Monday, September 12, 2011

Anna wise, Rupee foolish

A disclaimer to begin with - I do not support Corruption.

If Munnabhai reintroduced the young & urban middle class to the philosophy of Gandhi & made it fashionable by indulging in the middle path via Gandhigiri, Anna Hazare has reclaimed the gandhian fringes by his hunger strike. Yes, that's what it was - a Strike. And there was nothing "gandhian" about it.

When Gandhi undertook a fast, it was a medium to cleanse the polity as well as a time to introspect. Hazare occupied the extremist, though "non-violent", position for forcing his views. As has been commented by many, Hazare's actions were nothing but blackmail. Though the educated urban middle class has been fascinated by the "gandhian" tactics of Hazare (another proof that Retro is back in vogue), it was by no means so.

Gandhi undertook fasts as a last resort. He gave ample opportunity to others, be it a foreign government or rioting countrymen, to discuss & consider his point of view. Gandhi was fighting against a foreign power which controlled the law making process. A fast was an extreme action, when all else failed & where no legal remedy was available. In the case of Hazare's agitation, the government was working towards the same objective, though not to the same extent. Hazare hijacked the mass disgust at the prevailing corruption levels to force his views. In the process, he disregarded other opinions and left no position open for discussion. 

Like Hazare, Gandhi was also fighting a political battle. But he joined the political process and sought to change it as an insider. The Congress party contested elections, formed governments & sought to change the laws by the defined parliamentary process. Hazare is waging his battle from the outside, maligning an entire class of citizens. Is this not another form of communalism? This has enabled his political opponents to term his support as narrow-based, a sliver of the electorate.

Gandhi never tried to dictate terms, but sought to bring in change. To take a case, while Gandhi promoted use of Swadeshi, he never sought to ban imports altogether despite being against it. Hazare should have taken his version of Lokpal to the parliament and have the salient features of all versions amalgamated. If he did not expect the support of people's representatives, he should have sought this from other pillars of our democracy. 

Hazare's actions may have been physically non violent but were morally violent. Had someone (respectable) from the political fraternity, say Pranab Mukherjee, undertaken a counter-hunger strike to force Hazare to end his, what would have been Hazare's response? 

The hunger strike is nothing but attempted suicide & this is unlawful. Why has Hazare not been punished by the law, something that is matter of routine for the common man?

Thousands joined Hazare at the Ramlila Grounds, leaving unfinished jobs behind in their offices & workplaces. Had they been part of a trade union strike/agitation, they might have been behind bars. Fortunately, the law treats the educated & the uneducated differently...

There were murmurs of protests from other groups who had their own version of the Lokpal bill. It goes to the credit of the government/administrative machinery that things did not go out of control.  

Of course, this is not to deny the fact that Hazare managed to get the common man involved in a political movement that affects us all. There is also no denying the fact that the Indian cricket team was losing all its matches in England, and Singham & Bodyguard were yet to be released.

Let us hope that the next time Hazare takes to the streets, he is more ethical about it. Else, one would be forced to believe what was said the other day - "Hazare has taken his battle against Sharad Pawar to another level altogether". That is one victory we all wish him!!!

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