We have all had that one uncle who keeps on reminding you how India is terrible. He tells you about how every government authority takes bribes – from the RTO to the ration shop to the municipality. He will tell you how no government department does its job well – the potholed roads, abysmal conditions at government schools and poor healthcare all being examples to support your uncle’s theory. It is hard to argue with him, for he is right. Things don’t work. There is no justice. Power talks. Equality doesn’t exist. All of this, even though uncomfortable to hear, rings somewhat true.
However, the uncle goes on to say this: “Nothing will ever change.” He is convinced that our society is damaged irreparably, and India is destined to live in misery. Uncle Cynic goes on to doubt almost everyone, assumes the worst in people, and anyone who is trying to improve the country is branded as someone with a hidden agenda.
This is where i think the uncle gets it wrong, horribly wrong. For it is one thing to point out the problems, it is quite another to give up trying to fix them. Cynicism is not a counter-argument, it is an attitude. For the fact is we still have good people in the country: in society and even in government departments. It is just that they are crushed.
I don’t want to give you the reasons why you must support Anna Hazare. It is almost beneath Anna’s dignity that he actually has to beg or make a case for support when he is fighting for you, against an abusive, corrupt regime. Still, let me do a quick recap of the facts.
Anna did a fast in April, which became the nation’s movement and spread virally. Concerned, the government agreed to make a good Lokpal Bill, shook hands with the activists and in principle agreed to Anna’s version, designed to truly check corruption. Since then, the government has insulted Anna’s team, thrown away their draft, and come up with its own almost pointless draft of the Lokpal Bill.
The draft the government is presenting to Parliament will not check corruption. Only 0.5%, or one in 200 government officials are under its purview. Your corrupt ration shop, RTO, passport office, panchayats or municipal authority will not be covered. State scams will not be covered – yes, the Adarsh society scam or the Jharkhand scams are all out of its purview. The prime minister is excluded as well. Ever heard of a corruption law in a democracy that only applies to a certain section of people?
The government is throwing magic dust in your eyes – and counting on India’s illiterate and ignorant to not know the difference. However, you reading this are educated. You know when wrong is being committed. You know that while you have lived your life with corruption, you do not want your children to do the same. A bad Lokpal Bill may not affect you today – but tomorrow it will hit you when your child does not get a college seat, when your hospital gives shoddy treatment, when your government work doesn’t get done. We live in a poor country – poor not because we don’t have what it takes to be rich, but because our leaders have let us down. We have given them too much power, and they consider our vote as a mandate to steal and be incompetent. They hate accountability. However, without accountability, our progress will stall. There are countries where the average income per person is 50 times more than in India. Don’t we deserve the same?
Thus, whatever your personal view on Anna, it is not him but his cause that needs support. The government can crush a few activists. However, it cannot crush India on the streets. A peaceful, firm, decisive protest is every Indian’s birthright, and must be exercised in times of need. Come Monday, and we Indians have a job to do. We have to save our country’s future.
A word for the government too. Just what exactly are you thinking when you are trying to shove an impotent law down people’s throats? And what makes you feel that threatening, crushing or insulting Anna will take away people’s need to rid India of corruption? Anna did not create an anti-corruption sentiment, he merely tapped into it. Crushing Anna will not take away that sentiment. It will just make it fester more. Right now, the movement is still controlled. By going back on your word, displaying arrogance and not listening to the people, you are risking the country’s descent into chaos. Be careful. Accountability is much easier to deal with than anarchy. Fix the Lokpal Bill now, please.
Finally, for the people of India, it is time to prove Uncle Cynic wrong. There is a bigger truth than his ‘nothing ever changes in India’. That truth comes from the Gita, which states “Nothing is permanent”. The Gita also says, “When the pot of sin overflows, something happens to restore order.” Now, it is up to you to determine if the pot of sin has overflowed. It is for you to say what it means for Indians to act out their dharma. And you, and only you, will decide if it is time to come on the streets.
(The writer is a best-selling novelist)
Forward if you like it.
..”Jaha ek chandaal neta ne Mandal ka Kafan Oudhakar karwayi masoom vidyarthi-yo ki aatm-vilopan se pehchaan..us desh main mere bhai bolo mera bharat mahaan ??”..
When I had recited a poem, born out of anguish during the Mandal Commission episode, to a ex-Samajwadi leader, he explained to me in depth the situation that exists in rural India. In principle, he was all for Merit based selection, but the political machinations, prevalent in the north, read UP/Bihar, as per him made it – Aarakshan – necessary. A stand which urban youth, is not able to understand and never will unless exposed to the trauma of being a lower caste individual in the villages of north.
As Saif, ironically of royal nawaabi lineage, who plays a dalit in the film, put it that today too dalit students are expected to clean toilets of the schools they attend, and unless you see it for yourself, you will not believe it.
The ban exposes the intention of the political system in place, which like an ostrich, wants to bury its head in the sand, and hope that the problem will magically vanish.
V.P.Singh who became the prime minister riding high on the bofors wave, but was unable to provide a economically stable governance, divided the nation further in a single stroke by insisting to implement the Mandal Commission report.
Riots erupted everywhere, but this was one issue on which the nation’s youth was united, India needed a class based reservation and not a caste based reservation. Give priority to financially backward students/people irrespective of their caste, it did not make sense to provide scholarships/quota for a SC/ST who travelled in a Mercedes/BMW !!!
