in many countries but he is not a magic wand to end corruption because he comes from within us, unless we get someone from Mars to end it.

The idea is either you are with us or against the us (country). It is “aggressive marketing” of important issues concerning the nation. There are all kinds of slogans like this is a second freedom struggle and we will make Jantar Mantar a Tahrir square.

Go get a life people, stop being copycats and do some original stuff. All this bollywoodisation of protests began with Rang de basanti and now people throng India Gate and organize candle light vigils at the drop of a hat. It was a novel way of protest but are we not overdoing it?

We have a democratic government so we don’t want a Tahrir square and as far as a second freedom movement is concerned we already celebrated our 65th Independence Day. It seems Anna has taken his Gandhian image too seriously and as he has no Britishers and Mahatma Gandhi to fight them so he is filling the vacuum and projecting our democratically elected government as British government counterpart.

I can say with certainty that many of the people who are shouting corruption hoarsely from roof tops are corrupt in one way or the other. Coming to one of the trusted lieutenants of Hazare, Kiran Bedi who could not become the commissioner of Delhi or Chief Information Officer and now in her leisure she is endorsing washing powders and selling sensationalism on prime time in “Aap ki kachehri.” I wonder is this the same lady who was the first woman I.P.S, became famous for jail reforms as Tihar I.G and went on to win the Magsaysay award.

I get perplexed that why whenever we talk of corruption it starts and ends with the corruption of politicians. Is general public not corrupt? Or is this had to do with amount of money and the level of corruption? The UPA government gave us the RTI, RTE, MNREGA and is going to give us the food security act but this government is neck-deep in corruption. It is very true that in recent months lots of scams have been unearthed and the responsibility falls on the government to deal with it through legislations and strong political will. We need to curb it as it has seeped into the roots and I won’t be wrong if I say it is in the psyche of the people and not in Kalmadi, Raja or Yedurappa. We are after their heads but we will not get anything more than few heads on our wall because they will be replaced by other people and again there will be scams. Problem is not few people but the way we have made corruption a part of our existence. A Lokpal will not do much unless we find the corruption within us, our family and friends and fight to curb it. Society gets politicians, police, professionals and bureaucrats from within us. If the people are corrupt all the institutions will get corrupt. While growing up we all had high morals and were revolutionaries in our own ways but slowly we became impotent not because we cannot fight the evils of the system but because we are the perpetrators of corruption.

A student’s tryst with corruption starts with getting railway tickets from touts during vacations as he has to go home and tickets are not available on counter. We talk about corruption, go to rallies and shout slogans and camouflage ourselves in the crowd of so called patriots and activists but deep within we all are bloody corrupt. From giving bribes, evading taxes through unfair means to using contacts to get benefits and privileges; we are part and parcel of one form of corruption or the other and if we think that only 2G scam, commonwealth games scam is corruption then we are hypocrites.

Let us start a crusade against corruption within us. We will pledge to ourselves that we will not be a part of any corrupt practice howsoever small it may be and after that we will fight the corruption in our families, friends and immediate surroundings then am sure we will not feel the need for a second freedom struggle or to make Jantar Mantar a Tahrir square.

(Saiful Islam graduated in Masters in Social Work from Jamia Millia Islamia and is the General Secretary of youth initiative PLEA. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect BH’s editorial policy.)

 

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