Thursday, September 01, 2011

Anna Hazare, Please leave Gandhiji alone!

In the past so many months, watching English news channels was an absolute pain. Team Anna, Civil Society, second Independence Movement were terms traded freely to describe what i think was a movement which projected a noble cause but was executed in a manner which lacked dignity, sense of propriety and aimed at feeding the insatiable appetite of the media for sensationalism. A former IPS officer does mimicry! Reminiscent of the merry jig of Sushma Swaraj! The end might be noble, but the means? Farcical. Totally devoid of dignity. The protestors seemed to be having fun! Basking in the media limelight. More and more joining daily to join the media whipped up frenzy, hoping to be caught by the roving channel cameras.

I would not have thought my feelings worth a blogpost had not the whole drama been staged against the back drop of the Mahatma. Anna Hazare was hailed as a modern day Gandhi, but he was behaving like a headless chicken.

What did Anna want? The Parliament to pass HIS version of Lok Pal Bill! Who is he? As erudite as Gandhiji to understand the implication of an ombudsman with autonomous powers? Who’s to man this Lokpal with such unlimited powers? People like those who constitute Team Anna who are eternally playing to the galleries? God deliver us from such well meaning (?) souls who get carried away when the media camera is on them and behave in a manner that makes us hang our heads in shame.

Hysteria, celebrations, jigs and mimicry – that’s not what we want. These trivialise the cause. Politics is serious business. Let not people who have no respect for parliamentary democracy make public statements dismissing all elected representatives as scoundrels. Bad apples are there – in plenty. But dangerous to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Let’s not forget that, with all its shortcoming the Indian democracy has delivered. Let no one think it a worthy cause to put a spoke into its functioning.

Having said this, I’d like to turn to what’s laudable about Anna Hazare’s movement. It gave centrality to the greatest problem facing the country – corruption. Between this movement and Subramaniam Swami, corruption as an issue has surfaced and is looming large enough to haunt politicians. With a few political heavyweights in Tihar jail, and more probably to follow, our netas and their hangers -on might think several times before greasing their palms. But are the netas alone to be blamed?

It is said every country gets the leaders it deserves. And we have got the ones we deserve. How are we above blame when we give ‘monies’ to get a registration done? Or offer the cop a currency note to avoid getting a ticket? Or “treat’ government inspectors to get a reduced house tax, or get approval for a project with holes in it?

Who am i to point fingers at a leader when in my little world i indulge in corrupt practice?

If the Hazare movement causes us to introspect along these lines, something has been achieved.

Cleaning has to begin from the bottom of the pyramid.


  1. " It is said every country gets the leaders it deserves. And we have got the ones we deserve. How are we above blame when we give ‘monies’ to get a registration done? Or offer the cop a currency note to avoid getting a ticket? Or “treat’ government inspectors to get a reduced house tax, or get approval for a project with holes in it? "

    You said it Miss !!!

  2. i totally agree with every word in this article, madam.
    this is the time of grahanam, the eclipse. then will the small time Gandhi rear his head. suddenly even a small version of Gandhi assumes significance.

    frankly, i have not taken notice of Anna Hazare till recently and i am an average Indian. but i know something about Gandhiji, though not the full depth of his personality, to know which one has to be an enlightened person oneself.

  3. Agree with you more than ever.

    A good cause but seems to be swaying in the wind a bit too much for comfort. The vultures are waiting by to see the movement fizzle out.

  4. Yes, Anna Hazare is no Gandhi. He may be good at heart, but lacks basic understanding of how systems work. This much vaunted Jan Lokpal Bill would have become a reality with far less fuss if it had been given to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. His first fast had prodded the government to do something about the legislation. Should have stopped at that. Instead he and supporters want their say in front of tv cameras.

  5. What you have said is right.

    There are a thousand things wrong with our country. But every once in a while, something or someone comes along and restores, in some measure, our faith in the future. Even those who have had reservations about Anna Hazare's form of protest.. and there are many honest, intelligent and committed people among them ...cannot discount the incredible impact he has had on Indian polity and society. He has tapped into a nation's rising frustration and anger against corruption of the most scandalous proportions, and channeled it into a mass movement that has shaken the government to its foundation, and placed the entire political class on notice.
    I am not saying that all his demands were justifiable.And as you rightly said,a bunch of clowns around him singing 'Amen' to what ever he says..he himself is obtunded by the media attention and the unexpected public support.He likes to recreate the image of Gandhi in whatever he does.

  6. The striking aspect of the Anna Hazare presence in the Ramlila Grounds is that it did stir up some dust in the rest of the country. While there was evidently some organisational(cadre-based) backing to bring in the crowds, all of them were not on a paid holiday. There were many who came to be part of the national picnic, there definitely was a representation from the professionals, middle-class citizenry who genuinely voiced the frustration many of us experience often.
    Television and social networking helped no doubt in whipping up the mood.
    Let us not ignore the fact that the lukewarm response in Kerala reflected the typical Malayali attitude of keeping away from anything that demands a degree of involvement. Our society has become so terribly fragmented on political and socio-economic lines we will never become part of such a movement. The Malayali has successfully mastered the art of adopting corrupt methods and yet, appear rational beings in total control of themselves and their circumstances. So, a Philip M Prasad or K Venu become aberrations!

  7. I've been hearing about this Anna Hazare man a lot lately. I don't live in India so don't know much about this ordeal, but is is his issue?

