A few hours ago I received a couple of invitations on Facebook (apparently that is how society invites you nowadays) to take part in what they termed a ‘bike rally’ to support Anna Hazare in his melodramatic agitation against corruption in India. This has been dubbed, now and then, as the Anna Hazare Movement. And I am not taking part in the rally.
I am not to be misunderstood, I do not advocate corruption; far from it. But I definitely am against the approach Anna Hazare is taking. And I do not entirely believe in the apparent promises that the Jan Lokpal Bill claims to hold.
The Movement affects more than meets the eye
Anna Hazare’s movement, while being based on Gandhi’s approach, actually affects more than it appears to at first sight. I would not like to dwell on this, but I certainly consider the large number of motorbike rallies going on all over the country to be a great discouragement to the milestone Copenhagen Environment Summit from a couple of years ago.
And, while I may seem repulsive to some when I say this, I know quite a few people who are attending the rally for the sheer pleasure of loitering around on their motorbikes. And I know an equal number of people (who exceed the other lot) who actually believe this to be some sort of fight striking the heart of corruption while it is but an attempt to bring forth a naive policy which they claim will rid the nation of corruption.
And, while we are speaking of methods to fight corruption, I believe it is the society which must start repairing itself. I had a teacher back in school who often said that if each man took care of himself, the nation would take care of itself. Nothing could apply more aptly to our present situation here in India.
Personally, I believe that the Tata Tea ads showcased under the tagline, Jaago Re, were a far better, peaceful, ethical mass movement against corruption which, in a matter of weeks had truly begun to resonate in people’s lips almost everywhere I went. But it had insufficient time to take on a bigger role because the mob decided to take sides with a new tantrum of a movement that was Anna Hazare’s.
Should educational institutions bother?
I am a student so I believe nobody has better foundation backing them when they say over half the school that decided to take part in the rally did so merely to skip classes and/or get a holiday declared for their studies.
As an increasing lot of school children are, to my disappointment, shunning their formal education to spend time showcasing banners on the streets while a good lot of them are way too young to have absolutely any idea as to how a democracy functions, let alone what the Jan Lokpal Bill is supposed to achieve, most of them are even being forced, perhaps not physically, but at least by what I call peer-group influence, to join the crowd simply because their friend/s are doing so. In this I see a lack of having one’s own stand on an issue as simple as this; and, for me, this is a much bigger problem for any nation than corruption—citizens sans perspectives.
While on the one hand this Movement is clearly going to achieve nothing worth treasuring, on the other we are letting go of literacy. To some it may appear that it is but a matter of a day now and a day then, but it is drops that make an ocean.
And the naivety of it all!
“Anna is an idol, he is a person who has initiated a revolution that can benefit all the people who are with Anna in his fight against corruption.” Says a very worldly school-goer (or rather skipper) Varun Thakur, and adds, “It will set an example for the whole world.”
I sure hope not. It would be worse than saddening to see all of humankind fall prey to naivety.
“I am excited.” Said another student, Abhishek Sharman. “He [Anna Hazare] is the (and get this) first to stand up against corruption and support Indians.”
I can add little that will make that last statement any barer in its misplaced belief.
As Mr Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President of the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi, says, the bill is “premised on an institutional imagination that is subversive of representative democracy.” And, while we are on the topic of the Bill being extra-constitutional, there is this outrageous right that the Lokpal (a castle in the air, as I see it) cleverly reserves: ‘… no proceedings or decision of the Lokpal shall be liable to be challenged, reviewed, quashed or called in question in any court of ordinary civil jurisdiction.’
As social Activist, RTI movement leader and Magsaysay Award winner, Aruna Roy puts it, “Vesting jurisdiction over the length and breadth of the government machinery in one institution will concentrate too much power in the institution, while the volume of work will make it difficult to carry out its tasks.”
If there was any time in all these sixty odd years since independence that India needed her founding fathers, it is now. How would Nehru, Gandhi and their league of extraordinary gentlemen have dealt with this seemingly evasive villain? Anna Hazare believes they would have fasted themselves to death. And for what?
No. My own belief is that they would have tried to mend the minority, the culprits who are entwined within social circles and who are themselves corrupt. While fasting is a useful, powerful method—and while Gandhi fasted with great results—fasting is not in itself a foolproof method, and it does not always help. And what does not always help can also harm.
The statement I started this article with will sufficiently round-up my stance presently (and as long as the Bill is in play): I am not for corruption, merely against the nationally withholding approach that is being taken to repressively end it.
While we are focusing on the big picture, we are losing everything else on the way to there—everything else that will actually matter on the long run. What we do need now, is gather a little forethought and take the benifits of hindsight.
What do you say? What are your beliefs? Oh, and are you attending a motor rally?