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Published On:11 April 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

OPINION: Fight Against Corruption: Can Indians Sustain It for Long?

By Danish Ahmad Khan

Fight against Corruption in India in a real sense has just begun. Prominent Gandhian Anna Hazare led a popular revolt for four days by staging a fast-unto-death over the passage of ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill in the Parliament, which has been hanging fire for the past 42 years.. Keeping in view the growing support to Anna Hazare’s movement and the threat of countrywide Jail Bharo (Fill Up the Jails) Andolan on April 13, the UPA Government buckled under pressure and gave in to the demands for the formation of a Panel to oversee the draft of the ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill culminating in its passage in the Parliament after one year.  

However, the timing of Anna Hazare’s fast-unto-death and the start of the movement raises serious doubts and some pertinent questions. It is simply surprising to know that after all what prompted Anna Hazare to go on fast-unto-death at a time when the electoral process for state assemblies are currently underway in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Assam and Kerala. Was it to corner and discredit the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government over the issue of corruption and build pressure for the passage of the Lokpal Bill at the behest of some opposition parties? If this is the reason then Anna Hazare could have similarly raised this crucial issue when the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led NDA government was in power for nine years? After all, what led Anna Hazare to close his eyes all along when NDA government was in power? This question only remains to be answered by Anna Hazare himself. Though I’m neither a member of any political party nor do I hold brief for any party, but it apparently seems to me that Congress Party being a soft party can become anybody’s football to kick around. It is laudable that the UPA government read the writing on the wall quick enough and agreed to Anna Hazare’s demand of setting up a Drafting Committee according to his wishes.

Being a political observer, it gives me a strange feeling and prompts to ask myself whether Anna Hazares’s movement is stage-managed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from behind the scenes. I say this with conviction because of the manner in which religious symbolism and national interests have been intermingled. The canvas at the backdrop at the stage, where fast-unto-death was taking place at Jantar Mantar, had a Hindu goddess holding the Indian National Flag similar to that of the RSS, the only difference being the National Flag replaced the Bhagwa Dhwaj in the hands of goddess Bharat Devi of the RSS. Displaying religious symbolism on such a grave issue of national interest smacks of a sinister conspiracy and the upper handedness of the pro-Hindutva elements in hijacking the very issue of corruption by using Anna Hazare as a mere tool. It seems that Anna Hazare’s love for the RSS and BJP stopped him from raising this important issue of corruption and going on fast-unto-death during the NDA regime. On one hand, it seems that the abrasive display of religious symbolism also kept away a majority of Muslims from sharing the stage or giving their wholehearted support to the movement, while on the other hand it also seems as if this was a deliberate ploy to keep Muslims away from this significant movement and then portray them as being anti-nationals, the stigma which they have been carrying with them all along ever since India’s independence. My conviction regarding Anna Hazare’s support to RSS and BJP strengthens further as after ending his fast-unto-death he recently gave a statement praising Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his achievements while at the same time he kept silent on another corrupt BJP Chief Minister BS Yedyurappa of Karnataka. This in itself shows the double standards of Anna Hazare. After all, where was Anna Hazare and his fast-unto-death when scores of Muslims were being butchered and burnt alive during the Gujarat 2002 riots? Anna Hazare professes to be a Gandhian but doesn’t he know that Mahatma Gandhi himself went on fast-unto-death to stop communal riots at Kolkata and elsewhere during the freedom struggle. Can Anna Hazare stage another fast-unto-death to get a strong, effective Anti-Communal Riots Bill drafted in the same manner as his ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill and get it passed in the Indian Parliament? After all, the issue of communalism if far more grave than the issue of corruption and if communalism is not stopped forthwith then India’s rise as a super power may face hurdles.

Raising the issue of corruption is though welcome even at this stage. But, the million dollar question is after all how this battle against corruption can be taken to its logical conclusion. Can a mere piece of legislation like the ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill put an end to this scourge of corruption? My answer to this is simply not! What has been the outcome of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill? A number of RTI activists have been murdered, some of them have committed suicide, while most of them are living under a state of perpetual fear and constantly facing threat to their lives. Undoubtedly, the RTI Bill was a landmark, and indeed a remarkable piece of legislation which the UPA government gave to the people thus empowering them to a certain extent. But, the way in which RTI activists are being dealt with amply indicates the current state of affairs in the country, which is only worsening with each passing day.

