Why You Must Not Compare Anna Hazare with Gandhi
Ramlila Maidan in the Indian capital New Delhi is used to hold the annual mythological show Ramlila (based on the epic Ramayana) in which God Rama vanquishes the ten-headed villain Ravana.
Now, the anti-corruption leader Anna Hazare is using the same arena to continue his fast and take on the Indian government, which is behaving like the baddy Ravana and is not really willing to curb corruption in the country. Hazare has begun his fast here today, August 19.
By Rakesh Raman
Going by the story of Ramayana, the Indian government may have behaved like a villain, the way it came down with a heavy hand on peaceful protestors and showed childish tantrums while dealing with the issue. At the same time, don’t expect Hazare to play any Rama here.
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In fact, Hazare – who claims to be a Gandhian and relishes when he is compared with Mahatma Gandhi – could never prove his ability to lead a campaign of this magnitude. Let’s not judge the success of a demonstration by the crowds (a few thousand people) around it. Crowds are common in this country of over 1.2 billion people.
And media reporting can also not be a true indicator because in India there is always a shortage of good content and media companies are desperate to take and blow up any issue – particularly of sensational nature. Last year, Hindi movie Peepli Live showed the irresponsible way the Indian media people work.
Actually, those who have been watching Hazare’s reality show, would agree that there is something odd about his performance. Strangely, he wants to end corruption with the permission of the corrupt in India.
At every step of his campaign, Hazare has been begging for government permissions. He needs permission to begin his fast, he needs permission to end his fast, he needs permission for a venue to restart his fast, and so on. Gandhi never showed any such weakness by asking permission from British rulers for any of his fasts or the actions that he undertook during India’s freedom struggle.
But like a troubled kid, Hazare who positions himself as a Gandhian, writes to the Indian Prime Minister or the Congress Party supremo Sonia Gandhi with all sorts of complaints related to his campaign and the surroundings around his campaign. Mahatma Gandhi would scoff the way Hazare has been showing his failings at every step of the movement.
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Another point: While Gandhi always preached non-violence, Hazare even suggests the execution of corrupt people in India. Then he defends his statements by saying that he also follows Shivaji, who used force to establish a religion-based clique of Hindu people in the 17th century. Thus, Hazare with his confused thoughts is promoting a hybrid philosophy with a mixture of violence and non-violence.
Moreover, in his current attempt, Hazare has failed to understand that the ruling party – or for that matter any political party here – will never be interested in a corruption-free India because politics thrives on corruption in this country.
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And what is he trying to do to reverse this ugly trend? From all his moves, it appears that more than driving out corruption from India, Hazare – along with his caucus – is hell-bent to press the government to accept something called a Jan Lokpal Bill, which will, in fact, spur corruption instead of containing it.
There are dozens of clauses, each with dozens of interpretations, in the Bill proposed by Hazare’s team. It will only allow the corrupt people to circumvent these stipulations by using the interpretations that suit them.
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And how will the appointment of a Lokpal (an ombudsman) solve the problem? He (assuming a male person) will also be a human being like our politicians and bureaucrats whom Hazare blames as corrupt? What’s the guarantee that the Lokpal won’t be dishonest because corruption floats in India’s air? There are many other flaws in the Jan Lokpal Bill that Hazare is trying to push down the government’s throat.
For example, without estimating the volume of complaints, how can Hazare’s Bill promise to deal with complaints in a time-bound manner? What yardstick will it use to convict a person? How will you empirically measure the impact of such a Bill on the commoners? Hazare won’t have any answer because he is a mere campaigner; not a thinker like Mahatma Gandhi.
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As Hazare – and most who are following him in a herd – doesn’t understand much about his own Lokpal Bill, he is making vague statements – saying 80-90 percent of corruption will be stamped out with this Bill. God knows how he has calculated this percentage.
Moreover, when the existing anti-corruption laws in India could send even tainted ministers and politicians to jail in the past few months, why do we need a new anti-corruption legislation – drafted by the government or the Hazare’s team?
Most know that India is a country full of illiterates. But the Hazare-led show has proved that there is a dearth of intellect even among the educated lot of this country. In the process, Hazare as well as the Indian politicians are spoiling the name of a godly soul like Mahatma Gandhi everyday. Will it stop?
By Rakesh Raman, the managing editor of Raman Media Network.