Anna Hazare is emerging as another
Gandhi and he is not only in every newspaper but also on almost
every page of every newspaper for making UPA Government to accept
his demand to draft Lok Pal Bill with real teeth eighth members of
civil society on the drafting panel. The UPA Government had no
other course but to accept Hazare’s demand after having been
exposed in several matters of corruption.
Since some of the ministers of UPA Government and some bureaucrats
having been involved in 2G scandals and in Common Wealth Games
scandals, it was on very weak wicket and there was overwhelming
response from civil society to Hazare’s fast unto death,
Government was on weak wicket and so easily gave in to Hazare’s
demand. Had it not been so it would not have been cake walk for
Hazare is being praised by entire nation today and has become role
model for thousands of activists and civil society also feels
proud of him. This fight against corruption is also being
described by some as 2nd fight for independence. These are all
short time reactions in emotional moment. However, one should not
go by such emotional assessments. One has to not only examine its
long term implications but also whether it is really such a
dazzling moral victory as it is being made out to be.
I think since Hazare is being described as Gandhian and his
struggle as Gandhian, we must first briefly reiterate what
Gandhian values are and what strictly speaking, Gandhian struggle
ought to be. To begin with there are three essential elements of
Gandhian struggle which cannot be compromised: truth, non-violence
and utterly simple life style. Of all the three one element was
surely present in Hazare’s struggle i.e. non-violence.
It is really debatable whether the other two were present or not.
Non-violence in long run is possible if, and only if the struggle
is based on truth and nothing but truth. Also, to sustain truth
and non-violence stark simplicity of ones life style is a must and
without it in no way truth can be sustained and that is why it has
been so difficult to produce another Gandhi.
Now coming to overwhelming response to Anna’s fast against
corruption. Naturally corruption itself is based on high life
style, falsehood, greed and lies. Who gave response to Anna’s
struggle? There are three distinct elements: the middle classes
whose life style is far from simple, let along starkly simple like
Gandhi. Also, it is mainly middle class, which apart from big
business, easily resorts to corruption for its own work done. It
readily shells out money to get a birth in train, it bribes
municipal offices for certain extensions and unauthorized
structures and also readily accepts bribe as petty government
officials to allow illegal work and so on.
These middle classes also pay heavy capitation fees for admission
of their children in good schools and professional colleges. In
fact there is hardly any form of corrupt practice which these
middle classes do not resort to. These classes have hardly any
moral right to fight against corruption.
The second element which was responding to Hazare’s call was a
political class (though to some extent it remained invisible for
strategic reasons) which also invisibly mobilized through its
cadre a section of civil society to weaken the ruling UPA which
again is not a pure motive. The third element was of course of
those who really wants to fight against corruption on principle
and this section can be described as much closer to Gandhian
philosophy and values. This section was the smallest in the whole
It is also necessary to understand the difference between Anna
Hazare and Gandhi. Anna, at best, is Gandhian, not Gandhi. He has
adopted Gandhian approach, nothing more, nothing less. Gandhi was
original thinker and had much deeper understanding and above all
he had pure motives and always heard voice of his conscience. Only
those with pure motives can hear voice of conscience. In that
respect Anna cannot be compared with Gandhi. He does not have
deeper understanding and towering intellect, much less pure
Anna is not on record to having ever denounced communal violence.
He kept quiet during Gujarat riots throughout. Gujarat genocide
was a matter of great shame for India. Had Gandhi been alive, he
would have undertaken fast unto death immediately, whether there
was response from civil society or not. Non-violence was matter of
principle for Gandhi, not mere strategy.
Not only this, Hazare praised Mody for his ‘development model’.
Can development model be isolated from violence it causes in the
society? Is development something absolute? If it does not help
weaker sections of society what the use of that model. Gandhi
wanted weakest of all to benefit from development and Modi’s
development is benefiting only the powerful and the elite,
Reliance, Tatas and others. That is why the big industrialists
find prime ministerial stuff in him.
What is worse when he was asked about communal carnage in Gujarat,
he offered no comment and only spoke at the prodding of his
colleague and said he stands for communal harmony and all,
including Muslims, are part of his campaign. This was all after
thought and on suggestions from his colleagues who are much more
secular than Anna Hazare.
Also, the overwhelming mobilization from civil society is part of
the game by RSS, BJP and rightwing religious leadership like Baba
Ramdev who felt aggrieved for not being included in the drafting
committee. Such mobilization with rightwing political view is not
good for secular health of the country. It can be greatly harmful.
We know the result of Jaiprakash Narain’s movement of which
Narendra Modi is the product although Jaiprakash Narain was
towering above Anna Hazare.
Jaiprakash Narain’s anti-corruption movement and thereafter
V.P.Singh’s campaign against corruption did not have ever lasting
effect, else we would not be facing such campaign again. Both
these eminent leaders were above Anna Hazare. So there is no point
in celebrating Hazare’s success as 2nd independence movement. The
media has its own objectives in building up Hazare and his
Hazare is all for Modi’s kind of development and media is mainly
controlled by big industrialists and hence they see in Hazare one
who can be helpful them and since nothing works like Gandhi’s name
media is projecting him as another Gandhi. The well known Gandhian
from Gujarat Mr. Chunibhai Vaidya has criticized Hazare’s
statement about Modi praising him for rural development. Where is
rural development?, he asks. Had there been rural development 10%
of rural population would not have migrated to cities. Shri
Vaidya’s comments are based on census 2011 figures. “So what is
there to emulate Modi under these circumstances in rural
development? He asked.
Malika Sarabhai has also criticised Hazare for Modi praise. She
said that there has been little development in rural areas under
Modi. “In fact village common grazing land and irrigated farmland
have been stealthily taken by the Modi Government and allotted to
industrialists at throwaway prices”, Sarabhai said. According to
her rural population has suffered a lot under Modi.
She said that the state has witnessed maximum corruption during
Modi’s rule like Rs.1700 crore Sujalam-Sufalam Water conservation
scam, Bori Bund checkdam scam of Rs.100 crores and fisheries scam
of Rs.600 crores. “The state is in terrible debt because of Modi’s
largess to industry.”, she said.
Other activists from Gujarat belonging to human rights
organizations like Juzar Banduqwala, Prajapati and others have
pointed out glaring facts about Gujarat and have challenged Hazare
about his praise for Modi. Gandhiji’s basic emphasis was on rural
development but Hazare is praising one who not only allowed
carnage of religious minority but is also helping industry at the
cost of rural areas. Also, Gandhiji stressed human dignity of the
last man in society whereas Modi’s Gujarat has no dignity for
dalits and oppressed castes. In Modi’s Gujarat dalit children have
to sit separately for lunch even in Government schools and if any
teacher make them sit together he/she is immediately transferred.
Perhaps Mr. Hazare is not aware of all these harsh realities.
While Hazare’s fight against corruption is most welcome and must
be praised but if wants his fight to continue he cannot afford to
keep company with those who are responsible for corruption of
various kinds. Gandhi like purity is a must for a very challenging