Let’s sample the two faces of India that we are currently living in. There is one India in which the corrupt, criminal petrol and diesel adulteration mafia burns alive to death a senior Maharashtra government official, the additional district collector of Malegaon Yeshwant Sonawane, who had gone to conduct a raid and tried to expose their misdeeds. The goons in their valiant attempt to keep their corrupt practices intact could not withstand an upright government officer and simply burnt him alive to death. Just see the bravado of the oil mafia and the ineptitude of other officials and those running the state government. There is yet another India in which a Muslim police officer, the SHO (Station House Officer) of Mantown in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan, Phool Mohammad was burnt alive by villagers who were protesting the failure of the police to solve the murder of 65-year-old Dehta Devi, who was robbed and murdered Feb 9, when some unidentified criminals chopped off her legs and stole her ornaments, and the police failed to make arrests then after being given a deadline by the villagers. Phool Mohammad was not killed because he was a Muslim, but as the head of a corrupt police force who failed to do its duty despite deadlines to trace out the culprits. In this case, the poor, helpless villagers were dealing with a corrupt police force and battling for their own survival. And, the issue of corruption being a major factor in both these issues. The simple question being how can corruption be stamped out when it is ingrained in the very system and the fabric of the nation. A section of the people becoming intolerant to keep corruption intact in all its forms come what may, while the other section of the people waging a failed battle against it. The so-called ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill talks about punishing only the government officials and those running the government. But, what about those common men indulging in corruption and treating the others of their ilk as helpless creatures who can’t do anything. Those common people who believe in and dream of a just system are unwillingly being made to be a part of the corrupt system day in and day out. Can Anna Hazare or his so-called ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill guarantee the safety and security of the common man’s lives? What about those registering complaints of corruption against officials before the Lokpal being targeted themselves and left to meet the same fate as those being currently faced by numerous RTI activists? True, the ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill can deal with corrupt bureaucrats, government officials and those running the government, but what about when the common man faces threat to his/her life through another corrupt common man. At times, one can only say that corruption is in fact a boon for the common people as it has been vital and a lifeline for their very existence so long, but the corruption by the elite and the rich is certainly criminal and should be fought tooth and nail in whatever way possible.

We, Indians, are inherently corrupt and real nerds. We are a nation of hypocrite, expert at practicing double standards, emotional fools. We don’t have the guts to initiate a real battle against corruption and we are the first ones to break laws in order to get our work done by bribing officials. What I saw was nothing more than a tamasha (drama) at Jantar Mantar, so-called India’s Tahrir Square. Most of those on the stage had their own axe to grind. It was essentially a game of one-upmanship. Fight against corruption is neither a one-day affair, nor something which a piece of legislation like the ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill can stamp out altogether. If we, Indians, are really serious about battling corruption then we should fight it out till the end and take the fight at the doorsteps of the corrupt people themselves whoever they are, wherever they are and in whatever manner it is – be it Gandhian or otherwise. Or else, this movement is bound to be doomed and be damned.

Anna Hazare and others who are spearheading the movement should not communalize it and need to accommodate all sections of the society – Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, etc. on the Drafting Committee. If this movement has to be given a pan India shape and establish its credibility, taking Muslims, Christians and others along with on board the Drafting Committee is essential to avoid being dubbed as communal. It is only then that this movement can be termed to be of ‘Jan’ (People) or else the entire movement will continue to be a flawed one, with people battling corruption at their own individual level either by carrying out kangaroo court-style of justice or in whatever manner they deem fit. Anna Hazare can be only complimented for the fact that he has at least brought the issue of corruption to the centrestage once again and made the common masses sit up and give a rethink over this issue once again. I only pray for the success of the fight against corruption that has started taking shape. Respected Anna Hazare ji, are you listening!

[Danish Ahmad Khan, a Delhi-based Journalist, is Founder-Executive Editor of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be contacted at danish_a_khan@rediffmail.com or on his Mobile # +91 9990179721]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on April 11, 2011. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on April 11, 2011. Filed under , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

2 comments for "OPINION: Fight Against Corruption: Can Indians Sustain It for Long?"

  1. I totally agree with you that RSS hijacked the movement and it is used against Congress by BJP.

    The religious symbols which are used in the banner is clear that RSS is behind it and all left parties are not supporting. Even JNU where every movement get warm welcome, but they are also not supporting.

    Regards

  2. Very well commented. Keep it up.

    You have exposed the flawed approach of the fight against corruption and Anna Hazare's lop-sided stand on the issue with Minorities being kept out of the campaign as a calculated move.

    Thanks.

    Pervez Bari

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