H C Singh

Will Anna Hazare be 21st Century Gandhi?

Gandhi fought for India’s independence, then considered, most important and many thought it will not last but Mahatma Gandhi was considered apostle of non violence and is known as such not only in India but throughout the colonies of British, Portugal and France, in South East Asia and Africa. Gandhi is remembered after 60 years, as pioneer of passive resistance and non violence. Even US President Barack Obama has Gandhi’s photo in his office. Ofcourse in India, then home of non-violence, Gandhi’s photos and statues are everywhere. In India, Gandhi’s lasting contribution was also boycott of British manufactured cotton textiles and clothes which led to industrialization of India and employment to millions of workers in Indian factories and handicrafts that was symbolized by the spinning wheel or Charkha, India benefitted a lot from Gandhi’s encouragement to Indian Industry and Indian handicrafts to this day. In contrast in Britain tens of thousands of workers, particularly in Lankashire became unemployed, most of them British women workers who were paid less wages for the same work than their men counterparts for the same work.

These are the lasting contributions of Gandhi the Mahatma to India and the world in the 20th century. Now about the likelihood of Anna Hazare becoming 21st century Gandhi or Mahatma, especially for India, if he succeeds in eliminating corruption in India in all spheres, industries, income- tax, police, civil servants and politicians.

Already after for couple of days of his fast in Jantar Mantar area of Delhi adjoining Connaught place and hardly 1 km from Parliament House, more than 500 people mostly young joined Anna in his fast unto death against corruption. On 5th April, two former Chief Ministers, Chautala of Haryan and Uma Bharati of Rajasthan who tried to get some limelight and came to meet Anna Hazare were booed and ‘shooed off’ virtually pushed out by Anna’s followers, particularly by those who had joined the fast. Sharad Pawar, a politician, now also known for Corruption was criticized and dishonoured so much that he quit from chairmanship of the organization he headed.

Watching for a week unprecedented response to Anna Hazare by millions of Indian citizens against corruption, the UPA, infact the Congress, got so worried that it virtually, after 3 days government sent for negotiations Sibal and two other with Parshant Bhushan. Government surrendered to Anna Hazare’s basic demands. Anna’s followers all over India felt jubilant as they had won the first battle in 2nd war of Independence, now against corruption. Wars, wether these are World Wars or for Independence of country or Independence from corruption can not be won in a day or week. The first battle against corruption launched by Anna Hazare has been won. Anna Hazare has already announced 15th August 2011 the date for winning war against corruption. If the UPA II fails to surrender or concede victory to Anna Hazare’s war against corruption then it is likely that there will be no end to peaceful demonstrations all over India to demonstrate solidarity and determination to win the war against corruption for whole of India.

The second war of Independence is against nationwide, corruption, which during last seven years under UPA II touched sky because of 2G scam, corruption in CWG and appointment of Thomas as CVI. However after accepting the demand of Anna Hazare during 4 days fast and nation wide agitation, the government virtually accepted defeat and agreed to Anna Hazare’s demand to pass the Lokpal bill as comprehensive as Anna’s adviser Shantibhushan and other suggest by 15th August. Central government of India, to save its prestige and possible fall went half way in accepting Anna’s demands. But halfway in tackling corruption is not at all acceptable just as halfway independence of India i.e. Home rule was not acceptable to Gandhiji. During 1st war of Independence, Gandhiji’s non-violent agitation continued till 15th August 1947 when India got complete independence.

It is unprecedented that Lokpal bill remained untouched during last 42 years and no attempt was made to consider it or pass it. Out of 42 years Congress was in power for 37 years and only for 5 years BJP was in power, so it is mainly the Congress and now UPA who were sleeping over it. Even during 7 years when UPA II has been in power it did not think of taking into consideration, as UPA II was not serious about eliminating or even reducing corruption.

That is why the government did not ractify U N pact against graft during last six years though India signed UN convention against graft in 2005. During last six years India’s PM Manmohan Singh visited USA almost six times. If Indian government was serious, it could ratify the UN pact against graft in a year or two. But it is understood that Department of Personnel and training steadfastly opposed it. But why the government if convinced and serious about ending corruption, did not overrule DOPT and ratify it. Had the government ratified, it could get the black money of lakhs of crores in foreign banks and also take action against those who had cheated India to evade tax. As the government was not ready to disclose the names in public, despite repeated demand by opposition, in particular, as many politicians including ministers and high officials of government were involved. Government of India should have ratified the UN pact against graft immediately and got lakhs of crores of people’s money back.

It is apt to conclude this review with Anna Hazare’s own words. To a question: How hopeful are you that the government will accept your demands. Anna Hazare the great and determined replied as under:

“I have started the fight and I will not back off. The country has had enough. Just count the number of scams and the amount of money involved in it. The scamsters are not going to jail. The Lokpal Bill will send them to jail and they will be punished for their crimes. The government wants to keep everything secret.” After giving some details about governments negligence and failure in tracking corruption, Anna Hazare announced: “I am ready to sacrifice my life for this bill”. But neither people of India who had supported the nation-wide agitation for 4 days, nor the government of India could afford that Anna to become bed ridden, so all wished that Anna should live long. Here are some significant views expressed by Anna on government officials, particulars, ministers and also on Gandhiji.

“The agitation is for the people of this country. It will get rid the nation of corrupt leaders. I am not associated with anybody. I am a follower of Gandhiji and he would not have liked today’s situation in the country. The corrupt leaders and officers are more dangerous than terrorists. People ask me being a Gandhian how could you advocate hanging corrupt people. My answer is that today times have changed. You need Shivaji’s sward to enface Gandhian principles.” About the corrupt leaders and officers Anna says what is apparently correct that “when they themselves are corrupt how strong will the Lokpal bill be that they pass. I am not against any government. I only want a corruption free nation”. Anna Hazare finally in the interview warns the government by giving example of his agitations in Maharashtra: “My earlier agitations have caused fall of two Maharashtra governments. I do not want the government at the centre to fall. But if they continue to be intoxicated by power, the public will teach them a lesson.” His interview, as above, is both an advice to the government and a warning. To the people of India Anna Hazare, 21st century Gandhi, has advised that they should be ready for long struggle with determination to win the second war of Independence against corruption in their nation. People should ignore dissenting remarks by Kapil Sibal and even Advani or any politician or political party and, if need be, carry on nation-wide agitation till they make India shine as absolutely free from corruption.

April 15, 2011 - Posted by | Politics | ,

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