Modern India and the Anna Hazare movement

Posted: August 22, 2011 in Uncategorized
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There are some very interesting aspects of the Anna Hazare movement, in the context of modern India. I add to the tons of material on the subject, with my 2 cents of thought, as below:

1. Modern India is shining:

A party may have lost an election on the India Shining tag line, but we cannot deny the fact that India’s doing well, economically, and the general standard of living has gone up, across the board. People have work, people are busy, people are making money.

So how does that impact this movement?

Well, ordinarily if you are doing good, you have less reasons to complain.

And yet, we have HUGE mobilization of people, from across all sections of society. Reason is that the economic growth has happened IN SPITE of this corrupt government, and not because of it. And as one more mega scam gets exposed after another, there is a sense of detest amongst the people. That with all things going well for us, why is there this pain point in life? And due to which reason, people are protesting.

But at the same time, it is this prosperity that makes the few “intellectuals” give their deep analysis and keep finding the little loop hole here and there. If India was not shining and life was tougher, even these so-called nay sayers would have joined hands in the protest. But sitting pretty, they can afford to do their analysis paralysis!

2. Modern India has Social Media:

Again, this has had dual impact.

The huge mobilization has happened with help of mainstream media, but also because of social media. In fact, mainstream media almost “had” to fall in line. The tendency of our media brands, and especially the English television kind, is to look down upon anything that is even remotely looking like right-wing. This was not. But still the tendency of the media was to keep pointing the “other” side of the story. When they sensed the groundswell, on ground as well as on Social Media, the media vehicles had to fall in line with the popular point of view.

On the other hand, Social Media also makes it easy for the “experts” sitting at home, in front of a PC (or whatever device) to pick the holes. And put out blogs and Facebook updates and what not. NONE of them has given ANY practical solution that I have read so far, but all claim to find issues in the present movement. Luckily, this one time, the groundswell opinion has drowned out the voices of these naysayers, and the movement continues to generate momentum.

3. Modern India is Young:

Not just in this movement, but in society in general, I find people on the other side of 40, being resigned to India’s “fate”, as it may be. I am also on that other side of 40, and there have been times (though rare – I try to find positive things in life, in general) when I have also felt a similar resignation of sorts. But these people I talk about, usually think in terms of ‘politicians will always be like this’, ‘corruption is the way of life’, and stuff of that kind.

These are also the people who felt many years back that we’ll just have to wait 5 years to get a car allotted, or phones will die in monsoons, or that we’ll always have to go with a begging bowl to the IMF.

Well, some things have changed. And others MIGHT. Who knows?

The modern India is young. It has not seen the license raj, except in a film like Guru. For them, it is a piece of fiction. And they are the Jaago Re generation. They don’t take shit. They want things their way. So while the smaller problems they deal with themselves, and get change to happen, when it comes to larger issues like nationwide corruption, they did not know how to bring about change. But in an old man Hazare, they have found a connect. Which is where you see the mass following from the youth, from college students, even from school students. They want the country of their dreams, and this man offers them a hope to get there. And they are willing to follow (Few days back, a lady was sharing the story – someone asked her teenage daughter who her ‘ideal’ was, and instead of the likes of Dhoni or Aamir Khan or an Anand Mahindra, she chose her grandfather; the youth today respect a person, irrespective of age!).

4. Modern India THINKS: 

This is not to say that we did not have thinkers earlier. But in a less connected, less literate, far more rural India of yore, personalities were bigger. The aura of Mrs. G worked just because it was Mrs. G.

Today every Indian has an opinion of his own. Equipped with knowledge and enabled with technology, opinions are shared and can convert to mass thoughts. Personalities will be rejected if they are not convincing in their thoughts. The reputation of journalists is as good as the stand he / she takes, and how well it resonates with the people’s opinions. A Barkha Dutt was soundly rejected when she made her plea in the Radia tapes case. In spite of her reputation. Same goes with a Rajdeep or an Arnab or a Shobha De.

Which also means that there are hundreds of views on a movement of this nature. Whether the approach is right, whether he should blackmail the government, whether the new proposal of the Lokpal bill are adequate, whether there are better ways to making the impact, etc.

The fact is that the issue is not trivial. If you ask for solutions to get World Peace, you think it will be a one-liner that everyone agrees upon? The current problem is not much different in complexity. And which is why, there will be many opinions, on parts or all of the solutions proposed. Also whatever Anna Hazare and his team have proposed is not perfect nor is it a panacea.

