| by N.S.Venkataraman
( February 5, 2014, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Along with Jayaprakash Narayan, Anna Hazare’s name would be recognised by Indian history as crusader of anti corruption movement. It is remarkable that even without the stature of a great person like Jayaprakash Narayan, Anna Hazare was able to build a movement for anti corruption in India with telling effect.
However, it now appears that Anna Hazare’s anti corruption movement has somewhat lost its way and its sense of direction. He has now become largely silent and his voice does not anymore seem to command the weight that it carried around two years back. Obviously, his movement has been hijacked by some of his associates , who have successfully converted it into a political outfit much against his wishes.
Thousands of followers of Anna Hazare who were enthused by his anti corruption leadership and who fasted with him in different parts of India and lighted candles as token of solidarity with him now remain confused , though they are sure that the anti corruption movement should move on as a genuine campaign and should be taken to its logical end.
It is high time that Anna Hazare should introspect as to why his movement has come to the present pause, though the need for the movement remain as important as it was earlier. A section of his admirers think that he allowed himself and his movement to play into the hands of people who jumped on to his band wagon sensing the mood of the country, but who themselves were not above board. In the process, the movement got inevitably diluted with even persons known to be involved in corrupt dealings getting the ears of Anna Hazare and receiving publicity for themselves.
Anna Hazare focussed on the Lokpal Bill , as if this could be the be all and end all of anti corruption initiative. Several well wishers pointed out even during the peak period of the movement that number of existing laws and procedures could be adequate to combat corruption in India. It was clearly said that the issue was not lack of anti corruption laws but circumventing the law by the administrators , politicians and those involved in corrupt practices. Many said that Lokpal Bill , when enacted, may end up with the same results as the existing laws and procedures. Anna Hazare and his close associates did not heed such suggestions and perhaps were overwhelmed by the public response and the panic reaction of the government of India and thought that the task has been largely achieved. The Anna Hazare team basked in the glory of publicity that they received in the media and it appears that the team failed to make careful analysis of the course of the movement.
Perhaps, Anna Hazare did not insist on the fact that ultimately the battle against corruption has to be fought in the minds and hearts of the people of India. The movement could have recognised the fact that not only large segment of politicians and administrators are corrupt in India but even the educationists, members of judiciary , NGOs and common men in general are not exceptions. Bribe involves both giver and taker and it is not a one sided act in India.
What Anna Hazare could have done was to insist that those who were involved in the corrupt practices in the past either as a giver or a taker, cannot be part of his movement. He could have said that every one member of the movement should declare that he /she has never been involved in the bribe practice and further insisted that they should declare, by way of taking pledge, that they would never involve themselves in any corrupt practices in future. Anna Hazare should have called his followers to resist corrupt practices at individual level in the day today life whether small or big. For example, if a person would be caught by the police for violating traffic rule, he should opt to pay the prescribed fine instead of paying less amount as bribe to the police man to escape from the clutches of law. Many of those who were active members of Anna Hazare movement could have paid bribe in the past on several occasions such as for registering sale deed of property, admitting child in a school etc.
When Anna Hazare did not insist that any person involved in corruption should walk away from his movement , it was seen by many that the anti corruption movement was really moving in vacuum.
Mahatma Gandhi insisted in all his campaign that the participants should have highest form of probity in private and public life and social reforms were insisted even as part of political reforms and freedom movement.
Anna Hazare , a Gandhian , should derive the appropriate lesson from Gandhian philosophy and re invent the anti corruption movement on Gandhian lines, where the anti corruption crusade will not be a mere anti government exercise or one of abusing others but become a people centric movement, where the reform will be targeted towards cleansing the mind of the people themselves. In such movement, every person who gives or takes bribe at any level will be viewed disapprovingly by the society, just like the way the society views a drunkard or a dacoit. Certainly, this sort of deep rooted campaign will have far reaching and sustained impact in rooting out corruption in India , which is the need of the day.