Saturday, August 27, 2011

Is Anti-Corruption Movement Degenerating?

When a popular movement develops a huge following, it runs the risk of becoming jingoistic basing itself not on reason or concern for common good but the collective might of a community/group religious or otherwise. Anna’s movement has currently acquired this muscular characteristic.

Anna Hazare enthusiasts have become a common sight on the streets, going by bikes or walking in processions waving the national flag and sloganeering aggressively. This aggressive enthusiasm leaves me thinking whether they are open to any kind of reasoning. I shudder to think what would happen of me if I approached them and told them that, while I want a corruption-free India and don’t doubt the intentions of Anna, I would like to see the other versions of the bill discussed in parliament. Or Anna is great, but, like everyone else, he is also fallible.

But you can’t blame them for that. They are behaving that way because they have internalized the message of the movement. The movement has become an outlet to ventilate their pent up feelings. Anna has become a stick for them to hit the high and mighty with. The success of the movement for them no more lies in combating corruption and improving the society but to have their way if not by the power of reason then by power of the lung.

However, funnily, it’s not the fringe supporters alone who are behaving this way; even the core team of Anna, which advises him and comprises of highly professionally-accomplished people, is behaving likewise. How else can you explain their insistence on flouting the standard parliamentary procedures to pass their bill? Why would they say they were not happy with the government agreeing to 70 per cent of their bill and would want 90 per cent of it accepted? Why would they not understand that before a fair government, which UPA is certainly not, their bill is one among many bills proposed by various parities? If this is not gundagiri (hooliganism), then what is?

I think this intransigence of the Anna team has swelled the ranks of its detractors in last four to five day. To be fair to the Anna team, the government has done little to inspire their trust and it has done everything it can to undermine the credibility of the movement. But, even if all that is true, the government can’t forgo certain procedures. And if it does, it wouldn’t be good for our system. The Anna team has to understand this.

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