As of August 20, 2011
Today, I heard Anna Hazare speaking for the first time, and every second of his speech sounded like “Mein mahaan hoon, I am the greatest….. I did this, I did that…. follow me, follow me”. The more I listened to him, greater was my conviction.
That brought me a question: Is he really the savior that the Indian public/media is portraying right now or is he some bluffmaster? Is he just playing with the public sentiments? Is holding a government for a ransom, the right way to bring Jan Lokpal? Who asked him to frame a draft of the Jan Lokpal? More than that, who asked him to force it onto the government?
While the objective of the movement seems right, the way of doing that is highly debatable. I heard people drawing parallels between him and Mahatma Gandhi (which, by the way, he is doing himself by having a background of Mahatma Gandhi at Ramlila Maidan). However, there are many differences between his movement and Gandhi’s movements. The greatest of them being that Gandhi was fighting against a foreign government, NOT elected by the people of India. India, now, is a free country with democratically elected MPs in the government. Also, Gandhi did motivate people to join him but never ever by praising himself, which came at a stark contrast to Anna Hazare who can be called a narcissist to a certain extent. With examples of how he was the one who stopped the amendment in the RTI proposed in 2007 to how he brought government to his feet in Tihar jail, the veteran just went ga ga about himself. Taking the entire credit for one particular event, forgetting the huge public support behind, is not a sign of a good leader; not at the national level. His leadership qualities, leaving apart the non-violence part, are in comparison with Adolf Hitler.
Also, there is a difference in conducting a movement/campaign for something like Jessica Lal case or reservation and Jan Lokpal Bill. There is a democratic process set for executing such bills in the Parliament and, being a citizen of India, one has to respect that democratic process and the institute called Parliament. Saying, “Pass this version of the bill or I will fast unto death”, is unconstitutional. You cannot stand out of the system and order the system to do this, do that, because you have the thousands of people backing you up blindly. This is even more dangerous than MPs doing scams, because then you have the power but you don’t have the accountability. If the Team Anna wanted to get the Bill into action, they should have fought the election, should have got elected in the Parliament, and should have lobbyed strongly for the bill. However, that is the tough way out. Easy way out is to bash politicians, everyone will join you because Indians simply love it.
At the end, question that remains to be asked is whether the Indians are getting carried away in the Anna wave? The anti-government sentiment created in the country has the potential to create chaos (Egypt-like situation) and disturb law and order some day or the other. While things happen slowly in a democracy, they do happen and that’s the best way to do it. Passing the bill overnight (18 days is like overnight in a democracy), that too when the structure and the details of the bill itself are yet to be finalized, without any extensive discussion and under the public pressure, can invite significant problems in future, for which Team Anna won’t be held accountable since they are not the constitutional representatives of the Indian public. A large section of the Indian public won’t understand this, especially the ones who are at Ramlila Maidan, right now.
While I support the anti-corruption movement, the modes operandi doesn’t seem right. To conclude, I also came across the interview of Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal by Karan Thapar on Devil’s Advocate and, I must say, there were some very important and unnoticed issues raised by Karan Thapar that are worth pondering upon. At the end, I would urge the public to exercise discretion and think independently before supporting any particular side.