“There was a time when I typed Anna, and google threw up Kournikova” says a friend’s status message on Facebook. Anna mania has gripped India, perhaps far better than Kournikova gripped a bored bachelors imagination. Perhaps. That coming from a 70 + year old gent, is no mean achievement in a country with a penchant for ‘moving on’ from one issue to another with adroitness that could teach the most flexible ape, a lesson or two in dexterity !
These are strange times. A time, when speaking anything against Anna Hazare and his supposedly substantially burgeoning bandwagon evokes a George Bush kind of ‘Either you are with us or against us’ response, that eventually leads to being pilloried a traitor with no love for the nation.
Any word that strikes a discordant note against the grain of Anna and his team, invites a flurry of responses that have ranged from the ‘considered’ to the ‘dismissive’ to the downright silly. Unfortunately, with the last two dominating.
Well, this is a free country. On that note, lets face facts and call a spade, a spade. Half a spade, half a spade.
There are three roads that have lead us here.
The first one. It’s a fact that Anna Hazare stands tall. In a time when chaps half his age could have ‘turning the pages of a newspaper’ as their most intense physical activity, his energy and verve has lit up people. He seems to have a steely resolve and a resolute purpose. Fundamentally, his heart seems to be in the right place.
It is a different matter though, that has had generous helpings from extravagantly dimwitted attempts by those in the government to discredit him and a disproportionately loud and insistent singing of paeans by the electronic media. Matters that we shall keep aside for now.
He oozes confidence and a shrewd team with the likes of Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, add larger than life dozes of credibility that lend themselves well to a perception that his armoury is chink free. That is such a romantic fit to a population that is starved of a charismatic leader with compelling story to tell.
On the second front, the vexed issue of corruption is something that every Indian has encountered. As a giver. As a taker. Or in an off chance, as a fighter! The last few years’ litany of loot is ridiculously unparalleled. The brazen size of the embezzlements and the shrill cry of a media that seems to be in perpetual hunt for a good story, catalysed by the penetration of the internet with space for the common man and woman to vent, collate and seize up the collective spirit have had a substantial impact on the psyche of the populace.
On the third front, the government seems to have floundered much like a pathetic array of generals who ride on new horses named ‘arrogance’ ‘pelf’, ‘doubt’ and the like, only to completely lose their way and meander aimlessly. Specialising in retreat after retreat, as foray after foray seemed ill-conceived, inconsistent and remarkably insouciant.
So there. Three different fronts. All leading up here. Inflammable material needing just a spark, placed next to each other ! Bingo. So we have an issue at hand. .
An emotionally charged and ‘affected’ population that has for long grown up aiding or staying mute to a culture of ‘giving’ to get by / to get ahead etc etc, suddenly sees a messiah who has brought the manna they were in search of, in a zipped file! Which they can download and install and ‘lived happily ever after’ endings would follow.
Anna Hazare’s charisma, in-your-face 24 hour media coverage and our own impatience to shake off a 40 year lull in four weeks, have had many of us jumping in. Candles. Topis. Flags. Dharnas. Shouting Vande Mataram and such else.
Don’t get me wrong. The intentions are pure to a large extent for most people, that have joined the protest. ( Builders, who ever so often seek black money on the sly, joining the protests presumably because they could pass on huge discounts to consumers that they otherwise would have to pay as bribes are one of the reasons as to why I say ‘most people’). The selfless passion that several other ordinary people have brought to the front through this movement is goose bumps creating stuff and reinstates hope that ‘all is not lost’.
Yet, even as the pitch gets shriller, could we care to read the Jan Lokpal bill in its current form. Examine the practical implications and sustainability please? Just give it a read. Lets understand what we want! The bill and its provisions are a far distance away. Nevertheless, that’s my opinion. Lets give it a read , form an opinion and enter the debate.
On another note has anybody considered the kind of a precedent we are setting in forming laws for the country ? We are not in cowboy backyard. India has a set of rules and governed by a constitution that is supreme. Sure, many of us are supporting the Jan Lokpal bill. But, since when did ‘many’ become ‘all’? Or ‘most’, for that matter ?
Lets face issues : Corruption is no CIA implant or a conspiracy hatched in a Pakistani madrasa. It is perpetuated by ‘us’. So much so, its existence is a ‘way of life’ for us! It is too far well entrenched for one Kryptonian bill to change it, as though it is some rogue software virus that could be removed by hitting the delete button on a keyboard.
Think about this. The political class is not the only one that is corrupt, although it sits at the helm of it all. Offering money to the cop in the corner, after breaking a signal is as much a form of corruption as is not raising a voice when the Reddy brothers offer a diamond studded crown worth 45 crores to Lord Venkateshwara, especially after illegally blasting away the good lords backyard in Bellary!
To many of us, corruption is an issue only when we part with money when everything is hunky dory on our side. Yet, to break the queue, skew the law in our favour, evade taxes, to get ahead, or to get an undue favour ( which, by the way, is quite often, given our laws) we could grudge but willingly pay! Or take a slightly circuitous route of saying ‘I wont pay’, but pay an agent ‘service charges’ to facilitate ‘transactions’.
