Friday, August 19, 2011

Ban-Anna Republic?

So our system sucks. All politicians are corrupt bastards who abuse power and have their loot conveniently stashed away in Swiss bank accounts. Kasab is still surviving on tax-payer's money. Bombs keep going off across the country now and then as if it's Diwali, only difference being these bombs trigger casualties and deaths while Diwali does NOT.
And now Anna Hazare has been arrested and sent to Tihar Jail for organizing a peaceful protest where he threatened to fast unto death unless the Government accepted his demands (legitimate or not).
Now as a responsible citizen of the world's largest democracy, I'm supposed to be taking a stand - either against the people running the government who are acting like a group of autocrats or against the civil society in which case I'm running the risk of being labelled unpatriotic and stoned to death in turn.
But I'm a bit confused here. Really.

First things first. Detention of a man even before he did something to violate the law, in this case, section 144 of the Constitution, is highly imbecilic behavior exhibited by a government. Deciding to send him to Tihar Jail for 7 days and then scrapping that plan by the evening and negotiating with him the terms and conditions of his own release, is again further proof of the fact that you screwed up. Big time.
As per my knowledge of the Constitution, nothing gives you the right to actually specify the terms and conditions for someone's peaceful protest, how many people it should involve, for how long it should continue. That's just absurd.

But blowing things out of proportion to the point of comparing the situation with the Emergency (when all democratic liberties were snatched away from the public) or Jallianwalah Bagh massacre, is even absurder.

Image courtesy : Deccan Chronicle
Every time I witness a bevy of supporters with their faces painted in the colors of the flag, singing patriotic songs completely off-key or waving the tricolor with more than necessary vigor, on BBC or CNN with captions along the lines of "India gets its own Arab revolution" or "Anna Hazare kickstarts second independence movement" I am seized by the desire to literally facepalm to the ludicrousness of it all. Partly because the whole scenario is deeply reminiscent of the flurry of activity right before an Indo-Pakistan cricket match rather than a revolution. And partly because I am forced to wonder how many of those very vocal supporters of Anna actually know the salient differences between Lokpal and Janlokpal bills.

Isn't our penchant for high-powered drama getting the better of our rationale?
The ruling party has so far done a fabulous job of misappropriating public money and aggravating the people who voted it to power in the first place.
But are we an oxymoronic one-party democracy, like China? No. Is our government in cahoots with terror outfits like our illustrious neighbor? No. Is our PM a douchebag megalomaniac like Kim Jong Il? No.
Last but not the least, are we faced with a mammoth debt of 14.3 trillion dollars and teetering on the verge of an economic meltdown? Hell no.
Then isn't all of this a bit of an exaggerated reaction to the actual problems at hand?

I'm as fed up of bribing government officials as you are. And the very thought of coughing up cash for the sake of getting a simple signature on a piece of document is downright disconcerting.
But I'm not sure whether Janlokpal is really going to help reverse the situation drastically. It is a step in the right direction, but it's fraught with too many inner contradictions and impracticality.
Besides corruption is a deep-rooted evil which has already spread across all levels of our entire democratic hierarchy like a malaise. As long as we continue to flout traffic rules thinking that bribing a cop is as natural as the setting of the sun, nothing will change. As long as the monster of corruption within each and every one of us continues to thrive, a piece of legislation will be able to achieve nothing.

I do support Kisan Baburao, aka Padma Bhushan awardee Anna Hazare, and his lifelong crusade against corruption and other social evils. I do support his version of the Janlokpal bill.
But I do not support what seems like his earnest desire to do a Gandhi. I do not support the media glorifying him as a savior of the nation or comparing this agitation to the Quit India movement. Because frankly speaking, threatening to go on a fast unto death, every time there's a disagreement between you and a democratically-elected government, is a far-cry from the actions of the man who was a brilliant strategist and diplomat to the core. And a social activist who waves at and poses for television cameras every opportunity he gets and reeks of new-found arrogance and pompousness, cannot be compared to the the frail and selfless old man who earned us our ticket to freedom from the British Raj.



Kunnu said...


It is very important to know your facts, understand them and then make a informed decision. Though, I have no doubt that the intention of Anna's actions is to make a corruption free India, however, unjustified his tactics are. There are very few people, who know for certain what exactly the Anna's Lok pal is and what the govt is willing to give as of now (I am still trying to figure by reading the Govt's Lokpal). Its a complicated, if unjustified, mess. If nothing else, we should all hope that what it does is to make young people like you, me, all of us aware of whats happening in our country and be a more participative and responsible citizen, who know their rights and duties and also help in curbing the corruption menace at a basic, root level. If the roots are healthy, rest assured, fruits are likely to be better

Thanks, Kunal

Selenium said...

Well, the Indian Public does love dramas and stuff... and if their dramas, get on TV, they love it even more. :-/

Frankly, there are so many good laws in the Mammoth Indian Constitution, adding another won't actually make an impact...

Purba said...

The sad part is, the few of who are still thinking rationally are being branded as unpatriotic. Why! just because I refuse to be part of a mob baying for blood! That I think Anna is not the answer to our many problems!

