Anna Hazare : The catalyst of new India

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Joseph Stalin, the great leader of Soviet Union was once asked about his ascent to power in the communist nation and he responded saying “Power was lying on the ground for someone to take it, and i took it”. It was kind of exactly what Anna Hazare did in Jantar Mantar early this month. Obviously he did not do it for power, but he grabbed the opportunity to highlight the people’s primary concern in Indian society nowadays – corruption. Now the Indian people have a ‘face’ to show and deserve action from government. The Lok Pal bill is next land-mark now. The Aug 15 deadline proposed by Anna Hazare for passing the law is truly encouraging sign that finally we might have some response from the government to tackle the menace finally. The whole country was rocked with series of corruption scandals and the people were getting fed-up with that. The government denies or acknowledged late, all the allegations. It has become ‘normal’ in the society, and has reached a point where it is being considered no longer a sinful act. Corruption in Indian society has reached new frontiers in the last two to three years. From few crores, it has leaped and bound to thousands and thousands of crores. It cannot be denied it is the horrible reality. The problem is not that people are being increasingly subject to pay money for everything, but is being perceived as the law will never catch up with this, and you could go free. It is no longer sinful to be a corrupt and will never be punished for it. Either the law isn’t there or the current laws will allow you to get away with it.

This created a increasing uneasiness among ordinary people that are genuinely concerned about the country. The recent revolutions in the middle east and Africa has made the world more vibrant. None of the rulers are safe. The revolutions are just a start and is going to spread across Europe next. With anti-government protests all around the world, India was no exception. Just that it happens to be a democracy, the revolution is not to change the government, but to bring in some social change with the intent of making a just civil society. The government and other political parties were caught napping. It is very unfortunate that no political party had the credibility to take ownership for such a movement, that in my opinion was long over due and was destined to happen. Almost all parties are in way or other corrupt. The left parties have some credibility, but don’t have the trust of the people because of their old-style politics. Politician who come to capitalize on the protest in Jantar Mantar were silently sent back. At last the people are coping up to reality were none of the politicians are clean. No one is trust able. This is the sorrow state of the political class in India currently. Congress has been in power for the past seven years and the system has only got worse. Unless it proves its worthiness by punishing the guilty or by passing stringent laws against corruption, its unlikely to gain people’s trust.

It reminds me of the Indian cricket team some years back. (by the way congratulations Team India for winning the world cup. Great job. The way we played, we deserve it.) They had a small set of players and kept rotating among them. New talents were not given enough opportunities. The whole team was manipulated by few individuals who neither had the skills nor the attitude to think big and bring drastic results but were falling on their own weakness and just manage to be part of the team with some sporadic achievements. Just take fielding. it is mandatory now to be a good fielder, if you want to retain your place in the side. and Now India is a good fielding team. Most the times in history, the best batsman and bowlers India found were poor fielders and they got away with that for a very long time. Quality of cricket played by the team was sub-standard. Part of the problem was they were not world class batsman too… though some may had the skills, most did not have the attitude to be a die-hard winner. The whole selection process revolved between a few and new talent never really prospered. The selectors did not do anything radical and was experimenting with the same players for multiple years. It is called Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result. Once we crashed out of the world cup in the Caribbean four years before, the selectors really thought out about the whole process. The old stalwarts were left out and a brand new young team was built. New blood was induced into the team, and team approached the problems in a different way unlike its old players., The plan worked and now we are competing against all top level teams in the world. What we see now is the new India. The generation that is in school now is going to boost this country to new heights. The same is true for political parties in India right now. Almost all parties lack credibility. There isn’t one honest soul the whole country can stand behind. Manmohan Singh’s credibility has weakened with his age. BJP is completely off base and its come back is really questionable. It has no mass leaders any more., and its morale is still down. The Congress just happens to have an advantage because of that. The congress has taken the second term mandate from the people for granted. In the recent elections in Tamil nadu. People already knew AIADMK was a corrupt government in the past years of their rule, and thought DMK was better. Now DMK itself caught in many scams running into multiple crores, the people are really wondering where else to go. Lets see what the 78% voting percentage say on May 13. There is no party that will step up and assure people of good governance. Looks to me people are really really running out of options. None of the leaders have a place in people’s heart, and there is no viable substitute. It is high time some one jumps in and takes the power for betterment of the people. The 72 year old Gandhian could just be that catalyst.

