Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why Anna Hazare's movement must not lose momentum

 Why Anna's movement must not lose it's momentum

Writer: Vinita Deshmukh
Supporters throng Pune Airport after his return from his successful fast in Delhi
 Appeared in MoneyLife

Only a few months back, Anna Hazare who woke up the entire nation and commanded unprecedented and historic public support on streets, stated in a public consultation meeting of the Area Sabha bill in Pune (organized by Arvind Kejriwal), where I was a participant too -`` Wherever I go people say, Anna Hazare aage badho, hum tumhare saath hei. Lekin mei jab piche dekhta hu, toh koyi nahi hei (Anna Hazare please lead ahead, we all are with you. But when I look behind, there is no one there). Visible citizen power is the only answer to good governance and eradication of corruption.’’

 We smiled and shook our heads in sadness and I for one wondered if a person of Anna’s stature has such a tough time to garner public support, what am I cribbing about poor response whenever I have steered public campaigns for local issues like saving hills or protesting against a disastrously planned metro for the city?

Almost like a miraculous and Bollywood movie like ending, last fortnight saw an incredible backing for the same Anna (who has been single-handedly and silently fighting corruption in Maharashtra by taking on political bigwigs since the last four decades), that crossed all barriers of caste, creed, religion, social status, age and region. From North to South and East to West, educated people who are chronically indifferent also came out on streets to back Anna against his fast unto death at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. At last they had found in Anna a personification of honesty, humility, genuineness and the spirit of sacrifice – all qualities that appealed to them, thanks to the image of Mahatma Gandhi which is innately and deeply entrenched in each one of us.

Undoubtedly, it is the turning point in the history of Independent India, wherein the sea of humanity has sent a strong message to the corrupt powers-that-be that `we, the people will not tolerate corruption anymore and if it is the Jan Lokpal bill that will give us justice and send the guilty behind bars, then we want it, badly and immediately! Very clear, that people are losing their patience and will not take it lying down anymore, as they did before.

In a historic move, the government had to bend to people’s cry and agreed to a joint committee of government representative as well as members of the civil society. Very obviously, the final Lokpal Bill will be a result of a series of discussions amongst members from both sides and it is not as if Janpal Bill (drafted by the civil society ) will be blindly accepted nor will the weak Lokpal bill drafted by the government be pushed through as it is. Hence, it is so distressing that several activists and eminent citizens are actually deriding Anna Hazare’s movement and feat, in the garb of contents of the bill drafted by the civil society, by citing ``unconstitutional’’ nature of the fast-unto-death or through frivolous criticism against Anna. Ironically, each one of the critics has been passionate about condemning corruption and even has been relentlessly working towards that cause with a missionary zeal. Now that people have been awakened and are willing to participate in good governance and eradication of corruption to the extent of coming out on streets (visibility of this force is very important to politicians as they only care for the vote bank) it is time to react with maturity and magnanimity for the larger good.

They say, indifferent citizenry is extremely dangerous for a democracy and we have been living in this danger zone, not for just a year or two but for decades together. Some of us have been taking up issues, invoking the RTI Act, seeking legal intervention, holding rallies – but they have been just tiny oasis in the vast expanse of corruption and indifference and audaciously disregarded by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats as crusades of ``just a handful’’ to be ignored and made mockery of.

Now that we have achieved a breakthrough in turning citizen indifference into citizen participation, we should stand united. Otherwise, it will be the triumph of the evil once again. Do we want that?

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