Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Heil Hazare!

Deng Xiaoping once told that it doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice. Hazare's fast against corruption was something similar to Deng's cat, which didn't care much about the means (ideology) but was worried about the end (Jan Lokpal law) desperately.

Probably, Hazare who is less educated (studied till class VII) than most of our social activists (Patkar got involved in Narmada Bachao Andolan while she was doing her M.Phil. from TISS; Aruna Roy was a civil servant; Swami Agnivesh was a full-fledged Business Management lecturer at St. Xavier's college, Calcutta once upon a time) thought that anything could be said against Indian democracy and the progressive elements in the government and the opposition (leave aside Sharad Pawar here) in the midst of media frenzy at Jantar Mantar. The Jan Lokpal Bill proposed to subvert representative democracy by bureaucratizing the process of selection of the Lokpal members. It was talking about concentrating power in one institution.

The middle class could not realize this since they knew little about social activism and the leaders despite relying on social media. Still they were pulled towards that venue in Delhi, where Hazare was fasting much like the media persons on a futile basis that something was going to erupt similar to Egypt or Tunisia. Whatever followed later was nothing but mass hysteria that grabbed the attention of the entire nation for nearly a week.

Anna was enterprising enough to woo salwar clad TV journalists, who flocked him as soon as they found equal opportunity of interviewing other bigwigs like Magsaysay winner Arvind Kejriwal or eminent lawyer Prashant Bhusan. It was a season of do or die for the journos.

It may be true that the father, son and the holy ghost (Hazare himself) trio are present in the Lokpal draft Joint Committee now (please don't confuse me with Baba Ramdev), but I am worried about the kind of support Hazare is further going to provide to the right wing under the garb of an anti-corruption law.

Anna knew that the RSS and its fraternal organizations could co-opt his mission, which made him to end his fast so soon. (I realized after visiting Jantar Mantar the other day that the place has become a Peepli Live like mela where shakha pracharaks were found in abundance shouting Bharat Mata ki Jai, Vande Mataram). Later Anna had nothing left but to voice his support for BJP and some of its leaders.

But there are others who feel that Hazare's ghost could be seen on numerous occasions waving hand to Chhatrapati Shivaji and his followers in the political history of Maharastra. Perhaps this is the reason why his version of Gandhianism is more violent, sectarian and unsafe compared to the Government's version of the Lokpal Bill. What do you think?

Further readings:

Citizen Anna and agent Prashant by Rashmee Roshan Lall, The Times of India, 10 April, 2011,


Jan Lok Pal is no solution,


Tavleen Singh: A despotic Jan Lokpal Bill is not the solution


The Hazare hazard, 6 April, 2011


Against Jan Lok Pal and the politics of hunger strikes


Anna Hazare is good. But Jan Lokpal Bill is an institutional nightmare.


Vital Stats: Corruption cases against government officials, PRS Legislative Research,


Deconstructing the Anna Hazare campaign by Vidya Subrahmaniam, The Hindu, 16 April, 2011, http://www.hindu.com/2011/04/16/stories/2011041652881000.htm

Anna Hazare, others declare assets, The Hindu, 16 April, 2011, http://www.hindu.com/2011/04/16/stories/2011041662461600.htm

Lokpal bill will fight graft at centre, not states: N. Santosh Hegde, IANS, 15 April, 2011, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/lokpal-bill-will-fight-graft-at-centre-not-states-n-santosh-hegde/articleshow/7988121.cms

Hazare's Lokpal campaign cost over Rs 50 lakh, The Economic Times, 15 April, 2011, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/hazares-lokpal-campaign-cost-over-rs-50-lakh/articleshow/7986762.cms

Of fast and fasting by Gopalkrishna Gandhi, The Telegraph, 14 April, 2011, http://telegraphindia.com/1110414/jsp/opinion/story_13839314.jsp

Anna Hazare and 4 others on Lokpal panel to declare assets on Friday, The Economic Times, 14 April, 2011, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/anna-hazare-and-4-others-on-lokpal-panel-to-declare-assets-on-friday/articleshow/7982766.cms

Sharmila accuses Centre of “double standards” by Iboyaima Laithangbam, The Hindu, 14 April, 2011, http://www.hindu.com/2011/04/14/stories/2011041465202200.htm

Why I didn’t join Anna Hazare by Javed Anand, The Indian Express, 14 April, 2011, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/why-i-didnt-join-anna-hazare/775806/

Hazare clarifies remarks on Modi, but activists unrelenting by Manas Dasgupta, The Hindu, 13 April, 2011,


Why this sordid surrender? by CL Manoj, The Economic Times, 13 April, 2011, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/guest-writer/why-this-sordid-surrender/articleshow/7968458.cms

Lokpal Bill should include PM too, says Santosh Hegde by Manu Aiyappa, The Times of India, 13 April, 2011, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Lokpal-Bill-should-include-PM-too-says-Santosh-Hegde/articleshow/7966717.cms

Disquiet over Modi in Anna Hazare's camp by Manoj Mitta, The Times of India, 13 April, 2011, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Disquiet-over-Modi-in-Anna-Hazares-camp/articleshow/7968020.cms

Lokpal Bill must cover NGOs, corporates: Digvijaya, The Indian Express, 13 April, 2011, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Lokpal-Bill-must-cover-NGOs--corporates--Digvijaya/775346/