Anna Hazare lead a valiant effort, and great chance for the people of India to jump and cash in on the progress.The society in its current state cannot go on like this. The rule of the law must be implemented. Now that we are 1.2 billion people now, there has to be honesty, legality, law and order in the society within its citizens. If people are not punished, the country is being held captive by few thugs, then neither the country nor its people can prosper. The increasing middle class population in India realizes this and has silently jumped in to voice their concerns. We had notable rallies across India to support Anna Hazare in his fast unto death protest. This is really a good sign. If mass rallies will get things done, then we should do it.

The Lok Pal bill by itself is not going to unroot corruption in India. At least it will be a good start and people who accept bribes would realize they would be punished if caught. Aug 15 is going to be a important deadline. The congress government should take the date seriously and take all efforts to implement the panels recommendation without diluting it. Hopefully the energy among the people remains till then to take this country in the new direction. If the Indian politicians are not willing to take decisive actions before that, the people’s power will force them too. So it is better for the Congress government to do something about it, and take credit for it long time.

10 comments to Anna Hazare : The catalyst of new India

  • Hi, I think it’s a good point that you made, practically i.e., however do you feel that Anna Hazare’s method was democratically correct? You say that there is not a single non-corrupt politician in Indian politics today, but then shouldn’t Anna have become the first to show them all the way. Shouldn’t he have worked from inside the parliament rather than resorting to extra constitutional means?

  • I have written a post on the same issue at http://reviveindia.in/?p=16 , do have a look and comment.

  • sir, it is correct decision,because at present Government is corrupted,so ministry is corrupted.now pm is corrupted.please request u that,you are not going back of the violence of the government.

  • It is democratically correct. No question about that. Is it a blackmail of the government? Probably Yes. For doing certain things i think its ok to resolve to these approach particularly ‘basic wisdom issues’ like – corruption,discrimination,etc. They are moral issues that is impossible to be disagreed upon. It just affects everyone singe citizen in some way. If this is what gets things done by politicians, then its ok if these scare tactics are used by people. At the same time, there might be people who resort to same kinds of fast unto death protest for “other controversial issues” in which not many people may agree. People will evolve over time, on what to accept and what not to.

    Anna Hazare himself has mentioned, he would’nt have achieve what he did by being in the parliament. He also admits, he would lose his deposit in case he contested a public election. In my opinion, becoming a elected representative is a different thing to bringing in social changes by kindling peoples’ anxiety of long wanted desires. Anna Hazare is bringing awareness of issue, just that. His role is not to solve the problem but to “pin-point there is a problem and needs immediate remedies”., Only the system has to make efforts to address them.

  • @Shubhaang: There is nothing extra constitutional about petitioning your elected representative for a seat at the table for civil society representatives to keep an eye on the bill drafting process for a bill that is meant to check unethical and/or criminal behaviour by those same elected representatives. Exactly how long do you want to let the fox guard the hen house? You might be interested to read my running coverage of the anti-corruption movement at http://punditcommentator.blogspot.com/search/label/AnnaHazare. Articles include live updates during the fast, first person account and photographs, my own commentary on events, defence of the movement and answers to critics and skeptics.

  • @Pundit Commentator – I really appreciate your views and admire Anna Hazare’s efforts to fight against the corrupt, and I agree, it is absolutely democratic for him to provide suggestions, hold rallies and take out processions to make his demands for amendments/introduction of the bill in the parliament, heard.
    However he asked for equal representation of civil society in the bill drafting committee. Now on what basis can the existing members be considered representatives of the civil society (no election) and on what grounds can their opinions be binding on a duly elected government. Keeping an eye is absolutely fine, but is the appointment of 5 members, who can tell the elected government what to do, in a country with a 121 crore population fine?
    Do read my post at http://reviveindia.in/?p=16 and comment.

  • @Shubhang:

    Hi! Thanks very much for your response. Sorry I’ve only just seen it. I’d like to respond point by point:

    1) Did you confuse civil society with elected public office holders? Why the brackets after the words civil society? Civil society is by definition unelected. It is a coalition of non profit organizations and citizens working towards the common good and public interest rather than self-interest, business interest or political interest. By definition, civil society reps work for you and me and all of us. As long as the members are honest and transparent, all is well. But in the larger picture, the mission is greater than the individual and individual members are meaningless. The members are only a vehicle to get the job done.

