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The Making of Anna Hazare

April 12, 2011

[This piece is based on my extensive field work on Anna Hazare and his movement in Ralegan Sidhi over some years and is also a part of my forthcoming book Green and Saffron: Hindu Nationalism and Indian Environmental Politics. MS]

The anti-corruption movement, spearheaded by Anna Hazare, and the passage of the Lokpal Bill have generated unprecedented interest amongst a wide spectrum of society about the ideas, politics and organisations of civil society in general, and Anna Hazare in particular. Hazare’s anti-corruption crusade merits attention not only for its importance in ensuring a corruption-free society, but also due to its multifaceted nature. Hazare’s politics however has to be seen in a larger framework and in a wider historical context. Howsoever laudable the goals of anti-corruption movement in India today, the movement is not beyond the categories of gender, caste, authority, democracy, nationalism and ultra-nationalism. Far from transcending them, the movement is transforming and being transformed by the implicit deployment of such categories. I wish to place Hazare in the larger context of his environmental journeys, where the elusive but crucial element is one of authority that is exercised due to a large degree of consent and conservatism. Yet, almost all accounts on him, largely celebratory in nature, do not examine the ideology and politics of his works. These are crucial not only to critically assess the present and the future of our anti-corruption movements, but also to interrogate certain brands of civil society activisms and environmentalisms.The rural environmental works by Anna Hazare in Ralegan Sidhi village in Maharashtra have been hailed widely, which are fed by, and feed into, certain dominant political cultures of the state. Though developmental and environmental works form the core of his ideological structures, they include other important issues. A belief system of force and punishment, liberal use of Hindu religious symbols, strict rules and codes, evocation of nationalism and ultra-nationalism, ‘pure’ morality and caste hierarchies, with a marginalisation of women, Muslims and Dalits, form the core of his village regeneration. The basis for the authority of Anna comes from a belief system, where the people following him consider it their natural duty to obey, and the exercising person thinks it a natural right to rule. Thus a former village sarpanch of the region states: ‘Whatever Anna says, we do. The whole village follows his words. Anna’s orders work like the army.’ For another villager, ‘Annajee is like God.’ The absolute recognition of an authority locally works in several internalised ways.

In the process of social transformation, Anna believes that advice, persuasion or counselling do not always work and occasionally force has to be applied. Force can be applied in many forms, physical and social, and often the simple persistent fear of its application regulates society. Force gives a safe and solid grounding to socially accepted values. It is not only Anna Hazare who proposes flogging and fear as essential parts of a green village; it has its wide audience in the village.

In an environmentally sound Ralegan Sidhi, religious symbols are core vehicles for transformation and imposition. Its embodiment in certain places/people legitimises them. The command-obedience relationship also gets its rationale from the belief that a God or a temple is ‘supreme’ and any decision taken in front of them must be obeyed. According to Hazare, Lord Rama set an ideal before every citizen of how to conduct everyday life by his own example. There is need for Lord Shri Krishna to reincarnate and save the country.

It is not only environmental rules, but also rules governing the entire socio-political life of people that make an authority acceptable. Those who make these rules and those who obey them are legitimate; others illegitimate/illegal. Anna Hazare is deeply concerned with rules and norms with a definite model:

“The daily routine enforced in the army such as getting up early in the morning, jogging and physical training thereafter, cleanliness of body, clothing, living quarters and the neighbourhood etc. led to development of a disciplined life, benefits of which I am availing of even today. The habit of giving due respect and regard to the seniors by age, post, or competence was inculcated in us…. This has helped me in conducting the village development work at Ralegan Siddhi according to the rules and regulations decided by us by common consent.”

Others reciprocate this language. Villagers normally say that their village works like an army. As a commandant, Anna orders and we follow. Army discipline is the ideal. The path of rural development here depends in a large measure on many other ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’. No shop in Ralegan can sell bidis or cigarettes. Film songs and movies are not allowed. Only religious films, like Sant Tuka Ram, Sant Gyaneshwar can be screened. Only religious songs are allowed on loudspeakers at the time of marriages. It is emphasised in the village that the villagers themselves decided not to sell bidis in their shops; they themselves do not watch films or listen to film songs. However, the language of acquiescence can be highly brahaminical and hegemonic.

Anna Hazare wants to build India into a strong, powerful nation. Narratives of war, army and enemy remain the core references in much of the discourse on nation and rural development. Here, expressions like ‘national regeneration’, ‘wholesome crop of national glory through comprehensive rural development’ are coupled with others like ‘We have to hold the nation. Otherwise, Pakistan will grab it. That is why we consciously send our sons to the army.’

The concept of morality and subsequent codes/behaviours/practices based on it are important elements in the notion of development. Anna’s concern with the moral is couched in his discourse of the nation that exercise control over the private and the public, the personal and the political. For school children there is moral education and practice, comprising physical training, body building, patriotism, obedience, samskars and Hindu culture. Doing surya namaskar and chanting Om is regular for the students. For women, it is stressed that they should certainly look after the household but they must also participate in activities intended to help their community and country. It is stated, ‘Woman is the Universal Mother, The Great Mother. Many such Great Mothers have given birth to Great Sons — Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Swami Vivekananda for instance.’ She is also a symbol of purity, sublime as well as innate strength. It is significant that much of the problematisation of morality of children, youth and village is done in the context of influence of western, modern culture. ‘Western lifestyle’, ‘modern development’ and ‘invasion of western culture’ invariably emerge as repeated expressions, signifying the collapse of morality in modern India.

In Ralegan, there are a few Mahars, Chamars, Matangs, Nhavi, Bharhadi and Sutars. Since the beginning of his work, Anna has been particularly emphasising the removal of untouchability and discrimination on caste basis meted out to people, who are popularly referred to as Harijans here. The concept of ‘village as a joint family’, or all inhabitants of the village as ‘almighty God’, has prompted the villagers to pay attention to the problems of Harijans. The integration of Dalits into an ideal village has two components in Ralegan. One is to assume that they were always there to perform some duties and necessary services and that their usefulness justifies their existence in the present. The other component is hegemonic, designed to get Dalits into a brahaminical fold. It is not only manifested in the way food or dress habits are propagated; it is prevalent in several other forms.

In spite of the apparent diversities that characterise the various elements that make up Anna Hazare, there is an underlying thread of unity in his ideological positioning. Not only is this authority deeply rooted in the dominant socio-political tradition of the region; it is often blind to many basic and universal issues of rights, democracy and justice. Personal moral authority, while contributing in harnessing water and other natural and human resources for the betterment of economic conditions of the villagers, simultaneously also raises significant questions about its relationship to the making of a democratic, critical community, free from burdens of force, punishment, coercion, obligation, patronage, charity and piety. The present movement led by him too reflects some of these elements. Placing Hazare in a larger context posits in front of us several such questions.

101 Comments leave one →
  1. lalith aditya permalink
    April 12, 2011 10:21 AM


    First the wikipedias definition of Fascism : is a radical, authoritarian nationalist political ideology.
    Wiki: Fascists believe that a nation requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong.
    <<< One of the proposed Selection committee member: a Nuclear weapons Hawk Abdul kalam
    Wiki: A key element in the creation of fascism was the fusion of agendas of nationalists on the political right with Sorelian syndicalists on the left
    <<< Mixing of the rightwing RamdevBaba and leftwing Swami Agnivesh.
    Wiki : Benito Mussolini stated in 1922, "For us the nation is not just territory but something spiritual… A nation is great when it translates into reality the force of its spirit”
    <<< The dominating presence of Bharath matha imagery at Hazare’s fast.
    Wiki: Fascists spoke of creating a "new man" and a "new civilization" as part of their intention to transform society.[142] Mussolini promised a “social revolution” for “remaking” the Italian people.
    <<< All those rants about “Second Independence” for India

    • deepankar permalink
      April 12, 2011 2:29 PM

      omg, that is insightful!

    • August 16, 2011 10:11 PM

      It is nothing but Gandhism, Gandhian Thoughts & his concepts. Please make sure paid writers are not hijacking Indian democracy and us.
      It is the same language of Dig vijay sing and his followers. Whether there is Hinduism or Islamism or anything, nothing wrong in that because the concept of village as a joint family, or all inhabitants of the village as God, its great. Mahathmaji’s concept was same- Ramrajya concept. But the congress leaders diverts this to BJP’s Ramrajya concept. And it is damn purposeful.

      • August 21, 2011 12:22 PM

        So what happens, or happened to the Dalits, Muslims and other minorities in the village? They were told again and again, peacefully and forcefully that they are bad and dirty till the time they “changed” to fit in the majority criterion. It is not just against Gandhi’s concepts, it is anti-democractic.

