Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Anna Hazard Phenomenon


When the satyagraha was initiated for the passage of the Jan Lokpal, I, like thousands of youth across India and abroad, jumped the band-wagon. Back then, it was not the Jan Lokpal which caught one’s imagination, but the proposition of a corruption-free India. Although various protests have been held in the past for the same cause, it is when Anna Hazare decided to fast that the media covered the issue. And the man in the midst of it all, Hazare, a Ghandian with a track record of immense social work, rose to the pedestal in many people’s minds, for, he is the antithesis of Indian politicians.

From being a peaceful movement in support of a tougher Lokpal bill, it has become an electrifying one. And all those who ‘bled blue’ for the Indian cricket team are now supporting Anna’s cause. All well done. But the march against corruption and a tougher Lokpal is rapidly turning into one of craze where, ‘Anna is India, India is Anna.’ Any movement which thrives on turning one man into a demigod would spiral out in a thousand undetermined, dangerous ways. As many have commenced comparing Anna to Gandhi, it is all the more important to remember that the cause is what matters.

Indians, like other peoples around the world, are afflicted with the tendency to hero worship. What this does, with respect to the Lokpal, is muffling all other groups which also propose alternatives and have long fought for the same. Aruna Roy is the most famous of them, whose suggestions are not being heard. Anna’s Jan Lokpal is not the only version.

This movement has brought people together, for a revered reason. It should not be allowed to dwindle into merely supporting Anna. The man is not sacrosanct. He is a peaceful fighter. As much as one should support him, one must always remember the hazards involved in over-doing anything and use their own discretion. We are not an uneducated, follow the leader blindly, bunch of people anymore. History teaches us that any movement, including the Indian Independence one, which involved following the word of one man, has left the common man in shambles. And we still have many scars on us.

Whether the Lokpal is passed according to Anna Hazare’s decree, or if the authoritarian Government manages to draw him into another discussion spree is yet to come. As a being with a free-thinking mind, one should retain the vigor gained from this movement, and further work towards eradicating corruption. There are various other ways to this end, one only has to open one’s mind and listen to all the dissenting voices. Don’t let anyone’s diktat determine your decision. The final verdict is yours.

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