On April 8, 2011 a day prior to the date when Anna Hazare, called off his 98-hour fast at the Jantar Mantar I had made my way to the venue, that was being touted as the Indian Tahrir Square, for if it was really about ushering a renaissance into the country where bizarre contrasts disturb your very peace of mind, be it idols drinking milk, women still being burnt to death because of dowry, this social malpractice being prohibited under Sections 304B and 498a of the Indian Penal Code way back in 1961, I thought let me also be a part of the movement that seems to have set the very tectonic plates of the Indian terrain in a state of turbulent dynamic motion. There was an inexplicable poignancy mixed with verve of nationalism and patriotism that dominated the macrocosm of the moment. I could see not only youngsters shouting, sloganeering, the tricolor becoming a seemingly weapon in their hands as they imbibed a sort of courage by the increased frequency of its swaying movement, the frothing masses being also made up bythe old, middle-aged men & women, children from a blind school, beads of sweat adorning their visage, showing eagerness to be a part of the on-the-spur-revolution that aimed to finish the monster of corruption for once and all, as if the effigy of Ravana would be burnt(an annual practice that marks the celebration of Dussehra), the citizens plunging into festivity, reinvigorating themselves with the smoke of that incineration filling their respiratory tracts!
Anna Hazare and his constabulary comprising of Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and Shanti Bhushan have formed a bulwark against corruption, picking up the cudgels against the very repressive state that has been procrastinating the Jan Lokpal Bill ever since it was tabled for the first time in Parliament in 1968. For the past few months what one can see through this kaleidoscope is a ‘Mahabharata’ between The Government of India on one side and Anna Hazare and his army of Civil Society members across the battlefield, the inclusion of the PM’s office and HigherJudiciary being the bone of contention between the two.
I definitely don’t harbor an iota of doubt on the integrity of Anna Hazare, his contention, those mercenaries giving him a vantage point over several other voices that often get subdued for they are not coming from the aegis of well-managed group like that of ‘India against Corruption’. The IAC definitely deserves kudos for striking a hard blow on the chintzy state with a well-devised marketing blitzkrieg, so we saw Anna greeting us on Zee TV’s ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ and appearing chuffed at India TV’s ‘Aap Ki Adalat’! What vexes me though is the unabated frenzy that seems to take thousands in its grip, with hysteria ruling the roost, and an entire nation witnessing the helter-skelter with befuddlement, perversity being given vent to in the form of shibboleth “Anna hum tumhare saath hain”! Let’s not forget that the differences arose when the bill was stuck in the mud while still within the realm of the Drafting Committee and is awaiting its final verdict in the Parliament, with the option of introducing amendments into it still ‘on’ under the purview of the Standing Committee.
Apart from thousands that are being propelled towards the ‘Hearth of fiery action’ and being motivated to collect in hordes in other cities and towns across the country, the virtual world of internet is registering its riposte in a never-before-seen manner. After all everyone has a right to relish the ‘celebrity nanosecond’ as they harp from crooning to chorus singing, all bearing unilateral views that’s imbued with a sense of a megalomaniac than an aware citizen who knows the nitty gritty of the Ombudsman Bill and what it’s all about! Moreover, how can 100-million internet users spew incantations on behalf of 1.21 billion people who by default happen to be Indians as well just like you & me?
Apologies are duly extended but Mr. Hazare’s attitude reflects nothing but a despotic thought process that is inflicting the en masse as well. This incessant haggling and 24*7 drama from the shackles of earlier Rajghat, followed by Tihar Jail, India Gate and now the Ramlila Maidan is an outburst of the inhabitants of this country for several other issues that has trammeled their angst for long. The middle class for that matter that’s often accused of feathering its own nest, should first of all decide whether it is opposed to ‘retail corruption’ like that of shelling out currency notes for ‘chai-paani’ to a babu or is it crying hoarse against the large-scale corruption like that of 2G and CWG that fleeced the citizens of thousands of crores! For in this ‘selective rage’ lies the hypocrisy that mires this entire agitation and puts the gusto of those supporting it under a scanner.
Chief Economic Adviser, Kaushik Basu has already recommended the government to legalize bribing so that the source of it could be unraveled. Are you then ready to be penalized for bribing the lineman to put your haywire telephone connection in place?Scatterbrains who won’t pay heed to a red light are busy flaunting their Anna Hazare badges these days, ugh! Is that what Spartans do? ‘Hum logon ko samajh sako toh samjho dilbar jaani, jitna bhi tum samjhoge utni hogi hairani’ spare us for our abstemious outlook! Wow! That’s what I call pseudo-activism at its best!
