Monday, April 11, 2011

Why Anna Hazare will fail!

Two days ago, lakhs of urban middle class Indians have come onto the streets in a show of support for Anna Hazare’s victory against Government of India when the latter conceded Anna’s demand to form a committee with some civilians in it.  While this outpouring from these yuppie Indians looks good on TV and internet campaigns, I ask myself some basic questions.  Are we really on our way to root out corruption with this show of support and introduction of Lokpal Bill?  Are we about to change the system?  Unfortunately, the answer I get from myself is a big No. 

To give a perspective, imagine a rally or a fast taken up by a Gandhian to stem out casteism from our lives.  We may see a similar response from many Indians who are ‘fed up’ with casteism in this country.  We may naively believe that such rallies and fasts may be the first step towards extirpating casteism from our society.  But the reality is that casteism is so deeply entrenched into our system that a mere fast or rally will not make a dent in its solid structure.   At the most, such rallies and fasts combating such deep-rooted problems will have a symbolic value.  I don’t underestimate such symbols.  I believe they are quite important.  But it would be unrealistic to believe that a single legislation or law will somehow curb casteism from this country.   The same holds true for corruption. 

To all those yuppie Indians who actually believe that this event from Anna Hazare is going to actually bring any change, here is the bad news – nothing is going to change.  I write this not out of cynicism but with a sense of realism to exhort the anti-corruption activists to do much more than what they are currently doing if they are really serious about the cause.  

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Anna Hazare: Lessons for future

Anna Hazare, a noted ‘Gandhian’ and an activist, who has earlier played a role in fighting for Right to Information Act has taken up fast to bring more teeth to Lokpal Bill, an instrument to curb the corruption at highest offices in this country.   Many urban middle class Indians have come forward to support him in this cause.  Relay hunger strikes have sprung up in many cities in India.  Artists and intellectuals lent support.  It is heartening to see so many yuppie Indians coming out onto streets to voice their opinion against corruption.  Not many movements in the recent history have seen the urban middle class coming out of their secure careers and gated communities to take the streets in protest on a universal and overarching cause.    At the most, the urban middle families are known to fight for their selfish needs like parks for their kids, or against reservations for lower castes, or for stopping the government from demolishing their illegal houses. 

A phenomenon like this, where urban middle class across the entire country has participated and expressed opinion on the streets or on the internet for a cause that is not just selfish but helps even the common man should be celebrated as truly historic.  But some hard questions remain, as to how long they are willing to fight, and will they be perseverant  enough  to reach a logical end.  Or is it just a one-off incident and phenomenon where they got attracted to the event because they do not know enough details and hence got carried away by the mere symbolism that sounded deliriously romantic and heroic like in movies where one man takes on a mighty nation and ends corruption once and for all.  Are they participating in it to fight their own guilt of apathy towards the country around them? Does this cause seem to have a lofty goal where their mere participation can be recollected and remembered as their one-time participation to erase their years of apathy? Do they know what they are in for?  Do they know how long it will take to actually achieve the desired results?