“Three things cannot long be hidden: the Sun, the Moon, and the Truth.”

Confucius

One is not certain whether The Great Mahatma, from his heavenly abode, would be smiling at the current developments in India, relating to fight against corruption to draft the Jan Lokpal bill; or would he be crying in deep pain at the circus that’s been created around the same.

Irrespective of his smiling or crying on these noisy developments, related to corruption and Jan Lokpal, he would probably be relieved that he had not had to face Indian mainstream media, as it stands now, in his journey to be The Mahatma;  neither he faced a character named Amar Singh, of whom less said is better.

Over the last few weeks, few notable developments happened that brought back the memory of the Mahatma in the forefront. One of these developments is related to Anna Hazare and his fast until death protest to get members of his choice (and with social standing for their individual and collective fight against corruption) in the drafting of a Jan Lokpal Bill, to deal with massive and unprecedented levels of corruption in India. The notable other development deals with another book (controversial and banned in parts of India even before its India release) on Mahatma, by Joseph Lelyveld, who had been an executive editor of the New York Times, and thereby had an opportunity to work in both South Africa and India, as an NYT correspondent. These two key places surely had shaped Gandhi’s journey to be The Mahatma.

On the first, about the peaceful protest following footsteps of Gandhi, Anna Hazare ultimately forced Indian Government to give in. The public representation for Jan Lokpal included five members, as suggested by Anna Hazare, probably in consultation with members behind that movement. These five nominated members had no way of getting elected by people of India, to be fair representatives of Indian people.

Many Indians believe corruption in India have reached dire proportions, and thereby demand drastic measures, in the better interests of its nearly 800 million citizens who have not probably directly benefited from the high-rates of economic growths unleashed since economic liberalizations. However as any roadmap of starting point is always bumpy, there isn’t a full proof system by which people’s voices can get incorporated in drafting of a bill, in its way to be a law.

At the same time, there can be no denying that the all important challenge of governance and economic growth should be aimed at making the fruits of economic growth reach out to these 800 million of underprivileged sections of Indian people.  One must keep in mind one single point of agreement of diverse socio-economic researchers, that universally agrees that reaching out to the poorest of the poors has always been an extremely difficult and challenging task. Getting rid of corruption, in the context of India in order to reach out to the poorest of the poor, is therefore critically important, and at the same time, difficult.

Media started making comparisons of Anna’s fight against corruption with that of Mahatma’s fight against colonial rule. Many termed him, probably a bit early, as the 2nd Mahatma as the first freed India from British rule and the 2nd aims to free India from corruption now.  There were also comparisons made against the popular movement of Jayaprakash Narayan of 1970s, during the time of emergency.

Correct recording and interpretation of future history would determine how much of these comparisons are valid, or else premature. Irrespective of that job which should be best reserved for future historians, the effort of Anna Hazare and his team must be commended immensely. Following many other citizens – this author would not hesitate to present his personal bias in personally saluting this civilian team fighting corruption in India.

However such comparisons also brought in new series of criticisms as Anna did not hesitate in stating exemplary punishment for the corrupt, unlike (probably) Gandhian philosophy. Anna also did not hesitate in mixing Gandhian philosophy with Shivaji’s actions to reduce and control corruptions in India. There should not be as such much problem in having this opinion while spearheading a campaign against corruption, however part of Indian media sensed trouble in their analysis as they themselves viewed Anna as another Gandhi in the making.

Anna, by the way, never claimed that. So media starts making comparisons, and then finds fault with the same person because the image they built may not be exactly compatible with real portrait of the person.

Questions have started flooding Indian media that fighting corruption is not the monopoly of any. There are also reports that similar, or more serious peaceful protests, on more demanding grounds have been completely overlooked. One case in mind is that of Irom Chanu Sharmila of Manipur.

Both the above points are absolutely justified, and valid. However one fails to understand what Jan Lokpal Bill (or the committee, more specifically five civilians in it) has to do with above valid demands. The culprit for above, if there are any, are (1) Government of India and (2) Indian media again.

These five members never stated that fighting against corruption is their monopoly. They rather have been trying hard, probably too hard at times, to mobilize support for this movement – online and on ground – across the breadth and depth of India. They looked for as much participation as possible from citizens through web-based interfaces proactively, in spite of which a PIL has been filed asking for more citizen participation through newspaper ads. Point is, these members must be managing on meager resources unlike the Government or big private businesses, against whom their fight primarily is, so any such costly (proposed) newspaper advertisement should be to the Government’s account.

If the concern is that why not someone else is in the committee, assuming for argument’s sake, that such a person happens to be more eligible than any of these five members to be in the committee; my humble submission would be genuine leaders must know when to be a follower, even to humbler human beings. This argument can continue endlessly that X is better suited than Y and why not Z…however matured society must learn to ignore them.

If Indian media does not learn them, it is better to ignore most part of the mainstream media that indulges in such derailing exercise of the Jan Lokpal.

Regarding other legitimate demands from citizens on other pressing demands or issues or protests spearheaded by other personalities, what can Jan Lokpal do? Just like two wrongs don’t make a right, when actions are being taken to rectify one particular wrong, even if selectively by the Government, one mustn’t stop that rectification process with a demand that all the other wrongs must be dealt simultaneously.  

Part II and the concluding section of the article can be found here.

I invite you to visit my blog, Wondering Man (or take a look at my book,Wondering Man, Money & Go(l)d that rightly predicted many of the economic and geopolitical crises, to the gold prices and the currency disputes). You are also invited to join me on twitter.

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