Friday, August 19, 2011

Turning a deaf ear to public opinion can awfully backfire

The 74yr old cheerful and optimistic Gandhian, Anna Hazare, has surely set a precedent not only for the people and governing institutions of India, but also for democratic nations across the globe, testifying that, if you have a will, and that will is lead with honestly and perseverance, no power play can really stop you from driving oneself and the masses towards realizing that noble cause. More importantly, who says that it is impossible to adopt non violent means of protest to exercise freedom of expression? Looking at the peaceful means adopted by Anna and his team, we certainly can conclude that the Gandhian method of Satyagraha works wonders even in this 21st century of modernization and capitalism.

Anna Hazare defied the government’s toothless Lokpal bill which was hastily tabled in the Parliament without considering the anti-corruption workable draft by the civil society group lead by Anna. This was not the first time that the civil society warned the government about the namesake bill. The tug-of-war between the government and civil society has been on for over six months now with the government not relenting an inch to even listen to what the civil society has proposed. This was the first goof up that the government committed.

This lead from one error to another leading to the biggest blunders of almost mysteriously kidnapping the anti-corruption crusader, whose only fault was that he wanted to protest against rampant corruption that was rotting our system and dwarfing growth of its people. Sadly, the government didn’t foresee what was coming with Anna Hazare’s detention in Tihar prison. In a democracy, the government simply can’t stifle opinions of people using arrogance of power. No matter how big or small, you just can’t ignore public outcry.

And this is what democracy is all about. International media has wrongly likened India’s anti-corruption movement with the Arab uprising and the jasmine revolution. When in reality, the anti-corruption protest in India only reinforces the power of our democracy. What Anna and the people are able to do today, is only because we are the world’s biggest democracies. The people of a totalitarian regime can’t even think of adopting these means of protest.

With the domino of errors that the government has committed, it missed out on the opportunity to engage in some intellectual debate on civil society’s version of the bill. No doubt Anna Hazare is a leader of the masses, but the bill drafted by his team certainly is not error proof. Even the Anna team has never said that their version of the bill needs to be tabled in the Parliament. All they requested was for a healthy discussion, a debate, and most importantly a referendum on the anti-corruption bill. Agree that the Constitution does not have a provision for a referendum and it would be unconstitutional to have one. But in the same breath, the Constitution is a living document and it can be amended.

As I am writing my opinion piece, Annaji who is on an indefinite fasting protest is making his way from Tihar prison towards the Ramlila grounds surrounded by huge people frenzy who can’t stop raving about the Anna metaphor. The government must be shamed right now looking at the mounting followers of Anna Hazare…but unfortunately they got themselves there by making those many ungrammatical errors. Had our respected Prime Minister used his wisdom to anticipate the upshot of his acts, he would have a face to show. Sadly our PM rather listened to his ill advising coterie who left him faceless.

A strong anti-corruption bill will certainly not bring an end to corruption in days or a few years from now. It is indeed a sustainable process which should not only monitor and punish the bribe taker but also the bribe giver, who is equally accountable. As stated by PM, we agree that, there certainly is no magic wand to eradicate corruption. But had Mr. Manmohan Singh whirled his anti corruption wand 3-4yrs back, the problem would not be as big as it is today.

The magnanimous India Against Corruption (IAC) movement spanned out by Anna (our hero) gives a message to each one of us to stop stomaching discrimination and exploitation, but rather exercise our right of freedom of expression. More importantly the movement also scribbles the fact that the right to freedom does not give anyone the right to riot. The peaceful and Gandhian methods of protest used before our independence is pretty much promising even today.

Looking at what this 74year crusader has done, it certainly is time for all our retired friends to stop living a withdrawn life... rather gather themselves to awaken the masses to fight evil the Anna Hazare way. The youth are too busy in their hectic day-to-day lives and it is only our retired folks who can motivate the youth to pause and act against the evils ingesting our system.

Post script
Folks, did you catch visuals of Anna Hazare’s marathon run to protect himself from the crowds? After seeing those visuals, I have ditched Milind Soman as my Marathon mentor. I’m now going to follow Annaji all the way to Marathon 2012. He surely can give anyone a run for his money :-) Even more Anna lost 3kgs in 3days of fasting and am planning to take this as my dieting tip. Anna Sir, way to go!

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1 comment:

Rejis said...

If there was wisdom to a crowd, it is now, it may shine faintly or brilliantly, the thing is it shines and those who just stand and choose to stare cannot help but be drawn to the light. You are right,the govt for its own good would do well to acknowledge the circumstances that have kept the spirit of this voice alive.

I was searching for info on Fr.Colaco to know more about the priest, my mentor who was famous for his lectures on logic and truth.

There is character and soul to your blog, quite a read. Thank you for your post. Take care and God bless.