Why I’m slightly disappointed with Anna Hazare

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: Just two short weeks ago I, or for that matter most Indians, hardly knew that a man called Anna Hazare, a former soldier turned social activist, existed in our country.

Unlike most serving soldiers who achieve fame on the battlefield only after fighting hard battles, he became a hero, off the field, long after his service, without firing a single shot.

On the fifth of this month, when he launched his ‘fast-onto-death’ to press for the passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill that would enable every ordinary Indian citizen to hold the high and mighty rulers of the land accountable for any misdeeds, hardly anyone believed that his movement would cause any tremors in the echelons and corridors of power. But contrary to my own misgivings, I saw a mass uprising, the kind of which we have perhaps never seen in independent India for any cause, making the man seem like India’s modern-day mahatma.

The impetus this time, seemed to have come from the success people saw of revolting groups braving the bullets and bombs of despotic dictators in the Middle East, a region which is undoubtedly the most notorious example of repression of citizens’ voices and rights.

No town or city across the length and breadth of the country was left out, with every one of them seeing groups of people meeting or marching in support of Anna’s call.

Although most Indians had for decades given up any hope of successfully weeding out the monster of corruption that has been stifling the breath of our country, this time they seemed all set to pound their plowshares into swords in a dramatic reversal of the proverbial act.

The government at the Centre too seemed a little shaken if not completely jolted by the tremors sweeping across the country. But just when we thought that we had made a breakthrough in its resistance, came disappointment.

Our hero who seemed to be pressing for nothing short of complete transparency and accountability in administration at all levels, made a sudden volte-face by announcing his list of ‘exemptees’ that included the President, Governors of States and high ranking judges among a few others.

He also said that since the Parliament, which had stalled and rejected the Bill five times in the past, was supreme and therefore he would accept its rejection this time too if it chose to do so.

Now, my question is why should we leave out some posts untouched by our attempts to wipe out an evil?

Does an evil become an acceptable virtue when it is committed by a creamy layer of high-ranking public functionaries? What if they happen to be holding our highest offices? As human beings, they are not necessarily infallible and they too can do wrong as we have been seeing from time to time.

It is a well-known fact that quite a few of our Governors have demitted office in disgrace while two of our high-ranking judges are right now facing impeachment for acts of commission and omission. And the whole purpose of triggering off the mass movement that we all saw and supported was to pressurise the Parliament to pass a useful and workable Bill that would serve its intended purpose in full measure.

Now the net result of this softening of stand by Anna Hazare is that the mass movement that we all saw for a brief while as the final solution to our most disgraceful and shameful problem, seems to have lost all its fervour and momentum. It is perhaps because people have rightly begun to feel that having a much watered down and diluted Lokpal Bill is as good as a no Bill at all and is therefore not worth supporting anymore.

I am sure that the Bill that will eventually go through our Parliament after much hounding and pounding will only be of cosmetic value. In its utility, it will be no different from the many paper tigers in our long list of laws and penalties and will remain useless while the real man-eaters who continue to rule the roost, will remain untouched long after Anna Hazare and we who have stood by him are all gone.

(K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician who writes a weekly column in Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared)

Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

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9 Responses to “Why I’m slightly disappointed with Anna Hazare”

  1. mounaprasad Says:

    >>Unlike most serving soldiers who achieve fame on the battlefield only after fighting hard battles, he became a hero, off the field, long after his service, without firing a single shot.>>

    Javeed Mian,

    He was a truck driver in the army. What shots do you think he would have fired while in the army?

  2. VTVenkataram Says:

    With due respects to Anna Hazare, we should confess that he is no match to seasoned politicians like Pranab Mukerjee or Kapil Sibal ( of 2G Loss and profit fame).The ruling party has succeeded in putting an end to the fast, and the bill will never materialize.
    Secondly, to be honest, they was no mass uprising throught the length and breadth of India, except a media hype about the fasting.
    Knowing the truth, i am not disappointed at all !!!!

  3. Curry Hurry Says:

    Willingly or Unwittingly Hazare played right into the hands of Tyag Maata’s games.

  4. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    Whenever anyone dares to express any misgiving about the Lok Pal agenda, the Civil Society members accuse him of being Uncivil and pro-corruption. This is not how you can fight corruption.

    These people are behaving in such arrogant manner that they have started putting everyone off. Instead of helping Indians battle the scourge of corruption, the Civil Society movement have created too much confusion.

    Suddenly the focus of the debate has shifted away from the corruption in the political system to all kinds of salacious CDs and documents.

    India will certainly survive its politicians, but will it survive its arrogant Civil Society? Suddenly I am not so sure.

    The Civil Society members should understand that they don’t have the monopoly or the copyright on the usage of the world Civil. It is possible for someone to disagree with them and yet be worthy enough of being called Civil.

  5. Hope-For-The Best Says:

    Javeed Nayeem li, I whole-heartedlysupport Anna’s cause and also appreciate your point of view that alongside the Lok Pal Bill, the country needs a wider anti-corruption movement. This because this menace is so wide-spread and so pervasive that not one Lok Pal campaign but campaigns on several fronts will have to be undertaken to significantly impact the situation.The leaders of the movement are not that naive and they have said time and again that this is just the beginning of a very very long process.
    As you may have understood from last few days’ events,there is no fear at all of a diluted bill and that it’s going to be a very strong bill, though as i said before many other changes and reforms in our system will be needed before we can strike a major blow on corruption.

  6. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    Dada Hazare now says he will accept the verdict of a corrupt Parliament , whatever it is, because he is a respecter of democracy. We would be foolish to vest too much hope in his ability to turn things around. Assange is our best hope.

  7. dr ramesh Says:

    media has done great injustice to the nation by equating hazare with mahatma gandhi. this so called crusade against corruption by hazare has clear bjp-rss undertone. he openly endorsed modi ,nitish kumar but conviniently forgot bjp-rss corruption. beer guzzling,belly shaking page 3 celebrities dont constitute a people’s movement.

  8. mounaprasad Says:

    >>this so called crusade against corruption by hazare has clear bjp-rss undertone. he openly endorsed modi ,nitish kumar but conviniently forgot bjp-rss corruption>>

    Dr. Rameshappa,

    You have again proved that you are totally clueless when it comes to understanding this whole drama enacted by the rajmata and retard.

    If anything it has cut the BJP and Ramdev into size and stolen the thunder from Ramdev’s agitation against corruption. See how Anna did not include any opposition members in the drafting committee. Ruling party crooks constitute half of the committee and the other half is made up of “civil society” activists of dubious and questionable backgrounds. Wake up sir and smell the fresh coffee.

  9. kukkumol Says:

    A word for the government too. Just what exactly are you thinking when you are trying to shove an impotent law down people’s throats? And what makes you feel that threatening, crushing or insulting Anna will take away people’s need to rid India of corruption? Anna did not create an anti-corruption sentiment, he merely tapped into it. Crushing Anna will not take away that sentiment. It will just make it fester more. Right now, the movement is still controlled. By going back on your word, displaying arrogance and not listening to the people, you are risking the country’s descent into chaos. Be careful. Accountability is much easier to deal with than anarchy. Fix the Lokpal Bill now, please.

    Finally, for the people of India, it is time to prove Uncle Cynic wrong. There is a bigger truth than his ‘nothing ever changes in India’. That truth comes from the Gita, which states “Nothing is permanent”. The Gita also says, “When the pot of sin overflows, something happens to restore order.” Now, it is up to you to determine if the pot of sin has overflowed. It is for you to say what it means for Indians to act out their dharma. And you, and only you, will decide if it is time to come on the streets.

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