‘Independence from corruption is the
fight of our generation’
About 300 people demonstrated outside the Indian consulate in San Francisco August 18, condemning anti-corruption activist
Kishan Baburao ‘Anna’ Hazare’s arrest in India.
Holding banners, placards and Indian flags, the
people stood outside at the narrow pathways of the
consulate under police protection.
The protest was called by the People For
Loksatta Bay Area, a nonprofit, and the San
Francisco Bay Area unit of an umbrella organiza-
tion called India Against Corruption. The protest-
ers submitted a petition condemning the arrest
and demanding that the Jan Lokpal Bill be imple-
“We are doing this because independence from
corruption is the struggle and fight of our genera-
tion,” said Pramod Mahadevan of the India
Against Corruption Bay Area unit, one of the
organizers of the protest. “Anna Hazare has
inspired us and has
awakened our patriotic
fervor like Gandhi
inspired his generation
to fight for independ-
ence. We believe that
this is our tipping point
and that we will win
this fight and leave a
better India for our
generation and genera-
tions to come. We strongly support the India
Against Corruption movement and Hazare’s fast
demanding the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill
drafted by the citizen’s committee.”
Through the protest, he said, the group was try-
ing to express its frustration at the rampant cor-
ruption that pervades all levels of the government
to the point where citizens of India treat scams
and paying bribes as part of daily life.
“We are appalled by the introduction of the gov-
ernment’s version of the Lokpal Bill which does
little, if anything, to curb corruption and does not
take a comprehensive look at all the areas that
need to be addressed,” he said.
Many of the protesters took leave from their jobs
to attend the protest.
Prasanna Meda, president, People of Loksatta
Bay Area, works at Google and was able to take
half a day off from work to participate at the rally.
“There is a lot of corruption in my state (Andhra
Pradesh) and we encourage the Lokayukta and
want state and district level to be covered in the Lok Pall
Bill,” he said.
He said in his state there are many scams at the local level
in the mines and the port areas, controlled by local politi-
cians and state legislators.
Nidhi Shah, a student at San Jose State University, took a
day off to attend the protest. “I have told my supervisor and
said will come to office early the next day,” he said. “I did
not want to lose this opportunity. I regularly follow Indian
news channels and I saw people protesting against corrup-
tion. I always wanted to contribute something for my coun-
try. Even though I don’t live in India, I care a lot about it.”
She said the reason so many Indians migrate abroad is
because they want peace in their life, they want a better
future, a corruption-free environment, and a better quality
He said he lived for 28 years in India but
after coming to the United States, “I realize
what freedom is. We want Indian people to
feel and enjoy freedom. I don’t want my
children to question me: Why did you not
support a great cause for me?”
Also off from work was Devkumar
Jayaprakash. “My country needs me,” he
said. “I’m taking time off from work to
show my solidarity with Team Anna for a
better Jan Lokpal Bill.”
He pointed out that Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh had declared
that parliamentarians should device a bill
and that should happen in parliament, not
in a field.
“I accept the argument,” Jayaprakash
said. “We the citizens know what is there in
the Joke Pal bill and Jan Lokpal Bill.
Jokepal will successfully shield the corrupt
and execute the whistleblowers — no
accountability for government employees.
If this is the kind of bill we the citizens
should expect from parliament, then we do
not need you (politicians). Jai Hind!”
Madhu Mujoo, a naturalized US citizen,
said, “I will be on fast for the next eight
days. A 75-year-old person (Hazare) is
doing so much for the country!”
She said she did not know about Hazare
till April, when he hit the headlines.
“It was deeply inspiring for me,” she said.
“I am fasting not just for Hazare, I am
doing it for the upcoming generation.
Corruption has a global impact. It is a
problem that will impact not only India
but the entire world.”
Mujoo was also present at a candlelight
vigil hosted by the members of India
Against Corruption in South San Jose,
Rohit Jately, an organizer of the candle-
light vigil, said, “We have been independ-
ent for a while but we have always been
slaves of corruption and it is affecting
Jately, who left office early that day to
organize the vigil, added: “Anna is a simple
man and is not looking for power. So, if
somebody is fighting for us, why not sup-
port him? It is unfortunate that when I go
and visit my country, I have to pay bribes to
get my luggage through.”
At another protest August 14, nearly 150 Indian
Americans gathered at the Civic Centre Plaza in Los
Angeles to show their support to Hazare.
“Though we are NRIs, we are concerned about the grow-
ing corruption in India and its effect on the common man.
It even affects us when we visit the country. Right from the
airport, everyone starts asking for bribes,” said Sasidhar
Kalagara, who was among the 150.
The event was organized by People for Loksatta and India
Against Corruption’s Los Angeles unit.
“Lots of NRIs have investments in India and it is very
hard for them when they want to buy properties or make
other investments in the country (because of the corrup-
tion),” Kalagara added.
RI TU JHA
RI TU JHA
About 300 people demonstrated outside the Indian consulate in San Francisco August 18
At another protest August 14, nearly 150 Indian Americans gathered at the Civic Centre
Plaza in Los Angeles
“If we get all these in India, why would we leave and set-
tle down in other country?” she asked. She said by joining
the protest, “I want to tell them that even though we live
outside India, we care about India’s people and their
Another protester, Jay Sahu of Cupertino, California,
said, “I want to support the Jan Lokpal Bill with the best of
my ability. Corruption is the biggest worry in India, if we
can make the world’s best software, processes, systems, net-
works, then we can build a better India too. I have taken off
because since the last three days. I am calling my friends
and whoever I know and requesting them to support the
movement. It’s my responsibility to fight not only for myself
but for all the people of India.”