Anti graft campaigner Anna Hazare ended his
288 hours of fast on Sunday August 28,2011 and by doing so he gave
the nation a sigh of collective relief. The 74-year-old social
activist began his fast on August 16 and continued for 12 days
It was a rare show of unanimity and purpose
that saw unprecedented mobilization of the people across the
nation. It resulted in special session of the Parliament to hold
discussion on the Lokpal bill, stretching over nine hours in the
LokSabha and eight hours in the Rajya Sabha.
Going beyond party lines the Parliament
passed a resolution agreeing to three core demands of Anna Hazare for Citizens' charter, Lower bureaucracy under
Lokpal through appropriate mechanism and establishment of Lokayukta
in states. Parliament also passed a resolution to forward the
proceedings of the House to the Standing Committee for its perusal
while formulating its recommendations for a Lokpal Bill.
There are few very seminal points that have
emerged out of the twelve days agitation led by Anna Hazare. The
overwhelming response of Anna Hazare’s call to end corruption has
set a precedent of sorts for mass mobilization in the country.
In near memory there are three events that stand out for mass
One was the mobilization of the masses
against rising prices, unemployment that led to the proclamation of
national emergency in 1975. Then the agitation against it that was
led by Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan, and Achrya Kirplani,
the veteran freedom movement leaders, that led to the ending of the
dark days in India. The anti emergency stir caught the imagination
of the nation and people from wide spectrum of society came on the
streets and rested only when the proclamation was withdrawn.
The second mass mobilization was seen in
India during 1998, primarily from the youth of upper caste who were
opposed to the implementation of the Mandal Commission report that
gave 27 per cent reservation to the other backward caste
of the Hindu society. This agitation was primarily confined to
north India, where upper caste youth came out in large numbers and
some even immolated themselves for the annulment of the law. It was
mass hysteria with the underpinning of suicidal impulses on
the lines French sociologist David Émile Durkheim proponed in his
study, ‘Suicide: A Study In Sociology, published in 1890.
The last was the Sangh Parivar’s mass
mobilization centering on Ram Janamboohmi. A wounded civilization
came out in large numbers to destroy the Babri Masjid on December
6, 1992. As the angry agitators pulled down the three domes of
the Muslim’s place of worship, in that carnival of rebellion, it
seems the three domes, on the Parliament, on the Supreme Court and
on the Rashtriapathi Bhavan, crumbled. In hindsight, the
mobilization of the masses was more for destruction than actually
for construction, as the intended purpose thereafter could
not mobilize the masses.
Contrary to all of them, Anna’ Hazre’s
agitation was unique in many sense. It demonstrated to the world
that even in this age, there are pied pipers who can bring the
people on the streets. The charismatic figure of Anna Hazare,
caught the imagination of the nation, many equate him with Mahatma
Gandhi and his method of agitation.
Some may point out that the mass mobilization
was due to spread of the social media, others may say it was the
handiwork of the television channels, that went gone gung-ho
telecasting this reality show, some may also credit the
organizational acumen of team Anna, the fact is there was
unprecedented mobilization of the masses never seen, since the
independent movement of the country.
The other feature of the movement was the
discipline shown by the agitators and volunteers’ having a total
control of the situation is something remarkable. Sceptics had cast
doubts over the agitation and some even predicted it may end up in
Chauri Chaura way, and like Mahatma Gandhi, Anna Hazare too
calling off his fast in a dejected mood. However, every thing went
of the scripted way of the reality show and this something
However, it’s not that every thing was
picture perfect in Anna Hazre’s agitation. There were many flaws in
it as well. The twelve days agitation of Anna Hazare has able to
dictate the content of the Lok Pal bill. The government was forced
to bow down to the pressure that was applied on it through the
strength drawn from the streets, even though it took eleven days to
do so. This is unprecedented.
It has set a new precedent for future
political discourse in the country and the future governments have
to be prepared to handle such dictate from the so called people’s
Imagine a situation when the farmers of the
country march to New Delhi, to press their demands or the Hindutva
forces muster such strength and pressurize the Parliament to build
the Ram temple or in wake of terror attack, the people’s
Parliament ask the government to go to war with Pakistan.
Let’s leave it for propriety as imagination stops to build future
Certainly, Anna Hazare should have avoided
the ill advised call to his followers to gherao the Prime Minister,
MPs and MLAs. He and some of his spokespersons called people’s
representatives as dacoits and thieves and that amount to spreading
hatred. Apologies on this count in the closing speech were dished
out, but the damage done certainly lowered the dignity of the
Another matter of extreme concern was the
source of funds for sustaining the movement for twelve days. Even
earlier to that, the members of team Anna were flying at different
locations in the country and there were huge shows being
organized. All that needed money, where did it come from? Many
people visiting Ram Lila grounds are reported to have been fed
with snacks and food. All these would not have come without money?
It is quite possible that such money may have come from the
followers of Anna Hazare but the country needs to know the people
who have funded them.
In the closing speech, it was said that the
money spent during the agitation were from public donations and
from admirers of Anna Hazare. To some this sounded more like a
politician’s comment then the words of a social activist. It
leaves an element of deep suspicion among the civil society about
the movement it represents.
In such issues, transparency is a very
important. In a rare show of solidarity countrymen belonging to a
cross section of the society have given unstinted support to Anna
Hazare’s protest against corruption. Team Anna should clearly
make public the names of the people who have funded the twelve day
agitation. Keeping the curtains over the faces, would go against
the noble cause that the movement represents.
Even before the agitation has begun
allegations of impropriety came forth regarding all the NGOs to
which category Anna Hazare and his team belong, that they are not
corruption free. A few of them have been accused of swindling
large amount of money and misusing the NGO portfolio for ulterior
purposes. The fact of the matter is; Anna Hazare has missed to
comment on this disturbing fact for whatever reasons.
Anna Hazare’s practice of giving a free hand
to his hand picked people has raised eyebrows. There are certainly
many more knowledgeable people in the country with great
credentials that Anna should spot and utilize them for the
larger good of the nation. Keeping the tainted faces in the crusade
against corruption takes away the sheen out of the movement.
Finally, the claim that the battle against
corruption has been half won seems bit exaggerated. The fact is
that the battle against corruption has only just begun. The
movement still has a long way to go. What is required is to fine
tune it to a substantial extent to provide dignity to the campaign.
The bitter truth is that during the twelve
days of fast, team Anna have not been able to elevate the quality
of the campaign to the lofty level necessary to sustain such
movement. It’s imperative to plug the loopholes in future.
In the end, let’s hope and pray that human
greed is over powered in our country and corruption is banished
from this land. If and when it happens, Anna Hazare will be hailed
as the pied piper of India.