Saturday, August 27, 2011

Anna Hazare

Like everyone else in India, I, too, have been thinking about, who else, Anna Hazare for the last fortnight. I wanted to write a post on him, on what his fast and his demand for the Jan Lokpal Bill actually means. Then I saw everyone and their cousins voicing their opinions about Anna — From Arundhati Roy to my neighbourhood grosser, everybody has a say on the issue.

And it’s surprising how a few people would actually do something, other than criticise others. At least, the man is doing something. Going hungry isn’t an easy thing. Ask me, I know.

I’m not convinced whether Anna Hazare and his supporters are right or wrong, but it’s a momentous moment in India history, where so many people have taken to the streets. There are all those NGOs and organisations, and you will have to give them the credits for mobilising such a large number of people, across India.

Despite some intellectuals claiming that we are a nation of hero-worshippers, it’s not an easy thing to attract the attention of the masses, that too for more than 10 days in a stretch. There’s something else at work here. Mahatma Gandhi was able to do something like this in pre-independent India, and that was a long time ago.

Is the movement our genuine response as a nation against the act of corruption, which has been so ingrained in our day-to-day lives that we don’t even realise that we are all corrupt, some way or other.

What I wonder is this: Are we witnessing an epoch-making event unfolding before our eyes, and we don’t realise it. Did Mahatma Gandhi and his followers in the Dandi March knew that they were making history? Would our children and grandchildren read about one certain Anna Hazare in their history textbooks and wonder if it really happened?

I must admit that the makeover of the Gandhi topi, with the words, ‘I’m Anna’ in different languages written on it, is a stroke of genius. Whoever thought up the idea should be given an award in innovative marketing. How an innocuous piece of clothing becomes the totem of a public movement!

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