Saturday, September 3, 2011

Anna: An Inconvenient Hero

Now that Anna-mania has substantially subsided in this country, I’m wondering what exactly makes a person hero in India. It’s an open secret that for a nation of more than 1.2 billion people, we face a severe drought of real-life icons. And Sachin alone won’t suffice.

In the midst of such anomalies, a 74 year old Gandhian named Anna Hazare declares a non-violent war against corruption. His cronies, Team Anna, even came up with a strong draft (Jan Lokpal Bill) which according to them, and unsurprisingly most of the urban populace, would check corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in the future. They expressed their desire to convert the draft into a law. As expected, the government didn’t comply under the disguise of protecting our sexagenarian constitution. As accepted, Anna embarked on a fast in protest.

All the major cities experienced an overwhelming stimulus resulting in gatherings to express support and solidarity. No surprises there when the middle class including youth rose in large numbers onto the street to make their frustration visible. It was pretty clear that Anna was not only popular but someone who meant business. He completed 12 days without food and the ruling government had to blink first.

What next? Celebration took place and people were exuberant believing they have dealt a heavy blow to a government that is unanimously perceived as corrupt. We can conclude that Anna went hungry but won the first round. Of course while doing so, he kept repeating that Team Anna were representing Aam Aadmi (Common Man) and referred themselves as Civil Society. They went on record and said they were fighting the Freedom Struggle 2.0.

How can people trust a government that ran scam after scam throughout the calendar? Genuine question.

But won’t the very democracy that enables hoi polloi to take a stand against what they feel is unjust be compromised if the draft goes against the very tenets of constitution? Another genuine question.

Democracy is the cornerstone on which our ever-expanding nation is based upon and is the primal reason why neither the geography nor the demography has changed since independence. Secondly, the constitution has been a dynamic force behind it. As far as the Jan Lokpal Bill is concerned, to be very frank, I’m not qualified or well-read enough to comment on the nuances. Nor are the people who think they are Anna. That’s precisely where the problem lies. A majority of those who turned up at Ramlila Ground to express their oneness with the cause most probably don't even exercise their right to vote. Furthermore, the media appeared biased and was literally commending Anna’s food-defying efforts.

Being human, we are bound to get excited but while we are at it, we often forget the price our next generation might well end up paying. A majority of you, your friends and their friends might be supporting the Jan Lokpal without even having an iota of knowledge what it states per se. It's similar to living in a city of blinds. Even if the light shows up, no one will have a clue!

Anyway, corruption didn't just took birth one fine morning and we were bewildered by its might. It's far more complex than that. And Anna Hazare is a honest but a very naive person to deal with that. He commenced with strong speeches against corruption but when the script didn't went the way he thought, the word bhrashtachar (corruption) was effectively replaced by the word sarkar (government). No big deal considering how stained the ruling party is in flesh and blood. But still.

In reality, the fight should have been a gradual progress against a systematic decay. The current need of the day is to check bribe and goonism rampant in the administration. And I guess one single bill is just a small step towards eliminating the virus. But yes, a very necessary step. Thankfully, the entire “uprising” was more or less peaceful unlike the ones that took place post-Jasmine Revolution throughout the Arab world.

Anna Hazare is not Gandhi. What happened in Ramlila Ground is a far cry from what happened during The Emergency of 1975. But the best part of the whole event lies in its irony. Anna's detractors would benefit the most if Anna proves right in the long run. After all, he participated in one of the most interesting episodes that tested the strength of Indian democracy. Net-net, the ruling government received a jolt it so desperately required and the country got a hero in return.

1 comment:

Aurindam said...

"You are either with us or against India."

This was the thing I had to hear when I told them that the government has done nothing concrete to say that the JLP bill will be made into act.

The government really needed is. But the "neutral" guys didn't really need the brouhaha around it.

"I AM ANNA!!!" "no! you are nanhaa"

This is exactly how this issue has "progressed".