Indian activist Anna Hazare seems to demand two things: one, Lokpal, a commissioner for investigating and prosecuting government officials allegedly involved in corruption; two, Parliament enact his anti-corruption bill.
The use of graft has been irritating Indians and hampering India’s economic progress for a long time. So, it is praiseworthy that Hazare and his supporters have started a campaign against the endemic corruption in India.
Having said this, one question is that are his protest-methods – such as fast, agitation, mass rallies – proper? Some think not, because there are other peaceful ways to get his viewpoints across and strengthen his position.
First, he could write a book about corruption and give it to all citizens who are genuinely interested in learning and doing something about the problem.
Second, if he does not have a time write the book, he could write a position paper explaining in depth how he plans to cure the problem.
Third, he could go to radio stations, television studios, and the offices of editors of newspapers and magazines to talk about his views.
Fourth, he could debate and discuss his bill with intelligentsia in public forum in as many cities in India as possible.
Finally, he could go and visit all MPs and present his arguments and convince them why they should make his bill into a law.
However, so far, Hazare and his followers have preferred to use their constitutional right to freedom of speech and right to assemble. But, with the rights come the responsibility. Following questions illustrate the point.
Yes, one has a freedom of speech, but is it responsible to yell FIRE in a dark crowded cinema hall while watching a movie? Is it responsible to assemble thousands of people whose personal safety could not be guaranteed? Is it responsible to ask thousands of people to march that could ignite violence or disrupt traffic? Is it responsible to fast knowing that if a fasting-leader dies the bloodshed could engulf the nation? Is it responsible to impose one’s choice on many in a democratic nation?