Nandan Nilekani has already declared that lokpal is no magical bullet, (Indian Express dated Aug. 20, 2011) the proclamation coming from a man who is at the helm of affairs of the UID (Unique Identification) Project, that aims to plug the loopholes of the MGNREGA and the PDS. We are still working on the ills that plague the institutions already in place.A middle path is being sought to overcome acrimony roaring loudly from the ramparts of Red Corridor and other tumultuous zones of our country. If it’s about dealing with the goliath of judiciary that is suffering from a pestilence of its own, we are finding a plausible cure on that front. In the first ever televised proceedings, Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court would be bearing the brunt of his misdeeds soon, with the Rajya Sabha voting in favor of his impeachment. Provisions of the‘Judicial Accountability Bill 2010’are yet to be implemented in full force and we have waged a war against the State, with blinkers on our eyes, oblivious of the fact that a lot is construing in the backdrop of this tenor that characterize the Lokpal Movement. How can the installation of another institution, much coveted in terms of power vested in it and reach be manna in a maze of complicities?
Thriving on cynicism and romanticism is also among one of the many foibles of the Aam Aadmi and we therefore consider it as an ardent duty to participate in the Anna Lila. The Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law & Justice headed by Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi has invited suggestions for the Lokpal Bill 2011, in an ad published in all the news dailies on Aug. 20, 2011, the point is how many of you would really care to send a draft to assert your viewpoint logically rather than taking part in the procession aimlessly, just for the heck of it, not to forget that pandering about sharing of videos followed by slurry of ‘Likes’!
Anna is being compared to Mahatma, and Arvind Kejriwal is being considered as an avatar of Nehru, such stark contrasts being drawn for there is absolute paucity of role models in the political arena right now. Plucking weeds from a plantation where the weed has adapted itself to camouflage with the milieu, requires scrutiny and treatment of another kind, the fact to ruminate over here is why target only the politicians. There is bureaucracy, corporations that bloom in harmony mushrooming in the wake of the lacunae that allow them to surge ahead without raising an eyebrow. But if you ask me to call this phenomena of hurly burly subjects of a nation gallivanting on the roads, and threatening the government to pass a law that they believe would kick start the reign of an ‘Ideal State’ after bidding farewell to the heady days of ‘Andher Nagri’ as revival of another ‘Emergency’, I would say, ‘give me a break’ for owing to the very ipso facto, this confluence of sods is in no way comparable to the outburst of 1975!
Mahatma Gandhi’s great grandson, Tushar Gandhi for that matter is also able to draw sharp difference between Mahatma’s Satyagraha and Anna’s Aandolan, ruing over the fact that it’s in fact Populism that is acting as the fodder of this cannon (HT dated Aug. 18, 2011). In fact if you allow me to have the liberty of stepping into the shoes of the host of ‘We the People’, there are some stern questions I would like to direct at the Warrior from Ralegan Siddhi –Sir, I deeply respect your notion and initiative against flagrant corruption, but why is it that your entry on the turf is so perfectly timed when the country was drawing flak from various quarters nationally as well as globally with some of the ghoulish scams being unearthed, Sensex dropping like mercury in thermometer and the Big Capitalist Bosses of our country opting to invest outside Bharat than setting up industries within the confines of their motherland? Were you too busy to circumscribe the recrudescence of Khairlanji massacare of the Bhotmanges in 2006, the Godhra pogrom in 2002 killing 2000 people, men declaring blatantly how godly it was to obliterate the womb of a woman belonging to minority community, where were you when women of the North-East had decided to go au naturel, cohorts against the Indian Army protesting against the brutal murder and rape of 32-year old Manorama Devi in 2004? Corruption was the only tantalizing bait; the Sikhs ravaged by the riots of 1984, Muslims who are wooed as just another vote-bank, civilians of the North-East, tribals of Chattisgarh and youth of Kashmir that has lately come to acquaint itself with a stone than a ‘Tab’, are they not our brethren???
A warped state of expression would perhaps follow those foolhardy questions of mine. It’s high time to rise above the mass hysteria and act maturely, something that can be expected from a 65-year old nation!
In the backdrop of activist Aruna Roy coming up with her own version of the Lokpal Bill, news channels digging at ‘Anna Vandana’ without even angling for a story and ‘We the people of India’ savoring another tamashain our households, let’s hope that the Lokpal fray doesn’t boomerang the way post-emergency outrage did or ‘India Shining’ élan faded into god-knows-what wormhole! As far as the citadel of Anna is concerned, definitely ‘hum tumhare saath hain’ only if you assure us that an Armaan Ali’s (courtesy: ‘Well done Abba’) baavdi (well) won’t go missing in a post-lokpal state, after all complete annihilation of entropy would ensure a nation spearheading into its days of resplendence!