The Founder Trustee of Nandini Voice For The Deprived
While the media gives an impression that there is huge public support for Anna Hazare’s fast and his methods of coercing the government to accede to his demand, the fact is that large section of the country men remain only as curious spectators. While the media shows photographs of thick crowd protesting and fasting in support of Anna Hazare, the fact is that in most places on most of the days during his fast , hardly a few thousands in Delhi and in several other places like Chennai only a few hundred persons were present. This gives an impression as to whether the image of massive support for Anna Hazare’s movement is a media creation.
This is not to belittle the need and importance of Anna Hazare’s anti corruption crusade. Thousands of Indians feel that this crusade is absolutely necessary and timely and hail Anna Hazare for his initiative. At the same time, one cannot be sure as to whether thousands of Indians who support Anna Hazare’s anti corruption stance would approve in equal measure his coercive utterances such as asking his followers to gherao Prime Minister, MPs and MLAs .
Many people think that Anna Hazare asking his followers to gherao the Prime Minister MPs and MLAs sound like the call of violent revolutionary. Even the pledged admirer of Anna Hazare now finds it difficult to agree that Anna Hazare’s methods are Gandhian in spirit.
There is big difference between the approach of Anna Hazare to the present corruption issue and the approach adopted by Mahatma Gandhi in the pre independent days. Mahatma Gandhi while asking the British to quit never adopted such methods that would create hatred. Even while asking the British to quit , Mahatma Gandhi was involving himself in movements to reform Indians by fighting against untouchability, liquor habit , casteism etc. In contrast, Anna Hazare while leading the movement against corruption has not thought it necessary to ask his followers to take a pledge in the name of Bharat Mata that they would not take or give even one rupee of bribe in their life time. Under the circumstances, it is incorrect to compare Gandhian movement and approach to that of Anna Hazare.
While Anna Hazare has certainly brought the corruption issue into the fore and the nation should be grateful to him for this, the question is whether corruption will now be eradicated in India once and for all, even if the Lokpal Bill advocated by Anna Hazare were to be implemented. This looks unlikely and his present agitation may end up as ripple in the ocean.
What Anna Hazare needs to do is to fight corruption in the minds and hearts of Indians and create a revulsion against the corrupt persons and dishonest dealings in the minds of the average Indian.
The fact is that while selected educated and middle class people are vociferously supporting Anna Hazare , millions of Indians belonging to lower income group (who constitute 35% of Indian population of around 1200 million) have not been brought into the picture since the movement has been made to look like an urban phenomenon. One gets an impression that the poor and rural population may not even be aware of this crusade. Amongst the Anna Hazare’s anti corruption gatherings, poor people are seen only as vendors of sweets and ice creams or Gandhi caps and national flags. They remain as curious spectators in the gathering.
On the other hand, the people most affected by corruption in India are the poor people who are vulnerable and there is no occasion when they have been brought into the forefront and given an opportunity to express their feelings at the state of affairs during Anna Hazare’s fast.
Immediately after the suspension of the fast , Anna Hazare should introspect about these eleven days of agitation and assess the extent of work ahead. Unfortunately, he has given an impression that he is represented and influenced by four or five persons handpicked by him in an arbitrary manner for this important crusade but such strength is not adequate for the tasks ahead.