April 10, 2011

Anna Hazare's fast, what next India?

Anna's fast, people joining him in hordes, government losing its resistance to drafting an effective anti-corruption law - these augur well for our democracy. By showing a non-violent, Gandhian, way to achieve people-centric goals, it has strengthened the voice of democracy anywhere in the world.

What next, and what we didn't achieve?

The first and foremost, the cause for which Anna undertook the fast is a very narrow one: drafting and implementing a law to book the mighty. As Anna himself said, only framing a law won't do: India is supposed to have the largest number of laws but when it comes to implementation, we fail miserably. So, we - and Anna's group - must realise that though it is a great victory for the people of India, this should be taken as the stepping stone in the fight against corruption, not the last stone. Taking from the victory, Anna's group must make a roadmap not only for passage of the Jan Lokpal Act, but ending corruption in daily life of Indians.

Two. Corruption won't end by laws and also by sundry movements. It will need systemic cleansing the system. Ironically, Hindustan Times carried the story of a babu taking bribe of Rs 10000 next to the report on Anna's fast three days back. The rhetoric in TV channels that all 120 crore Indians have joined hands to finish corruption does not wash because at least one-tenth of us are beneficiaries of corruption and all of us have become too meek to challenge it. We need to mobilise people to an extent when they are ready to suffer but not indulge in corruption.
The present movement, like many others seen in recent times, is also narrow in its support: it is supported more by middle income group people, socialites, public personalities and the media. They create hype by holding candle marches, giving juicy bites to the media, doing token fasts, tweeting. Television channels add fuel to the fire by going over-board. This is all good, but unsustainable unless people from all walks of life join them. There is an urgent need to take this movement to the common man - the lower middle income group urbanites, students in government schools, urban labour force and factory workers, panchayats, villages, self-employed small traders, migrant labour... Participation should not be limited to drum beating and gathering in large numbers, participation should be in action. People need to be blacklisting local known corrupt politicians, judges and babus, they need to raise voices when a man demands bribe, they must come to support those victimised by the high and mighty. Once people start taking action [not taking law in their hands, and how to keep the fine distinction would definitely be difficult.] against corruption, the movement will have succeeded and corruption will eventually die down.

Three, the composition of the committee to draft the bill. Baba Ramdev has rightly questioned the inclusion of Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan in the committee while ignoring other well-known anti-corruption crusaders. However grand their achievements may be [India News Today earlier supported their cause], it is not proper to include the father-son duo in the small committee. This also shows that people join such movements often with their own interests in mind. Why didn't it occur to anybody in the group, more so the two Bhushans, that it was not proper to include both their names in the committee? If Anna loses sight of such boarders in his bandwagon, and does not act extremely righteously, he will fast lose people's support after the current euphoria. If cynicism sets in, the war against corruption will be lost, more devastatingly. On the government side, interesting that they did not find a name from the UPA coalition other than the Congress ministers.
Another risk is there, that is of the Hazare group getting divided on various issues and falling apart. There will be forces active to create fissures in the group, including the Intelligence Bureau and corrupt politicians, corrupt corporate bigwigs and criminals. Let's face the human frailty: some of them will be offered padma awards and plum posts to wean them away, those who do not get publicity will sulk, ego problems among the socialites and NGO bosses might come to surface. So, as said above, Anna will need to be careful that from the beginning, all decisions are taken in the most transparent manner and taking public into confidence, so that some of the present big supporters do not harm the movement for their selfish reasons, for fear of facing public wrath.

1 comment:

  1. Long live Indian democracy. Long live Anna's second freedom struggle.