All it took is a fasting seventy four year old man to bring the entire nation together. Well, almost, the entire nation, except for the not so common people who govern the country , and of-course some Autowallas of India’s very own Silicon Valley.
While it is very clear why the government is doing what it is doing, what strikes me is the attitude of the common man when it comes to corruption in real life. We shout on social networking sites that we support Anna, put ‘I support Anna’ picture badges to our profiles, walk marathons, light candles, skip meals, participate in anti-corruption marches and shout slogans on top of our voices (Which, indeed is a new phenomenon, rather than just supporting Anna on Facebook and Twitter!), all to support India against corruption.
But, how many of us, would really stand in a queue all day (or maybe two, or three) in a government office and try to get the work done, rather than trying to bribe someone?As if saving some time makes all the difference in the world, so that we can utilize it for other activities like watching a movie or meeting friends, or even working in our air-conditioned office for a foreign client who sucks every single drop of blood out of us for each penny he gives our company.
Each one of us is equally corrupt here. No one can take it from us, if we don’t propose to give. We have seen it, and lived through it, all our lives. From getting an admission to kindergarten, to getting a passport or a driving licence, we know that the task is just impossible if we don’t offer sweets or a favour or simply put, some extra bucks. So, here in India, corruption is not just a state of affairs, it is a phenomenon. And, believe it or not, we are ruled by it.
As the mango people, we have been brought up to believe, that nothing is in our hands and we have to go by the rule book, which states that give and take is the only way things work in our nation. It is not only in theory, but, we have grown up seeing real life scenarios, every now and then. But, today, some of the mango people chose to be different and joined Anna in his campaign against corruption. They bunked colleges, closed shops, took a day of work, to support Anna, with a hope of seeing a change. Some of those people could not even afford, not to work for a day, but they joined in the campaign.
Surprisingly, the famous dabba-walas of Mumbai went on a day’s strike, first time in 120 years to support dear old Annaand others followed suit.The Autowallas in Delhi left no chance to take whatever limelight they could by organising their own strike for a day.It is, in fact, the beginning of a change, as seen on first instant. But, digging deeper, I come to think that how many of them would not make it up, for the days labour lost, by charging ridiculous fairs, for the coming weeks? And then we think, at least these Autowallas did their bit, by organizing a strike. The sentiment gives us a kick. But, somehow, the real meaning of the struggle gets lost in the sentiment, every single time. Suddenly, it became a status symbol to support Anna in his fight against corruption, Gandhi caps became the latest style statement and I pondered how fashion repeats itself, just like History.
But the same Autowallas in Bangalore gave a whole new meaning to the fight against corruption, and lost no chance to make hay, while the sun shines. And there was a sentiment, here too. As the number of people heading to Freedom Park rose, the auto fares rose too. And the emotion behind the rise in fair was simple – “The people who have chosen to participate, are financially well off, so they should not mind giving us Autowallas a few extra bucks for giving them a ride to their destination, to help crib corruption”. What an irony it is that, to participate in a rally for anti-corruption, one must give a few extra bucks to the corrupt Autowallas, or else sit at home, and watch it on TV.
It took twenty one years and no less than a World Cup for the entire cricket crazy nation to come together to the streets and celebrate, irrespective of the caste, creed and community. Anna isn’t promising a cricket-world-cup championship title, but somehow, it feels great to see that the nation can stand up, together for something which is not related to Cricket or Bollywood.This change, for sure is promising, but the question remains – how many of us who are supporting Anna left, right and centre, are ready to bring a change in the way we deal with things in our real life? The situation, again boils down to the enlightenment which Gandhi bestowed on us – Be the change you want to see.
Regardless of the ‘I support Anna’ campaign, there can’t be a change in scenario unless and until each one of us implements it in real life rather than just being there to support Anna with campaigns of various forms. And this is what makes me think, are we supporting the old man, just for the sentiment, or are we, really ready to embrace the change?
A software engineer, a realist, and a cribber by the day. A chef, a writer, and a dreamer, by the night!