  8. I am certainly glad that my sister Mercy (Coimbatore) recommended your blog to me : I find your thoughts very refreshing and I agree with most your views. However, without venturing into the need for a Lok Pal Bill or the method used to bring the Jan Lok Pal Bill into the limelight and to pressurize the constitutionally elected representatives for including additional provisions to give the law teeth, I just want to observe regarding Anna Hazare that the very fact that even his human foibles are transparent adds to his credibility unlike any glib, rational sounding individual. As regards the comparison of Anna Hazare to Gandhiji, who can claim that even that noble soul was free from all human faults and frailties? Should we raise any human being to divine stature? I felt that the backdrop of the Mahatma was kept in Ramlila Maidan to remind everyone that Gandhiji was the champion of ahimsa which was the method used in the protest. I found Annaji’s movement remarkable for one reason: it forced us to debate our own attitude that has made us to accept corruption as a way of life. I feel that if a government official takes it as his right to use his power to fleece a citizen of this country, by the same token any impoverished person with muscle power can claim it as his right to plunder another who is physically weaker. Of course, I realize that my opinion is as personal as my nose and has two holes in it!

  9. Anna is no Gandhiji.. and Lokpal bill is not Anna... it is only a few people who wants to see it thus..
    this movement happened not because of Anna alone and I am sure Anna knows it too.. in fact this is what he told when he reached his own village after the fast ended.
    Lokpal did not happen overnight and is not the making of Anna. It is just that Anna has been fighting against corruption since many years and was the perfect person to lead this movement. He has done it well and was never seen as a headless chicken. One may give the credit for that, to the rest in his team.. but give this man his due too since he along with his team gave this country an option.
    It is understandable that those in power and those who are comfortable with the present system will see this as a foolish, undemocratic way of protest... Yea.. even our freedom fighters were called fools by the British and by Indians too.

  10. @ happy kitten
    i dont think Anna was leading the movement. he was being used.
    @ roy
    gandhi was full of human frailties, and most certainy cannot be raised to divine stature. yet, he was leader, an original thinker, and believed in nonviolence. check our anna hazare's track history in relegonsiddhi, and you'll find his slate is not clean.
    yes, you are right. the movement made us debate on out attitude to corruption.

    cant but agree with your views on malayalees.

    @dr antony
    yes. anger was building up in the contry against corruption, and anna's movement gave a platform to express it.

    @ kinavall
    yes. i too felt it was an anjustment between the media and team anna

    @ anilkurup
    swaying b'cos the foundation is not strong

    @p venugopal
    i like your metaphor, sir, 'cos grahanam is a passing thing.

    @ sindhu
    thanks, sindhu

  11. Anna did not say he is Gandhi. If the media and bloggers like you projected him that way, that is not his problem.

    Why are Indians so uptight? You just like to see Kiran Bedi and Sushma Swaraj resembling Hitler. What is wrong if Kiran Bedi did a small theater act or Sushma Swaraj did a jig? They are not harmful like some criminals who are looting the nation.

    Anna is not an illiterate to be used by some one. He knows everything that he is involved in. Atleast he had the power to bring people together, which educated arrogants cannot. They can only sit behind computer screens and criticize.

  12. Thank you for this. I agree with you on many of the points that you have mentioned, but the issue is far too complex to be captured in one or several articles.

    Yes, if we Indians started introspecting about "our role" in building a corrupt society, it would be a positive outcome of the Anna Hazare movement. Thanks once again.

  13. Please allow me to come in again. This comment is in response to the one made by Anonymous, which I hadn’t read when I posted my last comment.

    “If the media and bloggers like you projected him that way” etc. shows an attitude prevalent both amongst the Anna followers and their opponents. You are “projecting” someone in a particular way, that is, you have a hidden agenda. So I refuse to listen to your arguments. Mr Prashant Bhushan has carried on a civilized debate in the last few weeks, but the rest of his team, I am afraid, haven’t. And their critics have been equally perverse.

    I do not know if anything will come out of the present tussle. Thirty-five years after the JP movement that shook the country, things haven’t improved AT ALL. On the contrary, some of JP’s lieutenants metamorphosed into some of the greatest thieves ever. We can only hope that the Anna Hazare movement won’t have similar outcome.

    But if anything has to come out of it, a civilized and objective discourse on the issues is an essential prerequisite. I don’t think that is happening. What is worse, we Indians seem to be incapable of having a civilized discourse, as has been evidenced on TV recently, barring exceptions. Gautam Adhikary, in his book “Intolerant Indians” has given a history of the rising tide of intolerance in our society. Can we ever come out of the cycle of intolerance?

    PS: Anna is no Gandhi, and a cold shiver runs down my spine when I hear a leader of millions demand people to be hanged.

  14. @Shanthanu - Where and when did Anna say he is Gandhi?

  15. kpj, it's been a while. where are you?

  16. It is with deep sorrow that I report the sad demise of Dr P J Kochuthressiamma, the author of this blog, at 10:10 PM today at Ernakulam.

    An accomplished writer and, more importantly, a fine individual, her departure is a personal loss.

    I am posting this to inform you of the sad event, but wonder if this comment requires her clearance (for moderation) in which case the purpose will not be achieved.

  17. R.I.P Kochuthresiamma PJ. You will be missed.

  18. Team Anna is no longer part of solution but a big problem with their autocratic,undemocratic approach.

  19. Today, I have tears in my eyes.... will miss your writings very badly... could never meet you in real life, yet you have left a mark....let me salute your spirit..

    Heaven has one more angel...


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