      • rosun permalink
        August 29, 2011 2:46 PM

        Gandhiji didn’t send his kids to formal schools, he was unwilling to experiment with the ‘western’ medicine practice even at the risk of his wife and kids. While his obstinate nature earned him the ‘Father of the Nation’, he was not necessarily not the best husband or father. Certain things were forced upon his wife and kids.

    • Suraj Prasad permalink
      August 26, 2011 4:03 PM

      So called flaws found in Jan Lokpal Bill by some politicos to confuse public
      If really there are any in the draft the corrupt leaders need not worry as first it must be introduced before Parliament (where over 28% MPs have criminal records) and then after debates & amendments it may be passed. He must have forgot Mahatma Gandhi from whom his party is said to draw inspirations as Satyagraha & Hunger Strike were his innovations for democracy

      By the way, Bengalis known for their protests for Vietnam to Libya and anything under the sun are stringently silent on this Anna Andolan which has caught the imagination of nation and even NRIs abroad may be because their newly elected leader “Apa” Mumtaz Begum is not that honest as made out to be by most of Bengali media controlled by her or she may not know how to run Govt & is a perennial beggar to Corrupt Congress Govt at centre. Anyway supporting crime is an equal crime as the crime itself!

      If Anna moved by Govt or BJP fails 2 force Congress 2 bring Jan Lokpal or PM 2 resign, then block Parliament & BJP MP’s houses from 30th Aug. Yaswant Sinha the honest capable leader able of being next P.M candidate & BJP President backs Advani’s demand for fresh LS elections and Threaten to Resign Over Party’s Anti-graft Stand
      Yashwant Sinha, Shotgun Shatrughan & Uday Singh the BJP MPs are upset with BJP’s ‘soft stand’ on Lokpal Bill.

      • September 3, 2011 12:55 PM

        Why did you feel it necesary to drag Bengalis into this discussion? Which part of your somewhat extended discourse needed Bengalis to be pilloried?

    • Suraj Prasad permalink
      August 26, 2011 4:10 PM

      Some flaws found in Jan Lokpal Bill by Politicos !
      To confuse public & if really there are any in the draft the corrupt leaders need not worry as first it must be introduced before Parliament (where over 28% MPs have criminal records) and then after debates & amendments it may be passed. He must have forgot Mahatma Gandhi from whom his party is said to draw inspirations as Satyagraha & Hunger Strike were his innovations for democracy
      By the way, Bengalis known for their protests for Vietnam to Libya and anything under the sun are stringently silent on this Anna Andolan which has caught the imagination of nation and even NRIs abroad may be because their newly elected leader “Apa” Mumtaz Begum is not that honest as made out to be by most of Bengali media controlled by her or she may not know how to run Govt & is a perennial beggar to Corrupt Congress Govt at centre. Anyway supporting crime is an equal crime as the crime itself!
      If Anna moved by Govt or BJP fails 2 force Congress 2 bring Jan Lokpal or PM 2 resign, then block Parliament & BJP MP’s houses from 30th Aug. Yaswant Sinha the honest capable leader able of being next P.M candidate & BJP President backs Advani’s demand for fresh LS elections and Threaten to Resign Over Party’s Anti-graft Stand
      Yashwant Sinha, Shotgun Shatrughan & Uday Singh the BJP MPs are upset with BJP’s ‘soft stand’ on Lokpal Bill.

  2. voyeur permalink
    April 12, 2011 10:43 AM

    sorry to be using Hindu symbolism again but to criticize anna hazare for these methods is like the worshipper of the atman ridiculing the idol worshipper. Maybe you are so far down the path of realization of truth that you don’t need an external symbol to serve as your focus for your spiritual energies. But there is a large number of people who find solace in idol worship only. Can I then call the idol worshipper a fool?

    Yes your model of social development, empowerment of Dalits may be more advanced and nuanced but Anna Hazare’s model of inclusion is the reason why a Ralegam Siddhi isn’t a Khairlanji.

    Also please elaborate on the force aspect of it. What is meant by ‘films are not allowed’? Is is that socially playing film music is frowned upon or that there is actually some sanction by some khap panchayat type of institution against such behaviour.

    • deepankar permalink
      April 12, 2011 2:33 PM

      Creating a culture that frowns upon such simple things *is* force. Perhaps it also has elements of fascism, as lalith aditya pointed out.

      • voyeur permalink
        April 15, 2011 8:55 PM

        All of India is a society that by and large frowns upon love between individuals of
        a) the same gender
        b) the same gotra
        c) different castes
        d) different religions
        e) different socio-economic backgrounds

        we may not agree with these prejudices that frown upon simple things. It doesn’t mean everyone who holds these prejudices is a fascist.

  3. Deepak permalink
    April 12, 2011 11:00 AM

    I would like see this article translated to Malayalam and share in Malayalam cyber space, indeed with proper attributes. Please let me have the permission for it.

    • rajeeve permalink
      April 12, 2011 5:17 PM

      Deepak, i dont think Mukulji will have any objection on that. You can give the link and courtesy. i am sure that will do. Meanwhile i will try to reach him and convey this request. But better dont delay the translation.

      • Ashok Tanurkar permalink
        July 23, 2011 11:38 AM

        I have been working in Ralegan Siddhi, Anna Hazare’s village, since last 20 years. I want to share my experiences in Ralegan Siddhi. I want e-mail ID of Mukul Sharma. Please give me the same.

        Thank you,

    • August 21, 2011 12:26 PM

      i saw a similar article in Madhyamam daily yesterday which actually made me search on the net.

  4. Anirban Bandyopadhyay permalink
    April 12, 2011 11:17 AM

    I did mention in my comment yesterday that we need someone place before us the ideas and practices, that is the politics, of Hazare. This piece does that to some extent. It is for readers now to decude whether they agree with Sengupta or Nigam. This piece not only shows what Hazare believes and practices, but also why he is so widely accepted. I for one am alarmed more than ever.

    • April 12, 2011 12:48 PM

      Why are you alarmed? Because Hazare is about to be your representative? Don’t buy into all the alarmist, world-about-to-end articles around the net.

      The only mandate of this particular agitation was corruption. The only reason why he got so much wide-spread support was because the mandate was this narrow. I doubt if he would get this kind of support if he starts going beyond corruption into other fields of life.

      For those who are worried about people like this taking over law-making, remember two things –

      one is that parliament still has to pass the bill. Even if the bill is perfect from all regard, satisfying all “democracy defenders”, even then it is going to face very close scrutiny or even outright rejection in parliament. There is a reason why even a toothless version of this bill has not even been introduced in parliament in 40 years. Trust our politicians to do the right things for themselves. And if the bill has flaws, trust these people to make mountains out of a molehill of them.

      Two, the reason why this give-in by government has happened, is because of corruption being a big issue nowadays. It was purely good timing by the agitation. For something similar to ever happen again – it would need all the good fortunes of this agitation: a burning issue in the country, an issue with tacit opposition support which is trying its best to beat the government with it, etc. I doubt such situation would happen for all facets of our country this soon.

      • Parikshit permalink
        August 23, 2011 10:47 AM

        Oh but no! The mandate of the agitation is “Jan Lok Pal’ bill as it is drafted by team anna. If it was about corruption all the jingoism would have been about “I vow I won’t bribe a cop the next time I am caught jumping a traffic signal.”

        Confuse if you can’t convince. Kill corruption, they say while promoting a totalitarian bill.

    • Chintan permalink
      April 12, 2011 1:49 PM

      Ref : It is now for the reader to decide if they want to agree with Sengupta or Nigam…
      Why cant it be neither or partially either or any other percent in the spectrum.

      I would strongly advocate the readers to read more cause this sounds like a well researched article but at the same time does not gel with the imagery of Anna as has come out through the latest movement. We also need to ensure the success or failure of JLP bill does not become contingent on Anna alone.

