I am sure if Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is alive today he would have committed suicide and since he is dead he must be turning in his grave. His biggest and the most powerful nonviolent weapon ‘Fasting’ has become a silly weapon in the hands of the present day leaders and crusaders for demonstrating their power or attracting the gullible crowd.
In the post independence era has seen many fasts by the leaders. Some of the old timers had taken it seriously in early days and almost lost their conscience before they were bundled to the hospitals. Later, in Tamil Nadu the leader of the masses started a very strange yet popular mode of fasting; that is from morning 8 to evening 6. ‘Wow’ cried the public. How convenient it is? Many old generation ladies used to starve like that on Ekadesi or some auspicious days even without taking water. Muslims fast during the month of Ramzan like this probably start still early before the sunrise and conclude after the sunset.
So what is a great deal about it? Why not? You have television cameras, media persons, the ardent supporters, the curious watchers and their kith and kin surrounding them to keep them in good health condition. Tamil Nadu has earned its popularity in this sort of nonviolent satyagraha by introducing this novel method which can be followed by any man worth the name. If the leader or the fasting gentleman or woman feels thirsty or hungry they have a van or mobile toilet arrangement where they can go for a recess to have a drink or munch a few biscuits. Cute, isn’t it?
For the past one month India faces many other fast unto death. Chandrababu Naidu in AP continued his fast quite seriously until he was packed to the hospital. It is a moot point whether his demands were met or not. The government would definitely ‘consider’ his demands through a duly appointed ‘committee’. Then we had Anna Hazare who hit the head lines with his assertion on Lokpal Bill with a fast. This was a fast one on the government though it tried its best to snub the old man. But, the mob of India all of a sudden raised slogans and joined the fight against corruption led by Hazare and company. So he was appeased through some vague promises by the government which kept changing as days progressed.
Therefore, we had another ferocious crusader Baba Ramdev, a rich Yoga Guru trying to pitch on the corruption with the same fasting technique that too at the Ram Lila grounds of New Delhi. This time the government acted too kindly. He was given a honorable welcome by several senior ministers and a lot of talks and deliberations much to the glee and coverage of the television channels. The guru sat on the five star infrastructure stage to bring down the black money hoarded by Indians in the foreign havens. But something has gone wrong somewhere!
The fasting guru was surrounded by the police in the most unexpected wee hours of the day and evicted to his origin with a ban on his entry in Delhi. The supporters were manhandled and tear gas shells were opened. The media once again captured everything in color to show it to the whole world.
One can now find how democracy is powerful in India. Every one is lambasting the central government and the Delhi police for their devious ways and highhandedness. Some criticize the guru for his cheating because he claimed he sat in the grounds only for yoga training. He also seemed to have signed some secret letter with the ministers who met him earlier.
The Indian media and general public strongly believe that such one day hunger strikes (because now the same Anna Hazare has told the media that he will observe a token fast on 8 June at Jantar Mantar!) and nonstop discussions will bring down the corruption in India.
For the power hungry netas of India such fasts are helpful definitely. For the real hungry people in India, such feats are nothing but just entertainment!