Anna optimistic, but lokayuktas fail in states by Sumit Pande, CNN-IBN, 12 April, 2011, http://ibnlive.in.com/news/anna-optimistic-but-lokayuktas-fail-in-states/149049-3.html

Anna Hazare and Jan Lokpal Bill may fail by Priyankan Goswami, Times of Assam, 9 April, 2011


Why tar all politicians with the same brush? The Indian Express, 12 April, 2011,


The seeds of authoritarianism by Neera Chandhoke, The Indian Express, 12 April, 2011, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-seeds-of-authoritarianism/774794/

Rs 100, a sari, a bottle, The Indian Express, 12 April, 2011, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/rs-100-a-sari-a-bottle/774804/

Anna Hazare and India’s return to the 1970s by Siddharth Bhatia, Live Mint, 11 April, 2011, http://www.livemint.com/2011/04/11213538/Anna-Hazare-and-India8217s.html

The problem with the Jan Lokpal bill & Hunger Strikes


Contrarian view on Jan Lokpal Bill: Conversation with Kartikeya Tanna


The Making of Anna Hazare, http://kafila.org/2011/04/12/the-making-of-anna-hazare/

Civil Society - Effective but Limited and Contextual by Roshan Kishore, Pragoti, 8 April, 2011, http://pragoti.org/node/4354

The Anna Hazare Show by Manu Joseph,


The Jagran At Jantar Mantar by Saba Naqvi, Outlook, 10 April, 2011, http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?271279

Lokpal Bill: Aruna Roy for “broad, public consultation” by Vidya Subrahmaniam, The Hindu, 10 April, 2011, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article1683010.ece

Politics vs populism by Sanjaya Baru, The Business Standard, 11 April, 2011, http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/sanjaya-baru-politics-vs-populism/431690/

Politicians close ranks by JP Yadav, The Telegraph, 10 April, 2011, http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110410/jsp/nation/story_13834926.jsp

Civil society’s unreal politics, Live Mint, 10 April, 2011, http://www.livemint.com/2011/04/10210019/Civil-society8217s-unreal-p.html

No nepotism in Lokpal Bill panel: Hazare, IANS, 10 April, 2011, http://dailypioneer.com/330658/No-nepotism-in-Lokpal-Bill-panel-Hazare.html

Nepotism cry in Anna camp, The Telegraph, 10 April, 2011, http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110410/jsp/frontpage/story_13835024.jsp

Ramdev hijacks graft stage for politics, The Times of India, 9 April, 2011, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Ramdev-hijacks-graft-stage-for-politics/articleshow/7922725.cms

Baba Ramdev backtracks, says no problem with Bhushans, The Indian Express, 10 April, 2011, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/baba-ramdev-backtracks-says-no-problem-with-bhushans/774274/

Despite Ramdev's objections, Hazare with us: Shanti Bhushan, The Indian Express, 10 April, 2011, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/despite-ramdevs-objections-hazare-with-us-shanti-bhushan/774252/

Jan Lokpal will be a ‘super' government, feels Congress by Aarti Dhar, The Hindu, 9 April, 2011, http://www.hindu.com/2011/04/09/stories/2011040966411800.htm

Jan Lokpal Bill undermines democracy: experts by Marya Shakil, IBN, 8 April, 2011, http://ibnlive.in.com/news/jan-lokpal-bill-undermines-democracy-experts/148609-3.html

Of the few, by the few by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, The Indian Express, 7 April, 2011, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/of-the-few-by-the-few/772773/0

Arrest-release boosts Akhil Gogoi’s movement by Syed Miraz Ahmed, The Assam Times, 11 April, 2011, http://www.assamtimes.org/hot-news/4920.html

Drafting of Lokpal Bill to be videographed: Anna Hazare, Yahoo.com, 10 April, 2011, http://in.news.yahoo.com/drafting-lokpal-bill-videographed-anna-hazare-20110410-044019-768.html

Lokpal bill in monsoon session, fast track courts for corruption cases, The Indian Express, 9 April, 2011, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/lokpal-bill-in-monsoon-session-fast-track-courts-for-corruption-cases/774003/

Lokpal Bill: United in opposition, civil society a divided lot by Manoj Mitta, The Times of India, 7 April, 2011, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Lokpal-Bill-United-in-opposition-civil-society-a-divided-lot/articleshow/7892019.cms

The fatal flaws in the government's Lokpal Bill by Iftikhar Gilani, Tehelka, 5 April, 2011, http://tehelka.com/story_main49.asp?filename=Ws050411ACTIVISM.asp

Lokpal vs Jan Lokpal: A study in contrast, India Today, 5 April, 2011, http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/134429/latest-headlines/lokpal-vs-jan-lokpal-a-study-in-contrast.html

Lokpal Bill: Government vs Anna Hazare, IBN, 6 April, 2011, http://ibnlive.in.com/news/lokpal-bill-government-vs-anna-hazare/148415-3.html

Cracks appear in Anna’s team, Govt plans to reach out by Seema Chishti and Maneesh Chhibber, Express India, 7 April, 2011, http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Cracks-appear-in-Annas-team-Govt-plans-to-reach-out/772834/

Sharad Pawar quits GoM on Lokpal bill, IBN, 6 April, 2011, http://ibnlive.in.com/news/sharad-pawar-quits-gom-on-corruption/148466-37-64.html