Anna Hazare’s narrow focus

Published: August 22, 2011

The writer is director of Kali for Women, India’s first feminist publishing house, and author of several books including The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India [email protected]

Even as Anna Hazare was gearing up for ‘Round 2’ of his campaign against corruption, a young lawyer, Shehla Masood, stepped out of her house in Bhopal to go to a meeting to organise a support protest. Within minutes, she was shot dead and shortly afterwards, her lifeless body was found in her car.

In the cacophony of noisy support for Anna Hazare’s campaign, Shehla’s killing has gone virtually unnoticed. There are newspaper reports, there’s outrage, but the headlines are taken by Anna: his arrest was dramatic, his release even more so, and now, he sits at Ramlila grounds, surrounded by his supporters and hundreds of thousands of people who want to make their voices heard against corruption.

While no one can argue that corruption is a canker that is eating at the innards of our society, and it needs to be urgently addressed, there are many other issues that this noisy campaign is obfuscating.

First, that in a democracy the right to dissent, to protest, to demand change, is a right. Every citizen has that right, just as Anna does, and the government was wrong to deny him that. But even governments make mistakes, and the UPA, the party in power, is now seeing the consequences of its foolishness.

But also that Anna Hazare, no matter how just his campaign in essence, is not blameless either. The history of legislation in democratic countries anywhere in the world shows that NO legislation goes through by blackmail and nothing goes through without negotiation, alteration and addition. Indeed, nothing goes through — and nothing should go through – without debate. Certainly not something as important as a Lokpal Bill, a legislation that will put in place an authority over virtually the highest in the land, to address the issue of corruption.

The question is legitimately being raised in India that there is a Constitution, and it is supreme. Can anything override it? There is a judiciary and a legislature. Should we be placing yet another authority over and above them? No one doubts that we need something like a Lokpal, but what its powers will or can be needs debate. Just as the question of whether legislation alone can address widespread corruption needs to be answered.

But Anna Hazare, for all his charisma, does not seem to be prepared to listen. There have been campaigns which support the move for a Lokpal but which ask for extended debate on its pros and cons, and which ask people to draw upon the rich legacy of the right to information campaign, and how it resulted in the Right to Information Act, which suggest that this is the democratic way to go about thinking about such important legislative changes. But Anna and his team and their supporters are not listening. They are taken up in the euphoria of protest, of numbers, of television screens, of smses and cellphones.

One of the criticisms of Anna Hazare’s campaign has been its almost exclusive focus on corruption in political circles. In a note that details the concern of the National Campaign For People’s Right to Information — which was in many ways the beginning of the process of demanding an end to corruption — activists point out that while it is important to address corruption in governance and politics that cannot be the entire scope of such legislation, for corruption is much more widespread and, perhaps, therefore the answer is to think of not one overarching Lokpal Bill, but different pieces of legislation designed to address different problems.

The truth is that none of the parties involved has acquitted themselves well in the drama that is unfolding at this very moment in Delhi. The government’s initial reaction to Anna’s campaign in the first round was to set up a joint committee to go into drafting a mutually acceptable bill. As often happens, somewhere along the way the committee faced roadblocks — from all accounts not very major ones as there seems to have been a reasonable degree of agreement. So far, so good. But then, both sides dug their heels in.

The government stopped dialogue with Anna and he threatened to go on a fast unto death. His arrest followed, and then his release, and his being allowed to sit in protest at Ramlila grounds. The media hawks were happy, news channels had enough material to continue broadcasting for hours. So emboldened were the protestors that they refused to follow the standard ‘rules’ of protest — stopping the use of microphones at night for example. And no one knows any longer what the outcome will be.

Will the government give in to pressure? Already under attack on many fronts — the Commonwealth Games, the telecommunications scandal — the government now faces an opposition united across party lines in its support of Anna Hazare. No matter how much dissenters might say that Anna’s tactics are not Gandhian, that refusal to negotiate was never part of Gandhi’s repertoire, that Anna is authoritarian and does not allow dissent or questioning, the truth is that his campaign has caught the hearts and minds of a huge middle-class population that is out there on the streets demonstrating, singing, demanding.

