Another revolution came upon our country, the last time I missed most of it, this time I didnt. This one was flagged off on the 16th of August 2011 and ended on the 28th of August 2011 at 10 AM IST. This time Kisan Baburao Hazare went on an indefinite fast (re-labelled his fast unto death to avoid future court cases perhaps!) with the following demands:
- Table the Jan LokPal bill in Parliament in the monsoon session itself
- Bring the Prime Minister and the Judiciary under it’s ambit
- Also bring the conduct of MPs inside the Parliament under it’s purview
- Get the bill passed by 30th August 2011
- Clear Anna Hazare’s name from corruption charges levelled against him or file an FIR
On 27th August the Parliament in an unprecedented show of solidarity, government and opposition came together, debated and accepted the following demands:
- On publishing a Citizen’s charter in all govt departments
- On bringing the lower bureaucracy under the purview of the LokPal
- To establish LokAyukta’s in all states
The moot question that then comes in our heads is if the fast was worth the time and effort of the nation and most importantly risking the life of a 74 year old man? From taking maximalistic stances in the initial interactions with representatives from the government what happened that Baburaoji’s team settled for far too less in the end?
The media stood on the fence, like the BJP, in the buildup to the fast. From being on the fence to become voices for the movement the media did a complete volte face. Logic lost to chest thumping and populist sloganeering. Nobody dared asked questions to the contrary. Everything that the IAC members did was absolute truth if one had to believe the news channels. A simple and rather straight forward allegation that the IAC has accepted donation from the Ford Foundation became blasphemous in the sense that the media was attributed it to be an attempt to call the IAC member a foreign agent.
This despite the fact that none of the news channels found it safe to catapult their star anchors into the thick of the RamLila action, nor were their female anchors able to get into the crowd to get reactions. Nobody dared report that a big chunk of the crowd was under the influence of alcohol and rampant loss of purses and cellphones went unreported. Delhi police noticed the highest number of traffic violations by Anna crusaders on bikes. The policemen who were subjected to taunts and then physical roughing up raised a squeak, nobody wanted to pursue the cause of the forces. The media literally took over the roll of PR agency for Baburaoji’s fast and his team.
Arvind Kejriwal made fiery speeches, he’s the modern day Mark Anthony. Kiran Bedi made a joke of herself out of frustrations I’d suppose. Retd Justice Santhosh Hegde appears to have lost his patience with the negotiators that he started asking the fast to be called off towards the end. Swami Agnivesh appears to have been the trojan horse playing both sides in a way, he too gave up on the fast a couple of days before it ended. Arindham Chaudhri’s speech during the fast was puke inducing, sample this: "We live 60-70 yrs because we kill 200 million people before 40 yrs".
Vijay, an actor from South Indian blockbusters who hasn’t seen a hit in some time, showed up on stage and mouthed inane lines, one such was thus: "This movement has triggered soliditary (sic) nationwide". I guess he meant “solidarity”, his English teachers in Loyola would be cringing in their seats. It’s one thing to mouth half baked lines in the movies to cheering front benchers and another to attempt the same in front of a live audience. Om Puri took the award for the most useless line by mouthing: "Keep the liquor bottle in the pocket, put the 200 bucks in the pocket, take the blanket home and vote to whoever you want to.”
I’m sure someone in the government’s side would have exclaimed “yes !!!!” when Vilasrao Deshmukh went up on stage to give Baburao Hazare the charter written by the government and parliament agreeing to three of his pussy footed demands. The symbolism of the moment was chuckle inducing. Here was an erstwhile Chief Minister who had to give up his seat due to corruption allegations was on stage with the high priest of the fight against corruption acting as a courier between him and the Government.
Anyone when he/she has power will use it to further his/her own agenda. Let’s say one wants to learn yoga and joins the classes of a particular guru and guess what? At some point the guru or his ilk will try to use the following to further their own social or political agendas. The best example on display was how an organization that proclaims it’s basic purpose “is to inspire, to stoke, and to nurture this innate search in every being, helping them realize the ultimate potential within” brought volunteers on the streets (In Coimbatore) supporting the anti-corruption movement.
Right from knee jerk status messages on Facebook to a utopian dream of wiping out poverty by bringing back the black money stashes in tax havens, most if not all of the outrageous claims made by the cheer leading crowd on the internet went unchallenged. The media channels single minded myopic pursuit of the fast meant that a lot of issues with serious national / regional importance was lost in the cacophony of the reality show that was unfolding.
Kanimozhi’s counsel dragged the PM into the 2G scam asking the court to list him as a witness since it was alleged he knew about license allotments. Monsoonal rains and floods rendered hundreds homeless in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Tamil New Year was shifted back to 14th April by Jayalalithaa who also announced the 1000+ crore new assembly building will be converted into a government hospital on the lines of AIIMS. Vaiko attempted to rouse linguistic passion by says Tamilnadu would secede from the Union of India if the Rajiv killers were hanged. BS Yedyurrappa moved an application for bail in the Karnataka High Court. West Bengal was rechristened Poschim Bangla by Mamtadi. I guess this week all of this events should re-occur and replayed.
The Delhi Police exhibited extreme restraint to avoid any bad publicity and have come up with their head held high. From being blamed for short sighted Govt reactions and taking Baburaoji to Tihar to guarding the fast venue for 14 days without any untoward incident, they’ve come a long way. Kisan Baburao Hazare can live without food for much longer I suspect, but he and his ilk will wither if there are no cameras pointed at them, no questions posed to them. Their energy and strength is not the people as they proudly proclaim but the media and for good reason perhaps.
Everyone has a right to support a cause, to speak against a cause. Everyone needs to have a point of view, search for and gather facts. We all should stop being herded, by politicians, by anyone else. Practice what we preach and we’d have made a world of a difference to our town, city, state and country. This land is ours, let’s make it a better place for ourselves and the future. Jai hind !
Disclaimer : The views expressed in the article are the result of the utmost disgust this author felt when the nation was almost held to a ransom by a group purporting to be voices of the citizens. The author assumes no legal responsibility from anyone using it's content in part or in full and will not assume any liabilities for any consequences arising out of it's usage. This article is written in good faith to present a fairly balanced point of view to an issue which is of importance to the country today. This article has also tried to be fair and objective in putting forth the facts of the matter and scrupulously refrains from alluding motives to any particular social, political or religions group. The author does not intend to violate any law and would be glad to comply with existing regulations if any part of this article is offending or appears hateful.