Debunking the Anna campaign
So there we go…. Indian of the Year…again ! Congratulations, Hazare-ji. First awarded so by NDTV(shared with Arvind Kejriwal) and now by CNN-IBN. Adds to a long list of achievements by Anna. The previous and more prestigious ones, Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan were undoubtedly deserved, for transforming Ralegaon Siddhi and bringing in other social reforms.
But what about the last two ? ‘Indian of the Year’ by two media companies… Completely deserved, many would say, taking into account the happenings of the year. At first glance, it would appear so. Fasting 3 times in a year for the passage of the Lokpal Bill would certainly be worthy of such recognition. But when that recognition comes from media companies, who made tens of crores in advertisement revenues thanks to the continuous, over-hyped and sensationalized coverage of the campaign, it seems worthless. And ‘Indian of the Year’ ? In a land of 1.2 billion people, is it that easy to give the award to just one or two persons ? True, Anna has brought the country together, but to what ends ? For the passage of one Bill, many others have been put on hold for more than a year ! Right to Education, Food Security Act and important other economic reforms included.
Moving on, lets talk about the campaign itself. This whole idea of black-mailing the UPA government to get the Lokpal Bill passed. Why do we need Parliament then ? People compare him to Gandhi. But they forget, Gandhi and millions of other Indians fought for Independence from an external colonial power. However corrupt the present and earlier Governments have been, it would be prudent on our part to remember that the Constitution and the Parliament are the two most powerful weapons we citizens have. Claims of Anna being bigger than Parliament are made. Really ? Can one man have more power than the collective voice of 350 million people who vote every 5 years ?
I’ve heard people counter-argue that why should we wait 4 years to take action on errant representatives ? I’d say that’s a punishment for our failure to vote the right people in. And lets not hide behind the excuse of no good candidates being available. Less than half the urban population votes in elections. Yet, we are the first to make excuses. Here’s where Anna could actually have stepped in and made a much bigger difference. He and India Against Corruption group claim to have the support of 25 crore people. If they contested in the Parliamentary elections and if even half of that 25 crore voted for them, they would be able to win anywhere between 300-400 seats. Enough for a whopping majority no party has achieved in decades. Anna may use his excuses again to not enter politics. But as he himself will tell you, to clean something, you got to get your hands dirty. We need long-term solutions. Otherwise, the Lokpal Bill will turn out to be a mere placebo than the miracle pill we are all hoping it will be.
In the end, let me make this clear. I’ve nothing against the passage of the Lokpal Bill. I’d be really glad when that happens. But not at the cost of making a mockery of our Parliamentary system and democratic values that so often marvels everyone in the world, except ourselves.