Meanwhile, in Bhopal, Shehla Masood’s tragic death tells us that the weapons of corruption are far too strong for a piece of legislation to deal with. In Manipur, Irom Sharmila’s ten-year long protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act reminds us that violations of human rights are, in a democracy, as important as issues like corruption. A cursory look at the daily lives of ordinary Indians tells us that health, poverty, education are issues as crucial as corruption, and that all such issues are, in the end, linked and any campaign that is geared to improving the lives of the poor in India needs to address itself to these issues, centrally and fundamentally.

But the tragedy of this is that is anyone even listening?

Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2011.

Reader Comments (55)

  • The secular patriot
    Aug 22, 2011 - 9:21PM

    Missing perspective to this article:

    Fasting is not blackmailing. A sadhu died in his fast-unto-death protest and as the author rightly points out, Irom Sharmila has been fasting for ten years. Govt can ignore the fasts that it can choose to ignore. Fasting has become blackmailing in this particular issue because the whole nation is protesting and because the Govt has dirty secrets to hide which this law has the capacity to uncover. Any other law would not have seen such unique stand-off.

    Anna is not rigid, Govt is. Last time around team Anna held talks with Govt and they still refused any major changes to their Lokpal. Team Anna rightly demands that any future debate be carried out in the open so that everybody gets to know who is saying what.

    The strict stance from Anna is what has provoked this whole debate. Everybody realizes that the bill will not pass in this session but let us see the Govt take some serious steps at least. My anger personally is because the Govt has failed to do even that.

    Nobody has forgotten Shehla. In fact Arvind Kejriwal himself prayed for her on the main stage.

    Rest of the points in Jan Lokpal need to be discussed. But for that Govt has to take the first step now.

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  • N
    Aug 22, 2011 - 9:21PM

    Corruption is the lubricant that works around all laws. Does India really need more laws? Do Indians really want more dialog on something as self evident and destructive as corruption? Mind you this is corruption, as witnessed by me and explained to me by my Indian friends, that cripples life at every level and every transaction in their society. And a dialog with whom – those whose hands are in the till and control all instruments of power (including the media).

    Further, to criticize Mr. Hazare for not taking on education etc. etc. is missing the point. If you make the life of the common man free of the tentacles of outright slease, perhaps you can get your priorities right. Perhaps you could write an article on how corruption numbs the mind to Ms. Shehla Massod’s murder.

    Kudos to Mr. Hazare – at least the man is standing up for something. He loves his country and has the courage to do something about it.

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  • Vicram Singh
    Aug 22, 2011 - 9:40PM

    All the “intellectuals” seems to be ganging up on Anna, now that he has the Congress Party by the epiglottis.

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  • Rudra Meka
    Aug 22, 2011 - 9:40PM

    The government has no sincerity in framing the correct legislation. There have been so many meetings with the Anna team before drafting the official version of Lokpal bill. But none of their arguments were counted. Those meetings were conducted for the name sake so that they don’t get public ire. Unless Supreme Court pushes the Government on cases of 2G spectrum and Black money, Government didn’t move an inch. The Government has lost credibility. Anna is flexible but they are adamant on particular issues like independent investigative agency. The Congress government is using CBI/Income Tax Dept as a tool to settle scores over the people/opponents who raises their voice. The politicians instead of working for the people, they are introducing the bills which are suitable to the Government/Congress party and other politicians. That is the reason there is a huge public cry. Please remember that civil right movement in USA is the one which caused voting rights for black people. The initiative never came from the Government.

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  • shajitimehouse
    Aug 22, 2011 - 9:57PM

    In almost all the news Anna Hazare and people supporting him said discussions were made with the people in general. Who were those people? Are they some political party leaders or only people of their choice? Doesn’t our parliament represent more than a billion people’s sentiments? How come anyone dares to compare these happening with that of Gandhi? Gandhi never fought with our own sovereign state. Instead he was leading us to freedom from outside suppressors. In a democratic country people are allowed go on strike on an atrocity committed by a profit making company. But here the target is not something of that kind. Why do we need democracy then? Who elected this Team Anna? Anna Hazare’s cause is definitely worthy being supported by everyone but the way he threatens our parliament is not at all appreciable. Agitations, strikes and that sort can be justified in a democracy but not blackmailing.
    Our freedom fight took very long, hard days and ways to make an effect. It took them struggle using their physique, money, time and efforts. But do these saviors follow that? Are they looking for an instant solution to everything? Does Hazare want to take all the credit when he is alive? I think it is necessary to provide free meal at least twice a day to all our homeless people in our country and does it mean I express my feelings by black mailing our state by announcing suicide to implement it? Large scale corruption is there in the system and it has to be stopped as early as we can. I do support Anna but not the current happenings. And one more thing one could observe is that when asked the questions whether one support Anna, most of us say YES. But when given a more peace-loving way of expressing it, people would have definitely opted for that.

