Anna Hazardous

The moment I read those mindless headlines in the papers and saw footage of hordes of clueless candle-kissers across major Indian cities flocking to show their solidarity for Anna Hazare, the plot was clear. The plot as well as the never-to-disappoint-phenomenon of the heedless support that Hazare got from even well-meaning folks like Swami Ramdev. And yet again, I lay comforted in my cynicism that no matter what we’re a nation populated by people content with petty desires and illusory victories.

Let me lay out my cynicism with a well-known episode in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

At the time, Caesar is a triumphant general who has become wildly popular in Rome after inflicting a crushing defeat on Pompey. In a public meeting attended by tens of thousands of Roman citizens, Mark Anthony offers Caesar the crown thrice. Caesar rejects the offer each time, then faints with emotion and finally, humbly bows down to the will of assembled populace who want him to wear the imperial crown.

Sounds familiar?

Let’s quickly recap some recent happenings.

  1. One massive scam after the other erupts in rapid succession: I mean, before people can count the number of Zeros, another scam with a larger number of Zeros erupts and so on.
  2. A singular feature of the general toxic atmosphere this time is the fact that nobody is above fault: the same media that reports these scams has a finger in more than one poisonous pie.
  3. Outrage from truly honest people (yeah, they do exist) picks up steam but doesn’t have enough range to reach the entire nation.
  4. Enter Baba Ramdev whose rally in November 2010 is hugely successful. The English media dutifully relegates it to Column 4, Page 5.
  5. Enter Anna Hazare who on April 5 2011 begins a fast-unto-death-until-something-is-done-about-corruption “movement.” It picks up steam, is graced by various “civil society” eminences, and is generally declared a blockbuster.
  6. On April 6 2011, newspapers gleefully announce that Anna Hazare “tasted his first victory on Wednesday, the second day of his fast unto death, when Maratha strongman and NCP chief Sharad Pawar quit the group of ministers (GoM) on the anti-corruption bill.” What a slap! The nation is delirious with joy.
  7. On April 8 2011, the Queen graciously bows down to the wishes of this gentle Gandhian and on April 9 2011, the Government of India issues a Gazette of India notification to form a joint committee to draft the Lok Pal Bill.

Quiz: Spot the similarities between the aforementioned Caesar episode and this one.

Yes, yes, yes, I can already hear cries that I’m spinning a grave conspiracy theory. So let me clarify. For lack of information to the contrary, I do believe Anna Hazare to be a man of integrity whose commitment is genuine and has done good work in the past. But many things don’t quite add up and unless there are some convincing answers the nag of suspicion will persist.

Cut back to the Spectacular Socialist Seventies when Mrs. Gandhi had all of India in her iron fist. What that also means is that conditions so horrid that corruption was just one of the grave issues: we were pretty much under an authoritarian regime where inconvenient people simply disappeared, Indira was India, and so on. What’s the record of Anna Hazare’s fight against corruption and these grave national issues back then?  To be sure, Hazare’s record of anti-corruption crusades was largely limited to Maharashtra where he scored some minor victories. His campaign prior to the 2011 “movement” was a crusade for Right to Information, which was limited to Maharashtra.

The one thing that I see amiss is not the nature of his fight—it’s noble etc—but the timing. Why now? Why not say, when Madhu Koda looted his state for what it was worth or during the Adarsh scam that happened in Hazare’s own state or against Kalmadi or against Raja as soon these scams erupted? Is there some gold standard of corruption that had to be met before he launched his movement? Now, there was a lull from April 2 to April 8. If you want me to spell that out here goes: April 2 was when India proudly lifted the cricket world cup. April 8 is when the first IPL match for 2011 was held. Now go back to the papers and news channels between April 5 thru April 8. Nonstop drumming about the “movement” on television and relentless front-page assault. Now read #7 again. On which page does Anna Hazare’s news figure in the papers now?

We wonder what the selfsame media was doing when Baba Ramdev launched his protest. Or is it the fact that Ramdev didn’t go on a huger strike? Or the fact that he didn’t have celebrity societal conscience-keepers like Agnivesh, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, and Jayaprakash Narayan who jumped on board the Anna Hazare ship barely before the anchor was dropped? Agnivesh is a Naxal-supporting pseudo Arya Samaji who deludes himself hoping people will actually think he’s today’s Swami Vivekananda. As for the rest, we really don’t know much about their nation-changing achievements except that the media doesn’t hate them and that the Congress party allows them to carry on their activism without seriously hurting the party.

