Consider the state of the nation. The tsunami of corruption that is drowning democracy does not need reminding. Enough has been written about that. The insurgencies, the separatist movements and terrorism tearing the nation apart do not need recall. Enough has been said about that. The collapse of law and order in which public lynching can occur with police standing by does not shock. It is considered normal now. The ugly disparity in which the microscopic rich adorn the pages of Forbes magazine while the rural millions starve and are driven by debt to suicide no longer brings tears. Our eyes are drained and dried by now. And the latest revelation by the Election Commission that hundreds of crores were spent by candidates to buy votes in just one state assembly poll no longer jolts.
We are too familiar by now with the ugly face of Indian democracy. Our democracy is not working. Our political system has failed. Our Constitution needs to be rescued from self-serving politicians who have subverted it. India needs its revolution.
In recent days Anna Hazare’s fast to hasten the Jan Lokpal Bill lit a spark throughout the nation. He got enormous support from the media. He also attracted criticism. He and his supporters committed a few gaffes. There are signs of division within the ranks of his movement. It is not known whether his movement will gather force or start to limp. It does not matter.
With him or without him India’s revolution will come. It cannot be stopped. Too many people know how too few people are looting their wealth and betraying the national interest at every step and in every way.
Anna Hazare gave the call for India’s second war of independence. It is an old battle cry. The time has come to redeem it.
On February 1, 2006 under the title “India’s Second Freedom” it was written in these columns:
“In 1997 India celebrated a half century of independence. To commemorate the event a special joint session of Parliament was convened… In his keynote address the Speaker of Lok Sabha, Mr PN Sanghma, gave a call to the nation to launch India’s Second Freedom struggle… The House unanimously adopted an agenda for India to end corruption, criminalization, casteism and communalism. There was not one dissenting voice. Isn't it time that the young people of India accepted Parliament's invitation to launch India's Second Freedom struggle…Young people should recall the East India Company. Second or third sons of English lords and aristocrats, at age thirteen or fourteen years, came to India as apprentices of the Company. By the time they were in their twenties they were conquerors. To serve their nation and the Company they learnt and studied languages, dialects and habits of the subjects they ruled… They were members of the English elite who de-classed themselves to conquer India . Why cannot young members of the Indian elite de-class themselves and conquer India ? They won't need guns. They have freedom of expression and freedom of association. They can conquer India democratically.”
There are four tasks required to succeed.
- First, to formulate a nationally accepted minimum policy agenda for change that helps India reclaim its identity and democracy;
- secondly to successfully mobilize support for that agenda across the nation;
- thirdly to create an effective organizational structure of the movement; and
- fourthly to form a political party based on that agenda, and relying on the movement’s organization, to win the next general election and replace the corrupt and criminal class that has seized power.
|Genuine revolutions are not propelled by personalities but by ideas. Those who best articulate those ideas through word and deed succeed in personifying them to emerge as leaders of the revolution.
That is the real challenge facing the Indian people. These days many young Indians are displaying formidable talent and enterprise in the world of commerce. Well, the challenge of creating a political party is no more daunting than of creating a business corporation. Both enterprises require communication, organization and marketing. Only, parties deal with ideas and policies and not with products and services.
It is a tough task. But the national mood revealed by the countrywide reaction to Anna Hazare’s fast indicates that the time for it to succeed has arrived. If Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev lend their weight to the endeavor it will be wonderful. If they don’t, it will not matter. Genuine revolutions are not propelled by personalities but by ideas. Those who best articulate those ideas through word and deed succeed in personifying them to emerge as leaders of the revolution.
The three most potent segments of society capable of mass action to ensure success are the students, the farmers and the workers. Of these three the students are the best educated. They have the biggest stake in the future. They are the natural leaders of change. History beckons them. Will they respond? It is India’s Jasmine moment. They should seize it.