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  • Roy
    Aug 22, 2011 - 10:34PM

    Dear Urvashi,

    You are wrong. Anna has called for an open debate several times. The govt. has not been very transparent on this. It is even not releasing the audio transcript of discussions team anna have had with the government. They are always ready for clause by clause discussion any time and with any one. Team anna has even gone to the people distributed questionnaires for their views. So, it is the government that is shying from going for open debate. It does want to know what people want. In a democracy you can’t work according to your hidden agenda. People’s interest has to be foremost. You get the point.

    Regards
    Roy

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  • Akthar
    Aug 22, 2011 - 10:39PM

    & by the way, who cares what happens in India & their problems like Poverty, Education, Corruption, useless politicians. We too have the same set of problems but with varying extent. Its something like saying “the Guitar complaining to Drum that its being fingered while drum is getting beaten both sides”.

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  • tanoli
    Aug 22, 2011 - 10:43PM

    Nice article and true Mera india mahan hai with out clean water and sanitation and homes
    medical, roads, division in rich and poor wow democracy ghandhi wichar working nicelly.

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  • Khalid Ahmed
    Aug 22, 2011 - 10:46PM

    1) The author is making conclusions too early. As of now the Team Anna is ready for talks and PM is chairing a high level meeting.

    2) If Shehla Masood’s death gets little attention, that’s Anna’s problem? Isn’t one of the major points of Anna’s Jan Lokpal bill is to protect whistleblowers like Shehla?

    3) Corruption is everywhere but since India is a lower income country, corruption in governance & politics directly affects a vast majority of population compared to, say, a corporate scam like Satyam.

    4) Regarding the last para, health, poverty, education in India to a large extent directly depend on the level of corruption, since majority of Indians still depend on public schools and public hospitals which are in shambles. The level of corruption in as basic as the food ration is astronomical which is making millions go sleep empty stomach every night while millions of tonnes of food grains are getting rotten in warehouses every year.

    One should also remember that in the proposed Jan Lokpal bill corruption is not just seen monetarily. But failure of executing a promised act is also seen as corruption.

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  • tanoli
    Aug 22, 2011 - 10:48PM

    What is Democracy for if there is killing machine in kashmir in assam and peoples dont
    have freedom of speech and what a free media is in india they are not allowed to enter in
    kashmir unmarked graves find every where. what a democratic country is may be we call
    him Dicmocracy.

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  • AngryYoungIndian
    Aug 22, 2011 - 10:56PM

    Dear Author

    When people of Jharkhand, Uttarakhand & Chhatisgarh made the “cocophony” to demand separate state why did the Indian parliament pass the bills subsequently to create the new states. How come this time its a matter of constitutional supremacy vs people’s morally correct stand to support anti-graft movement. Recommend

  • Khalid Ahmed
    Aug 22, 2011 - 11:10PM

    @shajitimehouse

    1) You’re reading too much into “Anna is second Gandhi” which is mostly a media creation.

    2) Blackmail is a coercion where some crime is involved. What crime is there in Anna’s fast? As a citizen, anyone can protest in any way as long as it doesn’t brake the law.

    3) Just because the system allows citizens to vote once in five years doesn’t mean the elected officials can abuse their power and citizens are not supposed to question it. Not only can citizens question but also can demand for reforms.

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  • G. Din
    Aug 22, 2011 - 11:29PM

    @shajitimehouse:
    “Doesn’t our parliament represent more than a billion people’s sentiments? “
    No, right now, it doesn’t. If it had, the matters wouldn’t have come to such a head!

    “Gandhi never fought with our own sovereign state. “
    Yes, he did when he threatened the infant state of India with fast unto death if it did not release forthwith due share of Pakistan! And, Nehru’s government gave in!

    “Who elected this Team Anna?”
    Tens of thousands of young and old who throng his meetings and rallies. Doctors who write “I am Anna!” at the bottom of prescriptions they write. Amongst the old, a 107-years old centenarian who had a placard around his neck proclaiming “(I am )107 years old. I am Anna, too!” (See his picture in yesterday’s Deccan Herald.)

