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India Corruption: Anna Hazare and Indians Against Corruption

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Anna Hazare’s hunger strike, reminiscent of Mahatma Gandhi’s mass Satyagrahas, has truly awakened the citizenry of this country. A moribund citizenry has at last come alive to fight corruption and venality in public life. The groundswell of public anger against corruption that fueled the movement ensured Hazare’s self-less Satyagraha has not gone in vain.

At first the ruling dispensation tried to deflect the issue hoping public attention would move on to other issues. The ‘Adarsh Society’ 2G, CWG et al. don’t evoke the kind of emotional responses now as they did only a few months ago. Who remembers Bofors’? It was anyway minuscule in scale compared to the twenty-first century scams. The spokes-persons of UPA were so cock-sure of the ‘public-memory-is-short’ dictum, that they now claim they have initiated all the criminal action in the 2G scam – who is Dr. Subramanian Swami and what has the Supreme Court to do with it? Diggy Raja huffed and hawed and saw in Hazare’s movement an RSS conspiracy. Kapil Sibal smirked and called it an anti-democratic movement. In the end when it became clear that instead of petering out, the movement was spreading from cities to small towns and was likely to irretrievably bury its political fortunes, the UPA government agreed to Hazare’s demand to constitute a joint committee to draft the (Jan) Lok Pal Bill. If Hazare and his cohorts thought that they had scored a hit they were to have another think coming. Their troubles were in the offing as UPA’s the marionettes and mercenaries were yet to be unleashed on the scene.

A coalition of motley individuals calling themselves, ‘Indians Against Corruption’ (IAC) jumped on the bandwagon to bask in Hazare’s after-glow. Hazare’s naïveté and inability to converse in English was godsend for some of these gadflies, ranging saffron commies to socialite butterflies, to have their moments under the sun (or strobe lights if you will); to appear on 24×7 news channels to air their worldview and to pontificate on the evils of corruption.

For the 24×7 news channels the movement was manna from heaven. They instituted round the clock coverage delivering ‘every-hour-on-the-hour’ bulletins on Hazare’s health. They insisted that for once the ‘middle classes’ shed their stoicism (euphemism for ‘why should I care; it’s not happening in my house but next door’ attitude) and joined the movement. From cities to small towns, from Jammu to Kanyakumari, IAC chapters have sprung up overnight to conduct dawn-to-dusk (in most places ‘dawn’ begins at about 10 AM; in Hyderabad there is a saying that ‘subeh-subeh is gyara baze!’) hunger-strikes and candle light vigils.


Cynics wondered whether any member of the IAC can truthfully claim that he/she never paid a bribe (say for a berth in a train or for jumping a traffic light), never submitted inflated travel bills to their employers, never claimed anything but a genuine mediclaim, never under-valued property to pay reduced stamp duty while purchasing it or did not indulge in any of a myriad modes of corruption that a citizen of this country is compelled to resort to just to survive. And according to the received wisdom of OUTLOOK magazine the new pall-bearer of secularism, corruption has been ingrained in the Hindu way of life. No, there were no nazaranas in the composite culture. Sample this gem from Sheela Reddy:

“Corruption, after all, has been a way of life since ancient Hindu times, gradually evolving from the gifts offered to those in power in return, hopefully, for favours, to this passive-aggressive beast, which demands without actually asking.” (Corruption: Blind Men Of Hindostan. OUTLOOK. April 25, 2011.)

Another objection to the movement came from a section of the nebulous entity called intelligentsia, to the manner in which legislative business is sought to be hijacked by a nebulous entity called civil society. In fact a tweeter on the tweepledom wondered whether ‘civil society’ in India meant just people inhabiting South Delhi! They too have a point. If a motley crowd of ‘civil society’ activists today demand that legislative business be outsourced to them what will stop another motley crowd of ‘civil society’ activists from demanding the judicial system be outsourced to them tomorrow? The ‘president-of-the-one-woman-republic’s tirade against the Supreme Court could indeed be a subliminal if camouflaged demand for closing down the all criminal courts (from trial courts to the Supreme Court) and outsourcing the justice system to her. She would name her team with the possible inclusion of Teesta Setalvad and some comrades like Binayak Sen. Similarly there could be a demand for closing down central investigation agencies and outsource all their work to Tehelka. Shoma Choudary who speaks in non-stop paragraph-long sentences could be appointed ‘Chief’ of the agency with her invisible team-mates continuing their role as invisible investigators. The government could save a lot of tax rupees in the process. Besides, both of them seem to doing the same work – fixing Congress party’s political opponents – anyway. All these appointments would also fulfill the necessary and sufficient conditions of secularism and gender justice.

