Posts Tagged ‘Anna Hazare’

Anna Hazare and the “Deathly Hallows”

August 29, 2011
Anna Hazare - The New Saint of India and the awakened Indian Middle Class

Anna Hazare - The New Saint of India and the awakened Indian Middle Class

History was made today. The great Indian democracy had another shining mantelpiece up its wall of fame of self-professed greatness. Anna Hazare and his thousands/millions/billion supporters (real number is unknown so choose your favorite approximation) made the JanLokPal bill a distinct possibility. Raise your glasses to a corruption free India folks- we did it.

As thousands gathered at India Gate to celebrate the historic turn of events in their stonewashed/gunshot denims, holding the tricolor in their manicured hands and getting a tricolor tattoo on their moisturized cheeks and shouting slogans hailing the victory, Mahender a 26 year old was busy logging the hours of the 100 odd laborers who toiled in muddy fields of the construction zone of super luxury apartments just a few tens of miles away from the great Indian Democracy’s victory orgy.

Earning 5500 rupees ($130) a month with zero holidays, zero benefits, zero raises and 12 hours of duty and a verbal employment contract, his job is to log the hours of laborers who earn 4300 rupees ($100) a month for 8 hours’ daily job (rupees 3500 for women = the lowest minimum wage, BTW) with zero holidays, zero raises and zero benefits and of course the ubiquitous verbal contract, Mahender has to support his family back in some god forsaken district of Eastern Uttar Pradesh.

I asked him, what does he reckon of Anna’s movement and more importantly his own future and he stared at me as if I asked him about his opinion on string theory and if the LHC experiment in the Alps would create a micro black hole. “I don’t know, but I think it will be good in the long run”. Here is a citizen of the greatest democracy of the world unsure about it’s second freedom movement and his own future. May be he is not important at all and his opinion should not serve as a dampener in the newfound atmosphere of celebration.

But then, I tend to be dumb and pause and think a little. The JanLokPal and government’s version of LokPal is silent on corporate corruption and now it is clear that the judiciary is also given its much-needed long rope. That should be a good news if you were a CEO looking to mine Bauxites or build an expressway- too bad Steve Jobs quit a day before this wonderful 2nd windfall, err…. independence day!

Indian middle class and upper class and the elite lives in a comfortable denial cocoon of what we subject our “lowly” unskilled, untalented, uneducated citizens to. Mahender and millions of laborers work with zeros (holidays, benefits, raises and even employment contract) each day to make the expressways on which our cars can use cruise control, malls where we can shop till we drop, plush marbled floor apartments with video door phones etc etc. This is the lowest denomination of corporate corruption- direct exploitation of humans (if they are regarded as one in the first place).

Then we have the unquestionable judiciary that always seems to be in congruence with the corporate urge of “development” and routinely finds it absolutely convenient to displace millions with the tiny flick of their mighty pen. In fact India has the world’s largest internally displaced population, that India leads the tally of industrial deaths in the world, that India leads the world tally of unresolved court cases (about 15 million) should speak for its undisputed champion status of corporate malpractices and judicial callousness.

And surprise-surprise, the LokPal bill of any flavor has left these two guys alone. They can’t be bad guys, right? This is the highest common factor of Indian corruption story, while the corporates are free to exploit the human capital, the judiciary is free (as it should be in a democracy) to be acquiescent about creating a Petri-dish where Mahenders can be trans-mutated into indoor heated swimming pools, tolled expressways, large dams, iron mines etc.

What are we celebrating for? For Anna Hazare has finally awakened the nation? Which nation? The nation that holds mombattis as if to taunt the millions of villages’ un-electrified status? The nation that celebrates one homegrown saint’s eating habits where 60% citizens of the same nation eat as much as Africa’s poorest countries?

Are we celebrating that we short circuited the democratic process of creating a bill, just as we like to short circuit the law’s course when caught for a traffic violation and blatantly offer bribes to traffic constables to do an on the spot settlement- you know a fast track justice, something our judiciary loves too – the fast track courts? Look we made great progress, now we have a fast track bill!

The Prime Minister of the world’s greatest democracy says he has no magic wand to cure corruption- may be he is reading Harry Potter a little too much – would explain his invisibility splendidly for he may have been wearing the cloak of invisibility after all!

Everyone, including the PM, agrees that the “whatever” LokPal (prefix, Jan or Dalit or whatever dish you like) bill be, if it does not cure corruption completely- would at the very least halt the juggernaut.