    “…express my feelings by black mailing our state by announcing suicide to…”
    In what way were Gandhi’s similar threats not a blackmail or a suicide threat? If they weren’t, why not? If they were, why don’t you admit it and stop this charade of “I do support Anna but not the current happenings. “ In what way do you find those current happenings to be different from what happened after Gandhi announced his fasts?

    “But when given a more peace-loving way of expressing it, people would have definitely opted for that.”
    Well, what are you waiting for? Suggest your “more peace-loving way” and we shall follow you!

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  • Aug 22, 2011 - 11:40PM

    Urvashi Butalia,your attitude is wishy washy,you are sitting on fense,it is like saying civil right and voting right can wait as there are other urgent problem and more pressing issue.That is fact,but it is a diversary tactics,in politics it is called ‘BAIT AND SWICH”.Simply because there is poverty and misery,Rs 20 a day for poor,so let corruption issue wait till we make Rs 50 possible.How smart?Who put you up to write and argue like this?Mame,this won’t work just as Cia,RSS ploy is not working.Did you hear Mr Bukari,why he is asking muslims not to support Anna?because Anna did not send special invitation to him and did not condemn modi and Guzarat riot,he forgot in Delhi itself he was very much alive when thousands of Sikh were sloughtered.So Anna must keep score of all that has gone wrong in India,your argument goes along the same line.Why do you not come out straight,and tell you are not in support of Anna,some will understand at least you will be called straight shooter all though a bad shot.Let me tell you,for all who went to buy ,Taj Mahal,which was on sale,the powers to be have no intension to have a meaningful ‘LOKPAL” bill,they never had for last 64 years and still they will avoid or water it down,but I imagine,the people of India have had it,the days of mismanagement,hoodwinking are pretty close at hand,writing on the wall”The days of crapy rule is at end’,for this the people of India,not withstanding so called ‘intellectual’,are thankful to this simple man.PLease check the defination of blackmail,when some one holds the secret from being exposed,for a monatary gain,it is called blackmail,this Anna(BIG BROTHER),is threatening to expose secret wrong doing,IS THIS CLEAR.

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  • No Anna, but YES for GANDHI
    Aug 23, 2011 - 12:12AM

    Corruption no doubt eats away our country. All the existing law and machinery be forcefully put in to book the culprits. The country’s watchdog mechanism is powerful and capable of it. Only thing lacking is will power. But the drama now being enacted in the name of civil society is absurdity to the core. It seems to be a gang in the gallery watching IPL match. Anna seems to be enjoying the whole show around . It is not Gandhi we love and admire : Gandhian principles are not all relevant in Anna’s fight against Parliament. They demand something undemocratic.They make a mockery of national flag. They dictate terms. Who gave them the mandate to speak on behalf of people. If the mass that support Anna is representing the whole India, what is the relevance of Parliament and debate? Stop this nonsense and divert the youth to creatively work for a corrupt free India. The method is simple. Fast for not giving & taking bribe. Let the Government elected be allowed to frame laws based on debates in the Parliament which includes common man’s views. The machinery is strong. Let no extra constitutional powers work in India. Let our Constitution be supreme and its preservation our bounden duty. No anna I am not for the drama set in motion in the media galore. No media, No anna. Recommend

  • Arindom
    Aug 23, 2011 - 1:38AM

    If this is Blackmail; then can you seggest some other method to show corrupt politicians the right path?

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  • Aug 23, 2011 - 3:55AM

    Well the critics have a point too when they talk about Anna’s ‘my way or no way attitude’. Gandhi sells , yes. But that’s not so ‘Gandhian’ , is it?

    and….

    I agree with Arundhati Roy when she points out the futility of the bill in eradicating corruption if it does not include media giants and NGOs? How do the supporters respond to the argument?

    Anna may be over-rated but if he succeeds in rooting out ‘some’ evil, it’d be great!

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  • Singh
    Aug 23, 2011 - 4:42AM

    Dear Urvashi you or Roy.
    People like you, lost shine to ordinary people that’s reason crying wolf. How much you guys get paid by Congress to speak. where were you people before Sunday. Did you get paid by cash or kind?

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  • Deb
    Aug 23, 2011 - 6:06AM

    Anna’s cause is laudable, his method is deplorable.
    He is a perfect example of the ‘Tyrrany of the virtuous’.

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  • Deb
    Aug 23, 2011 - 6:12AM

    As someone rightly said, No media, no Anna.