  5. RAJAN permalink
    April 12, 2011 12:15 PM

    Well i think what the social activists say has to be considered there seems a game going on between Modi and Anna. The game is you scratch my back —I scratch yours. I think it is high time that we see that he has nothing to do with drafting the bill and there should be a campaign to see that the bill is not passed if Anna and his men have anything to do with it.
    My objection is that the campaign is a yuppy movement. The congress while gaining a lot by their assurances probably will get their pound of flesh forced by the scams and Anna’s fast.
    There are clear cases of corruption in Gujarat the Mayor of Baroda has a dubious degree from the M. S. University of Baroda, the registrar of Saurashtra University has two fake degrees, manual scavanging is going on in Gujarat unchecked, the Muslims are languishing in jail for no rhyme or reason save that they are Muslims. All the university equipment had to be bought from the son of the Education Minister of Gujarat. Hemchandra North Gujarat Univesity is running a fake M.Phil. programme in Indian Diaspora and Culture studies where any one with a degree in any discipline can get an M. Phil. The guides are form other Univerisites of Gujarat and never have met the student even once or even visited the University. The M.Phil. flouts all UGC and University rules and is allowed by the corrupt politicians. Shivji Pannikar was suspended for no reason at all and now has been relieved from his duties by M. S. Univesity which has made a first ranking faculty of Fine Arts with a long tradition be cast into the gutters.
    What has Anna to say about this isn’t this corruption? Does a Magasaysay award imply that one has a right to say who is corrupt and who is not? Who gives the right to Anna to represent the people. He does not represent me for all that I stand for and why should i not be there instead of Anna?

  6. April 12, 2011 12:22 PM

    The subversion and bypassing of democracy that went into the lok pal bill has now come clearer, when viewed in the larger context of Anna’s ideology and implementation of the same. Obviously corruption was just a tool to be used for enhancing the reach and spread of his ideology, and corruption per se, and the eradication of which, was not what the whole game was about.

    The functioning of the Anna villages and the feudal allegiance that it extorts are more or less reflected in the proposal to bypass democracy by way of bestowing powers over and above the elected democratic representatives. This subversion of democracy owes itself to the utter contempt towards the democratic process per se, which is characteristic of the brahmanical background, of the Anna movement.

    The sojourn of the Anna’s movement with the issue of corruption is to be viewed not it terms of morality or justice as it appears to be, but through the subtle manifestations of power that accompanies it.

    One should be reminded of the “Let my army rule my country” slogans during the wake of the Mumbai attacks, how the media was able to potray the non-voting middle class contempt of democracy as repersentation of common feeling of the nation at large, thereby affecting the hijacking of representation itself. How the elite middle class assumed the representation of national interests, and the Taj was projected as a symbol of the common man, a fete accomplished by the hijacking of representation assisted by the media.

    Also in context should be the complete balckout by the Indian media, of the massive turnout of workers protesting against the Govt polices, which by the way was reported by BBC, which was more representative of common man’s interests.

    The role the media plays in this move towards, rule by the few, for the few should be one that needs to be exposed.

  7. April 12, 2011 12:40 PM

    This article kind of killed the spirit of Kafila for me. To discredit a movement by smearing its leader is a tactic as old as time, and I don’t recall a single time when it was an action of honor.

    You bring in values from an ideal world and hold Anna up against them, and he measures less. Cool.

    The question then becomes – what values are we measuring ourselves by, and where do they come from?

    I am against overpowering of free will. I wouldn’t find myself supporting Anna in say….. making a holi of cigarettes and beedis. However, the fact remains that he couldn’t have succeeded in it if it weren’t that the village supported him. Two years later, the shops would have returned, and the villagers would burn Anna’s statues instead of making him a hero. Human will is a remarkable thing.

    We have increasingly started taking western values and measuring ourselves as inadequate because of them. Fact is, when people come together, there is a give and take. In a family of four, the one with the remote in hand chooses the channel and sometimes accommodates dissent or doesn’t. In a democracy, one party wins while the others are “unrepresented”.

    You miss an entire social context which is the very lifeblood of India, though it is vanishing in cities and villages too, slowly. That is one of co-existence. We have traditionally had sprawling ancestral homes, nosy neighbours and society has always held weight. It has many negatives and promotes ills, but it has always been the fabric that knits us together and makes a very strong sense of belonging.

    I am atheist, but I see a world around me which values religion, and because they value it, I see the influence of religion. I see nothing wrong in an important message being endorsed in the name of religion. Hinduism at least (Anna used the temple), because it has no issues with revision of its religious message itself either. What is religion but external guidance in the interest of society? Our constitution is that too (and from TV, it appears its got its own fundamentalist worshippers these days as well). Funny you wouldn’t object to equally or worse irrational bans by it. Marijuana has medically been said to be far less damaging than alcohol or cigarettes. Many people say legalize drugs. How many say the government is infringing freedom of its civilians?

    If every person were to have his own TV (which is a typical western freedom implication), or if the minorities were to start their own country, it doesn’t work. Compromise is a characteristic of a group enduring. Or, like our very rights aware society in our educated areas, family units become smaller, social unity is absurd, and we cannot bring ourselves to trust anyone. Free, sure, but what sense of stability does it bring? Similarly, while I oppose the overruling of free will, I can see how it “fits” with what we are as a country. An alcoholic is often a social menace and damages far more lives than his own. If Anna leads the villagers in eradicating alcohol, it is important that we see it in the framework of the village rather than some imported set of “shoulds”. The same idea when proposed for the country involved a percentage of women being able to apply for a village to be declared alcohol free. He has everyones ear – so where is his imposition on the country of anything we didn’t support?

    Your campaign falls flat in the light of the magnitude of support he got. They weren’t supporting prohibition, but anti-corruption. And if their leader was bringing the wrong kinds of influences, regardless, perhaps its time to look at whether we want to call ourselves a democracy if that means applies concepts flying contrary to where the country is going.

    This site is Kafila. What happened in Anna’s movement in Ralegaon Siddhi AND India wide was a Kafila. Whether it was a democratic thing to do, or if we can or can’t ISI mark the leader is all secondary. For me, it is that simple.

    For me, this movement is what I am defending. Anna is the conduit. The country was waiting to cheer something happening against corruption. There was restlessness. There was shame that our leaders continued on regardless of headlines of scams. If he hadn’t spoken up, someone or the other would have in any case. Another equally imperfect someone, who would have inspired books and articles about his imperfection being written with zero acknowledgment of what he managed to achieve as his “making”. Apparently, all it takes to lead India is a bully. Shows how much you know this country.

    • Suhas S Shilker permalink
      April 12, 2011 8:16 PM

      I agree with you totally.The imported concepts of freedom of expression, the way they they work in western society are generated there. We have to see what works for us in the given situation and context..

      • Lakshmi permalink
        April 17, 2011 6:00 PM

        This deserves to be published as an independent response to the article. These very people with fascist tendencies have pushed the bill and along with it numerous rights guaranteed by the constitution and blocked by our parliament. And the call for ideological clarity is as much a tool for disinclusion as the call for hanging the corrupt. The extreme left always mirrors the extreme right. We need people like MK Gandhi who can build movements that strike a chord with mass sensibilities not elite inspired constitutionally rigorous ones. The constitution is a living breathing document that should reflect the former not through an elite English speaking coterie of leaders.

  8. yehlog permalink
    April 12, 2011 12:48 PM

    Anna has always had a fondness for fascists and fascist thought, though he proclaims himself a ‘Gandhian’. Anna is no Gandhi simply because Gandhi did not merely eschew violence, he also vehemently opposed fascism to the core. Compare this with Anna’s praise for Modi (“oh, I only spoke about development”) or his support for Raj Thackeray (” I support his campaign but not his methods” – see here: , not to mention his espousal of compulsory voting or his assertion that the corrupt “should have their hands chopped’ – you get this strong feeling that there’s a significant moral vacuum in this Gandhian. He seems merely one of those who want a ‘strong dictator’ to solve india’s problems. You can’t can’t call yourself a Gandhian by renouncing violence , while supporting fascist campaigns (like those run by raj Thackeray) and ignoring mass murder at the same time.

  9. Jhuma permalink
    April 12, 2011 1:03 PM

    The entire Anna Hazare ‘show’ has highlighted another dilemma of pluralism–how do we enforce principled limits on the expandability of dominant cultures?

    Also is it morally right to do that?

    Kafila has generated more thought provoking debates on this issue than mainstream media in the last few days. Hope more ideas emerge.

  10. chetna kaul permalink
    April 12, 2011 1:06 PM

    an open cohesive thought process is needed and at the same time a relook into what works and why- will wait for the book

  11. Rajarshi Roy permalink
    April 12, 2011 1:34 PM

    I thank the author for putting forward this perspective. Although it may be unintentional, it seems that the author finds a connect between Hazare’s politics and that of Hindutva right at some level. I feel that the core issue is that of keeping religion absolutely separate from public life. And if one considers Hazare’s methodology of social regeneration as emulated in this article, then they have uncanny similarities with the Mahatama’s crusade against alcoholism, untouchability and fight for women’s emancipation.

    Now, the reason why even Gandhi depended on religious symbolism for his crusade can be that he figured out the vice like grip which religion has on the struggling masses of this country. The moral and religious garb was probably necessary to make the message more palatable to the masses. I doubt how much chord will the “God has no religion”, atheist or agnostic, rule-of-the-proletariat message, strike to poor whose women are victims of alcoholism and unwanted pregnancies. Please note that at no point I am condoning or opposing such tactics.