But I am glad there's a healthy debate which forces us to analyze the mess we are in.

Samadrita said...

@Kunnu: Thanks for sharing your opinion with me here. But I do know my facts and have written this article after carefully considering the situation.

@Selenium: My thoughts exactly. I can't help but think that this whole thing is being blown out of proportion. The government are no doubt responsible to a large extent for the outrage of common people. But there's another side to this story as well.

@Purba di: Absolutely. If I'm being labelled unpatriotic for offering my opinions regarding a matter in an unbiased way, then so be it.

Kunnu said...

Hey..I wasn't talking about you in particular, but in general. :)

Anish said...

I agree with all of what you have said.We Indians are emotional by nature and this is now becoming like an Ekta Kapoor teleserial now.They should just sit face to face,talk reasonably and sort this out.Everyone's tired of corruption but you can't weed it out like magic.Very well-written by the way!

Meera Sundararajan said...

Completely agree with you!!!I think the middle classes need a messiah and it is Anna who they think is their saviour

Pulkit said...

Very well written - exactly my views. Most supporters just think they will magically become richer if they support him and the bill is passed, the sole reason behind their financial condition being the government. I bet most of them do not even pay their taxes, an unfortunate example being my father. However, I don't support congress either but the situation is getting out of hand.

And 14.3 trillion? Holy shit ! I thought it was 14.3 billion. US is screwed.

Tarang Sinha said...

People curse corruption but don’t give a damn to raise a voice (Especially when they are not sufferers). They just talk about it but prefer to let it go as it is. But if someone is raising a voice against it or supporting this movement they say it “Ekta Kapoor type Teleserials drama.” What an irony!

What do people mean by “There are so many good laws” or “Thinking rationally” or calling participation of people in this nonviolent movent “mob”. I think it’s not about classes. The difference is that rich people have the capacity to face the corruption in terms of money. It’s been so many years, what should be the counter-attack on corruption if the govt. is not listening? Doing what would make an impact? (Talking rationally has become outdated perhaps. It’s second time. Remember?)

By the way, nice article.

Bhagwad Jal Park said...

For me, the goal is less about preventing corruption than punishing those who indulge in corruption. Whether or not punishment leads to prevention is not a matter I concern myself with. If it does, well and good.

People are not upset just because there is corruption. People are upset because no one is properly punished!

Punishment and prevention are two different things which need different strategies. The Lokpal is a punishment organ. So let's draw our expectations based on that.

Prateek said...

I was rushing to my college when I heard Police arrested Anna at Civil Lines. I passed by it and it was all a mess. I was late for class but later went to India Gate to show the anguish.

Priyanka said...

Exactly the point I put forth in class today when asked to take a stand on the issue. The whole thing is being over-dramatized almost making it K-serial like and EVERYBODY is over-reacting.

And not making a difference. I'm tempted to add 'as usual'.

SUB said...

Anna isn't fasting unto death, and nether is he a modern Gandhi...but still want a better anti-corruption law rather than the one govn proposed...govn should not be afraid to debate the bill in the parliament in a transparent way...

Blasphemous Aesthete said...


Need I say more, because I'd rather copy your article down here than add redundancy to it.

Nice article, particularly because I too share the same views.

Blasphemous Aesthete

Giribala said...

Agree with you, Sammy!!

prasanna raghavan said...

Hi Samadrita'

Me to share the same views

VeeKay said...

I do agree with you. I swear I do not know till date what Anna is really upto or what is actually a lokpal bill. Not that I am unpatriotic but I dont really have the faith that things will get any better because of the bill. As you said, the whole system sucks. I am against democracy. I believe in autocracy, Rule by one efficient intelligent leader. That apart, as said by you, corruption is a deep rooted evil, it will always find an other way. I reckon that it should be removed bit by bit with the cooperation of both the govt and people. As in lets consider the traffic police bribing, I have to pay Rs 500 as fine to the govt if I don't carry a license, If the gov't reduces the fine to Rs.50, one will never bother to bribe the police with 100 bucks. The total bribed money will steeply fall this way. One good brain is all that is needed to drive a nation. Unfortunately we are ruled by a set of thousand brains that are full of mud!

Vivek said...

Well ,

Its easy to say then doing it.
He is on fast from last 8 days today being the 9th ...and he is the true Gandhian ..who follow principles of Gandhi ..
And He has a great supporting team who have all the knowledge of the things ( law n order)
But I'm disappointed by the stand of govt ..which is very confused.
If you have to support someone support it fully otherwise don't be come half way ..its same like standing @ door not our not its our choice to do act ..and its okay to not support as its ones own point of view.
I Support his Genuine movement , and glad to participate in the rally against corruption ..I have also written a post on it..if you get time do visit.

take care.

Mohur said...

Love the flow in your writing!! Kudos for that...

Came in through indiblogger list, enthralled & now following you...


Quintessence Of Illusion said...

I totally agree with you....Anna and his supporters are behaving as if dictatorship prevails here...the whole episode is about loads of melodrama,Anna acting like a superstar,ignorant people creating chaos...and loads and loads of shit...

Shaan said...

A very well written post...I a totally agree with te last paragraph of youtr post.

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