As a society, our moral compass has shifted. To get it to point in the right direction would require the collective will of everybody. The collective will of ‘We the People’. A will to stand in queue. A will to endure discomfort that is far greater than an empty waving of the flag. Many a time, fighting a lonely battle. To face the heat that is many times more than holding on to a simple candle. That’s what it takes, to stand up to the corrupt.
A simplistic law is far from an effective solution. We cant rid a cancer in the blood with a cleanser for the face.
The fabric of the country is dialogue. An inclusive participative dialogue. A willingness to listen and engage. Not a set of deadlines and a ‘do this or else…’ set of demands. ‘My way or the high way’ may sound good coming from a Bollywood superstar in a scripted movie. Real life is no cine script, where blockbusters are rarer still. Change happens in small doses.
Lets get real. Anna Hazare is no Mahatma Gandhi. 2011 is not 1947. And by the way, we are not fighting a parliament that is in London.
There is now a certain level of focused conversation on corruption across the country, all credit to Anna Hazare and his team. This is a unique moment pregnant with possibilities. Hopefully, pragmatic sense would prevail and this societal momentum will be channelized for greater dialogue with everybody.
Lets consider Inclusive and participative dialogue providing space for words to get spoken and voices to be heard. Hopefully it would also provide the self indulgent indignation of every ‘I am Anna’ topi wearer a chance to pause and ponder on his or her own actions and responsibilities as well.
Lest it whittle away in the excitement of participating in the frenzy of war cries ranging from “2nd freedom movement” and such else. Taking with it whatever hopes that there was for change to emerge and further deep rooting the disease..
24 thoughts on “A 1000 elder brothers…”
Kavi, well written and very focussed. These lines “Offering money to the cop in the corner, after breaking a signal is as much a form of corruption” is where each one of us can play a part.
Agreed hands down. I have already written about what I think! After reading your post, I have nothing else to add! Bravo!
well said Kavi
True, it is a way of life for every one of us. ‘ We cant rid a cancer in the blood with a cleanser for the face.’….we will end up with a clean face and the same rotting body!!!! Good writing, Kavi.
Very well analyzed and expressed. I wish both Anna team and Government are less stubborn (it is not about who wins which round – not a Tennis match!!) and understand compromise is part of co-existence – that does not mean we compromise our values (and anyways we are compromising those -for last how many years?)
Kavi, congratulations for such a well thought out and well-articulated post!
Really, I agree with all the points you have made- nothing more to add!
Kavi, nicely written. definitely thought provoking!
at the risk of getting flame like “you have no right to comment because you are now a US citizen”..
Why cannot Anna start a political party that is clean?
The problem seems to be the lack of a political party that does not have swiss bank accounts. since they are all affected if one calls the other corrupt, no one calls a spade a spade!
maybe if there was a political party using the “democratic process” then Anna can be prime minister or even the puppet master like Sonia that runs things behind the scenes (except he can do good things instead of bad?)
Folks threw out Gray Davis as California Governor after the Enron scandal and the rolling powercuts and there was a re-election (which was not due at that time) which Arnold won. Not that Arnold used his opportunity to shine.. but at least the process was not changed.
If there is a vote of no confidence and maybe there can be another election .. if that happens could Anna not use the “due process” and the “constitution” and “democracy”..
then he can bring all the corrupt guys to task, no?
Applause applause. Few of my friends have been asking me why I am not going to Freedom park to participate in the movement.
Would passing a bill and having an autonomous body bring down corruption? People have one more body ‘to take care of’ isnt it?
How long? Its with ‘us’. We should come clean and remain clean. Well said Kavi
(“There was a time when I typed Anna, and google threw up Kournikova” says a friend’s) Post this as a single sentence on FB & twitter sir. Those who do not read your entire blog, will also enjoy immensely. I will click ‘ Like’ and all my friends will enjoy !
(Kournikova gripped a bored bachelors imagination. ) ROFL @ the word ‘ gripped’. Quittng gripping !
(corruption is something that every Indian has encountered. As a giver. As a taker. Or in an off chance, as a fighter! ) a 4 th role. In a ‘ fight or flight’ response, I chose to fly!
(messiah who has brought the manna they were in search of, in a zipped file! Which they can download and install and ‘lived happily ever after’ endings would follow. ) If only life is so fairy-tale easy ! Jan Lokpal is no panacea, in a country where people are corrupt. Society throws up politicians. They are not falling from sky.
(Reddy brothers offer a diamond studded crown worth 45 crores to Lord Venkateshwara, especially after illegally blasting away the good lords backyard in Bellary! ) LOL ! A jaundiced eye which thinks even Lord Balaji can be bribed ; his anger thus mitigated!
(Or take a slightly circuitous route of saying ‘I wont pay’, but pay an agent ‘service charges’ to facilitate ‘transactions’.) Have we considered the Bribe Giver’s helplessness ? It’s easy to say, ‘ Giver and Taker both are wrong’ .Corruption is quintessentially a ‘ power’ issue as much as it’s related to money.