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  • Maulana Diesel
    Aug 23, 2011 - 6:20AM

    Anna Hazare = Imran Khan

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  • Anonymous
    Aug 23, 2011 - 7:25AM

    @Arindom:
    Oh … coz we forget that the writer is writing in a pakistani news portal with a majority muslim viewership.
    Revolutions from non violent actions is an alien concept to muslims.
    So lets take a chill pill coz this article is for muslims to tell them that the best way to carry out revolutions is by armed jihad against the state not by peaceful processions…

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  • Arzoo
    Aug 23, 2011 - 7:27AM

    Urvashi Sahiba: As unfortunate as it is that Shehla Masud’s murder has not grabbed the attention and condemnation it deserved, fact is that people are responding to Anna Sahib’s bharat in unprecedented ways because they are totally fed up with the all pervasive corruption in Indian life. When one has to bribe to get their passport or an admission in school or for minor things it becomes a daily problem one faces in life and people respond to someone who is doing something about it. In the process many events, as noteworthy as they should be, get lost. In my opinion the fight Anna Sahib has picked up was more eloquently and courageously fought by Baba Ramdev Ji but his sacrifices have been totally eclipsed by Anna Sahib’s movement. Listen, Revolutions are like floods in which the water waves do not distinguish between a straw or an elephant. It destroys everything that comes in its’ way.

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  • Anonymous
    Aug 23, 2011 - 8:26AM

    @Natasha Suleman:
    If this is the case the jinna sahab should be the one who should be accused of this my way or the high way thinking why??? just becoz muslims refused to integrate with the indian society (as they do in western societies) he went for a separate religion based country whose perils can be seen every time i visit this website.
    See the irony gentlelady indians (hindus in particular) are doing non violent protests against corruption where as pakistanis(muslims in particular) are traiining to kill their fellow citizens and people around the world.
    I think Gandhiji was a real visionary man who let go muslims and pakistan so that we can live in peace today.
    I think Jinnah was right in proclaiming that we were/are not the same people…..

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  • BruteForce
    Aug 23, 2011 - 8:28AM

    @tanoli,

    Dude, do you still want to be worried about a ‘K’ word(Kashmir) when a bloodbath is happening in a place which also starts from ‘K’(Karachi)?

    More people have died in Karachi in the past few months than could have possibly died in Kashmir in the past many years in Kashmir.

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  • SKChadha
    Aug 23, 2011 - 9:01AM

    For those who cries about the supremacy of Parliament in making law must know that the Constitution of India starts with words “We the people of India …”. The book called Constitution of India in last 60 years has been amended over 100 times to reflect the wishes of the people of India.

    The author is missing the crux of wishes of the people in this spontaneous agitation. No right thinking government in India can ignore such feelings. It is a high time and law with necessary ingredients of ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ will have to come in operation for the benefit of citizenry. You may put any words to such wishes and debate it in the manner you desire in Parliament, Standing (stated to be sitting since long on the issue) Committee, Select Committee or wherever you want.

    We elect our servants to express our wishes in Parliament throughout five years and they are accountable for their actions 5 x 365 x 24. The public is questioning their actions (or inactions). The accountability of these servants (treating themselves as masters) is under challenge? Frame suitable law to nab the culprits or go (right now).

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  • Aafiyat Nazar
    Aug 23, 2011 - 9:28AM

    We must salute Anna Hazare for his drive. Hope the people of Pakistan will also raise their voices against the rampant corruption in Paksitan. People must come to the street otherwise the corrupt regime will not stop crushing the poor people of Pakistan. Curse on all those who are corrupt.

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  • rehmat
    Aug 23, 2011 - 9:52AM

    The country has waited 42 years for a Lok Pal bill. Repeatedly it has been pushed back and not passed. So now if some timelines are being imposed after a 42 year wait it is not unreasonable. Also when the original fast was called off in April, the government had enough time to negotiate with Anna in good faith and even get opposition parties involved.
    At one point, 5 of its ministers were negotiating (though not in good faith ) with Anna when a frustrated Anna finally called off negotiations, Congress unleashed attack dogs Manish Tiwari and Sibal who called Anna fascist and maoist. If they were fascist and moaist why had the government been negotiating with them?
    It chose to drag its feet and figured that Anna would not be able to rebuild the momentum once it fizzles out, This cat and mouse game by the government has to end.

