All Cry Little Substance

M Reyaz, BeyondHeadlines

Now that social crusader Anna Hazare’s, what many called “unreasonable” fast unto death has ended on the morning of its fifth day. Let’s sit and ponder. Corruption is the menace that has dampened the growth of India more than anything else. Only communalism would perhaps come anyway close to it. Many would argue that even communalism or Maoism became an elephant foot because of it. Rajeev Gandhi had famously said that less than 15 paisa of every rupee actually reaches to those it is meant for. The figure might have changed (in positive or negatives), but the reality is the same.

However, corruption is nothing new. Even before independence, it had started taking roots. As early as 1937, Mahtama Gandhi, the father of the nation, is believed to have said, “We seem to have weakened from within. I would go to the length of giving the whole Congress a decent burial rather than put up with corruption that is rampant.”

Although the problem is not with the congress party, it is in the chromosome of the nation. And at the cost of being labeled a “Congressi,” to “repent not participating because I had differences,” I hereby proudly say that I did not go to Jantar Mantar to stand with the 72-year-old crusader although he is one among the few people who I hold in high esteem in present day India.

For former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it was often said that “he is a right man in a wrong party.” I feel that is what has happened with Anna. Or perhaps like Vajpayee, Anna too is from the same flock.

My heart says, perhaps, he is not. In that case is he playing naïve in the hands of few? Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar had remarked in 1949, “The first thing… we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods… we must abandon… civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha… these methods are nothing but the grammar of anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned the better for us.”

The campaign was launched by the umbrella organization called “India Against Corruption.”  Arvind Kejriwal on record said that they resorted to the “Gandhian” way of dharna as they had no intention of contesting elections and “democratic” measure like petitioning, etc. have failed.

No intention! Baba Ramdev, who is one of the faces of the group, has as early as on February 28 announced his intention. In fact, the “intention” reverberated at the time of breaking of hunger strike.

Although the problem is not just being “political” or “apolitical,” the group describes itself as “an expression of collective anger of the people of India against corruption.” However, a well-known journalist wrote on a newsportal “India Against Corruption (IAC), a movement of concerned citizens of India, promises a new beginning in an otherwise hopeless struggle against systemic corruption in India.”

“Concerned citizens,” who hold themselves as the holy cows, comprising of the “civil society” think that they represent the country, and not the “chor netas” (corrupt leaders) who win elections. Yes, most of the politicians are corrupt, and politics need to be weeded out. But the chromosome of corruption won’t cease just by creating another “super cop or super judicial” institution. In fact, Kejriwal said on record that he is open to discussion on the draft bill. So all this hullaballoo for four days was only for discussions?

Like a child, Anna and others appeared angry on not getting what they wanted. Hence not eating, they were happy at the moment they got. So the “committee” of civil societies for discussion would comprise of both Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal, besides others.

A child does not like to see mother showering same affection on some other child. And so, this “civil society” group did not want anyone else in the group. They say that they are ready for discussions, but discussion on their draft, not what Aruna Roy or the National Advisory Council suggested, or not to even listen to Harsh Mandar or Sandeep Pandey or others who did not support them.

And lastly, for the swelling number of urban middle class people who had turned up for the “revolution” on India’s “Tahrir Square” and expressed their anger against corruption, this whole episode was nothing more than that of a Carnival. The main issue of contention was not “corruption” but “my anti graft Jan Lok Pal Bill against your Lokpal Bill.” And I can here vouch that most of them did not know the difference between the two or worse what they meant.

It was the same crowed that had come to cheer India’s victory, and the same crowd’s sentiments was echoed by a leading newspaper, which on Saturday declared, “India wins again.” But is it India’s victory? So tomorrow jats sit for reservations and threaten to go on fast. Will the government heed to similar demands?

And last, my fear is that what may happen if precedence is followed in Kashmir? In Manipur, Irom Sharmila is on a very legitimate demand of withdrawing Special Arm’s Power Act. Alas! it finds little support from the media.


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