Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Mahatma Gandhi was not the commander of huge forces, yet he was a very powerful man. He was thin and lanky but yet he could make many a bigger man go weak on his knees. He had the most simple yet utterly powerful weapon: the inherent goodness in his opponent. When you take every blow he dishes out with a smile on your face, no man is cruel enough to go on. Eventually he will be forced to stop and change his ways. This was his ideology which created a bloodless revolution to free an entire nation. Using this powerful weapon, he fought many evils and conquered most of them. He managed to unite the Indians, eradicate untouchability and most importantly he forced the British to leave. The only thing he could not avoid was the partition of India and Pakistan.  Till date, he is the national and international symbol of free India!

Well, people know enough about Gandhi and I am not here to educate you about the Mahatma. But the question I am trying to find an answer to is: “What has happened to Gandhi?” The sad truth is that though we remember Gandhi (primarily in our currency and on his birthday), his principles and ideals have long been forgotten. If we analyze a step further, not many people today agree with his principles. You may be shocked to hear this but I can assure you that not many people today believe that non violence, non cooperation or “satygraha” can win battles for you. They would say that it will not work in this age and you will get crushed by people who have the money and power to do anything. I assure you, most of the people in Gandhi’s time would also have thought the exact same way. Try to believe my last statement for a second. Then you will realize the true greatness of the man who led by example and mobilized an entire country to do something they would have never dared to do!

As we celebrate another year of independence, we cannot ignore a striking similarity between the India today and the India before Independence. There is a Gandhian movement that has been gaining a huge momentum for about a year now. But this time we are faced a much bigger enemy than the British: “Corruption”. Yes. By now, you would know that I am talking of Anna Hazare. I am sure a year ago corruption was just an afterthought. We would have dismissed it as being so prevalent and common-place.

But when shameless corruption seeps down to the lowest rung from the highest quarter, such an eventuality was just waiting to happen. All it need was the right man to take up the fight. Anna Hazare’s movement comes at a time when the all-pervasive nature of global capital and every man’s greed of power have created an ambience of corruption all over the world, laying bare the skeleton of a decaying system. And most importantly, it is the same forgotten and disregarded principle of the Mahatma, reinvented by Anna Hazare that has again united thousands of Indians against corruption.

So what is Anna fighting for? He is pioneering the Jan Lokpal Bill, an anti-corruption bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists seeking the appointment of a completely transparent Jan Lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption cases and provide justice within 1 year. You can call it one kind of instant justice system (only seen till now in movies) where a corrupt person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint and his ill-gotten wealth would be confiscated. But most importantly, it seeks to create an autonomous all-powerful body that could prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without Government permission or intervention. Now all this and especially the last clause spels ominous signs to politicians.

Anna’s fast-unto-death made them yield some ground and a joint committee was formed to draft the bill. But that benevolence from the Government’s side did not last long. Differences arose, and both sides went ahead and drafted their versions of the Bill. The Government has introduced its side of the Bill in Parliament. And Anna planned to go on another fast-unto-death yesterday condemning the Government’s “Joke”-Pal Bill. The Government, clueless, confused and terrified, had him arrested and ironically put in the same jail as that of Suresh Kalmadi who is facing severe charges of corruption. No wonder the nation is at its boiling point!

The Government’s reactions to Hazare are no different than how British struggled to handle Gandhi. Today’s arrest of Anna is another victory to him and his followers in the battle against corruption. But unfortunately the similarities end there. Gandhi’s battle had a desirable and acceptable alternative to the British – a free country and an Indian rule. Anna’s fight doesn’t have that luxury. Sadly in today’s India, a fight against corruption is a fight against the Government. And we have an opposition which doesn’t even offer vocal support to Anna’s movement. They only use it as leverage against the ruling Government to score brownie points for the next election.

But still, that doesn’t undermine the success of Anna’s movement in any way. It has achieved 2 very important objectives. The people of the country are united against corruption and the Government is in utter panic. I strongly believe that this is a great start and that a time will come when manipulation of the masses will no longer be possible. I am sure we will soon see the demolition of the spectacle of corruption as part of a bigger political movement. And I am sure Anna will hang in there till then. And by doing so, he would have done something only one man has succeeded to do before!


  1. and to know what finally happened just 7 months after you posted this write-up :(

    1. I know. It was very interesting to see the path of the trajectory of my emotions and feelings towards the movement over its life course (I believe it has run its course now)! It was as random as the movement itself and I felt that half way through it lost its purpose, cause and focus and fizzed out eventually (and sadly!).


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