    However, even the biggest detractors of the Mahatama can’t accuse him of towing the Hindutva line or marginalization of dalits, muslims in the name of social regeneration. Similarly, Hazare’s case is probably also that of a dichotomy between the ends and the means adopted to realize the ends.

    A bigger question is whether we provide an issue based support to an activist like Hazare or paint his support to an issue, as pertinent of all Indians as corruption, with the brush of ‘ultra-nationalism’. For that matter, he shared the dais with Baba Ramdev who is much more explicit and aggressive in his support for ‘a strong Bharat’ with unmistakable undertones of Hindutva, than Hazare ever has been. It’s interesting to note that when the left liberals, often indoctrinated in the best traditions of JNU, share the dias with SAS Geelani (who is an ‘Islamist’ in all senses of the word), they resort to explanations like ‘sharing-a-dias-doesn’t-mean-endorsing-his-ideology’.

    Hazare has earlier crusaded for Prohibition as well. I doubt how much support a demonstration at Jantar Mantar will generate for such a cause amongst the twitter wallas or the 24 hour news channels.

    Finally, I didn’t understand the author’s premise when he talks about the manner in which Dalits have been ‘integrated’ in Ralegaon Siddhi.

    “The integration of Dalits into an ideal village has two components in Ralegan. One is to assume that they were always there to perform some duties and necessary services and that their usefulness justifies their existence in the present. The other component is hegemonic, designed to get Dalits into a brahaminical fold. It is not only manifested in the way food or dress habits are propagated; it is prevalent in several other forms.”

    Can the author please elaborate this premise?

    • Rajendra Tripathi permalink
      April 12, 2011 3:38 PM

      I feel amazed by the thought that you have just put saying that religion should be put away from polictics. Interestingly freinds from JNU have the tendency to eulogize left liberal thinking, over any other way thinking.

      We have evidences in the anals of history that Marxism as an ideology had failed in the case of Soviet Union and also in case of India where we see total state failure despite being into power from more than 35 years.

      Interestingly I am yet to get convince that being an agnostic, and by bashing Hindu way of living along with being a non-hindu will be the panacia for all our social evils.

    • Salil Thakur permalink
      August 18, 2011 6:34 PM

      Fantastic! Well,that all i can say

  12. April 12, 2011 1:48 PM

    //and caste hierarchies, with a marginalisation of women, Muslims and Dalits, form the core of his village regeneration.///

    Sweeping generalisations and over simplification. Pls prove the above with hard data. and suppose there was no Anna, would the position of women, muslims and daliths in that area would be better or for the worse ? can you give a straight answer ?

  13. Boni Gopalan permalink
    April 12, 2011 2:49 PM

    Here is an independent case study from Ralegan Siddhi by B. Mishra (Associate Secretary, Association of Voluntary Agencies for Rural Development (AVARD), New Delhi, India). It has what seems like a bureaucratic description of history and evolution of the village. Let the readers decide for themselves. I for one am have no reasons to take Mukul Sharma seriously after reading through the other case study.

    • Nandana permalink
      April 13, 2011 5:57 AM

      Hi Boni,

      Have you even read the link you pasted? Here are a couple of paragraphs I found extremely insightful. You’ll find these under the heading “Approaches/methods used for people’s participation” :

      ” Social reform with strict discipline:

      Once the decision is taken by the villagers to eradicate a particular social evil, it is implemented with strict discipline in letter and spirit. As in case of drinking, any one found drunk in the village used to be tied up with the pillar of the temple and beaten by the military belt of ‘Anna’. Since it used to be a collective decision nobody could dare oppose it. Similarly dowry and extravagance have been curbed.”

      “Moral cleansing:

      Mr. Anna Hazare himself took this initiative. During informal chats he started quoting the sayings of great men like Swami Vivekanand, Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave etc. He also used the ideals of Sant Yadav Baba whose memories were still alive in the minds of the people. Bhajans (hymns) and religious discourses etc., in the early hours of the day through public address system from the temples were used to enlighten the people. Thus, a change in the general attitude of the people was brought about by moral cleansing. This process facilitated the people of different castes and class to be at equal footings in mental/moral level and the differences among the people started sinking. Untouchable (dalits) were allowed to enter the temple and share their thoughts with others.”

      Are you kidding me?!?! This is exactly what the article is talking about and thanks to you I’m taking the article much more seriously!

      • Boni Gopalan permalink
        April 21, 2011 1:10 PM

        Nandana: In the total context of transformation of the village I do not think those quoted sections sound bad enough paint AH as a tyrant ruling a village. If you missed the whole story and focused on what you felt to be inhuman(?) then of course it is your choice to continue live in the wonderland. Anyways, now since Mr. MS has published his longer version of the article I am able to see his naive point of view a bit more clearly. However, unfortunately, the bias is still way to naive – especially since he is focusing on Ralegain sidhi in bits and pieces.

  14. Ashutosh permalink
    April 12, 2011 2:59 PM

    After reading last some articles related to Anna Hazare and his movement, i can’t agree more with a commentator at Kafila’s ‘about’ page that the people behind this site are a bunch of Chamgadads who can’t stand the light of the day.
    Sorry for the strong words but you people are working with some agenda to malign every individual and cause, if it does not have the sanction of the leftist group of this country. You people seem to be more fanatic than religious obscurantists.

  15. Rajendra Tripathi permalink
    April 12, 2011 3:23 PM

    In my view, this peice though it seems to be thorough, is full of bias towards Hindu system of living and being. Probably the assumption is that all what is proffessed in Hindu system of living is wrong and needs to abhored. I do not agree to that argument or sentiment. Any ideology is incomplete if it just RAISES QUESTIONS AND stops at that, it should have the potential to provide visible evidences of what the ideology professes.

    I think there is no society in any corner of the world that is purely egaliatrian and free from exceptions. The writer in this article has deftly tried to put socilogical jargons to prove that any form of social order especially if it is Hiduistic is condemnable.

    In my view we should NOT keep on lingering into some episode of history and then judge the present of any individual more so in public domain, it is extremely regressive way of looking at social change. However I do find merit in the writer’s thought that we do have a right to question anything or anybody, provided your question is not architypically nested in some history.

    I also have a point here to mention that if one feels that things are not going the way it should have been, then one should do something and create some visible proof points so that it stands testimony of your “ideological position”. Otherwise anything whether it is said or deftly written as this piece runs a great risk of being perceived as “fence sitting” or “arm chair” thinking which in my mind should be larger tragedy for such thinking minds. Indeed we need thinking minds and discussions, as a way to some plausible outcome-action.

    Also, I think there is a need to recognisze individuals for what they have done and contributed irrespective of whether they HAD DONE SOMETHING in past that remains condemnable. I mean even a prisoner is given correctional administration to alter their behavior by doing something that is pro-society and humanity.

    Why we as “thinking class” are so seemingly bankrupt that we tend not to give that opportunity to our statesmen, some of who if not all, have attempted to contribute meaningfully to the society. By the way having said I do not want to be understood as someone who wants to support “a particular individual and not other individual.”

    Last point is a continuation of my earlier one that if we do not give these opportunities to public figures we are still contributing to create factions in society and pitching one against another STRANGELY ON THE BASIS OF FACTS AND FIGURES nowadays, that are used more for the sake of proving someone wrong rather than guiding to a postive next steps towards better socail order through social change.

  16. Debraj Bhattacharya permalink
    April 12, 2011 3:31 PM

    Looks like good old character assassination ploy. We are not interested in Anna Hazare’s theory of rural development and its replicability in case of India. The issue is corruption and a bill against it. Objections to the Jan Lokpal Bill is most welcome or even serious objections to the Jan Lokpal institution itself. Rest is not relevant here. Let us assume that AH is a right winger or even a weirdo. The question is where are the left wingers in the fight against corruption? Why have they not started an all-India campaign against corruption?

    • otm permalink
      April 12, 2011 8:46 PM

      They already have. We call them by the pejorative “naxalites”.

  17. April 12, 2011 4:00 PM

    i discovered kafila only when the previous anna hazare article was published and its been intriguing . There is an absolute necessity to inform people about who anna hazare actually is.. For me this movement only got fuel because of the frustration of the masses against corruption which is justified. however people must look at what anna hazare and co are pushing through in the jan lokpal and then decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong…
    i strongly believe people should get themselves well informed.. another article worth mentioning is this
    Wonderful work by everybody at Kafila…

  18. ALIVEalways permalink
    April 12, 2011 5:23 PM

    Even before the protest began, it was always pointed out as to whether ‘fast-unto-death’ is a correct strategy to bring down corruption. I mean it is democracy for god’s sake. The decision of the government was however fastened by only that sort of Gandhian principle but is that a valid perception. Can any Indian who has widespread following do a fast and appeal government to surrender, for if they don’t the burden of death would dissolve the government.