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  • rehmat
    Aug 23, 2011 - 9:58AM

    @tanoli:
    This article had nothing to do with Kashmir – so please keep your discussion on point.This is not the place for an Indo Pak flame war.This article has specifically to do with a movement that is supported by people to bring legislation to address corruption.

    India does have poverty and the problems you mentioned but if the government resources are correctly used to solve people’s problems instead of enriching the corrupt politicans and bureaccrats significant progres can be made. This is as true of India as of Pakistan. So to undermine Anna’s movement saying why is he not concerned about illiteracy is to miss the point completely.

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  • rehmat
    Aug 23, 2011 - 10:04AM

    @No Anna, but YES for GANDHI:
    “Let the Government elected be allowed to frame laws based on debates in the Parliament which includes common man’s views.”

    I wish the parliament had done that. I am not sure if you are aware that a Lokpal bill was first introduce in Parliament 42 years back. After that it has been introduced several times but neverpassed. Even in April when Anna called off the fast, the government had over 4 months to imvolve opposition and other legislators to introduce a bill but they did not act in good faith. They thought that once the attention from anna is lifted in April, he will not be able to rebuild momentum and that is why they dragged their feet. But this time the people of India are determined that they will not rest until a strong ant-corruption bill is pased.

    Also this very Congress who accuses Anna of tryingto bypass the Parliamnet has rpeatedly introduced bills suggested by the National Advisory Council which constitutes some civil society members that Sonia respects. So if the NAC bils can be introduced and debated in the parliament, why not anna’s bill. Of course parliamnet is the only one that can pass bills but there is no barrier to introducing bills framed by civil society and the government has in fact done this several times in the past.

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  • rehmat
    Aug 23, 2011 - 10:08AM

    @Anonymous:
    “Anna Hazare = Imran Khan”
    No. Some key differences:
    1, Imran has political ambitions, Anna does not.
    2. Anna has gone on an indefinite fast which puts his own life at risk. Imran has never done that.
    3. Anna has a track record of getting corrupt ministers removed through public pressure in Maharashtra in the 90s and in 2003.across different arties. Imran has not succeeded in getting a single person being made accountable and lose their job.

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  • Subhash
    Aug 23, 2011 - 10:28AM

    @tanoli: Kashmir for all the genuine grievances of locals was & is an externally supported violence > no prizes for guessing.

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  • Jayan
    Aug 23, 2011 - 12:17PM

    If Anna’s fast is viewed as blackmailing tactics to achieve a corruption free India , I am ready to accept it. After all in our Democracy the constitution is supreme and it starts with ” We the People “, so if we the people want to make amendments to the existing laws to get rid of corruption in the society there is nothing wrong in it. About Anna a media creation I am challenging this so called intellectuals to put forward their views in a public forum. Even their own family members will not be there to support them leave alone the general public.

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  • Anonymous
    Aug 23, 2011 - 12:19PM

    @rehmat:
    I think you must be responding @Maulana Diesel

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  • harkol
    Aug 23, 2011 - 12:20PM

    This article is classic red-herring and pseudo-intellectual blabber.

    Anna isn’t out to dismantle democracy/parliament. Anna & his team went around trying to discuss, talk, convince govt. and legislators for close to a year. When they failed to get any response, they chose the path of protest. They still intend to do so, by using a moral force of Anna’s fast and the public pressure generated by it.

    They question Anna’s right to represent civil society. They ask why is he not focusing on corrupt corporates, NGOs, why not talk about other ills etc. etc. All a diversionary tactic. Anna is a man who has taken up ‘one’ cause for now, that’s dear to him. If other’s have causes that are dear to them what stops them from trying to change things themselves?

    Anna doesn’t represent ‘people’ in general. But, he is part of ‘people’, and has every right to question, protest and bring moral pressure on govt. Govt. can ignore him (even at its own peril). He hasn’t stopped essential supplies, he hasn’t done rasta roko or rail roko etc. He hasn’t committed on illegal act, and these pseudo-intellectuals sit in their ivory towers denouncing a man, who has selflessly fought all his life for betterment of society.

    On Jan 13th 1948, Gandhi sat on fast to force Indian govt. to pay Pakistan 55crores. He did that because he felt it was the right thing to do. He paid with his life for that protest! Was that blackmail? Was that holding govt. hostage? Why would govt. let itself be held hostage, if there was no moral force in Gandhi’s demand? Did Gandhi ever do anything that broke peace? Gandhi had his own critics as well.

