Can We Put Our Life on the Line to Stop Corruption?

Mr. Anna Hazare on Tuesday began a fast-unto-death in the capital demanding enactment of a stronger Lokpal Bill to give powers to Ombudsman to check corruption. Why is he doing it?

The Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari says that Mr. Hazare’s actions are premature. The government has already appointed a panel headed by the defense minister Mr. A. K. Anthony to draft a bill. He says further that in a democracy the government moves the bill and Parliament enacts it.

Why then is Mr. Hazare hell bent on going on fast until death?

Our government certainly cannot figure out Mr. Hazare’s action. So let us look little more objectively and see if Mr. Hazare is not all that irrational.

In a normal democracy the government moves the bill and the parliament enacts it. But this is a very different situation. By any world standards we have a corrupt government and a Parliament heavily populated by corrupt politicians. I am not going to substantiate this statement because there is no need for it. Everyone knows it! There is no public confidence in our politicians when it comes to curbing corruption. So what we have here is one corrupt element drafting the semblance of an anti-corruption bill to be enacted by another corrupt element - all this in the name of "protecting the public".  It is much like the fox guarding the chicken.

Mr. Hazare seems to be uneasy about this whole process. To be honest I am uneasy about it as well and if you are reading it then ask the same question to yourself. If you also feel uneasy, then you can relate to what Mr. Hazare is feeling. 

The difference between most of us and Mr. Hazare is that he is willing to do something tangible about it like put his life on the line.

So what is unique about fasting till death? In our country, millions of poor are compelled to go through involuntary fasting for years and years without making any news.  They do not even realize that their fasting is a silent protest against the corruption within our government that victimizes them.  Neither do we?  Because if we did, we would be actively doing something about it.  We simply got used to it and have immunized ourselves against it. 

Virtually every day somebody announces to start a fast.  In one recent case a person who started the fast broke it within half an hour of the start as he was tempted by a glass of chilled orange juice. You guessed it right! – he was a politician. The politicians know that starting a fast, however concocted, is a news grabbing event.  They also surmise that how can it be a fast if it does not start fast and end fast? 

But Mr. Hazare is not a politician. So why is he doing it?

It could very well be that Mr. Hazare has rationally thought out the whole approach and is genuinely doing it to focus public attention on this most critical problem facing our nation. The stakes are high for him but the issue is compelling and any sacrifice is worth it. Look at the history of mankind. This is how revolutionary changes are made in a system incapable of curing itself. Yes, in a democracy the government introduces the bill and the Parliament enacts it. But on this issue they have no credibility whatsoever to do it themselves. We cannot empower the culprits to conduct their own trial and pass a judgement to suit their own fancy. Any Lokpal Bill worth its weight in salt has to have equal representation from the public outside the government and politicians.  In my article in this forum on Dec. 10, 2010 titled 
Are We Living in Self-Knowledge Amnesia - Part II,  I alluded to the need for such a participation to come up with any meaningful anti-corruption remedy.  It is high time to put the government under intense pressure to be accountable to the public.

Mr. Hazare is serving them a notice. 

Also, this could be the wake-up call we all needed.


More by :  Dr. Gopal Singh

Top | Analysis

Views: 3395      Comments: 8

Comment You have hit the nail on the head in describing the Plight of the Poor.

To me creation of space is synonymous to creation of opportunities to improve the quality of life. This can be done through peaceful means. However, there is no reasonable way to change the fate of the poor without wiping out (or significantly curtailing) the corruption in the government.

I just posted an article on Analysis of Corruption in India. I will suggest you look into it and give us your feedback.

The so called Middle Class (private empowered and marginally empowered segments of our society) have to get involved. They had stopped participating in the political process out of disgust and helplessness. Now there is a hope as demonstrated by the Satyagraha by Anna Hazare. The Begali intellectuals (and others throughout the country) will have to get involved just like Anna Hazare. If their cause is just, well thought out and articulated and the motives are self-less, the rest of Bengal and the entire country will support them.

26-Apr-2011 22:51 PM

Comment Most of the communities in India (such as Bengali), are succumbed in 'Culture of Poverty'(a theory introduced by an American anthropologist Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody is at all ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-administrative system, weak mother language, continuous absorption of common space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold. Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent, caring society, fearless & dignified living. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative behaviour (values) to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately co-parenting of those children those are born out of ignorance, real poverty. All of us are being driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom (from vicious cycle of 'poverty') in their own life/attitude, involve themselves in 'Production of Space’(Henri Lefebvre), at least initiate a movement by heart, decent & dedicated Politics will definitely come up.
- Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, 16/4, Girish Banerjee Lane, Howrah-711101, India.

