Sunday, April 10, 2011

Anna Hazare and Anti-corruption Bill

For the past four days the main social issue that the average man in India (and Indians abroad) has been talking about is Anna Hazare and his fast unto death towards seeing the Lok Pal bill come into effect. It might also be the most googled keywords in the past week. All of a sudden, the whole nation seems to have taken notice. Yes, by far corruption is one of the most pressing issues facing the nation today. People seem to be frantically raising their voices in support of the bill and calling for meetings and candle light vigils to express solidarity. But I am really not sure what exactly we are supporting.

I mean yes, everyone wants corruption out of the system. But what is lacking is clarity of thought. We need not follow the crowd. I truly appreciate people who are against it and don't worry about expressing themselves. They are only bringing out a standpoint we might not have realized. Of course, it is a fancy thing that in a matter of hours we have realized our duties and responsibilities towards making our society a better place. But I fear that this enthusiasm is short-lived. In another week, the media will sideline this event and we would have forgotten all about it. What might remain of our stirred emotions of righteousness will be the facebook statuses and tweets. Let me be proved wrong.

I am somebody who believes that a nation cannot progress and cannot improve unless at least 80 percent of its people feel strongly about issues. One MUST have an opinion. Not a misinformed notion that everyone else feels is correct. But a inference that you have arrived at after reading and understanding the crux of the matter, the people it affects, the implications it has to society as a whole and all pros and cons of taking each side.

It is easy to see what has been happening. When Anna Hazare began his fast with the support of people like Kiran Bedi and Swami Agnivesh for uprooting an evil like corruption from the political system, one just HAD to take notice. It was obvious that if the movement is to garner support from all factions of society, it would almost be the most awaited social change in recent times.

But I seem to have my inhibitions.

The following is a note I read yesterday:
" So how many of you went for candle light vigil in support of Anna Hazare? How about corruption in personal level, the minimalist? How about corruption in the corporate level, the highest? Or do you consider that corruption exists only in political and bureaucratic levels? Do you consider the physicians who sent you for scanning even for minutest of a reason as corrupt? Do you consider "buying" higher education as a corrupt practice? Do you consider bypassing Dalits in which ever field you could as corruption too? Or is your anti corruption rhetoric caged in to utter disregard towards elected representatives? Where are you going, oh polity? Where is your sense?
First define corruption and then frame the bill. What is there in such flex board revolutions?
Vote against the corrupt, if you find, corruption as the biggest evil and then lament. "

He also speaks about how Irom Sharmila and her decade-long fast has been ignored by the very people. This part rang true because I was surprised by the number of people who have never heard of her. And even the ones who have only know her as a lady from the north east who has been fasting for more than 10 years. No one seems to even care for what she is fighting. Is it because the issue doesn't concern us? Is it because the North East is almost another part of the world?

Truly our attitudes are disgusting. We are happy in our own cocooned worlds where all that matters is hating work and yet dragging our asses to work every morning for we crave our paychecks that fund our escapades, parties, entertainment and beer every weekend. What a superficial existence, one would think! It is very important to be happy. Yes. But we do not let go of a chance to criticize others. Most of the time we are lamenting about dirty politics and how politicians are bastardizing the nation. Yet how many of us actually go and vote on the election day? I know of many who chose not to only because it is of no use! We have no right to bemoan the political affairs in the country. We get what we deserve. and we DO NOT deserve any better. Other than talking to each other about promises that have not been kept, do we even try to question the elected representative? I'd say we should. Why not? He is answerable to us and for all you know, he might. And when we begin to do so, they will stop taking an average citizen for granted. He must know that with power comes responsibility.

A friend was talking to me on Friday and I casually mentioned the beginning of Season 4 of the IPL. Though a cricket lover, I cannot care less for the IPL which is no more cricket but only a garrulous entertainment show. It was just a statement and I don't even know the teams. Suddenly, he gets worked up and says, 'This is the problem with YOU Indians. Since evening everyone has only been talking about IPL and not a soul cares for what Anna Hazare is doing.'

I am not irritated with him. He has at least made a start. Most people don't (much) care for issues. That is what scares me. It is our non-chalance that is a threat to the future of the nation. If we begin to worry about the problems, despite not being able to do much that I would say is a begining. We must all feel strongly about them. When we do, we shall not remain quiet. We shall all in our own ways voice our opinions. We may not always be right but once we discuss issues, we will be clearer. And when we are focussed and know what can be done at our level, we will work together towards it. Then things will start looking brighter. All hope is not lost.

Is this the only grappling issue we have? NO. Is his fast alone going to eliminate corruption in the political system or even help in bringing it down by half? I'd guess not. But one can hope that this is a begining. We must start somewhere. If this is what is going to trigger the youth towards a right direction, why not?


PS: I know that I am a pessimist and that the point that I mentioned will not go down well with most people who believe that righteousness is in conforming not questioning. Well, I care a damn. I have a conscience. And if I can answer that I have answered every other question.