Last week we saw some extra-ordinary scenes from the Indian Capital Delhi.A frail old man named Anna Hazare started a fast on to Death demanding Central Government speed up the process of drafting a LokPal Bill in Parliament as a measure to control and reduce Corruption.He wanted some non-Governmental members in the Panel to draft the LokPal Bill.
The response to the Fast was amazing. Hundreds of people from all walks of life began visiting Jantar Mantar to express support. Social media outlets and TV news channels went on an over drive to mobilise support for Anna Hazare. Most Cities and towns held demonstrations and sit-ins in support of the anti-corruption drive. Reluctant Opposition politicians were also forced to express support for the movement.Jantar Mantar became a must go destinations for Celebrities and God men.Many started calling the place India’s Tahrir square.
The Government first tried to defame the movement.Seeing the mass support Anna Hazare was getting Government started negotiating.An attempt to create another Group of Ministers for drafting the Bill was not accepted.By the end of 4 days the Government had to agree to almost all demands of Hazare.
By his fast Anna Hazare ensured that a stronger anti-corruption law will come into effect in India soon,probably with in few months.He also was able to put some of the key campaigners against Corruption in India in the panel to draft the Bill.
So far so good. I thought every one would be happy to see a such a public movement against Corruption.I thought the wise men/women writing newspaper columns,blogs and tweeting will be ecstatic as there is going to be a real big effort to reduce Corruption and prosecute and punish the Corrupt,one of their long standing demand.
Strangely I found most ‘wise’ men sulking. Whether it was a Right wing columnist or an extreme Left wing one or for that matter even a few Centrist voices, all were in sulky mood.
Here are some excerpts.
We must now countenance the extra-constitutional authority with which ‘civil society’ representatives like Mr Shanti Bhushan and his son, Mr Prashant Bhushan, who between themselves passionately espouse the cause of mass killers, terrorists and Maoists have been vested.
We must also accept that in these terrible and terrifying times those who believe in the Constitution and constitutionalism have been abandoned to the not-so-tender mercies of the practitioners of ‘Gandhian’ blackmail disguised as ‘non-violence
Journalist close to RSS,Kanchan Gupta in Pioneer
This kind of unison scares me. It reminds me of the happy synchronized calisthenics of the kind that totalitarian regimes love to use to produce the figure of their subjects. And all fascist regimes begin by sounding the tocsin of ‘cleansing’ society of corruption and evil…… Nothing can be more dangerous for democracy. Unrestrained debate and a fealty to accountable processes are the only means by which a democratic culture can sustain itself. The force of violence, whether it is inflicted on others, or on the self, or held out as a performance, can only act coercively. And coercion can never nourish democracy……..
Shuddhabrata Sengupta a Left wing Columnist in Kafila
Sometimes a sense of unbridled virtue can also subvert democracy. The agitation by civil society activists over the Jan Lokpal Bill is a reminder of this uncomfortable truth…….. the movement behind the Jan Lokpal Bill is crossing the lines of reasonableness. It is premised on an institutional imagination that is at best naïve; at worst subversive of representative democracy.
The morality of fasting unto death for a political cause in a constitutional democracy has always been a tricky issue. There is something deeply coercive about fasting unto death…….. it amounts to blackmail.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta in Indian Express
Anna Hazare and his movement has been called ‘fascist’,subverting democracy,black mailing the Government etc etc.
Oh…….. and I thought that frail old man was just trying the least he can do to reduce Corruption.
Fascist????? He was leading a most non-violent agitation.
Subversion of Democracy????? He was trying to push the Government to pass a Bill in the most democratic way inside the Parliament.
If the Government had credibility and people’s support and if it was brave,it should have just ignored the Fast or arrest Anna Hazare and force feed him as being done for Irom Sharmilla.
What stopped the Government from doing that?
Lack of credibility as UPA is neck deep in corruption scams.
The Govt knew that hundreds of others were ready to carry on the fast.
The fact that an insensitive Government lacking credibility was forced to obey the wishes of vast majority of people reminds us of the famous Fasts of Gandhiji during British regime.You can call it emotional black mail but many a time ordinary citizens of the country is left with only that legitimate weapon to get attention of insensitive Governments.
How can I be sure that vast majority of people supported Hazare?
From the way the movement was attracting supporters in a huge scale increasing hour to hour.
Good Politicians knows the people’s mind.Vast majority of them sensing the mood of the people began supporting Hazare. With Assembly elections around the corner the Govt had to back track from earlier position and agree to Hazare’s demand.
Instead of respecting the people’s sentiment they are trying to belittle its sincerity and importance. The people’s response was even called “tele-evangelised pop agitation of Page 3 elite”.
Both the Left and Right wing Commentators agreed on the theory that whole agitation was ‘stage-managed’ by the Government to prevent a real agitation taking roots.This claim of theirs is with no proof while all the circumstantial evidence and logical thinking easily allow us to reach the conclusion that it was a spontaneous and genuine movement,the response of which far exceeded the expectations of the organizers.
Is Lokpal Bill the panacea of all evils in the system?
No. It is just a short step of a long journey the country has to take.
As many pointed out the Jan Lokpal Bill has several controversial clauses needing modification.Even if a good law is passed it has to be implemented properly.
More than the Bill,constant Public questioning and pressure on Corrupt officials/politicians can help in cleansing the Polity.The Public sentiment in coming out in large numbers for a peaceful agitation against Corruption augurs well for Indian Society.It gives us hope about future of our Country.
Any movement which brings out ordinarily selfish and inert people out into the streets for a peaceful agitation for the betterment of the Society should always be hailed.