However the most redeeming feature of Hazare’s movement is that the youth of our county have been at its vanguard giving the lie to the popular perception that today’s youth are self-centred and uninterested in political movements. Taking a cue from Hazare’s campsite in New Delhi, hunger-strike camps across the nation displayed pictures of Bharat-Mata in the background. This is because today’s youth is proud of our rich and ancient culture, history, philosophy and spirituality? Unlike their counterparts of a few generations ago they are not burdened by the tugs and challenges of ‘intellectual fashions’ – which demanded disavowal, denial, denigration and negation of anything remotely connected to India’s glorious past. This was where the first sign of discord in the coalition against corruption surfaced. A news channel pithily wondered whether the bonhomie was over. The naïve Gandhian that Hazare was, he did not understand the importance of symbolism and nuances in India’s secular political discourse. Hazare was advised by the secular members (it is needless to point out that the secular members in any ‘civil society’ group are ‘more equal’ than others) of his entourage that displaying Bharat-Mata at the camp-site would offend the secular ethic of the nation as it amounted to – crass majoritarianism. He meekly obeyed and banished Bharat-Mata.

It would be unwise to assume that corruption, so deeply ingrained in the body politic could be excised with a single movement of a few days – howsoever popular the movement might have been. A small battle has been won but the major war is still ahead. The demon of corruption, so long used to feasting on the common weal of the populace like a gigantic parasite, is not going to give in easily. It is going to fight back with magnified virulence, which can take many shapes and forms. We can already see the ‘dogs-of-war’ let loose by the principal opposition – in this case, the ruling dispensation – attacking the fight against corruption on many fronts, including smear campaigns against its principal protagonists and dilatory tactics. We must remember, with its unlimited resources and vast arsenal, it hopes to weary the warriors in the fight against corruption, in a Fabian strategy and in the end win the war. Time is on its side.

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6 Responses to "India Corruption: Anna Hazare and Indians Against Corruption"

  1. sohan says:

    You must be living in dreamland to claim that Indians are against corruption. If Indians don’t practice the sport corruption, who else does it!

    Corruption is embedded in the Indian culture!

  2. Malavika says:

    Indian system is corrupt. The vast majority of people are victims of extortion(bribes given) by the state and it’s cronies(babus). Giving a bribe to get something done which should be done is extortion. Giving a bribe for favors is corruption. Supposed intelligentsia feigns ignorance of this cardinal fact.

    That is why Indians are the most legal and honest people once they leave for Western nations. In India you just need to pay bribe to get by. Just to get that phone line fixed, it should be done without extortion(bribe) anyway.

  3. Anonymouse says:

    To Malavika and Sohan: If you think that the Indian system is corrupt and that Western Nations are less corrupt, you have a lot to learn. The only difference between India and the West is that people have accepted corruption and therefore it is publicly known. In the West, corruption is so bad that the citizens don’t even know that it is happening. We as a people need to understand that the real cause of corruption is a flawed system that the West uses; it is the Central Bank Concept which has ideological roots in the Communist Manifesto. Get rid of the Central Bank and the basis of honest living begins. Remember, in the initial days of the British occupation, one of the Generals on his tour of the Indian Lands commented that he never encountered poverty, thievery or any form of crime among the Indians and as a policy to break the backbone of the country, we were taught to blame everyone else and be selfish. Hence we are in this situation today. Open your minds to the truth about who really rules the world

  4. mansvi gupta says:

    restart the campaign

  5. Rocky says:

    opposition doesn’t have any issue so it attacks on corruption this is an issue which cannot be solved by government it a people issue if people stop give bribes this can be stop they cannot tel government to stop another issue changing government will not help us in an ways at least this government is ok by stabalizing recession , do we ha ve any other option BJP-communal – third Front- no Pricipal at least we have economist Pm who can handles economic safely , do u think things are expennsive in india it’s not india it’s globally everywhere but we have to root out Corruption we need to tuant government for it we need to pressurize it but changing goverment is not a solution

  6. Dr.Tara chand Soni says:

    whole world used to belittle indians that we are weak there can not be any revolution in india but india is awakening the revolution has begun. we have got freedom but we need Swaraj. our democracy is evolving to new heights.

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