Hazare is no Madame DeFarge!

Posted: August 23, 2011 in Jan Lokpal Bill
Tags: , ,

I know that many of my students are aghast that I speak in favour of Anna Hazare’s movement. They believe the man is crooked, cantankerous, slightly unhinged, and totally eccentric. They also believe he is encouraging a revolt and is hell-bent on destroying democratic institutions such as the parliamentary system of governance. I completely respect their views and admire their stand on this whole movement. They are also quite surprised to see me talking a different language and not one of cynicism!

They believe that Hazare, through his agitation, is looking to usher in a sort of parallel government – something akin to what happened during the French Revolution with Hazare becoming something of a Madame DeFarge, the fictional character from Charles Dickens’ epic ‘Tale of Two Cities’. So why am I supporting this man and the movement? Okay, so here’s the truth. If it had been Mickey Mouse instead of Anna Hazare orchestrating this anti-graft movement, I would still have supported it. Why? Here are a few reasons.

1. In general, I dislike politicians. They have reduced this parliamentary system of democracy to something that we normally flush down the toilet every morning. Which parliamentary system allows MPs to be so easily be bribed to vote for or against a party? Where a government is stopped from functioning for almost a month by MPs who stage walkouts? Where crores of rupees are spent in inquiries which yield zilch; Where MLAs destroy furniture and beat up their colleagues? Where investigative agencies are instructed to protect the guilty instead of uncovering the truth; Where the prime minister defends the same crooks? Where reforms meant for the people have made the poor more impoverished, and the rich even richer; Is this is the ‘parliamentary democracy’ some people wish to preserve, and citizens don’t have the right to question?

2. I dislike the Congress Party. The people who have been a part of this 100 plus years old party have very subtly and covertly destroyed every tenet of democracy so carefully nurtured and put in place by the founding fathers of Independent India – all in the name of parliamentary democracy and good governance. Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and others must be turning cartwheels in their graves watching this rape and subversion of parliamentary democracy. Where Nehru encouraged debate and welcomed criticism, today’s politicians send out hit-men to silence critics. The person who set the ball rolling in this respect was Indira Gandhi. She hand-picked politicians who would always vote for her; chose committed judges – committed only to her; destabilised State governments that did not toe her line; encouraged charlatans in sadhu’s robes…I could go on. And that has continued to date.

3. This is the proverbial last straw – the petty corruption that is around us. Forget the corruption of the politicians and look at what we face every day. From bribing to get a learning licence to bribing an I-T official to bribing to get a ration card. Then there is the crumbling infrastructure – bad roads, lack of power, water etc – which gets worse every year. And while we fret and fume, we read about politicians sitting in the State and national capitals who acquire huge mansions, properties and luxury cars, just a few years after getting elected. But we don’t have the right to question them or the officials on how our money is being utilised.

If the government was honest would people have cared to listen to someone like Anna Hazare? Can one blame the common citizen for backing him? Not everyone may have read the Jan Lokpal Bill or the government’s version of it, but it doesn’t matter. I’m pretty sure not all of the 540 + MPs have read it either. At the end of the day, the end justifies the means. Respect for a system, be it the law or parliamentary system of governance, has to come from both sides. When the politician doesn’t respect it, can he expect his electorate to do so? So far this movement has been peaceful and that is what is worrying the government. There is no provocation from the protesters, so how can the police resort to the lathi? This agitation may fail, but if it can achieve even 30 per cent of what it has set out to do, I think the people of this country would have won a resounding moral victory.

And, finally, before accusing Hazare of resorting to blackmail and destroying democracy, and criticising those who back him, people should look really hard at their own lives. Before taking the moral high ground and accusing others of being morally bankrupt, they should ask themselves: Have they not resorted to threats, blackmail and agitations in their quest for, what they presumed, was justice, when all avenues of discussion and dialogue had failed? Have they not criticised institutions and reviled those who headed them? Think real hard before answering this question.

  1. Kevin Lobo says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more Sir!

    The most dangerous thing is the vicious cycle of these political re-elections.

    A fool gets elected – steals your money – no development – uneducated youth – the same fool gets elected

    And it goes on . .

  2. Ready says:

    Theres no dearth of fools, and its evident that such “students”, probably hailing from families which propagate corruption take such a stand because they see their corrupt future in jeopardy.
    Best is to ignore them, and move on, like we do to the mosquitoes.

  3. Aniruddha says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Anna Hazare, to the common man comes across as an opportunity to get back to the corrupt politicians or any bribe munching official. And while Rahul Gandhi(being the “youth icon” that he is) may urge the youth to get into politics most of us have a family to feed and stuff like that. And at such a time, Anna Hazare is the one chance to actually do something about it and the crowd will support him.

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