I feel the film medium is the best bet for initiating a debate nationwide, and to spread awareness of the pros-cons of Aarakshan, and among the current crop of filmmakers, it is Jha who can perhaps provide a better insight into the background of the reservation system.
Using a megastar’s presence, can perhaps further the cause of implementing a merit based education system in India. But knowing the culture of our dear politicians, this may remain a distant dream !!!
The year 2011 will be remembered for the highest number of scams and of mindbogging figures, involving Cabinet Ministers.
It is unheard of that a cabinet minister implicated by CBI, continues to remain in office, where as he should have been removed so as to assist the investigating agency.
DMK ministers seem to have literally adopted that charity begins at home. All this revelations, have definitely exposed Manmohan Singh, who seems to be hell bent on shedding his clean image. His diplomacy, being quiet, almost dismissive of all concerns whether from civil society, opposition or media, reeks of cowardice and servile submission to 10 Janpath.
Now after the Supreme Court’s stern observation, hope Mr.Singh is mobilized and stirred enough to do something for his country.
We still have cases of Malnutrition coming from Mumbai, of all the places in India, the financial capital of India. Just imagine the condition of rural areas, and that too when media has already exposed tonnes of foodgrains rotting in govt godowns.
Can India afford such a spineless Prime Minister, is a question we need to ask ourselves.
What a Drama !! A government that boasts of the largest and biggest scam of 1.75 Lakh crore, largest ever in the history of Free Modern India, comes down hard on Ramdev and his followers in the middle of the night just for asking to ACT and bring back Black Money from Swiss Banks.
Why? Is it because many of the UPA faces would be exposed? This raises a lot of questions for the common man who till date believed in the impeccable reputation of Manmohan Singh. This act raises whether Manmohan is still untouched by the corruption around him.
Turning a blind eye, as he did to the acts by DMK ministers, is also an act of a corrupt mindset, that is interested in the vested interest of keeping his chair.
In fact I am surprised at this suicidal act, which will further strengthen the communal forces of India. This act exposes how politically incompetent are the forces that occupy the highest chair in India. But what can you expect, when you have a person like Kapil Sibal, known to act more as a Political Broker than a Politician as one of the chief advisors. This is the man who set out to single handedly revamp the education system, anyone heard anything later on that?
Digvijay Singh, a politician, who still lives out his royal lineage, and declares statements and handsout titles such as “Thug” as if the people of India will accept the same.
Half of UPA’s thugs, mostly of DMK, who were exposed only because of their constant greed and manipulation and threats to Sonia to pull out of the UPA government, are in Tihar Jail. The CBI of this country is used as a tool for witchhunt by the Government of India.
The cost of living in the name of Globalisation, has widened the rift between the rich and the poor, with the middle class being pushed towards the lower bracket. While foodgrains rot in tonnes, the agriculture minister revels in being power broker of cricket.
We have our own Gaddafis, Mubaraks and Musharrafs in our own backyard in the guise of secular, democratic politicians.
VS Naipaul’s latest barb is that women write inferior ‘tosh’.The author is known to revel in controversies. To call women writers names, is totally uncalled for, but than so called Nobel Prize winners, highly celebrated celebrity authors such as Naipaul, live in a illusionary world of their own. He has become senile, age has caught up with him. Ask a reader, who pays from his pocket, the name of the last book written by Naipaul and you would understand the frustration that Naipaul feels.
The success of writers such as J.K.Rowling makes authors, especially such as Naipaul, who are at the flickering sunset of their careers, jealous with rage and hence the stupid rant.
I am sure that the knighthood conferred on “Sir Vidia” [this was I belive the name of a villain in a Hindi Bollywood musical called Karz too 🙂 ] has made him giddy.
More Brit than a Brit could be, Naipaul remains a literary figure appreciated only by the critics and not the Indian Masses.
Give me a Chetan Bhagat, J.K.Rowling or even our own dirty old man Khushwant Singh anyday….
This is political intrigue at it’s peak.
I saw the interview of Peter Bleach by Arnab on Times Now, who answered each and every question as if he was being interrogated all over again and have no doubt that this was a internal job of the then Indian Government / British Govt. / Danish Govt too !!
Though it is difficult to believe that all this was done to destabilise the Marxist Government of Bengal !. That could have been done by just paying the electorate in cash as is being done everywhere in India.
The incident reveals how governments use and manipulate govt machinery such as CBI, Local Police etc., to achieve their own goals.
If there was one prime minister who had the gumption to do and allow such a thing [allowing the complete Air Detection Radar to be switched off that night in Purulia] was Narsimha Rao.
Power corrupts and Absolute Power corrupts absolutely.
This is with respect to your speech during the world cup victory on IBN7 channel. I say speech, as Rajdeep requested a few sound bytes from you and not a speech and infact was trying to stop you too.
I was quite surprised by the desperation you revealed, in trying to grab the opportunity and indulging in nationalist and patriotic jingoism. It was nauseating and the unfortunately the only jarring note, which was otherwise an unforgettable day in most Indian’s life. Your preachy note to take forward the national pride was pseudo-patriotic to say the least.
The Indian National Team has by this win proved, that irrespective of religion, caste and creed it is only focus, determination and the grooming of right talent along with some stellar leadership that is willing to take some risks, is the only way ahead. Infact I would go the extent of suggesting that the political parties of India need to take lessons from this win about teamwork, religious tolerance etc and not the other way around.
I think it is time now for parties such as yours, to understand the pulse of the common man or else you may reach the numbers that existed pre-1984 in parliament.