Now, if you are a Harry Potter fan you would know what does not die completely leaves Horcruxes (images of self, protected by black magic) which are extremely hard to find and even harder to destroy. We stand to leave the Corporate Corruption and the Judicial mess as two horcruxes that would forever crush Mahenders and millions others.

I don’t know should I also go to India Gate with a mombatti or should I start looking for the magic wand that the PM has lost, for the Deathly Hallows of corruption are still upon us. The Lord Voldemort, aka great Indian democracy’s corruption will be back.

You are hereby warned!


The “Fast”-ing Track Miracle Cure of Corruption

June 6, 2011

Indian mass is rising. The country is growing impatient towards corruption. The mood is getting increasingly upbeat. We, as a citizen of world’s biggest democracy, do not want corruption. Better, we do not want to tolerate corruption anymore! We will fight all the corrupt with our mass resistance and we will defeat them. That would be the pinnacle of the Indian awakening, the shiniest platitude for the country’s civil society. Anna Hazare’s potent start and Baba Ramdev’s selfless stir would take us there. We are just a stone throw away from the golden era! Let us all make it happen!

The above thoughts make everyone who loves this country feel energized- feel happy- feel optimistic. The government machinery seems to be yielding to the pressure. The light at the end of the tunnel seems seductively near!

So, should I expect the billions of dollars of black money to come back and fuel the economy? So, every village will have roads, every child will have education? No more dead mothers on the labor rooms? Jobs for all? A responsive government working as a vigilante superhero?

I don’t think so.

Not because Anna and Ramdev are corrupt or have their ulterior motives of power, political aspirations etc. Not because the government and the politico are hell bent to cling on to the last drops of power and money through the use of every tricks ranging from cheat and deceit to force.

In my opinion, it will just not happen because the method chosen is gravely wrong.

We grew up reading stories of good vs bad as children. We aged over watching Bollywood flicks of good over bad. Naturally, mentally we indulge in this good over bad role-play at all times. I am sure you are on the good side, just as I am, just as anyone else is.

But I am a corrupt guy. Well educated, well mannered, well to do, well established- but corrupt for sure! I have routinely fudged my small bills here and there just to save some bits and scraps of income tax. I buy stuff from shops and never insist on receipts- ensuring the shopkeeper can indulge into the same tax invasion. I have paid bribes in hundreds of places- a corrupt selfish act. So, am I corrupt? Hell yes! With more money at my disposal, I probably would get more corrupt.

How about you? Can you stake your reputation on the fact that if someone dug up your life, you will come perfectly clean? And here we are- you and I hoping that keeping a few days’ fast would eradicate the malice?

I said that this method is wrong, that the method of eradicating corruption is far tougher than what we perceive. By supporting Ramdev or Anna is like fast-food- it quenches the hunger but does not make us healthy. It makes hardly an appreciable difference. Why? Because till the time you queue up to vote and vote the guy just on the merits of your religion or caste all you are buying into is nepotism and hope of a favor from your own kind- a recipe for corruption. And then you make the redoubling mistake of backing a non-representative group to correct a representative group. It’s like hiring your driver to chasten your father!

Till the time we hope that the “other-than-state-actors” that we are backing are selfless and expect an undemocratic movement can autocorrect and bring about a golden tomorrow, our hopes are as meritorious as finding men on Mars tomorrow.

Bottomline, there is no reason to be disgusted of our politico as they are our reflections. They are corrupt because you and I are corrupt. They do not want to change because we do not want to change. And because we do not want to change, we want a magical solution that Baba Ramdev will get us there- without us making an effort. So, lets support this movement because “at-least-it-will-achieve-something-good”. Ironic is the case that we are fasting to make a point, as if the million odd deaths in this country for lack of food each year were not good enough to make a point.

Thanks to our ways, we love escapism and any promise of it. If there was a pill that could eradicate corruption, I believe we would totally take it. Baba Ramdev is surely a hope. For he can cure all kinds of cancer through Yoga…for he can make your hairs grow prescribing you just to rub your nails…for he can turn gays to straight by Yoga. He is my favorite for inventing that “anti-corruption pill”. But even if he invented that pill, it would still not work.


Because we can’t eat!

We are on a “fast-unto-death” deal- remember?

The remedy is there, we can’t take it. What a shame!

-Manasij Ganguli

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