In light of so many coincidences, inconsistencies and gaping holes, a singular conclusion emerges: we’ve been had by the Congress party. Yet again. In one masterly usage of the trick that never fails: you pretend to hit me and I’ll pretend to weep. More questions.

Had Anna Hazare undertaken a Bosesque “movement” instead of the Gandhian garden variety, what’s your bet how the government would’ve reacted? He and his supporters would’ve been arrested, lathi-charges galore would’ve ensued and the rest. The worst? Not one candle-kisser would’ve turned up because the occasion would’ve evinced not kissing candles but getting middle-class-asses kicked and lathi-charged. The same media would’ve hollered self-righteously about the utter depravity of violent protests in a democracy, unconstitutional, etc. But look what it wrote now: Anna has govt for breakfast. How’s that for a spankin’ headline! See, Gandhi always works! Even a guy like Ramachandra Guha knows it.

What’s important is the fact that not one person in that motley protest-crew has been hurt by the government when we have seen what happened during the Amarnath protests for example. What’s even more important is the speed at which the Queen’s conscience was shaken by the might of Anna’s moral power and agreed to all his demands. Now this one is truly puzzling: from time immemorial, governments in power always tend to crush any opposition—it doesn’t matter whether such opposition and protest is just and/or popular: what matters is that giving in to such opposition is seen—rightly so in many cases—as a challenge to the power, authority, and legitimacy of the government. And so we repeat: why did the Queen agree to all his demands, and so soon?

Now that brings us to Baba Ramdev. His frontal attack on the Congress party elicited an impotent roar from the perpetually-writhing-in-perversion Digvijay Singh, not to mention the furious stirrings of revenge from the hurt groin of the Grand Old Party. Poor Baba Ramdev. He’s been had in numerous ways. First in the form of the said threat from the Noxious Carbide King, Diggy Singh. Given his popularity and appeal, this threat is relatively mild. The most important thing is the manner in which he has thrown the boulder on his own feet by voluntarily lending his voice in support of Anna Hazare. This will likely cost him dearly. His support logically means that he’s on the same side as the bunch of Bollywood bohemians like Farah Khan, Bipasha Basu, Neha-whatever, Kareena Kapoor and Sushmita Sen and musician-actor-director-producer-writer-poseurs like Shabana Azmi, A.R. Rahman, Anupam Kher, and that arch-pervert M F Hussain. Where was this bunch of wealthy and pampered-rotten jokers when Baba Ramdev took out his rally? By thoughtlessly supporting Hazare, he has sabotaged his own drive against corruption: it simply means that he directly or indirectly supports the newly-constituted Committee of Known Cabalists headed by Pranab Mukherjee and whatever jerk-headed “recommendations” they’re likely to come up with.

It’s not just Baba Ramdev. Everybody has been had. The BJP, RSS, ABVP…everybody. Offstumped explains how the BJP walked into this trap. What is with these guys who simply can’t resist the impulse to be “in” with the latest tomfoolery? But the biggest suckers of all have been you and me: the professionally-educated, aspiring, upwardly mobile, globally-travelled, entrepreneurial and risk-taking Middle Class. Within a generation, the Congress party has succeeded in capturing what’s called the mindshare (sic) of the Indian urban youth in the 18-30 age range. While the 90s belonged to the BJP, which cornered the previous generation by tapping into their religious and cultural sensibilities, the 2000s Congress party is succeeding in doing the same with the next generation by making pop activism a fashion statement. As a result, we have a large mass of youth that thinks that watching TV debates starring chic anchors and sending SMSes to these channels somehow means participating in democracy.

Developments after the Hazare Fast Circus ended only point to the fact that the Congress party has more than a sinister hand in the whole affair. This news item reports that Anna has asked Kapil Sibal to quit the newly-formed Panel of Pushers. Here’s a rescued-from-obscurity Gandhian who has suddenly “found” widespread fame, now dictating terms to a government elected by the people of India, all nice and Constitutional. Apart from the token opposition from Sibal, the Congress party hasn’t said or done anything serious to His Exalted Morality. On the contrary, here’s a delicious piece of news:

Alleging that Uttar Pradesh is the most corrupt of all states, the Congress today asked social activist Anna Hazare to start a movement from the state if he wanted to start a state-based campaign.

