Posts Tagged ‘Anna Hazare’
The Hindu Cartoonscope and Amul Butter cartoons continue to be a great way to capture news in India with humor and satire. This Year in Review presents a montage of cartoons from the two sources to present the highlights of what happened in India in 2011.
Reports of political scams and corruption continued to surface throughout 2011. 2G allocation, hoarding of balck money and illegal mining at Bellary were some prominent ones. Continue Reading
Given the recent developments it was difficult to avoid commenting on the India Against Corruption (IAC) campaign led by Anna Hazare. Let me clarify at the onset that I don’t support Anna’s version of the Jan Lokpal Bill and the intransigent campaign through which he seeks to get the proposal implemented. However, I support the shunning of the “kuch nahi ho sakta” (Nothing can be done) attitude in India. IAC campaign may be labelled as undemocratic by some and dangerous by others. Many had observed during the first round of protests in April that the Anna fever would die down once the IPL fever gains momentum. People participating in the candle light and street marches may be labelled as “posing for the camera” protesters. Only handful of the supporters can make an honest claim to have read the proposed Bill. Nevertheless, it is a protest against the Government and its unpopular policies. It is naïve to refer to these protests and India’s Arab Spring (simply unfair to the protestors in the Middle East). The protests in India may appear unintelligent and may not offer a desirable solution but it’s heartening to see mobilization for a cause that is unifying cause rather than protests for separate statehood or reservation for particular groups. Anna does not speak for all Indians (there are many outside the Government and Congress who don’t support him) but his supporters (we can argue about the numbers) identify themselves as Indians and not as Jats or Gujjars or natives of Telangana or Kashmiris!
Much has been written and discussed about the recent ‘civil society’ protests against corruption in India. Social activist Anna Hazare’s four day fast in April compelled the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to re-consider the Lokpal Bill through a joint committee involving ministers and members of civil society. Yoga guru, christened as ‘Baba’ Ramdev, launched his hunger strike in protest against the black money stashed in foreign banks earlier this month. There has been some debate among the supporters of Anna Hazare and Ramdev regarding entrepreneurial recognition for the “fast-track” approach to combat corruption. The Government claims to have been responsive to the demands of civil society in both instances, though Ramdev’s uncompromising attitude necessitated use of force to disband his yoga-cum-protest camp.
Responses to this wave of civil society protests can be broadly classified into two categories. Supporters of the protests justify civil society’s unease on the basis of Government’s growing incompetence, excessive corruption and power induced arrogance. Critics, see the over-zealous members of civil society as a threat to the democratic law making process and institutional separation of powers. Both sides make valid arguments. Is it possible to accurately identify the villain and hero in this confrontation?
It is important to keep Gandhi untarnished. The Gandhian can be negotiated with.
Two developments in India during the past week convinced me of the above approach in Indian politics. American journalist Joseph Lelyveld’s book The Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India created furore in the country. The book has been banned in Gujarat and Maharashtra is considering a ban. The Central government has serious objections to the book.
Anna Hazare, a Gandhian and social activist, began his fast unto death on April 5 to pressurize the Government to legislate a rigorous anti-corruption bill.
Protest or advocacy, Gandhi continues to occupy the centre stage in India.