    It has also been a point that the growing popularity of Anna could be used as a tool by several selfish groups to propagate their agenda in light of corruption and more so the governmental surrender.

    It would not be wrong to say that the time of Gandhi is not now, those were different time, you were fighting in against a foreign power, but after the freedom, we are democratic and one cannot apply the same principles as it is. It may have yielded results but that does not mean its correct or valid. There has to be a procedure.

    It never takes one person to change world for better, however it takes just one leader to mobilize the crowd to a meaningful purpose.

    This is just the beginning and it would fall back on the citizens just like before. It is now up to the Generation X to realize their duties and not just brag of their rights.

  19. Sushrut Bidwai permalink
    April 12, 2011 6:49 PM

    This entire story lacks evidence. I would have expected some one who has worked so much in Ralegan to come up with at least anecdotal evidence to support these claims. Like an example of physical punishment used by any one in the village or evidence to support lack of democratic practices. Unfortunately since entire story lacks that, I strongly dismiss the conclusions and wonder about motives of the author.

  20. Ishwar dost permalink
    April 12, 2011 6:50 PM

    The criticism of Anna is required. Mukul’s article shows the limits of Anna’s world. However, Anna’s persona/ ideology are not tantamount to the JLP movement. The strong criticism of JLP movement is also required, but can we do it without being statist, status quo-ist (existing institutional mechanism is sufficient, etc.), constitutionalist. If being political means that we are compelled to support everything of elected representatives, then it is also blackmail.
    Where we put the struggle of Irom Sharmila? She is civil society activist and Narendra Modi is elected representative. As a parliamentary party, BJP’s proclivity to fascism is well known. The debate must engage with all the complexities.
    I totally agree with Aditya on the danger of fascism. The implicit and explicit statism (at the borders of congressism) of our left intellectuals is a very risky proposition, when there are signs that masses want some change. Why we are losing sense of maneuvering which is the essential part of battle of hegemony? Why we want to push civil society, middle class, NGOs towards fascist politics openly being played on the turf of electoral democracy.

  21. Prof. K.M.SEETHI permalink
    April 12, 2011 8:08 PM

    Are we to sustain the corrution raj till the ‘revolutionalry forces’ come to the forefront to take up the cause of system change? Anna Hazare could do something in four days’ time which revolutionary forces in this country could not do in four decades’ time. Let us not underestimate the role of individuals and the civil liberty organisations in such struggles. We must rather know how to use the civil society too in all struggles. It’s an archaic concept that it is a realm of neoliberal forces and ‘postmodernists’! Progresiives as well as communists are yet to comprehend and make use of this complex realm for revolutionary task, while techno-capitalism knows how to appropriate and legitimise it for its own interests. Let us at least not find a conspiracy in every such struggles taking place all over the world. Just as weare using this facebook as a critical realm of mobilisation, let us also see the civil society as yet another important terrain for mobilisation of which facebook is a part. We are not ‘off’ the system but a part of the system with our own beleifs and commitments. Anna’s struggle must not be underestimated in the absence of values in our day-today political engagments….

    • August 23, 2011 12:05 PM

      “Anna Hazare could do something in four days’ time which revolutionary forces in this country could not do in four decades’ time.” Indeed.

      Now looking forward to Anna Hazare to start his campaign against religious fundamentalism and reservations, which I believe are way, way bigger afflictions than corruption that this nation suffers from

  22. April 12, 2011 8:10 PM

    He has done at least what he has to improve things around. Pseudo-intellectuals just kee on writing, commenting and criticizing others.

  23. Rajab permalink
    April 12, 2011 9:41 PM

    Alive always’s comment seems interesting and worth thinking about in the light of Mukul Sharma’s article/book. ” It never takes one person to change world for better, however it takes just one leader to mobilize the crowd to a meaningful purpose.”
    While Hazare has given impetus to the frustrations of people in cities there are those perhaps who are in a hurry because they come from families who jumped the queue due to the benifits of corruption and now think that they have come in to have a voice because of hard work. This is a myth and it is true that one person is not going to change the world and change is a slow painful process which all the protestors and Anna Hazare cannot handle after Globalization as the activists are powerless with such a tsunami that has taken India by storm. But Globalization implies hardcore western capitalism and an Americanization which also implies a kind of fascism of the economic kind. That Hinduism is considered the religion of the nation or India is a misnormer and has been thrust upon the people of India by two of the makers of India one called the Father of the Nation and the other called Chacha Nehru. One claimed to be a kind of a panthiest and the other an athiest respectively but both wanted to impose Hindi, Hindu and Hindustan on the people of India — not an original Idea you can check Gail Omvedt Dalit Visions.

    I am offended that Hazare did not go in for the Jail Baro —- I guess that would have meant the end of the protest the protestors would to keep to their middle class values have to go and look after their families. No one would like to stick it out in jails the way the poor muslim youth are doing on trumphed up charges in Gujarat. They are literally filled up in jails. But the congress had it been with less skeletons in the cupboard and less scams could not risk it and so gave in to the crowd.

    One objection to ever alive is that Hitler also came up because of the frustrations of the people and that too in a democracy. Will Hazare be the new Hitler of the people of India and have the courage to face an election? Probably he will win because there are a lot of people who think the country needs a benevolent dictator — Don’t know if Hazare fits the bill. I won’t be surprised if he is even voted to power, though he perhaps is too frightened to contest elections, this is because the very people who consider Vanzara a desh bhakt are the people who would support Hazare. What has Hazare to say about Sorabuddin and the Tulsi Prajapti cases with the Government of Gujarat involved?

    What worked for Anna in his village or his NGO will perhaps not even work for Maharashtra and his support of Raj Thakare is indeed too regional for any rational liking. We must remember that Maharashtra was a state that always had a surplus as far as the exchequer was concerned and registered a deficit once the BJP-Shiv Sena came to power. What has Anna to say about this? Cutting off a person’s hands is what was reported by the followers of Raj Thakare in Pune —- that smacks of the Ghashiram Kotwal syndrome of Tendulka’s play— are we going to have a taliban like state of India because of the frustrations of those who are already in power.

    I appeal to all those who can deal with real politic to have a movement to oust Anna Hazare out of the framing committee. Then perhaps justice will be done we can’t have an unthinking man who is neither aware or sensitive drafting an important bill. Bad enough we had power hungry elites who took over from the British and are now the ones supporting Hazare and his drives. This will be the appropriate dialectical movement in response to what has taken place and not shaken any one except been froth and fume.

  24. kaangeya permalink
    April 13, 2011 4:42 AM

    To the poster who asked,
    Finally, I didn’t understand the author’s premise when he talks about the manner in which Dalits have been ‘integrated’ in Ralegaon Siddhi.

    “The integration of Dalits into an ideal village has two components in Ralegan. One is to assume that they were always there to perform some duties and necessary services and that their usefulness justifies their existence in the present. The other component is hegemonic, designed to get Dalits into a brahaminical fold. It is not only manifested in the way food or dress habits are propagated; it is prevalent in several other forms.”

    Can the author please elaborate this premise?

    The author – Mukul Sharma – can neither understand what he saying or elaborate upon it. This is nonsense on stilts.
    -Who is to assume on whose part? Mukul on behalf of Anna? Mukul reports no conversations on this topic, so he is clearly making stuff up. And then where’s the brahminical fold in a village where brahmins have no standing, and where Anna himself is a Maratha?

    What’s happened is possibly this. Anna inspired by Gandhi and Vivekananda has truly managed to get people to dissolve any jati based divisions in Ralaegaon Siddhi – a stupendous achievement of the scale of Dr. Pathak’s, Golwalkar’s or Baba Amte’s. With these divisions dissolved provocateurs have nothing to do.

    • Rajab permalink
      April 13, 2011 8:37 PM

      Nonsense the jati verna issue can be seen to be resolved when people get married across caste without a problem or an ego boost that they have married out side caste. When that happens then we can say that there is progress in society.

    • V.K permalink
      April 15, 2011 5:28 PM

      Long ago, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar used to say, cleaning toilets by Mahatma Gandhi never solves the problem of Dalit emancipation. So what Mr. Mukul is saying I infer is just co opting a community in a village and giving them some menial work does not solve the Dalit Problem.

