Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Fast & the Corrupt

Disclaimer: - The following are my views based on what I saw/read/observed during the past week and I am no expert in these matters.

Earlier this week, the entire country was in an excited state (at least thats what the media made us believe). Anna Hazare had written a letter to the Prime Minister informing him of his decision to go on a fast for a corruption free India. On getting no repsonse, he went on a fast which lasted till the demands on the Jan Lokpal bill had been met. What was amazing was the amount of support that he had been getting. Anna Hazare became the rallying point against corruption for one week. The question reamins, Now What?
The Indian public had been rightly fed up with the seemingly unending series of corruption scandals being reported. As someone rightly put - People wanted to do something, the Anna Hazare led Lokpal agitation seemed to be that something, so people jumped on to the cause. I can safely say most of his newly acquired supporters had neither heard of him or the Lokpal bill. But they came out in support immediately after the World Cup euphoria. Now my question here is, did the people who rallied behind this actually believe in the movement or they felt that something had to be done and this seemed like that "something"?
I might be sounding cynical, but I felt the support being shown was not for the cause but because it seemed the "cool" thing to do. Putting an "India Against Corruption" badge on your facebook display picture (which had the "Bleed Blue" badge till last week) became a sort of fashion statement over the past couple of days. And status messages/tweets saying "Anna Hazare is a rockstar" seem meaningless when most are not even aware of the cause he was fighting for. The social media seemed to have a belief that this fast was going to be the panacea of all problems when it was only a start.
Then there were people who tried to jump on the bandwagon. Some of the politicians with the worst cases of  corruption against them saying they support Anna Hazare. They were rightly turned away. The chief opposition party supporting the man only because it was a chance to score some brawny points over the government. There was a long list of film personalities coming in support. Lalit Modi tweeting support for the cause was comic to say the least. He was asking people to hold placards during the IPL matches. Wonder if he would have done the same if he had been the commissioner.
Then there was this disturbing trend on asking every personality to support the cause. A random article on a certain person would be filled with comments like why isn't he supporting this cause. An article on IPL had comments which stated - "none of the cricketers are supporting this, so lets boycott IPL". Seriously, this made no sense to me. You can't just force anybody to support you. This sort of jingoism probably defeats the very idea of satyagraha.
Now for the Battle against Corruption. Most of us not only indulge in but also actively encourage corrupt practices. Paying off the traffic police for minor violations rather than paying the full amount of fine. Submitting falsified HRA/Medical bills/Reimbursement claims to save on taxes. Applying for driving license/ passport through back door channels. Not taking the bill in lieu of a reduced price. These are just a few instances. Looking at all this somehow the battle against corruption starts sounding hypocritical. There was a nice tweet on this subject "Isn't it hypocritical that you sign an online petition supporting the fight against corruption using a pirated Windows OS?" Pretty much summed it up.
Now on a funny note. Indians abroad also planned to take out protest marches and candle light rallies. Given the recent events in Africa and Middle East, quite likely this might trigger the fall of some other government.

P.S. On re-reading, the above post has started sounding like me trying to do "something".


amar said...

a bit of cynicism is always a good read

Ashwin Atul said...
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