Even Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi probably couldn’t have got the kind of reception that
India’s latest craze Anna Hazare got when
he stepped out of New Delhi’s notorious
Thousands of men, women and children
were out in streets, armed with no more
than a Tricolor and, perhaps, a bottle of
water, but with never-before-exhibited
enthusiasm usually reserved for one-day
cricket matches involving India and old
rivals, say Pakistan.
Public concerns have never been individ-
uals’ concern in this country. Corruption
was at best a good topic for debate in
schools and colleges and not a matter to
show personal commitment.
But Hazare, 75, has changed their atti-
tude. Now, there is just one slogan on their
lips — yes, we can put an end to corruption,
if we step onto the streets, rain or shine, to
show our might.
One slogan on many Indian lips — Yes, we can put an end to corruption, if we step onto the streets,
rain or shine, to show our might
PHOTOGRAPHS: SANJAY SAWANT
Rulers misread India’s version
India’s ruling elite and their friends, how-
ever, cannot read their message. The
sleaze-driven political class hopes the
movement will fizzle out. They are angry at
these faceless Indians on the march.
‘It’s a foolish crowd led by even more fool-
ish a man,’ they say in between abuses at
Hazare. Congress party spokesperson
Manish Tiwari’s trashing of Hazare wasn’t a
slip of tongue but a calculated strategy that
went haywire — because our ministers and
rulers misread India’s own version of Tahir
Square. Hazare’s ‘second freedom struggle’
is not just against corruption, as they see it,
but against their understanding of the sta-
For once, the ruling establishment was
caught off-guard and all theories of ‘politics
of development, caste and religious identi-
ties’ appeared to be eclipsed or rendered
irrelevant by one single cause — sleaze.
For those among ruling class who love
conspiracy theories and their Congress
party-friendly editors and journalists, a
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh hand in the
public ferment seems the best way to trash
the ‘mob frenzy’ — as they see it.
Even a Central Intelligence Agency hand
is not a bad idea if the minorities can be
somehow persuaded to look askance at the
issue of corruption (as if that did not mat-
ter to them).
America-baiting too — tried by
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh
Yadav before the Uttar Pradesh polls —
falls in the same category. This time, the
Congress party’s biggest worry is the crucial
next round of state polls in Uttar Pradesh
of Tahir Square
Hazare supporters are everywhere now
early next year.
Armchair analysts, who don’t like their
established theories of social behavior to be
upstaged by public discontent, continue to
run down the Hazare movement.
They are upset that their favorite, the
Congress party-led coalition government, is
losing popular support. Other analysts who
appear on television channels every night
fear that the opposition, particularly the
Bharatiya Janata Party, could benefit even-
tually when the unbridled public dissatis-
faction results in adverse electoral verdict.
Left-leaning writers see a pro-right move-
ment on the anvil with a Gandhian mask.
They also see the upsurge as purely a mid-
dle-class movement — as if this class
should not complain — though even daily-
wage earners like rickshaw pullers and
three-wheeler drivers are among those
holding up lit candles at India Gate.
in this issue
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