Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Anna Hazare: Ayes! Ayes! We now have a Superhero!!

“He is only in the Crucible, I tell you – he will be the fusion of all races, perhaps the coming Superman” – Israel Zangwill

Hearty congozz to those who after having their strings attached for a while with a media orchestrated tamasha, were reprieved after 13-days of sloganeering, swaying of tricolors and anti-neta tirade; after all direct democracy did push the envelope over it’s participative form coercing the Indian Government to bow their heads, usher in a debate over the Lokpal Bill in the Parliament as the pandemonium did subside for a while, paving way for introspection to take on the gushing flow of one’s thoughts. A good pal of mine hailing from the uber sleepy town of Hathras, U.P.shared this instance with me, when he confronted a youngster participating in the Anti-corruption protest, if he was aware of the Jan Lokpal Bill, a response that was nothing less than a straight thwack right up there, the lad replied it was at the behest of his father that he confirmed his presence in the current procession, obviously shrugging shoulders over the real purpose and motive behind being included in the crowd, caught up in a mad frenzy of the moment and shouting “Anna hum tumhare saath hain”. 

This ululating act of mine might not go down well with a large chunk of the gentry who have already placed Anna Hazare on the pedestal of a messiah, a superhero who would help them get rid of all the evils by his anti-govt. rant and vocally banishing ideas a true Gandhian should have stood for, after all he embraces the ideology of Shivaji and his act of chopping down the hands of a perpetrator (Article in Open magazine dated April 16, 2011). Quite a nifty example to illustrate my bang-on carping could be easily plucked from our school days, when post-school our eyes used to scour for the man with the ‘barf ka gola’, those colorful lumps of ice giving us heavenly feeling after another drudgery-laden day; not that I’m hell bound on relegating the stature of Mr. Hazare, an eighth class pass, erstwhile driver in the Indian Army, an activist and now seemingly being transformed into the face of the Nation, yet isn’t it a fact that our pent up anger and frustration has erected a stage on the stretches of the Ramlila Maidan, and have easily catapulted Anna on that temporary embankment, spadework of few crafty minds blindfolding a country of 1.21 billion men and women; Anna exemplifying the dido of the ‘barf ka gola wala’ and ‘we the people’ been reduced to kidos!
There is absolutely no need to get into thorough groveling antic, as fervid notions give rise to stark and vehement questions – How many of you have actually taken the pains to ruffle through the Lokpal Bill instead of dedicating hours to the idiot box showcasing Anna Lila, news channels minting TRPs and raking revenues that the rambunctious media can only dream of? There are certain provisions as stated in the PDF format of the bill (just a click of a mouse away for our lousy Anna maniacs!!) that perturbs me on the very outset of it. For instance the salaries and pensions of those employed under the purview of the Lokpal institution would be drawing their salaries and pensions from the Consolidated Fund of India, the very body that actually keeps the monetary cycle of remuneration running with regards to the government consortiums, that means we are burdening it with yet another institution inundating it without even realizing the consequences this would yield.Moving on, the Selection Committee under the aegis of the Lokpal would comprise of representatives belonging to the establishment that symbolizes the reigns of democracy, Senior Judges of Supreme Court, Chief Justices of High Court, Chairpersons of both Houses of Parliament, Magsasay Award winners and so on, giving the impression of a fortress that would mark the validation of an oligarchic rule or even worse than that!
We already have had the Prevention of Corrupt Practices Act, 1988, why wasn’t an attempt made to plug the loopholes prevalent in the existing rule book instead of pushing forth another mammoth body? 

One of the recent tweets by veteran journalist, Rajdeep Sardesai goes like this, it’s a sms joke: ‘manmohan singh and anna both follow a Gandhi, only the gandhis they follow belong to different eras, gnight!’ The jeering and the unintended pun being unleashed in the Anna jokes doing the round these days, gives you a jolt as one comes to terms with the expanse of the viral marketing and it’s ambush that has been laid to capture you unawares! So there you have ‘Inkfruit’ tees to cater to the farcical patriotic upsurge, we have our beloved Vidya Balan walking down the ramp donning the Gandhi cap (little did we have an inkling then that mood is being set to welcome her raunchy act in the upcoming ‘Dirty Picture’ movie). If this much of gawping wasn’t enough we have the King of Pulp Fiction, Chetan Bhagat extending kudos to Anna and his men,  this laudatory act giving the stench of farsighted machination, isn’t Mr. Bhagat’s book ‘Revolution 2020’ about to hit the stands, the plot revolving around two friends and their antithetical views on means to dabble with corruption?