Draw your own conclusions. I think that Anna Hazare is a well-meaning and committed individual but that he’s just being used. Is there someone who’s feeling threatened by Baba Ramdev’s growing and massive popularity and the fact that he’s promised to reveal ugly secrets of a certain party? Certain business houses are well-versed in the art of letting an “accidental” fire break out on their premises thanks to a short circuit or whatever and then claim hefty insurance money.

Anyway, the circus has pretty much ended and the tents have been packed. The middle class has again deluded itself, which is how it should be because it deserves the illusion of power that the government is letting it have from time to time because it’s still not time for the middle class to realize the brutal truth that candle-kissing and assembling in parks doesn’t hurt the middle class and that lasting change is not achieved without cuts and bruises and broken bones.

For now, the middle class can go back to watching the IPL.

115 comments for “Anna Hazardous

  1. March 25, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    I will give u two articles,first is 1. IS Janlokpal law really efficient? 2. Then Why Anna supported it inspite of knowing it will harm India drastically. 3. IS Anna being used,IS it that he doesnt understand drafts things? 4 Arvind Kejriwal is a Honest man,Its just AAM admi ,citizen of India is corrupt
    Answer –
    1.http://www.facebook.com/notes/right-to-recall-against-corruption/0236-tale-of-philippines-and-india-how-world-bank-imf-corrupt-elite-and-intellec/583703684981970

    2.-http://tiny.cc/q8lqmw
    -http://www.facebook.com/notes/right-to-recall-against-corruption/0201-how-chhote-anna-may-use-rakshabandhan-to-kill-9-aug-event-way-out/472287516123588

    3-Anna is not new to Dharna,He has studied a lot of politics,inside as well as outside politics.He has been associated with many NGO’s ,MNC’s in past and also in present. One of such MNC’s is KAPAT ,i forgot the full form exactly but this is MNC cum NGO . According to agreements it first works for farmers ,makes wells,etc ,then takes the part of land on which these are made after some years. Doctor Rajiv Dixit researched on all such factors.He was Anti-MNC ,the real reason behind Coca-cola,pepsi revealation and reduction of its buisness from 700 crores to 170 crores.He was to assist Ramdev in Black money case. His reasons were so valid that he became popular among people in a small span of time.But He died on 30 nov2010,(just beofre it Ramdev had introduced Anna,AK to his followers ),sme say its conspiracy because of his dark blue face after death.

    4.http://www.facebook.com/notes/right-to-recall-against-corruption/0233-what-did-arvindbhai-as-income-tax-commissioner-do-to-stop-his-juniors-from-/580103035342035

  2. cricfan
    December 29, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    This Anna debacle will hopefully reduce the knee jerk reaction of middle class India to light candles for anything and everything. even if they smell gas.

  3. CHOTU
    December 29, 2011 at 12:10 AM

    JOKEPAL PASSED>>>>

    Literally, Everything written in this article has happened…

    Look at the headlines in the last two days…

    “Delhi, Mumbai crowds disappoint Anna, but Team puts up brave face”
    “Time for Anna Hazare to declare victory and move on to next act”
    “Seven reasons why Anna’s fast is a ‘flop’”

    —————

    Congress and Media used Anna… Now they’re throwing him out…

  4. November 12, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    HI,

    You might be interested in taking a look at http://www.mindbodypolitic.com
    about Anna Hazare.

  5. Douglas Gracias
    August 21, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    hey sandeep, im really glad to have read this article, and am even more glad about the fact that there exist people who could so easily express the truth of this issue in a way that it is, and not the popular “anna hazare ki jai” or “ramdev baba” nonsense. Thanks mate.

  6. Corrupt Congress
    August 16, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    It seems from the article that there is still no will among us to root out corruption. Looks like India is not going to change as Jokepal is being brought by Govt…We will have to continue to pay bribe for getting passports, electricity connection, ration cards, policemen, property registration….list is endless. Nothing is for me as a common man where I can go and lodge my complaint against corruption. There is no will from the government to act comprehensively against corruption. We will just waste taxpayers money on another useless institution brought by government.
    we are held hostage to our corrupt politicians who have no iota of interest to improve the rotten systems in the name of democracy and constitution.

  7. July 3, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    Brilliant piece, as usual. Presents a very intelligent perspective. Though I don’t doubt Anna’s personal integrity, and I don’t suspect his timing as such, but I do strongly believe that the media and the politicians have been highly unfair towards Swami Ramdevji. They have rallied behind Anna Hazare with good intentions, but have hurt Swami Ramdev, perhaps only because he wears ‘saffron’ (read: he is unfashionable).

