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Onwards to the Independence of the Corrupt!

August 15, 2011

Let us pledge this 15th of August, that we will tirelessly work towards the independence – nay dictatorship – of the corrupt. We must tirelessly fight every attempt to raise  corruption as an issue – by gullible people who do not understand that corruption is not a real issue. We will not allow such people to be misled by demagogues and fascists who are  interested only in power – even if they do not show their hunger for power by contesting elections. Indeed, precisely because they do not contest elections.

Is the new mantra of democracy? How else do we understand the deafening silence on the series of dictatorial measures adopted by the government, on the part of all those who have been vocal, indeed strident, in their attack on the Anna Hazare movement? It is one thing to be opposed to the Anna Hazare movement but the silence – from parties as well as intellectuals, democratic rights groups and self-righteous editorial commentators of the Indian Express – on the desperate measures being adopted by one of the most corrupt governments ever, is inexplicable. It is as if the only threat to democracy today comes from a group of people who want to raise their voice in civil disobedience against public money being looted by elected representatives acting at the behest of powerful corporate interests.

First the Delhi Police simply refused permission to Anna Hazare and the India Against Corruption fast. Then they asked them to hold their protest in Burari! That is to say on the border of Haryana. This was but another way of disallowing it. Then they came out with a novel idea – a set of preconditions that include an undertaking that there will not be more than 5000 people and that the fast will be wound up in three days. Clearly, no self-respecting set of protestors will agree to such conditions and so ‘Team Anna’ refused to sign the undertaking.

The response of Delhi Police: Seal the borders; stop all protestors from coming into Delhi right there. Cordon off the designated site and not allow protestors to come in at all, till the blatantly anti-democratic and unconstitutional undertaking has been signed. There can be little doubt that this is not a simple police measure but something approved at the highest levels of the government of the corrupt. And doing jugalbandi with this set of administrative measures are the new string of allegations that have been thrown by the government at the protestors. After doctored CDs failed to work, some more ‘evidence’ has been produced about Hazare being ‘neck-deep’ in corruption, as if that lessens their guilt. As I have said on earlier occasions, I hold no brief for Anna Hazare, but it is really disturbing to see this complete silence when every step of the government today against a legitimate democratic protest is knocking down some of the most crucial elements of the democratic process. Will the government or Delhi police be able to stop a rampaging mob of VHP-ites when they are out to destroy inter-community peace? Have they ever been? Will they be able to stop it if the protestors, like say Tikait’s followers some years ago, come barging into the city and take it over? I do not mean to put the two (VHP and Tikait) in the same category but want to draw attention to the fact that when large masses are simply led, in complete disregard to all ‘civilities’ (like seeking advance police permission) – they can come into the city, go on a rampage, sexually harass women (even while making legitimate protests!) and there is little the police or the government can do. Is that the message the government is trying to convey? Should future protestors now, rather than seeking permission, simply take over the city and force a confrontation – which the government is doing in any case? Will that be a better, democratic process?

This is a question not only for the government but also for all those who have spoken eloquently over the past few months on democracy. Let us remember that every single measure that is being adopted today with the anti-corruption movement will be repeated with other protests in future and if we do not speak against them today, will we have the moral right to speak when it happens to ‘our type’ of protests?

Meanwhile, the worst may be happening. It is only the BJP that has come out forcefully against the ‘Emergency-type’ repressive measures being deployed by the government. It will without doubt strike a sympathetic chord among the large sections of the movements supporters. This party will be resurrected from its state of almost terminal illness thanks to the central government’s doings. But we too will have a lot to answer for if the BJP runs away with the political gains of the movement. After all, eventually, it is in electoral terms that the effects will be translated when election time comes.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. ravi nayar permalink
    August 15, 2011 10:30 AM

    I think on this so called Independence day a humorous but real story would not be out of place. One of our family friend’s son studying abroad got entangled with an Italian girl and on the verge of marrying her informed his family. The father went berserk saying in Bengali, ” Amar desh ke to ek Italian kabza koreche, aar ekhuni amar cheleke anya ek Italian niye jache – ye ki asabyata!!” – ” My country has been taken over by an Italian and now another Italian is taking away my son – what nonsense”

    And that exactly has what has happened to our country. We got rid of the British only to have a more corrupt and vicious set of sub-humans take over this country.

    regards
    Ravi

  2. ooh,on the other hand permalink
    August 15, 2011 11:33 AM

    You should read A.G.Noorani’s article in the recent issue of Frontline. I think SC may intervene and overrule these mischievous efforts of powers that be.

  3. Ron permalink
    August 15, 2011 2:46 PM

    Here is the perhaps the funniest part:

    Had this protest happened in , say a foreign country, led by that countries middle class…ALL liberal intellectuals would have shouted “SOLIDARITY”!

    Since it is Indian middle class protesting….therefore no support….only silence!

    Even though i am not a big supporter of this movement , but the real reason why intellectuals DO NOT support this movement is because its “oh so Indian middle class” …

    A simple question : Do intellectuals have a problem with the indian middle class??

  4. Subash permalink
    August 15, 2011 4:47 PM

    They should make these (anti protest) measures as the benchmark for future protests by political parties. If these set of conditions are imposed as standard for all rallies, protests etc in future then it would become difficult for political parties also to hold massive rallies where they mobilize lakhs of people and money to organize such rallies.