    While his critics had a right to write/say anything, it is most absurd to think they had substance. Same goes for current generation commentators.

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  • harkol
    Aug 23, 2011 - 12:28PM

    @Author

    The red-herring in your article is where you say Lokpal would be an ‘authority’ on top of PM & Judiciary. That’s absurd. An Group B officer in Income Tax department can scrutinize, investigate, penalize & file a case against Chief Justice of India or Prime Minister of India, per our IT act.

    Do we want a Lokpal, who isn’t even as empowered as a IT officer? Just because IT officer is empowered, does it mean he has authority over PM or CJ? A Sub-inspector can launch an investigation in to an FIR filed against CJ or PM, does that make him an authority.

    Of course these officers won’t do it, because they are under the boot of the executive. But, constitution provides immunity (under article 361) only to sitting president/governor. No one else. If they don’t have immunity under constitution, then why provide it under lokpal???

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  • vickram
    Aug 23, 2011 - 12:40PM

    One crucial fact hidden by the author: RTI activist Shehla Masood was a member of India Against Corruption crusade of Anna Hazare and she was killed while she was on her way to participate in the protests. Please don’t spread lies.

    The anti-corruption movement is spreading to all corners of India and people from Assam and Nagaland are coming to Delhi to participate in the protests. This is an unprecedented moment in the history of India.

    Except the so-called intellectuals belonging to the left, the entire India is now speaking in one voice, to weed out corruption from the society at all levels. Even if 60 per cent of corruption is removed, it will make life better for the average Indian.

    I request all of you to read the article written by another liberal leftist, for a better perspective on this issue: http://kafila.org/2011/08/22/if-only-there-were-no-people-democracy-would-be-fine/link text

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  • Ankur
    Aug 23, 2011 - 1:25PM

    Its a Pity Urvashi that people like you and me, who can read, comprehend, conceptualize, and react to these ‘elite’ views, do not automatically become a part of the masses, Anna is addressing the ‘crowd’, and he’s doing it like no one had done in the past 3 decades in India.

    Death of Sheila Masood and Irom Sharmila’s 10 years fast have literally no connection with the Anna Phenomenon. If anything, the movement inclusive of their respective stands and not exclusive.

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  • Aug 23, 2011 - 3:18PM

    Anonymous,

    If youve got nothing to say on the topic , cut your crap!

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  • SKChadha
    Aug 23, 2011 - 3:25PM

    @ Natasha Suleman:
    A) The people on road are screaming “It is OUR way or no way” which is projected as “It is my way or no way attitude”. There can’t be any bargaining on law against corruption. The questions for consideration are:

    a) Whether premier investigating agencies for corruption i.e. Chief Vigilance Commission and CBI should be under lokpal?

    b) Whether PM, Members of Parliament (for corruption within the august house i.e. cash for vote, cash for raising questions etc.) should be under Lokpal’s scruitiny?

    c) Whether higher judiciary for its corrupt practices should be under Lokpal?

    d) Whether employees of various state governments should be under Lokpal?

    e) Whether such Act should provide certain protections to whistle blowers?

    f) Whether Panchayati Raj institutions implementing government schemes should be under Lokpal? There are many more issues.

    Please tell us out of above on which issues Aam Admi should compromise?Whether you call it Lokpal or Jan Lokpal.

    GOI is not negotiating with a labour movement where it is give and take and compromises can be made on lesser salary. It is dilly dallying and delaying tactics which GOI is adopting since last over 40 years. The civil society has called for negotiations and it is GOI which is not responding and trying to shield itself behind the Constitution of India which starts with the words “We the people of India …”. Please also refer my views elsewhere in this blog.

    B) Please don’t treat my writing as sarcastic but it is a fact that my brothers across the border have special affinity with Arundhati Roy’s musings and her trashes :-)

    Societies have Penal Codes, Corruption Laws from time immemorial, isn’t it? Whether such laws have irradiated criminality altogether from our societies? So, shall we scrap them all?

    The Lokpal Bill is a way forward in our society. The issue here is the safety of public money and Lokpal Bill is a procedural law. The substantive law remains Prevention of Corruption Act enacted long ago and in operation. The civil society has no objection for inclusion of any institution where public money is involved (i.e. NGOs getting govt. grants, corporate having public equity or funds etc.). These private institutions are also covered under their respective regulatory frameworks and barred from misuse of public deposits. I hope this clarify your curiosity.