  8. Renuka
    June 8, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Hi Sandeep! Your writing work shakes me and forces me to look at things from various other agles…I am niether a BABA fan nor an ANNA fan. I am a non practicing Hindu. What I feel is, what is happening in India righ now is a Mahabhrata, where Anna had a part and Ramdev had a part to play. They have made the topic of curroption a house hold topic. Many Home makers (I hate to use the word house-wife) who woul talk about roti-dal, Sarry sale or the silly television serials are keeping track of the latest News. The Kids who woul talk about pizza, shopping malls and cartoon, want to know why the heck these babas and Annas are showing up so much on TV. My helper (maid) wanted to know in detail to whtats happening about the foreign bank accounts. The elite in India lives in denial, I am glad the middle class is waking up. Anna, Baba and the internet community have created quite a stir…and it HAS to spread!!!

  9. G
    May 26, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    Anna “Nicole Smith” Hazare sells his soul to “civil society” vultures: http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-hazare-takes-on-modi-over-corruption-in-gujarat/20110526.htm

    Next time I am all for calling this guys bluff. Let him starve unto death and earn back his credibility.

  10. May 8, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    The basic issue is the prevalence of criminals in our parliament… back on 2006 Abu Salem wanted to contest elections and there was no law in place to stop him http://www.wahsarkar.com/?p=329

  11. Passing by
    May 4, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    Can someone make sense of these conflicting extracts? If not, can we have some of what Nalapat is smoking?
    (Ellipses added for brevity, read full articles for context and completeness.)

    1) http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=82802
    “….Clearly the UPRIGHT Minister of Finance, Pranab Mukherjee,is unaware of the havoc ….”

    Caps added.

    2) http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=87906
    “…. a super-government, able to inflict its views on a government where prominent ministers such as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram are openly subservient to her dictates…”
    “….Education Minister Kapil Sibal, ordinarlily (sic) a first-class intellect…” ========== Huh?

    3) http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=89220
    “…the Union Finance Ministry under Pranab Mukherjee …has adopted an ostrich policy of refusing to even acknowledge the fact that more than $1 trillion has been stashed in Swiss banks by Indian citizens acting through their relatives or directly…”

    Mr. Upright himself in person.

    “…The names on this list [Gang of Four] comprise four of the most senior members of the Manmohan Singh cabinet…”

    Parentheses added.

    “…During the Vajpayee years, two intrepid journalists (Tarun Tejpal and Aniruddha Bahal) exposed widespread corruption in the party and in the government. The Tehelka expose only resulted in both of them facing financial ruin…”

    Consider that the Scorpion (in the person of either Mr. Intrepid I or Mr. Intrepid II) has not delivered any stings (in more than one sense) in the last 6 years, which is not hard to believe at all.

  12. anonymous
    May 2, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    More from MD Nalapat. Why did he choose to write in a Pak website.Was he supressed by Indian media?
    http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=87906
    Running a country NGO-style
    http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=89220
    India’s corrupt “gang of four”
    MD Nalapat as Resident Editor of TOI wrote extensively on Bofors and Quattorochis corruption.Must read.

  13. Anonymous
    May 2, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    MD Nalapat on corruption creating chaos in India. Must read
    http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=82802

  14. May 1, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    Hahahaha.. Brilliant stuff Sandeep.. Candle Kissers!!… Here’s another fantastic perspective on the entire Anna issue

    http://www.wahsarkar.com/?p=224

  15. Jooske
    April 29, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    NGOs is that a Hazardous movement?

    “The more fashionable the cause you pick, the more funds you are likely to attract. Currently, if you pick saving the environment or saving the poor as your cause, you will attract the assiduous attentions of many rich foreign financiers who will pour millions of dollars into your cause. As someone who has observed NGO activities for a while now, may I add here that nearly all the NGOs who set out to save India’s environment are frauds with almost no understanding of what the real issues are. As for those who set out to save the poor, they are usually dedicated povertarians who would be devastated and jobless if the poor were truly saved. There are some NGOs I have come across who in the name of ‘the people’ spend their entire time flying around the world on an endless circuit of international conferences.”

    Our sainted NGOs? by Tavleen Singh
    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/our-sainted-ngos/777170/0

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