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Of Corruption & Rape Protest: WILL IT SUSTAIN OR WANE?, By Syed Ali Mujtaba, 26 Dec, 12 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 26 December 2012   

Of Corruption & Rape Protest


By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The nation is witnessing a refreshing phenomenon. Young people, who by and large remained aloof to developments around, are now asserting to be heard. First such signs, after the anti-Mandal protests two decades ago, were seen across the country during the anti-corruption movement, and recently in the vociferous protest against the sordid and shameful gang-rape of a young student in capital Delhi.

In both cases, they have spontaneously come out in hordes either at India Gate or Jantar Mantar or marched the streets, voicing their growing concern against the system. And, there is no denying that like the anti-corruption movement, the rape protests too have rattled the Government at the Centre, forcing it to react. However, the big question doing the rounds is whether the trend will sustain?  

This is so, because the anti-corruption movement as of now sadly appears to have lost steam. More so, at a time when Anna Hazare has announced to form a new team to revive the anti-corruption movement. Speculation is rife whether his second innings to cleanse the bane of corruption would again start with a thunder and end in a whimper or actually it may serve such genuine cause. Catcalls are loud and clear that it is high time that India should look beyond Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal to defeat the forces of corruption in the country. Will the young takeon the mantle?

A year ago, when Anna Hazare launched the nationwide anti-corruption movement, there was genuine support and appreciation from all quarters, including the youth. Every Indian saw in it a ray of hope to get ameliorated from the ills of corruption. 

However, a year later the situation appears to have sadly changed on the ground. Even though the grouse against corruption remains a seething ember, the mass support has vanished in thin air. In such situation whether the revival of anti-corruption movement by Anna Hazare would instill faith amongst the people is something that remains to be seen.

Corruption is an issue plaguing India for long. Scam after scam has become the order of the day, with even the foreign direct investment slowing down due to its menace. The neta (politician), the babu (bureaucrat), the dada (muscleman) and the jhola walas (NGOs) are increasingly being seen as symbols of corruption. 

When Hazare came to the forefront to take up cudgels against corruption, his image of being a Gandhian and his method of using the Gandhian tool of protest gave him due respect. People had faith in his commitment to the cause and believed that he would usher the second freedom struggle in the nation.  

However, when Hazare gave the prescription that the Lokpal Bill is to be the ultimate tool to root out corruption, reservations seem to have started setting in. The way he dictated that the Lokpal Bill should be drafted by the civil society and that it would lead to the appointment of an independent body to investigate corruption cases, may not have got total approval by those closely following the developments. 

Apparently, the idea of Lokpal was inspired by the Hong Kong ‘Independent Commission against Corruption’ (ICAC) of the 1970s, when the HK government created a commission with direct powers to investigate and deal with corruption cases. On similar lines, team Anna demanded the Lokpal to be constituted to monitor corruption cases. It’s when the clash of interest between the role of the Government and the civil society started surfacing and the question as to who may have an upper hand started emerging, that the focus on the real issue started getting lost. 

In fact, the anti-corruption movement appears to be losing its sheen due to the use of vituperative language and sort of coercive tactics in demanding the Lok Pal. And when all and sundry jumped into Hazare’s bandwagon to become overnight famous, the anti-corruption movement lost its sense of direction. The Gandhian social worker, in order to save his image, had to withdraw himself from the campaign for all practical purposes.

With the petering of Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, Arvind Kejriwal tried to step into his shoes to fill the vacuum. However, his style of playing to the gallery gave entirely a new color to the movement. The dignity associated with Anna was not evident in the antics of Kejriwal. His method of leveling corruption charges against public figures may have become a talking point but also could have provoked loathing in the society.

People seem to be getting put off by his regular rants on the television and some even question what stops him from adopting the due process of law. Kejriwal’s desire to be in the media glare has virtually brought the anti-corruption movement to the level of ridicule. He has reduced the campaign to a matter of stage shows and in the process done huge damage to the anti-corruption cause.

Ironically, some have started questioning the source of his funding and the lack of transparency, which has further put a question mark to his campaign. At the end, Kejriwal could, if all doesn’t go well, be singled out for derailing the anti corruption movement.  

Corruption as an issue continues to haunt the country and its people and the way to tackle is to be back to square one. In such situation Hazre’s declaration to start the second innings of anti-corruption campaign and Kejriwal’s formation of the aam aadmi party to take up the cause, is under question.

There is no doubt that the pronouncements of anti-corruption crusaders would be widely covered in the media. They may even succeed in building up sensation and whip up mass hysteria, but will their campaign remain de politicized and reach out to the micro level of the society is something that remains to be seen. 

The average Indian can see through the game of the politicians and social activists and certainly decipher the antics of these two categories of people. It’s beyond doubt that if the people are not happy with the Government, they are not pleased with the performance of the civil society as well. It appears that the era of Anna Hazre and Kejriwal has past its prime and the country has to search for new messiahs to defeat the forces of corruption.

The battle against corruption has to be fought in the minds and hearts of people and has to go beyond individuals if it is to provide the intended results. Laws and legislation can never overpower individual greed. Those in position of power should be willing to sacrifice their personal benefits and comforts for a corruption-free India. But that is wishful thinking. Will ‘young’ India be the torch-bearer? ---INFA

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

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