  25. Anurag verma permalink
    April 13, 2011 11:51 PM

    Very interesting and insightful take on this issue . I was waiting for some one to describe the culture and administration of village developed by anna .But here i want discuss with you something that one cast specific word that you have used in this is highly offensive .This word is banned in many state and still i get surprised when many authors in national magazine use this word.Since i too belong from the same community thats why i can tell you that it sounds highly offensive.So i wish all the author should take note of it. Besides, enjoyed reading this article..

  26. Arun Kumbhat permalink
    April 14, 2011 12:14 AM

    A lot of analysis.
    What might lend perspective to the analysis is a note on what has the author accomplished in terms of social change , apart from his scholarship. Theorists and Doers are different kind of species and cannot be judged by the same metric

  27. April 14, 2011 5:05 AM

    I am viewing this article only as a commentary on why Anna’s village model has not spread beyond its boundaries yet. The model of strict discipline may explain this : You cannot spread enforcement as virally as you can spread freedom. Ralegaon-Siddhi is not the only village in all of India to have become self-sufficient; there are others too. Please check out the “Lapodia model” – it is a very similar case about transformation of a problematic and deforested village in Rajasthan into a model of self sufficiency and community enterprise. Here the person behind it, Laxman Singh, wasn’t an army man and hasn’t used army tactics of enforcement. There are always multiple paths to a destination and we shouldn’t get negative. We shouldn’t dismiss the possibility that self sufficiency and freedom from social ills are possible everywhere. There are even communities in foreign countries that have done similar things – there is a village in Japan that generates zero waste. We only have to look around and take the best things from all instead of getting dismissive.

    The points I’ve read in favor of the Lokpal Bill stress on full transparency. I think that is ultimately what decides the effectiveness on any institution – not whether the people on the panel are elected or not elected. A human is a human and is both good as well as fallible and none should be placed above or below the other. I would rather make the panel consist of 10,000 people from all around the country, randomly taken on a continuously rotating basis. Now that will be something the corrupt forces cannot circumvent! Because when everybody knows everything what’s going on, and it’s all being openly discussed, there’s little room left for subversion. So I suggest that we concentrate on whether or not transparency as promised is delivered, and call the shots accordingly. In any case, the present system of our country being a democracy only a few days every 5 years and being a dictatorship the rest of the time…. has failed, and with the emergence of technologies that promote person-to-person contact without delays or interferences, a more direct form of democracy is now called for. With the people participating in decision making or at least discussion – not just in selecting someone and then blindly trusting them to make decisions for them. Already we’re seeing it come up all over the place – it’s just a matter of time before we stop selecting grand ideologies and start selecting specific policies in each and every sector. Let us remember that the present form of democracy was only implemented in a time period of near zero technology and with the limitations of that time in mind. Those limitations are no more – hence the system too must either change or be changed.

    • April 14, 2011 9:57 AM

      i think what you say is right there they say that also about Paulo Friere that his model worked only when he was around— don’t know if that is absolutely true. But Hazare should have attempted to take up one village at a time and spread his good work but not with the rod and the whip. That is disgusting and one should have given him J. Krishnamurti and A. S. Neill to read. The distinction between Gandhi and Thoreu is that Thoreau believed in reading two hours of the classics every day. Perhaps good old Hazare has missed that or else his model would have been more enlightened and free.

  28. Nadi Palshikar permalink
    April 14, 2011 6:23 PM

    to tie up an alcoholic to a wooden post
    for all to see and ostracise…

    i had heard of this years ago. it had shocked me.

    • Rajab permalink
      April 14, 2011 10:42 PM

      Well i guess that slowly as transparency comes about and Anna is disrobed of all this piety and sanctimoniousness he will become a figure that people hate. I myself am getting disgusted not only with him but the movement itself. I am sorry that it is spear headed by people who are power crazy and all for money.

      It is sad indeed that we have no forum or no one files a case or stay in the supreme court to see that Anna Hazare is not a part of the drafting committee. with this kind of endeavour the country is going to be in shambles and if we take Javed Anand’s article seriously then there will be another blood bath soon.

      The folk who voted for Anna most of them also called Vanzara ‘Desh Bhakt’ well that is what the people want.

  29. Srinivas permalink
    April 14, 2011 11:32 PM

    I read the longer version which attempts an analysis of the “meaning of Anna Hazare” as well. I have a question for the author — have you also attempted correlating Anna Hazare’s fight for the Right To Information Act with your analysis of the “meaning of Anna Hazare”? If you have, I would be very interested in reading that too.

  30. April 14, 2011 11:49 PM

    Mukul Sharma’s arguments, cannot be dismissed as trivial on the counter argument that we bother only about AH’s fight against corruption and not about how he managed a village project in Maharashtra. The methodologies and ideologies of a person when he spearhead a cause of the current magnitude is of very important because the public has to develop trust in him.

    However, Anna Hazara, by fact or fault has managed to raise the hopes of the Indian masses. May be because of the reason that they are that fed up with the impact of corruption and politicians’ graft on their life. In the process he was catapulted to the position of a national celebrity. And we in our hero-worship, when it comes to celebrities are very soft minded in believing whatever they say.

    So the author should have tried harder to convince the readers with more evidence to take them on to his side. The post, especially, when claimed to be based on a book in the making could have contained more references, expressions from the real people on the ground-the participants in the project.

    However, some justice to that was unwittingly done by Boni Gopalan through supplying a link on a study on Anna Hazara’s project under ‘FAO Corporate Management Repository’, seemingly he himself without reading it. And it turns out to be of more support to Mukul Sharma.

    However, the FAO report is also devoid of any statistical evidence or case studies to satisfy the scientific curiosity of a reader to know about the success of the project in the participants’ feelings.

    Using glorified languages such as people’s ‘participation’ ’empowerment’ etc., is one thing and what the people themselves experienced about them is another.

    Using the ideologies of one religion for ‘moral cleansing’ of the people in a multi-religious nation is truly problematic especially when the project is poised to be model for other parts of India.

    On top of all these, now AH is causing criticism to befall on him through his own statements. He would have known that the majority of the Indian public would not take him kindly for his Mr. Mody’s praise. Then why did he do that is cause for great concern.

    Overall, the man who became the driving force behind making the unwieldy Indian government to agree to draft the Lok pal Bill in the way to excite the public has certainly fell from grace now. The question, what is he up to, is seemingly not a displaced one.

  31. Parehs Jain permalink
    April 15, 2011 1:32 PM

    I would have appreciated if the author would have written articles on “The making of Sharad Pawar, A Raja, Manmohan Singh (and his leadership style)…. and other political leaders” and then on Anna Hazare. I think there are more statistical analysis required on the corrupt leaders and the syndicate in politics then this kind of work.

    My point is how many people are doing the kind of work Anna has done ? The methods/style used for doing his work may not be perfect. We have so many literates, thought leaders, blog writers, advocates, journos but could anyone wake the people of this country ? We all were sleeping for 40 years ?

    I am not sure why we are feeling so insecure about AH ? I think all successful leaders were autocratic in some way else they would not have achieved what they did. You do a research on Gandhi as well and you would be surprised to find that he was autocratic in one or other way.

    I don’t want to keep a blind eye on the facts author has tried to portray but I also think this was not required and grossly exaggerated. Looking at the responses, I also have a feeling that people value freedom more than the corrupt society, unlawful environment etc. What would you do with freedom in such an environment?

    • Rajab permalink
      April 15, 2011 4:00 PM

      well i think the author should also have made it clear that Mr. Hazare was behind bars for killing a man and was let off for good behavior. If we talk about transparency then this should also be out. Then perhaps Anna Hazare won’t be non violent or the people who consider D.J. Vanzara a “Desh Bhakt”‘ would have no problems about killing.
      Well Gandhi has come under fire and has lost a lot of respect because he was not really non violent. That is old hat and one can check Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s interview with the BBC now on face book and one will find that Gandhi was no lilly as far as casteism was concerned, one has to read Kirpalani and see that racism too was not a problem for Gandhi though perhaps we can write it off as belonging to the age if we are over generous. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar says that Gandhi spoke in two tongues one in Gujarati and the other in English and showed two faces.
      Well I guess Anna Hazare should have been taken to a shrink long ago and warrants should have been issued for assault for him and his colleagues who tied and beat people up. Wonder what a violent man he is and what a class has rallied behind him to make use of the country bumpkin among the sophistication and crookery of the politicians.