(To face the heat that is many times more than holding on to a simple candle. That’s what it takes, to stand up to the corrupt.) Touche ! In my work, I saw that, in Medical Insurance claims and motor accident claims, it’s the people who cheat mostly. Not companies. That made the underwriting laws, stringent,and premimums are becoming more expensive.
(We cant rid a cancer in the blood with a cleanser for the face. ) Fantastic !
(unique moment pregnant with possibilities) Hopefully, it won’t result in miscarriage of processes and procedures and instituitional justice.
Lastly, I am taking a print out ( an environmentally thing, though it is) and give to my wife to read it and MAKE my teenage son to read it. This blog has been THAT good. Hope, this blogger and blog would never face a writer’s block!
well said sir, I have followed the anti-corruption movement on fb & within a week I was a participant in a corruption (http://narenspace.blogspot.com/2011/08/journeyman.html) and ever since I wanted to discontinue to follow but couldn’t muster the courage (‘coz of bush-like campaign). Thnx for givng me the courage to do it, now!
well said sir, I have followed the anti-corruption movement on fb & within a week I was a participant in a corruption (http://narenspace.blogspot.com/2011/08/journeyman.html) and ever since I wanted to discontinue to follow but couldn’t muster the courage (‘coz of bush-like campaign).
Thnx for giving me the courage that there’re still enough ppl around who gave this also a thought! I’m un-following right now!
‘To many of us, corruption is an issue only when we part with money when everything is hunky dory on our side. Yet, to break the queue, skew the law in our favour, evade taxes, to get ahead, or to get an undue favour ( which, by the way, is quite often, given our laws) we could grudge but willingly pay!’…so well said.
Anna is a great man. We need a good, strong leader now, to lead the country. We are just eagerly/blindly want to follow a leader who can get rid of all the drawbacks of our country. We are desperate now. So many people have left their homes and jobs to be with him. I was astonished to read the disciplined way our people behave in the protest. These things show our basic nature, I think. We are basically soft natured people. The only drawback is we go with the flow! If we have to ‘pay’ for a work done, we do it. If we have to oppose ‘paying’ we do it!
The whole nation should take an oath not to ‘pay’ for the work done or to be done now and that will be a great ‘thank you’ for Anna’s effort to make our country, a non-corrupt nation. Will it happen?
Have you read this? It is amazing to know the way our people act in times of need! http://bit.ly/pZifW9
I thought I wrote a post-like comment (there were less no. of comments when I started writing!). Your whole-hearted, very well-written article made me pour out too, like many did here, thank you!
I dont see why this is seen as a precedent for the way laws are going to be framed in this country (as you have mentioned).. saying this is grossly underestimating the intelligence of the Indian people at large.. for e.g. if tommorow Anna were to go on fast demanding prohibition, we can see how much support he will get…
We also forget that the institution that is supposed to make laws in this country has scuttled the Lok Pal bill (even the benign Government version) eight times in the past 43 years.. doesnt that tell us anything ????
“Offering money to the cop in the corner, after breaking a signal is as much a form of corruption….. “
Fully Agree !!! And I maintain that even today….
It is also very well to say, as Iyer Sir as commented, that each of us can play a part.. Till a few days ago, I used to be nurture romantic notions of the conscience of people rising one fine day and thus nipping corruption in the bud.. But sadly, we can all spend our lifetimes waiting for that to happen… till that time, we need strong anti-corruption legislation in place.. in whichever format..
When look at this phenomenon, it’s basically middle-class rage seeking to vent. Politicians always wooed the super-rich and the abject-poor and neglected the tax-paying middle class. So they look at scams and ask ‘ what’s happening to the money I paid?’. Fair Enough!
We the middle class, we HATE corruption & dishonesty – IN OTHERS! We love honesty, IN OTHERS ! Most of these candle bearers, if they want a school seat in a premium school or B.Tech seat for their kid in a ‘ good college’, don’t mind making a few phone calls, ‘ networking’ and requesting the powers that-be to ‘put in a good word’ to people at the helm. Same torch bearers, don’t hesitate to suck-up to their bosses in office or refuse to take a stand when it matters.
Most middle class is self centered.
They hate hipocracy , IN OTHERS.
” The substitution of one man for hte people, and the reduction of the people’s role merely to being cheerleaders for one man’s actions, is the very anti-thesis to democracy. ” – columnist Prabhat Patnaik.
I guess it is not really about the Lokpal bill. People are fed up of corruption and the politician who is milking the country. Any movement that targets these vices will get the support of the honest man.
Spot on Kavi… With all the due respect to anna and his supporters, most of them are emotionally charged…
Lets do some soul searching.. how many of us vote???? Is’nt it a big question that we should answer?
I could feel the energy of Anna in your blog, Kavi. It resonates the Anna fever…..
what ever said and done…we are witnessing an important event in the history of our democrazy!
now listen, Kavi, forget all this Anna business and just get back to blogging :)))
now listen, Kavi, forget all this Anna business and just get back to blogging :))