Amidst this brouhaha that had its epicenter in Delhi, comes news apprising of the genocide committed in the Kashmir valley, (the Guardian dated Aug. 21, 2011), the State Human Rights Commission divulging the fact that as many as 2,156 unmarked graves belonging to those having been caught up in the tussle between the State and the militants have been uncovered so far! How many of us are smitten by the thought or even have the guts to take out a candle light vigil in the memory of around 70,000 people who have succumbed to a 22-year long dominance of insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir?
Irom Sharmila, another Gandhian is fighting a battle against the state, fasting for the past 10 years as she yearns that the draconian AFSPA be repealed from the region of Manipur. Food pipe has been inducted through the nostrils of this brave heart, who is being force fed by the government, at the age of 39-years, her weight is only 37 Kgs, she has stopped menstruating and her organs are being enfeebled with every passing day! Did anyone think of inflicting on their profiles scattered over a plethora of social networking sites with an ‘Irom Sharmila Badge’, come on now you got to be kidding me! After all flaunting accoutrements hovering around Anna is cool these days, Irom Sharmila and the ’Malom Massacre’ that propelled her to keep her own life at stake, doesn’t affect our sensibilities even one bit!

An innuendo I would like to chuck at those who inhabit the tinsel town is, ever thought of draping yourself in a ‘Kafan’ (shroud for those who’ve left for their heavenly abode) or being trundled on the ramp with a dangling food pipe alongside the zygomatic area; ah! That was too uncouth one could ask for! And you always thought that a bill would take on the role of the Pied-piper and would help the town in getting rid of the pesky rats! What would you take to confess that everyone had made up its mind to baptize themselves in the ‘behti Ganga’ of the anti-corruption rant!
There are in fact two ‘isms’ that are being distilled out of this revolution – Symbolism and Populism and mind you, each of these had a well-etched out message to be dispersed among the en masse! The tenor that was imbued with crude symbolism became evident when the portrait of Bharat Mata was replaced with that of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Anna is Bharat & vice-versa’ shibboleths raging into your eardrums and a saintly figure being taken to a private hospital after ending his 13-day fast only to cock-the-snook at the Public Health Services. Presence of the potent force of Populism was felt when (as per without the obvious demographic analysis of the gathering), the realization dawned on all and sundry that the frothing masses across the country comprised of right-winged middle class crying hoarse against the UPA per se. There was a vast majority of those as well belonging to the Working Class participating in the so-called ‘second emergency’ since all of them have had borne experiences of paying bribe to a babu to get things done. Sir/Mam, could you please render me an explanation how to deal with cases such as these – a poor farmer paying bribe to get his emoluments due under the MNREGA scheme, a tribal bribing the concerned official to retrieve compensation due on his land accrued by the government in the name of development and a family that is paying extra to get 3kg of rice that’s their right under the PDS? What? These questions didn’t even whizz past you, gosh! That’s the wreckage unilateral thought-process always calls upon!

Vociferous Dalit and Muslim participation was the lacuna that this marquee couldn’t possibly conceal despite untiring efforts to mitigate the situation. The last-minute refuge was sought when Bollywood’s top-seeded actor Aamir Khan was roped in to lend his sympathetic side to Anna and requesting the 74-year old to end his fast. The big day would go down in your memories not as the moment of Public Will winning over the Will of the State this thought being subdued under the flashing images of the Dalit girl, Simran and a Muslim girl, Iqra offering coconut water and honey to the ‘Civil Activist’ of the year 2011! And right from the urban hordes to those residing in the boondocks, being bracketed in the ‘Civil Society’, all are expected to relish this no-brainer kind of a story being offered!
Question of pertinence that should have sent tremors across the cerebral hemispheres was why Team Anna displayed reluctance when it came to the inclusion of the NGOs in the Lokpal Bill. Is this the jigsaw puzzle that is being solved by none other than the lady whom we love to hate, activist-cum-writer, Ms. Arundhati Roy? In a column in The Hindu, she has alleged Arvind Kejriwal, one of the fore-runners of the entire movement as being backed by the Ford and Rockfeller Foundation, pouring in millions into the man’s ‘social initiatives’! This strikes me that Kiran Bedi is at the helm of affairs of the ‘India Vision Foundation’ and IAC (India Against Corruption) proclaims to have a transparent system of funding; not to forget that the Delhi Police has declared the Shanti Bhushan CD to be genuine in nature; so many myriad contrasts coming your way on the turf created by the players themselves!

Oops! Just forgot to mention another entertainer, former Star News anchor Shazia Ilmi who did utilize her journalistic experience to the utmost, by suggesting as to when should announcements pop-up so that they become the fodder of the prime time slot (article by Sunetra Choudhary, DNA , dated Aug. 27, 2011). Tears swell into my eyes as my body feels a fit of unabated rage, as I unravel these muffled entities, my heart goes out to Anna and his followers, not because they gave that feeling of ‘Civil Disobedience’ despite all the oddities but due to the harsh reality that all of them were in fact used as puppets for the realization of a bigger ulterior motive whose consequences we shall all bear till eternity!
I hear a rap-song on Anna has just made a foray on the small screen, what’s next, Anna Dolls?? Yeah, after all we have reduced ourselves to subjects who like canoodling more than getting their facts straight! I was wondering though, ‘Superman, when would my turn of flight come?’

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