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What Lokpal? We're here for corruption

Wednesday August 24, 2011 02:35:39 PM, Mohita Nagpal, IANS

New Delhi: A group of 20 youngsters enter Delhi Metro, shouting 'Vande Mataram' and urging commuters to sing along. As their voices begin to fade, a middle-aged woman announces, "They don't know a thing about Lokpal, corruption has brought them together." This statement, addressed to nobody in particular, pretty much sums up what the movement is all about.

It's not the Lokpal bill, it's not a 74-year-old man on fast who has turned into an unlikely national hero, it's the issue of corruption that has brought the young together on a single platform. A platform where they can dispose of their rage and disgust over graft, a platform which fulfils their romantic notions of patriotism and, more importantly, a platform that gives them a sense of purpose and achievement.

It's a notion that India can get rid of an ill that has seeped into every corner of society and has slowly become a way of life.

Ask any youngster sporting the 'I am Anna' cap what brings him to Ramlila ground -- the epicentre of what is naively being called the 'second freedom struggle' -- and his first reaction would invariably be corruption. Probe a bit deeper and he'd tell you how his father had to pay Rs.200,000 for his admission in an engineering college or some such obnoxious sum to procure a government contract.

Ask him if he's never paid bribe, and his tricoloured cheeks colour up a little more. The blush is an admission of guilt. A guilt which is just that, not shame.

"But I don't pay bribe out of my own will. I pay when I am forced to. If there's a bill that checks the demand, no one would like to bribe," says 23-year-old Pawan, a marketing executive.

He's visiting Ramlila ground with two colleagues. All three left early from work to witness "history in the making".

"I'm here to see the spirit of the nation. Everyone is talking about this. This is the place to be, I wanted to be part of the movement and not just a spectator watching the happenings from the margins," says Manish, 25, a resident of west Delhi.

Many like Manish believe it's the "Rang De Basanti" moment for India where the least they can do is pledge their support to the cause.

"Something will surely happen. This huge support, so many people coming together, the youth has awakened...all this would scare the government to do something," says 22-year-old Parth with a contemplative look on his face.

Parth, a graduate, helps his father with his export business. "I come here for two-three hours every day in the evening. I can't completely skip work, but I'm trying to do my little bit."

Adds Ankita Arya, a jewellery designer: "I surely believe in the movement, but I can't stop working. I come only when I can afford to, not at the cost of my work."

The reference to Lokpal bill, the reason which made Hazare go on a fast, is, however, made by only a few.

"The Lokpal bill will clean India of corruption. Once the bill is passed, there will be no problem in society," says Nikhil Yadav, with an air of extreme confidence.

Ask him how and he takes a moment to adjust his glasses and clean his throat before saying, "All I know is it will lead to formation of a body that can probe anybody. I have not gone into details...but I am sure it will get rid of corruption."

His friend who's making a video of the crowd for a college project intervenes. "I know there's a lot of cynicism over this movement. But my argument is, let something happen. At least it's better than sitting and not doing anything."

Adds Dhruv Aggarwal, a businessman: "Earlier, the middle class was accused of not doing anything and just cribbing. And now when people are realising their potential and voicing their opinion, some people are calling it a sham. Even if the civil society's version of Lokpal is flawed, at least it will bring down 10 percent of corruption. Even that is a step forward."

(Mohita Nagpal can be contacted at





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