So IN SPITE of these holes being found in the proposals, IN SPITE of people not agreeing on everything, the movement has taken shape and has gained momentum. Because he is at least DOING something. And the thinking modern India agrees that while it is not perfect, it is a move in the right direction. It will hopefully stop the southward movement of governing value system, and will give a hope for a bigger change to emerge in time to come. Also as they say in Indian mythology, the current government pot of sins has grossly overflown, and people DEMAND a stop to this.

That is the view of modern India, and which is why it has wholeheartedly supported the movement. In spite of a few differing points of view. Also of course, due to the fact that Anna’s team has been very conscious of getting it right. They have made sure that there is no connection to parties, the people in the forefront are pretty ‘clean’ and in spite of Manish Tewari’s histrionics, there is little to find obvious and apparent fault with. Unlike say, in case of the Baba Ramdev attempt.

We could be witnessing history in the making. The turnaround of the nation. With everything else going for it, as a country, we are also resisting the corruption bugbear! Wow.. I am so excited. If we win this, can ANYTHING stop us as a country, then??

What do you think? I, for one, am in support of Anna Hazare. Salute the man, salute the movement.

  1. Meena R Nair says:

    I echo your sentiments Sanjay. I am for change and I am very excited about what is happening around me.

  2. Raghu Prasad says:

    Short, but excellent analysis of the mood of the nation.

  3. Samudra says:

    I salute the man. But not the movement.

    I respect Anna for what he has achieved. He has taken this fight to a new height. But the problem is that I believe he is climbing the wrong ladder. I am genuinely concerned that the Lokpal Bill (ANY version) is the wrong way to go ahead to tackle the corruption problem.

    I believe systemic problems cannot be solved by adding another, alternate system. They have to be solved by overhauling and changing the current system. e.g. take a car manufacturer manufacturing shitty cars. To improve quality, do you think adding another layer of “Quality Inspectors” will work? Or do you think they need to improve their machinery, design, train their workers better, or in short “overhaul their systems”?

    And there ARE systemic changes or REFORMS being made by the Govt. UIDAI is one, current efforts to overhaul the PDS system is another. Various reforms and measures to bring about financial inclusion, using technology, are rooting out corruption at various levels. Think railway reservations 15 years ago (= paying touts), and IRCTC now. Think getting a phone connection 25 years ago, vs. now.

    I believe the solution lies in pressuring the Govt (or incentivizing it, depending upon how you look) to speed up reforms. Electoral reforms, economic reforms, governance reforms, ALL REFORMS.

    The problem I have with the current movement is that just because he is taking a popular step, and has the support of lakhs of people, DOES NOT make it the right step for the future generations of Indians. Anna might not be alive to see the day the Lokpal becomes an alternate and corrupt power-centre, but we, or our children or grandchildren might. (anyone remember “reservations”? they were done with good intentions too. But they have become a political tool now.)

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    • Sanjay Mehta says:

      Lokpal bill is not a panacea. But reforms have not arrested corruption and it has gone from bad to worse. Its become a virus in the country and is spreading like wildfire. It is the one thing that can lay this country down, when everything else is going great guns, otherwise.

      I think special circumstances deserve special solutions, and hence i support this movement. We cannot rest with it, we need to continue and do more.

      Also I respect action. We have too many of us who sit in our living rooms or over coffee or over a drink, and theorize on what better ideas are there, and what can be done. But nothing else.

      When a man takes it on to himself, converts it to a movement, then there is respect. And I support since I agree with it..

      – Sanjay

  4. Satish Lamba says:

    Even without the Lokpal Bill, the laws in the country do offer methods to find out and punish the quilty. Higher the official, the more difficult it is to bring him to justice.
    The real issue is the next step after the prima facie guilt has been identified. The interference from the politicians does not allow anyone to be prosecuted. The prosecution system is bribed and they weaken the case to such a level that no prosecution is possible even to the lowest official.

    Our system is based on the West Minister Model which is working quite efficiently in Britain. Once guilt is found out, no politician can protect the guilty

    Jan lok pal is attacking this very premise which politicians of all colours do not want to happen. Even if BJP were in power today the situation would not have been much different.

    We all hope that the momentum leads us to a system which can punish the guilty.

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