    2) Regarding participation of civil society in bill making process, please see this comment by a reader, Palaka, to an article at the Hindu: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article1582857.ece Please note the last line of the comment regarding the National Advisory Council which includes civil society representative Aruna Roy. This is just one argument. The other argument I’ve already given you: Bills like the Lokpal bill and whistleblower bill (still not passed) are watchdog bills. Again, I repeat, the fox cannot be in charge of the hen house. How can you ask a bunch of politicians to draft a bill to catch misdeeds of their own colleagues, party members and sometimes, themselves! I’d also like to point out that the government’s version of the bill was terrible, not to mention gathering dust for 40 years. It was necessary for civil society to act. It is very hard to build together a group of people to take action for the public interest, even when everybody agrees corruption is intolerable. Anna Hazare was the first person to be able to do it and he is to be credited and applauded for this. Kindly give him and his team the respect and support they deserves for being able to do this.

    3) Finally, Anna Hazare and IAC gathered, motivated and lead the people. The people can tell the government what to do. Last month, the people did. Did you know that as soon as the government saw that the hindi channels were picking up the coverage, they immediately started negotiations with IAC/Arvind Kejriwal. That is people power. Be thankful and grateful you live in a free democratic country, where you are allowed to even criticize the very people who are trying to protect your tax Rupees from thieving politicians and companies!!!

  • Devanshu

    @Pundit Commentator:


    I have some questions regarding your defence of the Lokpal Bill. I fully agree that corruption is the bane of our national life and that we need to find ways to check it. I also agree with the widespread sentiment these days that we need to make the political class accountable.

    However, what I wish to question is the solution on offer. How can the Lokpal’s office, when it is created, escape becoming corrupt itself? It is a problem in many countries that institutions set up to prevent corruption become corrupt themselves. If the Lokpal shall keep watch on politicians, who shall keep watch on the Lokpal? What shall ensure that the Lokpal does not receive favours from politicians and look the other way when they commit thievery or worse? The advantage with elected representatives is that they are answerable to parliament. Who will the institution of the Lokpal be answerable to? Will it be above parliament? Will not that go against the constitutional principle of separation of powers – our state having three branches of power with functions and limits clearly worked out? Won’t the institution of a Lokpal fudge that essential system of checks and balances?

    Also, about civil society representatives. You say: “Be thankful and grateful you live in a free democratic country, where you are allowed to even criticize the very people who are trying to protect your tax Rupees from thieving politicians and companies!!!” Admitted, our free democracy is a great blessing. But you seem to suggest that we must express our gratitude for the right to criticise precisely by not exercising that right. It is not as if I need my committment to democracy questioned – in fact, it is only because sceptics like me care for our democracy that we feel it necessary to raise what seem to us valid concerns. I have no reason to doubt the personal integrity of the particular individuals involved – such as Mr Kejriwal, for instance. If anything, I have only the greatest respect for them. But it is not individuals I’m questioning, it is the larger principle. Civil society reps achieving enough popular support to compel the government may be a great thing in this case, but knowing our country, how can we be sure that in the future, well-connected indivduals, working on hidden political agendas, won’t set themselves up as “civil society representatives” and influence legislation? Will not this case set an unhealthy precedent?

    I’d be glad to know what you think.

  • @Pundit Commentator –

    1)Civil society is composed of the totality of voluntary civic and social organizations and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society as opposed to the force-backed structures of a state (regardless of that state’s political system) and commercial institutions of the market acc. wiki. Do only the current 5 members fit this definition? To be clear I do not doubt the credibility of these members, I only oppose the idea of 5 ppl, having a binding say on a government in a country with an approximately 121,00,00,000 population.

    2)If IAC has its way, the office of the Jan Lokpal will have the power of judiciary too which will cause an imbalance in the system of checks and balances currently between the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive.

    2)I did not criticise A. Hazare, I’d support him if he contested elections and then tried to bring in the Lokpal Bill. IAC has the support of thousands and thousands of ppl and yet, he’s afraid that he’d lose the elections, even from Ralegan Siddhi, a village where a few youths were prepared to immolate themselves for his cause. I don’t see how that works out.

    3)Every five years lakhs of people come out to vote for their favourite candidates and to elect their government. Isn’t that people power too?

  • political

    We are great to have a leader like Anna Hazare.The way he was fighting on the Lokpal was unbelivable.The people are electing the government but the leaders are not at all
    looking at the people.I hope the lokpal will come into the act as soon as possible

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