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  • from india
    Aug 23, 2011 - 3:35PM

    rehmat you rock !!

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  • Anonymous
    Aug 23, 2011 - 5:59PM

    @Natasha Suleman:
    oh….Yes if my write up doesn’t match your by hearted facts it becomes loads of crap.

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  • tanoli
    Aug 23, 2011 - 6:02PM

    what about slums they are all over india the bigest one in bambay and second
    in delhi is it poverty going down or up in india or may be same crruption existing in this
    area also like common wealth games.Recommend

  • Aug 23, 2011 - 6:42PM

    Ana Hazaray is right and I support him.

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  • Anonymous
    Aug 23, 2011 - 6:48PM

    @tanoli:
    Some food for your imagination —-
    1) Whole india is a big slum in fact i am surfing from software company which is housed in slum.

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  • Arvind Bhaskar
    Aug 23, 2011 - 6:57PM

    Politicians, bureaucrats, business community benefit from the system of corruption. None of them will like the law against corruption to be strong. They will use all their intellectual resources and tactics to keep it weak. The most fashionable tactic is to side track the main issue which this article does beautifully.

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  • Kallu Mama
    Aug 23, 2011 - 7:07PM

    @Anonymous:

    You said ….”See the irony gentlelady indians (hindus in particular) are doing non violent protests against corruption where as pakistanis(muslims in particular) are traiining to kill their fellow citizens and people around the world.”….

    I think you are grossly confused, you are bringng unrelated issues like hindu v/s muslim , which is not the issue here

    Civil society in Pakistan is also concerned about corruption in their country which as per me is in gargantuan proportions like India, and certainly they are keenly watching this entire episode unfolding,

    We here are given a chance to talk on this forum, it does’nt mean we start raising needless issues

    Thanks for patient hearing

    Kallu Mama

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  • yousaf
    Aug 23, 2011 - 7:46PM

    If Mr Anna is against unearned income exchanging hands then what is wrong that he demands, those who know and understand economic development (know and understand,I stress.Corruption is hold-all of all socio-economic evils)the articles by two honourable ladies which I happened to read i.e Urvashi Batalia and Arundhatti Roy are so void of substance that I for one who always uphold the idea of equal rights for women am forced to give it a second thought,I wish I am wrong

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  • Democracy Now
    Aug 24, 2011 - 4:08AM

    It is alarming that how many journalists are not aware of the constitutional rights of an individual in a democratic nation. None of what Anna Hazare is doins is unconstitutional or amounting to black mail. I urge the author to read this article which enlightens the rights of citizens when an elected government does not care for the people’s interests.
    http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/b-s-raghavan/article2389526.ece?homepage=true

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  • Massileaks
    Aug 24, 2011 - 4:24PM

    Who cares what Indians think of Anna or Emma. Get off our wall and forums.

    ET you should have article for Pakistan and by Pakistan.

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  • Natasha
    Aug 24, 2011 - 4:28PM

    Typical Indian mentality at display. Corruption is not the biggest threat to Indians but their Holier than thou attitude. May your shallow egos swallow you.

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  • bee
    Aug 24, 2011 - 5:56PM

    @Khalid Ahmed and @rehmat: yeah!

    @yousaf: haha true, but to be fair, Shehla Masood did a braver thing than i will (probably) ever do.

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  • Also Anonymous
    Aug 24, 2011 - 7:19PM

    @Anonymous:

    Im sure the people of Egypt, Tunisia, syria are all chaste, grade A hindus. Not to mention their ‘leaders’ who were as soft as the government in Delhi…isn’t it anonymous??

    Would have been fun to watch the reaction of the masses had the government in Delhi been like Damascus or Cairo…

    Additionally the fasts that we are seeing in delhi allows you to drink as much water as needed..so it isnt that he is going without anything…

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  • Abhi
    Aug 24, 2011 - 11:09PM

    the title of this blog itself tells the story. What could be opposite of narrow focus, I gues focus by definition has to be narrow, you can not focus on too many things at the same time.

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  • goggi
    Aug 24, 2011 - 11:40PM

    “The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”
    Lao Tzu quotes (Chinese taoist Philosopher, founder of Taoism, wrote “Tao Te Ching” (also “The Book of the Way”). 600 BC-531 BCRecommend

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