August-kranti or May-hem?
Vande Mataram! Inquilab Zindabad!
The words that echoed throughout this month. “August Kranti” shouted the headlines (Please Note: Not the Delhi-Mumbai Train). “Second Freedom Movement” screamed Anna. The month of August, when everyone was either protesting or being protested against.
Some protested with Anna, some protested against Anna and some protested against all the protests. It was the month of intelligent debates, it was the month of brainless mobs. It showed the best in men, it showed the worst in men. It united a nation, it divided a people. It strengthened democracy, it shook it too. Some tried to understand and some followed blindly.
A movement, against corruption, that caught the imagination of everyone. And it created a mass movement, uniting many, in simultaneous protests across the Nation, in a way not seen since Independence. The young were there, the old too. And the too young also lent their support.
The Ramlila Maidan was the centre of the battle. An Old man refused to eat, a huge mass of human population egged him on, and the government committed hara-kiri. The News channels hovered above the scene like vultures; they had tasted TRPs. They called it Arab Spring, they called it Animal Farm.
Love it or hate it, but you can’t ignore it. For 15 odd days, it was what everyone did or talked about. A couple days ago, while travelling towards Bengali Market along with Aunty Ray and her lovely daughter, we were asked by the auto driver, whether we supported Anna or not. Mrs Ray’s answer that we were against corruption but didn’t support the method, was not appreciated, and within the next second we were accused of supporting corruption. It took another 5 minutes on her part to explain her stand.
So what really happened? It started as a protest to get a strong Jan Lokpal Bill passed. The Government had everyone arrested even before the protest started and then when sober again, released them(Seriously, I want what they were smoking). Then Anna refused to leave the prison, then it all shifted to Ramlila Ground. Actors came, Politicians came, Kiran Bedi performed a stage show, Om Puri used cuss words, Rahul Baba made a once in a blue moon visit to the Parliament as Sister Priyanka watched, Arindam shouted something over the microphone and Arnab Goswami tried to beat him from his studio.
And today, as the Parliament unanimously decided for the resolution to pass the motion for the bill, and as many went to India Gate for the mass celebration that followed, it makes me think about the reason for the protest. I know, I am sounding like a party popper. But between the much hoopla, and the mass circus that ensued for almost a fortnight, how many were really serious?
How Clean Are We?
The recent movement has tried to portray the world as Black and White. Where the bad side has politicians, bureaucrats and government employees. And the rest are the good side. How fair is that? We name Raja and Kalmadi but forget what happens daily. What about the person who gets fake BPL and ST/SC certificates made to get perks. He paid a small price for a lot of benefits at the expense of the tax payers. How many of the people who came out on the streets have not negotiated with the cop after getting caught while breaking a rule? The rules are for us to follow and we take pride in breaking them. Isn’t that corruption of morals? Khaps came out supporting Anna. How many honour killings have they done in the past years? Countless. Aren’t they corrupt? Aren’t those corrupt who get sex determination tests done and then abort female foetuses? I was talking to Jayanth Tadinada, a blogger based in Bangalore, and he put forward a very valid point. “Corruption is in our Bloods. In Babarnama which was written centuries ago, Babar claimed that locals were so corrupt that they would go against their friends for a price.”
The Flippant Use of Vande Mataram
I know I am going to touch a patriotic nerve here, but frankly I have never understood the rationality behind making it our National Song. It is in Sanskrit, which more than half the population does not understand. Think about it, half the population can’t even read. What is the point of a song whose meaning most of the population can not fathom? Ashoka the Great, one of the greatest rulers the world has ever seen, made sure that his edicts were in Pali, so that everyone could understand.
Using Children to Make a Crowd
I saw this during the earlier protest at Jantar Mantar first. Schools brought children along to participate in the protests. 5-6 year olds, standing in line, and the speaker claiming that even the young India was with the movement. The Young India had NO FUCKING IDEA why it was standing there in the heat.
On Stage The Megalomaniacs and The Stripo-philics
The biggest joke was that the biggest corrupts were lending support to the movement. Arindam Chowdhari. Lalu Yadav. I don’t even want to expand on this point. And what about the “I Will Strip” brigade of little known starlets that have suddenly cropped up. Since Poonam Pandey garnered fame by going public about her intentions to strip, now everyone wants a share of the publicity pie. Some went a step further by posing bareback, with supportive messages on their nude backs. What next? A pornographic video? And another one finds Anna hot and has been telling everyone about her desire to date him and gifting him a hundred roses. Have I heard this before. Surprisingly, Miss Sawant hasn’t come out with any statement. But then maybe she is maintaining a tight leash on her “Swami”, he has a crooked eye (Cue for background music: Teri Tirchhi Nazar Ne Dil Ko….). One will strip if the bill gets passed and another will strip if it doesn’t get passed. I say, let the Parliamentarians decide, who do they want to see in the buff. (Much Sarcasm Intended)
The Un-Gandhian Brigade
So the protests were peaceful and done in a Gandhian way. Bullshit! For 10 days the streets of Delhi were filled by hooligans on motorcycles, breaking every law and doing what they pleased. And their license to go about this madness was the “I am Anna” cap on the head and the flag of I
ndia in one hand. They thrashed a few police officers, forced malls near Mehrauli to shut down, forced people eating at restaurants out, and created general mayhem on the roads and at Metro stations. And many of those hooligans came because according to them, they had a free pass to ogle at girls.
The Chant of Anna is India
Many had this logic that either you are with Anna or you are corrupt. The Auto driver, I mentioned before, being an example. I always thought that in a
Democracy, everyone had the right to his/her own opinion. No one told me that “Yes and No” are the only two options available. Can one man really represent the diversity of the Nation? No. Because, no matter how hard you try, some group will have a problem and will come out saying that their concerns are not being discussed. The diversity which we have is both our strength and our weakness. We need to view from every perspective possible.
The TRP Happy News Channels
Frankly, the 24 hr news channels have destroyed the fun of news. Yes, we are connected 24×7 and know about things the moment they happen, but the news channels also dictate what we will think about the issue at hand and how will we react to it. It is not just the news, but now, we are also dependent on them for the views. And they show those things that they know will generate a larger viewer-ship . Magali, another fellow blogger, based in Mumbai pointed out that “Irom Sharmila has been fasting for over a decade against a draconian law, has been detained and is forced fed.” Every time someone fasts, there will be a small mention of her and Swami Nagimanand who died after fasting for 115 days. And then everyone will forget about them and the cause they fought or are fighting for. Why? Because they do not create News at the level the Anna movement has.
The Armchair Activists
The Twitter timeline was filled by the movement. People asking each other to join it. Facebook Status’s claiming how it worked in Honk Kong and how Singapore passed the Lokpal bill in 1982 and now they don’t pay taxes etc etc. Each day there are at least 5 invites on an average to sign an online petition against corruption. Even in protests we are not original and must ape some other country. And I doubt, any one forwarding the Singapore status even cared to verify the fact. I didn’t because I don’t give two hoots for what they did there. I want a solution fit for my country, not one that was fit for Singapore.
I do not support corruption. I am against it. And so is everyone else. But as I see it, we are turning away from the real issue. The movement woke people up against this social evil, yes it did and I respect Anna Hazaare for that. But do we need a Lokpal? Think about it. Isn’t it adding another level of bureaucracy to watch over the existing one?
Let the existing laws be strengthened. Let there be more transparency in the working of the Government. Let the flow of money spent for various schemes be known. Educate the people in rural area about schemes that are meant for them, so that they can ask for their share.
Some one on Twitter, described the movement as Peepli live. What is the current debate about? What is corruption? The way I see it, I see corrupt on both sides.