  5. August 15, 2011 7:50 PM

    insipired…

  6. suresh permalink
    August 15, 2011 8:10 PM

    Aditya,

    On the face of it — I emphasize this — the government does have a case. Any activity conducted in a public space can create law and order problems which does have to be taken into account. If, as seems likely, a lot of people are going to converge at the place where the fast is going to held, then the government will be obliged to provide security which can be quite considerable. Law and order problems can be expected to get significantly worse if Anna Hazare’s condition becomes worse. I am not justifying the government; I am just noting that there are tricky issues involved here.

    I wonder why Anna Hazare did not conduct his fast in a private space. I don’t think he would have lost much by doing so. Historically, we can point to the fact that Potti Sriramulu’s famous fast which led the linguistic reorganization of states was conducted in a private home belonging to Bulusu Sambamurthy, in the Mylapore area of Chennai.

    Looking at the Wikipedia page for Irom Sharmila Chanu, it appears that the government can intervene even if the fast is conducted in a private space. To our disgrace, we still retain the British era law (Section 309 IPC) which makes attempting to commit suicide a crime. This is the basis on which Irom Sharmila has been arrested and force fed for more than ten years now.. So the government could do exactly the same to Anna Hazare but I am sure there would be far more outrage if the government were to arrest and force fed him.

    Two questions, unrelated to the issue being discussed. One, what is Irom Sharmila’s current status? Two, is there any attempt to repeal the idiotic Section 309?

  7. miao permalink
    August 15, 2011 10:52 PM

    I still have strong reservations about the pitch and the content of Team Anna’s campaign, but the Government and the Congress is almost forcing me to take sides and support Anna.

  8. Revu Naik permalink
    August 16, 2011 10:13 AM

    As I type this comment, there is news coming in that Anna Hazare has been put under house arrest.
    First they came for the Geelani supporters
    I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t Kasmiri
    Then they came for the Hazare supporters
    I didn’t speak out because I wanted to distance myself from the Hindutvaites
    Then they came for me
    There was no one left to speak out for me

  9. K M Furqan permalink
    August 16, 2011 12:33 PM

    Dear Aditya Nigam,

    You are very much pained by the ‘deafening silence’ of those who matters: intellectuals, NGOs and other political parties for not speaking against the wrong and undemocratic way of dealing with Anna Hazarae’s second unlimited fast for Lokpal Bill.
    But I am worried by the ‘distracting noise’ being made by the team-Anna. The reason is my inability to understand the present anti-corruption tsunami threatening the very survival of the present government.
    To find out epicentre of the present anti-corruption tsunami, answers to few more questions are required:
    1. When and what triggered Anna Hazarae, Swami Ramdev and the likesto take cudgels against corruption?
    2. What certainty is there that the new bill will eradicate corruption? There are laws to fight so many other crimes. But they are not implemented properly.
    3. Corruption or communal hatred and disharmony: which is more harmful for Indian society and polity? And which should be fought on more urgent basis?
    4. Imagine an another scenario: if there were a minority Anna – to be more specific a Muslim Anna threatening to go on fast after fast to formulate a bill of his choice to redress the communal injustices, what would have been our response???

    In present scenario, no one is supporting the corruption. No one has the view that corruption is a good and useful practice. And that it should continue as such. In very loud and clear words government condemns it and is taking steps to find out ways to eliminate it.
    Now if a group insists for a legislation exactly of their choice and wordings and in the absence of it, threatens to raise public emotion by fast unto death etc., is it really something democratic? Some thing simple as it looks?
    Corruption is not a new phenomenon, neither it is confined to higher echelon of the government or public, and certainly not to Delhi or to present government . If genuinely concerned, let Team-Anna fight it at the root level. Make town or area wise committees to check then & there if a government officer is not passing a legitimate paper to coerce the concerned person for giving some bribe; or if a public person is offering bribe to lure an officer to get something done in his favour to which he is not entitle lawfully.
    K M Furqan

  10. Rohit Negi permalink
    August 16, 2011 7:09 PM

    two things:

    1. why is the organized Left silent on this? strategically speaking–for their sake–what they need right now is to purge their own association with state violence and corruption. what better way than associating with this movement that, purportedly, is against both.

    2. on the issue of fasting, it seems many liberals in India are horrified by this tactic and articulate their displeasure with the Anna-led movement for that precise reason. come to think of it, is the fasting necessary for the movement to be sustained? seems like there would be the groundswell without the anshan.

    • miao permalink
      August 17, 2011 4:00 PM

      CPIM(L) has already initiated a similar movement- Student-Youth Against Corruption (https://www.facebook.com/groups/studentyouthagainstcorruption). Yesterday they held a protest rally in Jantar Mantar to protest against the detention of anti-corruption activists by the Delhi Police. Some AISA activists also protested during Kapil Sibal’s lecture in Mavlankar Hall.

      • Rohit Negi permalink
        August 17, 2011 7:52 PM

        saw the AISA action. commendable. Sibal needs to know EXACTLY how the public at large feels about him.

  11. naveen jankar permalink
    August 17, 2011 12:46 PM

    thoughts on new media and middle class protest:

    a difference in this movement from earlier movements and its similarity to the series of protests happening across the world is the means of new media. this being a technology which is predominantly accessible to the middle class has for the first time made it possible to organise this class on a mass scale. the mass was hitherto always the lower classes mobilisation of which required much more time and hence commitment. the newer faster mode possibly makes for more catchy and shallower culture of protest. also since people are not linked directly the variety of fringe elements involved in the movement is much more.

    Still this movement is a hybrid – the leader of the movement coming out of rural movements and mass mobilisation.

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  1. India against corruption: If government falls, we don’t care, says Anna « THE LAWFILE

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