      I think there should be a psychoanalytical account of the sadisim of Anna Hazare. I suppose he is a clinical case and all those who blindly support him are equally sadistic to the muslims, women, aloholics, and dalits in general. Why does he give Modi a clean chit when liquor flows at a premium in Gujarat? That is what the movie Parzania showed and therefore it was banned. Well Anna Hazare has mucked up the whole movement by his megalomania of giving people clean chits when he should have looked after his own prisoners in his village.

  32. V.K permalink
    April 15, 2011 5:24 PM

    When a leader start saying election is all about Rs.100 and a bottle of liqueur, as Mr.Anna Hazare seem to have said, there is very little of respect one has left for him. About corruption, less said the better simply because bills never solve problems. RTI act has only given us info, what action has been taken, nothing.

    About Anna’s village, what one can say about a village where one man’s whim is every one’s command. So we can only say, many like him came and went. So shall he will.

  33. mayur chetia permalink
    April 19, 2011 1:53 AM

    excellent article! i have already translated it into Assamese. Can I publish it in the vernacular newspapers?

  34. Rajab permalink
    April 24, 2011 3:01 PM

    I think we should look at this again and see whether this is not brutal brahminisim and also a hierarchical structure which is perhaps feudal?
    “The daily routine enforced in the army such as getting up early in the morning, jogging and physical training thereafter, cleanliness of body, clothing, living quarters and the neighbourhood etc. led to development of a disciplined life, benefits of which I am availing of even today. The habit of giving due respect and regard to the seniors by age, post, or competence was inculcated in us…. This has helped me in conducting the village development work at Ralegan Siddhi according to the rules and regulations decided by us by common consent.”

    This question of “The habit of giving due respect and regard to the seniors by age, post, or competence was inculcated in us.” we need to move away from such nonsense. This is the only way uneducated masses in India are educated it is called with great regard TRADITION !!! The brahminical clensing is petering down to the masses too one of my Dalit colleagues insists that one should have a bath and go to a temple.
    There are more important issues that we should consider. People who follow Anna Hazare will also call D. J. Vanzara desh Bhakt and be in support of all rightist propoganda. Call if fascist if you like but this kind of regeme and order is not the cup of tea of a free individual.

  35. May 1, 2011 6:45 PM

    Mukul Sharma’s article reinforces the feeling that Anna Hazare does not have a critique of world capitalism as part of his politics. That will prevent him from giving shape to his movement as a challenge to world capitalism which is in the ultimate analysis the root cause of corruption. When the JP movement which had a much wider mass base could not evolve into a strong movement against capitalism because of its lack of a critique of the latter then the chances of Hazare doing this are even more remote.
    The traditional left has not recovered from the crushing defeat meted to it by the power of capitalism to think of alternative ways of mobilisation against it and the Gandhians, who are basically anarchists, have never understood how to fight capitalism. There is a need to build up a mass movement from the ground that fights for a new paradigm altogether like the mass movements of the indigenous peasants in Bolivia have done.

    • Rajab permalink
      May 2, 2011 10:57 PM

      Well it would be jejune to expect Anna Hazare to have a critique of anything— he is an an activist who is without a critique and i do not think it is going to become a larger movement. It is bending backward with his giving clean chits to politicians without a knowledge of what is going on in the states he is talking about——Not Modi’s communalism but the farmers who are being dispossessed by the multi nationals invited by a so called nationalist party—- his bending backward and endorsing support of Sonia Gandhi. This is just a country bumpkin who does not have the strength to handle a movement. NO VISION! NO JUDGEMENT NO CRITIQUE—- PLAIN ACTION which is not too different from the Shiv Saink lumpen or the Marxist and BJP lumpen.

  36. Nikhil Sablania permalink
    May 7, 2011 1:50 PM

    Thanks for the article. You have understood the reality of this man. Please read these two small articles I wrote on him:

    Why Congress With Hazare Cheated Indians? –

    Anti Corruption Bill Is Anti-Dalit Bill –

  37. vivek permalink
    June 23, 2011 8:49 AM

    This article is a crap. This is a forced attempt to create some written piece from some zig-zag matters.

  38. S Das permalink
    July 18, 2011 3:07 PM

    Really enjoyed reading the article. Its thought provoking. If people could be disciplined and morality could be imposed on human beings as Anna wants it, why make such a huge drama about the Bill, instead he should promote a movement that, like they have in Singapore, every Indian should serve minimum 2 yrs in the Army and 2 yrs in a monastery, that will cure them of all ills. :-) Then every village and every town would become Ralegaon.

  39. August 16, 2011 11:37 AM

    Thank u for the article. It sounds like a well researched one. But for me, the issue is Corruption and the Bill against it. I am supporting Hazare to stop Corruption and to live in a better Nation. If we all support Hazare in this particular time, I am sure we can stop corruption.

    I am not sure about Hazare’s plan to implement his ideology, which he already implemented in his village, into the whole country. This is just a possibility. As India is a country which accepts all the religion, it would be very hard to implement such Ideologies here. But if he moves on with such plans, he will find his supporters in his enemy side.

    I am going with Anna Hazare and Jan Lokpal Bill this time. I have faith in it.

  40. skumar permalink
    August 17, 2011 12:48 AM

    It is only in India that people have the freedom to decry a religious ideology like Hinduism and still get away unharmed. Since this is a religion that weaves philosophy, mythology and religion all bundled in one, it is an unmatched aesthetic idea of an existential truth. Why should there be an issue using it in refining the tenets of politics?? The author seems to have a job of compiling his own version of green and saffron. If India needs to uphold its democracy, its citizens have to understand its democratic roots and values first of all. If a political party who literally ruled us for 50 years by dividing us and destroying our identity from within in the name of secularism, we surely need to take a hard position and if that means becoming religious about our spirited approach so be it. The author’s research means nothing in the light of what can be a workable solution to the nation’s fundamental problems of hypocritical sleaze and corruption and above all a brutal indifference to patriotism. I do not benefit from the ongoing intellectual verbal opinions posted here. What is core to our nation and what can bind up to eradicate corruption to reconstruct this nation so we feel grounded with a sense of purpose?? We will perish at the hands of divisiveness from within and a single pointedness in the strategic alignment of national thought processes in neighboring countries like China. Your eloquent passage mean nothing. Do u have the balls to stand up to the real big issues is the big question???

  41. August 18, 2011 2:32 PM

    B. R. Ambedkar in Grammar of Anarchy:

    “The second thing we must do is to observe the caution which John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in the maintenance of democracy, namely, not “to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with power which enable him to subvert their institutions.” There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

  42. Smita Nirula permalink
    August 18, 2011 3:19 PM

    I had heard about Anna Hazare’s draconian running of the village. This article is an eye-opener. For one, I personally support his anti corruption movement. I am not supporting the man, I am supporting the cause. I think he has been forcibly made a larger-than-life figure because of the government’s ridiculousness. Perhaps it is well that he stays silent for the moment because his silence and lack of visibility make him a martyred figurehead that is pushing the movment forward.

    • September 9, 2011 5:04 AM

      Lot of people say what you say, that mean you should be against corruption and also against Jan Lok Pal bill which is a clear large scale copy of the model village concept os using fear as a deterrent, which has and will never work and not good for mankind in general.

  43. August 18, 2011 11:33 PM

    Insightful to say the least.Thank a ton to Mukul sharma for bringing this on board. Kudos my friend. more power to you.

  44. gorvika permalink
    August 19, 2011 5:56 PM

    I do not understand why Indians are so skeptical about every good thing. If Anna has inculcated in people that they should be disciplined what is wrong in that? If he is using Hindu symbols in a hindu village why should we make hue and cry? Is it compulsory that people should smoke bidis and cigarettes and watch bollywood songs and dance? If he is a dictator and just beating people black & blue for not following his path, then it makes sense to criticize him but, if he is doing by making people realize what they can gain through all this then nothing is wrong with it.

    • August 19, 2011 6:34 PM

      Well…whatever happened to the right of an individual to choose for himself in a “free” country? You ask…

      “Is it compulsory that people should smoke bidis and cigarettes and watch bollywood songs and dance?”

      The right question, IMO, would be…

      Is it compulsory that people should “not” smoke bidis and cigarettes and “not” watch bollywood songs and dance?

      Think about it. :-)

      • September 9, 2011 5:08 AM

        First of all Is it compulsory for Anna to say what I can and cannot do? I have my own mind, I will have to be brain dead for Anna to think for me, I should be the one deciding no bidi and no entertainment, not a Gandhian slave driver like Anna Hazare.

  45. August 20, 2011 12:50 AM

    We can take comfort in the secure knowledge that Hazare’s ideas simply will not work in such a large and chaotic place as India. She should take on issues of public health first. If she can build a good working sanitary sewer system in Chennai or Mumbai or Kolkata or Delhi, then people might take her seriously.

