Gandhi, Anna and the Views of Indian Students

BeyondHeadlines News Desk

On  Gandhi Jayanthi Day, Nandini Voice for The Deprived, a Chennai based NGO, organized an All India essay competition for college students  on “How Gandhiji would have viewed Anna Hazare’s anti corruption movement”?

Here is a look at the Highlights of the views of the students about Gandhi and Anna’s Movement.


Comparison of Gandhiji’s movement with that of Anna Hazare :

The starting point of Gandhiji – Anna  Hazare  comparison  has been due to the same means  of fasting  adopted  by both of them, which gives  an impression that Anna’s  movement is Gandhian  in style and spirit.

However, the fact that both resorted to fasting does not imply that  Anna Hazare’s movement  is an extension of Gandhiji’s crusade.  The reasons why Gandhiji resorted to fasts , not once  but on seventeen occasions, are far different  from those behind Anna’s fast.

Gandhiji’s fasts were aimed at self purification and for reforming the society. Gandhiji   did not go on fast unto death to demand the removal of salt tax.  Gandhiji did not hold the British government to ransom by saying that he would kill himself if the salt tax would not be revoked. Even his 1932 fast against the British government’s decision to have separate electorates was directed more at the proponents of untouchability amongst the people than at the British government. Gandhiji  did not believe in using fasting method as coercive tactic. There lies the striking difference.

Gandhiji never fought against the person in whom evil resided but against the evil itself. Gandhiji’s fasts had the objective of uniting people against violence and exploitation rather than extracting specific concessions from the colonial state.

Though Anna’s objectives are noble, his method is sheer coercion, which is a non Gandhian approach.

Objection to derogatory and crude language :

While Gandhiji would have approved the concept of Anna Hazare’s struggle to fight against corruption in the country, he would have insisted that the means should justify the ends.

He would not have approved the often derogatory and crude remarks that Anna Hazare and his team members made at multiple public rallies in order to incite the assembled supporters.

Anna’s inadequate efforts to reform mindset of the country men:

Even if we think  that all those who gathered around Anna Hazare were not there just for basking in the sun during the fast, is Anna Hazare  sure that each person who came to support his movement replicate his anti corruption principles in his personal life?

Anna Hazare has not made it a central theme of his movement in a forceful manner that all his followers should curb corruption in their own lives before joining his movement in public.

Gandhi certainly distinguished the corrupt and dishonest elements from others in his movement.  This was the reason why Mahatma Gandhi’s lieutenants like Jawaharal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajaji and others were of such high caliber and character.


Middle class do not need revolution but the poor do:

Gandhiji would have been distraught at the voyeuristic attitude of the Great Indian Middle Class, who have sought to portray Anna Hazare’s movement as second freedom struggle.

In India, the middle class today do not need a revolution. The present situation in the country is a veritable paradise for them and several of them have been part of corrupt practices directly or indirectly and willingly or unwillingly.

Unfortunately, Anna Hazare could not catch the imagination of the people belonging to the lower income group, who largely feel disconnected with the movement. Poor people are the worst sufferers due to the prevailing corruption. This is in sharp contrast to the Gandhian days when people in the lower income group and the so called untouchables felt so close to him and identified themselves with Gandhian movement.


From here to where ?

Corruption in India has become a phenomenon.  The political leaders and business men do not get their kickbacks from skies but only from the people who pay the bribe for getting benefits for themselves. It is a two way traffic.

In such situation, Anna Hazare solely orienting his movement towards Jan Lokpal appears to be superfluous efforts.


If Gandhiji were alive today, he would have told Annaji as follows

“If the politicians and bureaucrats have to be mended, it would be necessary to mend the greed of the individuals.  The weakest link in the anti corruption movement is the average Indian’s preference to be part of corrupt dealings if it would benefit him.  Therefore, it is necessary to wage the battle against corruption in the minds and hearts of individual Indians. Tell me how many of your followers are clean?

Do not view anyone in India including the politicians as your enemies and do not belittle any constitutional bodies. Believe that they can also be reformed.  A clean society can alone produce a clean political system”.


Applaud Annaji :

Anna Hazare has certainly contributed enormously to the anti corruption movement in India and has created confidence and hope that corruption can be eliminated in the society.  This contribution of Annaji should be duly recognized by grateful society.

He has set a personal example as a crusader by his sacrifices, which Gandhiji would have certainly applauded, in a limited way.

Anna Hazare’s movement is still on the move, in spite of some temporary setbacks.

May be, the movement requires some correction on Gandhian lines now and some people may have to go and more people will have to come.


 The following nine students were awarded prize in the competition

*  L. Kranthi Kumar, Amity Business School, Noida,

*  Jeril Tom , Pondicherry University, Puducherry

*  Param Pandya,  Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar

*  S.K. Shahjahan,  V.R. Siddhardha Enginnering College, Vijayawada

* Malini Bose, Young India Fellow (An IFRE initiative in collaboration with University of Pennsylvania), New Delhi

* Pranusha Kulkarni , Karnataka State Law University’s Law School, Dharwad

*   Keshav Bagri, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata

*   Pradyut Hande, Narsee Monji Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai

*   Jeyapratha, Fathima College, Madurai

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