Saturday, April 09, 2011

Anna Hazare's fast

Anna Hazare's indefinite fast, that ended this morning, with the government agreeing to a joint committee of government and civil society to finalise the contents of a Lokpal Bill, brings up many issues that we need to think about and debate.

Our news channels provided little opportunity for that kind of debate as they went overboard projecting the protests as larger than they actually were.  Some even went to the extent of comparing Jantar Mantar to Cairo's Tahrir Square!

The protestors were no doubt sincere.  It is evident that they were fed-up with scams and corruption.  But the problem since the 26/11 demonstrations largely by urban middle class people is that they have simplified all problems to singular solutions -- and most of these solutions hinge on a hatred of politics and politicians.

Surely, this cannot work in a democracy like ours.  Also, those organising or leading these demonstrations, whether for greater security, or against corruption, must articulate clearly how these issues can be tackled.  Can the endemic corruption in the Indian system be sorted simply by creating another centralised institution?  And are all in civil society, even if they have won international or national award, competent, or even desirable, as people who will sit as judge and jury on issues relating to corruption?

These are questions that should be debated through the media.  Instead, the media has simply jumped on the middle-class bandwagon, celebrating the outcry against corruption which can so easily be drummed up in a country like ours.

Here's the link to a short comment I wrote for the BBC:

And here's another link to an interesting and thoughtful article by Shuddhabrata Sengupta on the website Kafila:

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