26-Apr-2011 14:16 PM

Comment Dineshji,

Nicely said.

09-Apr-2011 07:32 AM

Comment Dear Dr. Gopal Singh & rdashby,

My comment & reply is late but not too late I suppose, hoping that this will still be read.

I had been discussing for last few years, about corruption and mis-governance and how individual's life is affected by it, with strangers, colleagues & friends, relatives etc - whenever I got a chance - in taxis, trains, flights, shopping places, work place etc.

With these (short) discussions over the years, I realized that in a democracy, even if people have clear opinion then many of the problems wouldn't exist, including corruption.

With this realization, now in such (short) discussions, I encourage/challenge the informal participant(s) to develop a clear opinion by correct concepts and facts.

Taking the present case – where, on the dais there were only 160 people fasting but thousands of people just supported - they came, expressed solidarity and went. Similarly, it happened via electronic media too, people sent mails, shared views on facebook, twitter etc.

As a result, we saw how the same corrupt politicians were on back foot.

It works, supporting in 'whatever ways possible' helps, it helped just now, we saw it (as Anna Hazare has broken fast after notification from Govt on formation of the committee).

So, this was to explain what I meant by 'whatever ways possible'.

But, I agree with Dr. Gopal Singh's and rdashby's comment.

Saying that the 'day has come', that this 'is the wake up call' and defining means to express support are important.
It was very effective when mass wore Gandhi topi having name 'Anna Hazare' and when they said "I am Anna Hazare" (although, they need not fast, they need not sit on dais, so it was in reach of general public to support in their own capacity)

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
09-Apr-2011 06:29 AM

Comment The point made in your last paragraph is well noted. I "could" have been more emphatic. Sometimes it is more effective to let the reader decide if it is a wakeup call for him/her. The term "could" was used in that context. I do appreciate your point for each one of us to be more specific on how to help Anna toward his cause.

My wife & I run a small (400 girls) charitable intermediate college for the underprivileged girls in a village in U.P. The news about what is happening in New Delhi does not make it to these villages that quick. Our students, staff and both of us held a candle light march in the village to support the Jan Lokpal Bill and the efforts of Mr. Anna Hazare. The villagers lined up on both sides of the road and cheered the procession. It was an uplifting experience.

Anna Hazare may not be as charismatic as Gandhiji. Neither was Martin Luther King. They don't need to be. They should be just what they are/were. They can be effective in their own rights. Anna has galvanized the nation on this issue. We should not underestimate the power of awareness with a focus and tangible goal. Only time will tell where this leads us to.

08-Apr-2011 01:36 AM

Comment Mr Bohre in his comment has put his finger on it in his support of Anna Hazare, albeit ambiguously, 'in whatever ways possible, we need to.' The previous commentator, yashaswini, like ambiguously, 'Let us all unite together for this noble cause-Fight against corruption.' Well, one could suggest that the practical method immediately availing is to join the fast.

Mr Hazare's action is obviously modeled on that of Gandhi in his fast to death to end the internecine violence in newly independent India. Great though his motive may be, Mr Hazare's status is not charismatic . Consequently, if a fast is the chosen method, it must be done on a scale that matches the effect of charisma, by thousands of individuals all over India who show their support by like action. This was indeed demonstrated by followers of Gandhi in passive resistance to British rule. Of course, in the vastness that is India today, this scale of unified civil resistence against its own government will never be achieved, unless galvanised by a charismatic leader, and no one is applying for the job, except, perhaps, poor Mr Hazare, for whom all support is restricted to the rhetorical.

The author is no exception: 'Also, this could be the wake-up call we all needed.' Could be is not a very convincing verbalism for change, certainly not one Gandhi ever employed.

07-Apr-2011 21:16 PM

Comment I think the day has come, for which many Indians were praying since past few decades !

We will support Anna Hazare in whatever ways possible, we need to.

Because we need to secure our future and save it from our corrupt & shameless politician-rulers, who would otherwise feel no shame even to sell soul of India !

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
07-Apr-2011 08:22 AM

Comment The article is commendable. I pray we will see a new India after this movement. Government is immune to whatever is good for the public. So, it is our right to demand a society which would be worth living. Rising cost of living, poverty, crime, India still remaining a "developing country" inspite of having the potential to be "developed" is all consequence of just one word-Corruption. Let us all unite together for this noble cause-Fight against corruption.

07-Apr-2011 05:43 AM

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