August-kranti or May-hem?

Crowds around India Gate on pleasant night. Ta...

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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

Courtesy: Mail Today

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.

The Conclusion

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.

12 Responses to “August-kranti or May-hem?”
  1. Sapna says:

    Patty: I am really very impressed!!! A very well written article. So much that tomorrow you ask me to join a movement “Patty is the world!” I am willing to join.. 😀

    A very well rounded article describing all the aspects of the movement and hoopla around it. With this level of public thought behind everything that they do we are hoping to become a super power sigh….

    Now that the movement has had a victory with a small “v”. Lets see what comes out of it.

    P.S: Esp liked the part “they had tasted the TRP”.

    P.P.S: where is your FB share icon? I want to share this on FB.

  2. Sapna says:

    oops forgot to mention abt the Amul ad. As always “Brilliant!!” Happy Anna-dependence Day to you too 😀

  3. Mayank says:

    Fortunately, i am not in agreement with you except that you support anti corruption. Strengthen the existing laws, self probity – correct yourself first, educate the people are arguments that cannot be shot down because they are almost like universal truths. They are definitely right things to do. And what I do not understand or appreciate is why these should be either / OR scenario with these and a lokpal.

    The arguement against not have an (strong) ombudsman is rather weak, because the world is not utopian – and just as much as you need a police to stand and regulate traffic you need a body to ensure that the state does’nt steal money (its not about general policing either). I am not arguing in favor of Janlokpal since the bill will definitely undergo quiet a few changes to address practicality and constitutional alignment.

    Another century will go by till people are educated (not just literate), that our CBI / Police becomes effective and efficient. Who is going to do all this – this govt and these politicians, where judiciary is corrupt (atleast at lower levels for sure), the people who draft laws are myopic (even corrupt)?
    Its not a revolutionary idea by any means, with it being in place in many countries. Forget other countries, Lokayukta is a mini lokpal at state level and while it is definitely dead in most states, it has atleast created a positive impact in Karnataka.

    As for other arguments about brash bikers, publicity hungry startlets, or media. I think they are a reflection of the character of our materialist society, and not necessarily an outcome of how the movement was organized and lead. Objectivity in condemning those while not mixing up the too is much required.

    Armchair critics or supports, well they have their own place and there is a bit of that in you and me too. (what exactly do you think you are doing). To me its an outcome, a rather positive one. At your age, the only connect we had with governance was Mandal, the generation today is far more aware, involved and thats what gives me hope. As someone rightly said, a 10 day violent riot in UK ended with nothing, a 10 day non violent movement in India, achieved what probably will set the agenda for governance and people participation in democracy in years to come. Hopefully!

    PS: we can discuss some other points in person when we meet . 🙂

  4. Purbaray says:

    For the majority of the populace, Anna is a magic wand that will set things right. Will a mere Bill be enough to uproot corruption?

    Our culture of corruption has deep roots – we focus on short term gains rather than long tern success. We avoid uncertainty and a bribe is but a small price we pay to tide over it. We value our family over society and don’t think twice before bending rules for our close ones.

    So how many of us are ready to change?

  5. Kartikay says:

    Really impressive article, Mr. Leopard. You presented your opinions in a very organized and well-thought manner. Nice stuff!

    As for commenting on your content, I have only one thing to say: who will guard the guards?

  6. Pzes says:

    I am worried that the new Lokpal group is either going to be a draconian organization, rapping people on the knuckles and being the moral police for every thing non-conformist, or its going to be another independent corrupt organization.

    Like I always say, with great power comes great corruption!

  7. Samadrita says:

    You’ve successfully covered every aspect of the bizarre circus show that went on for two weeks. Congratulations! 😀

  8. Touche!

    But on a second note, I am not totally willing to give up on corruption all alone. That immediately throws me to the back side of the queue and my morals would not allow me to sneak in. Specially in case I take sick. See that line? If I have no approach, I’d be dying there. And how’d I save those little coins from VAT and service tax if I asked for a memo?
    In this way there are many things that I can’t afford to loose. Also, how I wanted to support Anna after knowing all this, but then I wanted to make an exception from moral corruption this one time.

    Nice post.

    Blasphemous Aesthete

  9. Nice article.
    It is so difficult to take a side here
    What with T.V and strippers and goons taking over the issue for their own gains.
    But in the end, I would like to support Anna because…
    well we know what has come out of the other gang.

  10. Alka says:

    Corruption can be tackled by strengthening the existing bodies like the CVC, CBi etc…but we need a political will.

    Yes some slogans were used flippantly and many saw one bill as a panacea for all evils. The governments present vindictiveness is not in good taste though.

  11. mad conventie says:

    A very well written , balanced and insightful post . You have brought up many points all valid , there are some more of course , but one gets the drift . The stuff that catches a nation’s fancy or goes viral these days make one wonder . I wonder at times do we deserve a democracy , but there being no other alternative let me say yes . And Number mean nothing you pay the guys enough for a bottle of country and 100 Rs ka sari you will have a million people before you can say Aa ja !

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