The Anna Hazare Fast and the Common Man

I do not watch TV, that’s my excuse for not writing about this sooner. When I first heard about Anna Hazare it was in Twitter. There were many well-known writers and actors calling on Indians to participate in the fast and provide the much needed support to the Hazare movement-described in their Facebook page as the ‘next freedom movement’ of India. Here is what I found- Indeed, it is a freedom movement, a long-awaited one at that.

Corruption in India is a normal affair, much expected and as surprising as the water quantity in the milk supplied daily. Why, there is an even an entire page in Wikipedia describing corruption in India! Let me give you a brief glimpse into it-my country ranks among the top corrupt nations of the world, with over 30 billion black money in USD stowed away in Swiss banks-13 times the nation’s national debt & nearly ¼ of the people running my country are criminals . Why take the nation as a whole? It makes things look bigger-providing this surreal view of the state of affairs. Let’s talk about my distant relative-he works in a government office as an engineer. Going by his salary you wouldn’t expect the huge bungalow and the sleek car to be his. Let me tell you about a friend, who managed to pass with 3rd division marks in his 12th. Now he studies in one of the top private universities in the state.

All that is old news, what is new is Anna Hazare and his stand against corruption. While the rest of India stood as a mute spectator (including yours truly) and bowing to the powers that be, Anna Hazare proved that his conscience is alive. A former soldier and a Padma Bhusan recipient he still hasn’t forgotten his duty to the nation. After making numerous reforms in Maharashtra, his voice has risen loud enough to shake the walls of the Indian Parliament. The Jan Lokpal Bill, which has been in the waiting queue for nearly 42 years has found its voice in this soldier’s call for freedom from corruption.
Many cities, many citizens old & young have now found the guts to speak up against corruption due to one man. The usual early morning chats at the tea stall with the day’s newspaper in hand has now been transformed into something more concrete. There are still many who speak of the Jan Lokpal Bill & Anna Hazare as if it’s movement going on in some other country & also many who are over enthusiastic and itching to declare a ‘bandh’ and wreck a few government offices. Ask them about the Bill & you will draw a blank. My sympathies for those ignorant souls.

As the movement gains momentum, the question arises what can you-the legendary common man/’Aam Aadmi’ of India do? Just joining the fast and yelling slogans down the street is just a façade, a hollow attempt if in your own life you forget the old school lessons of honesty being the best policy. You pay the officer at the desk an extra 500 bucks to get your work done sooner, you slip a 100 rupee note into the hands of the traffic police & zoom away in your vehicle again, you donate lavishly to the school to ensure your child gets the best education, I could go on & on listing out stuff that we do, without batting an eyelid.

I say we are the reason that corruption exists. It’s like a vicious cycle- some of us bribe & it turns into a trend, a common courtesy even and then those who can’t, suffer silently. If each of us turns into an Anna Hazare, and refuses to bow to the trend, wouldn’t corruption die? I am not asking anything huge, just a simple ‘NO’ at the right moment can change things. True whistle-blowers are mercilessly killed in this nation, but then isn’t this a slow death too? Isn’t your self-respect, your conscience dying everyday as you stand and watch corruption thrive?

I may not fast but I can take a pledge to not let my conscience die, to not let corruption become a part & parcel of my life or my country! Whether the Jan Lokpal body materialises or not, I will stand against corruption whenever I encounter it.
Who’s with me?