  46. August 20, 2011 12:54 AM

    We can take comfort in the secure knowledge that Anna Hazare’s ideas simply will not work in such a large and chaotic place as India. He should take on issues of public health first. If he can build a good working sanitary sewer system in Chennai or Mumbai or Kolkata or Delhi, then people might take him seriously.
    China did it. Need we ask why India can’t?

  47. Minu permalink
    August 20, 2011 1:47 PM

    Great article Mr. Mukul. It is good to hear voices that are not blindly following the popular views. It has been a worrisome time for the country and I hope that more people like you can come ahead and wake up the masses to see where they are taking India towards. Though personally I don’t think this horror will be over for atleast a few more years.

    Let’s pray we don’t become Hitler’s Germany very soon!

  48. prab46 permalink
    August 22, 2011 10:54 AM

    This article just goes to show how people forget what the goal is and start inspecting the driver of the vehicle. This article may earn its writer a Ph.D. but is useless as an evaluation of the movement. The basic question is whether the people of India are against corruption or not? Whether they want eradication of corruption or not? How long do they have to wait for that to happen? Who will make it happen for them? Can the same parliament which has politicians of all hues charged for all kinds of illegal activities including murder, corruption and what not, be expected to protect the interests of the people of this country? If the so called elected representatives of the people fail the people and start illegally gratifying themselves what is the way left for the people to protect themselves? Anna is not the messiah who is going to deliver the people from this morass. Anna is the conduit through which the people have expressed their anguish and angst. Anyone else would do equally well if he/she can evoke the the same confidence in the people. If anyone of the commentators for this article feels its in him/her to be the leader for this cause he/she may please come forward and lead. People want deliverance from corruption and whether its Mukul Sharma , Tom, Dick or Harry, or Anna who does it for them does not matter.

  49. August 22, 2011 12:43 PM

    my personal politics urges me to agree with the writer. but city sophistication, and discourse couched in jargon, cannot be invoked as the unproblematised prism for examining anna and his socio-political vision for Ralegam Siddhi. the real question, and it is relevant we ask it, so that the interests of a ‘holistic’ and historically accurate viewpoint is well served, is this: what was the community like before anna untook his ‘fascist’ take over? can the author entighten. he should have framed anna’s intervention within the context of what he was up against. why were his ‘draconian’ prescriptions necessary? in a community not trained to understand the language of rational discourse (like ‘we the people’), what were his options for ushering social transformations? even gandhi, with his bar at law degree, used religious symbols and the symbol of a self contained village economy to bind his politics. Anna is merely a retired army driver.

  50. August 23, 2011 1:34 AM

    I somehow feel that perhaps a rightist coup under the screen of Anna Hazare’s popular movement against corruption is planned and may take place until and unless leftists are very alert and keep guard. Anna’t team should be politely told: ‘This far and no further’ but strictly dealt with. They cannot be allowed to dictate terms that any bill must be passed by 30 August or so as per the dictates of Anna’s team.

  51. August 23, 2011 2:15 AM

    Is Anna’s movement just for Jan Lok Pal as he wants, or is it just a cover for any planned rightist coup, I really wonder.
    I somehow strongly feel that a rightist coup is perhaps already planned under the screen of Anna’s popular movement against corruption and may take place to the great woe of the country unless and until the left – of all varieties – is alert and active to avert it. Anna’s team should be politely but firmly told: “Thus far, but no further,” and under no circumstances any bill should be passed by 30 August bowing to the dictates of Anna’s team. Let the Parliament take ample time to discuss all the three versions – govt draft, Anna draft and Aruna Roy’s draft and other suggestions also and debate and discuss at leisure and within three months from now pass the bill in the final form agreed and voted by the majority in parliament. Heavens will not fall down if Lok Pal which is not established for 42 years is delayed by another 3-4 months. But I somehow feel there is a conspiracy and Anna is wittingly or unwittingly a part of it.

    • August 23, 2011 6:36 PM

      Exactly the kind of fear (though I won’t jump the gun by singling out the right wing or any such group) that I’ve expressed in my blog post. (

      “my larger disillusionment from this movement stems from its lack of clarity & coherence. I wonder whether its a movement against corruption because a crushing majority of the people on the streets are there due to their frustration with a hugely dysfunctional system. And that does gladden my heart like never before. It shows that we’re not apathetic beasts of circumstance, but human beings who have suddenly risen from dormancy. But then, I’m confronted with the leadership of this movement (Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi & the Bhushans) and trust me, its a killjoy. For they seem to have just a single point agenda – getting “their version” of the Lokpal Bill passed on the floor of the house. Their silence & dismissiveness towards anything other than their draft of the bill smacks of a certain shallowness, shortsightedness & a tendency to play to the galleries. I often wonder- what next? There’s no answer coming forth from the leadership of this movement. And with the stage gradually filling up with members of the existing political class that’s already bereft of any ideology, it becomes as elementary as the quip directed at Dr.Watson that the momentum arising out of the groundswell of public engagement will eventually be appropriated by the very system that the common man abhors.”

      • August 24, 2011 1:06 AM

        > For they seem to have just a single point agenda – getting “their version” > of the Lokpal Bill passed on the floor of the house.

        One of the unfortunate side effects of fighting a battle in public is that you cannot strategize in public when your adversary is so foxy. To lead, you need a consistent message. It is easier to give people something solid to fight for, rather than taking them along on a bunch of issues that most cannot have a grasp on.

        I have a feeling that this is a watershed moment in history where, after all this is over, people will analyze the strategy of IAC to death to find out what made them succeed. The time to compromise is not now, in public, no matter how much it alienates some people. The time to compromise is when negotiations really starts. Wait for it. You would already be hearing some shifting stands.

      • August 24, 2011 1:49 AM

        Sandip : I wonder who the adversary is in this case.

  52. August 23, 2011 5:25 PM

    However, I don’t think Anna’s achievements in his own village or elsewhere are mean or seriously questionable. He is an honest, sincere, incorruptible (as of now) social activist no doubt. But that does not warrant his ‘give or go by 30 August’ threats or contributing to mass hysteria in a dangerous fashion. True there are dacoits in the parliament but are there no dacoits outside? Once you recognize corruption as rampant and spread to all sections of people then you have to take guard against any excessive actions posing as incorruptible and only correct solutions. Popularity does not mean incorruptibility. For example somehow Jagan, son of late CM of AP, YSR, has become quite popular but at the same time whole world knows YSR as well as Jagan are corrupt to the core and looted public funds with impunity and amassed thousands of crores in a very short period. When the High Court of AP, for its own reasons, directed a CBI enquiry, and CBI is seriously investigating with jet speed showing more interest than in any other cases, as many as 29 MLAs now resign in favour of Jagan. For public consumption they all claim to be anti-corruption and themselves incorruptible. So I feel ‘good intentions can pave the way to hell’ also and it is better to stick to some procedure once the bill is introduced in the parliament. The rallies etc. can continue, no harm in democratic pressurizing and lobbying, etc. but let parliament go through all the drafts and suggestions and finally make a law not deterred by the hysterics of Anna team.

  53. Ajit permalink
    August 27, 2011 7:46 PM

    I wonder why every social activity in this country is viewed with colored glasses – the color could be religion, caste, class or one of the hundred other classifications. Someone who believes in the traditional ideals has put it to good use to bring about positive change. It’s a basic human courtesy we can extend to this man to applaud him for his constructive work and convey to him if there is any constructive criticism. I think it is a fashionable intellectual exercise or force of habit that the so-called responsible intellectuals of this country raise suspicions over the underlying ideology of anyone who appeals to the masses by invoking spiritual/nationalistic/religious ideas of right living. It’s a blasphemy to call this coercion when a community has looked up to a person because of the sheer light of his love and wisdom which has enhanced the quality of their lives. I appeal to the critics to not sow seeds of division when it is absolutely uncalled for. When readers comment that they are afraid of hidden ideology, it undermines the very spirit of the movement that come about and has been inclusive from the very outset. I say this as a concerned citizen who cares for inclusive growth as much as any one else does. Let’s have public debates on differences over fundamental principles and not resort to innuendos.


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  5. Is Hazare’s Village Still the Model for Rural India? | Orissa Online Portal
  6. Contrarian views on the leadership challenge that is affecting India’s anti-corruption debate | Journeys across a pathless land
  7. அண்ணா ஹசாரே சாதிவெறியரா? » ஜெயமோகன்
  8. Anna Hazare and Casteism « The Sabarmati
  9. When Performance is Power | 4Humanities
  10. Do you want to live in Ralegan Siddhi? Anna’s problems start at home | Firstpost
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