It is unique and the way it is taking shape tells Mahatma Gandhi can never be irrelevant!
Anna Hazare has embarked on the next endeavor. Though the period from April 5 to July 28 with the midpoint junction of June 30 had largely been a mismanaged communication campaign except the days of fast then; they look organized this time.
But can they handle the showdown this time? The establishment has again acted in the pseudo-dictatorial way by imposing its unilateral viewpoint denying the protestors their Fundamental Right of Freedom of Expression. Protesters look firm. Establishment looks overcautious and nervous in the same vein. Anna Hazare has been arrested and thousands are courting arrests. Independence Day speech from the Red Fort had its overtures. Statements made yesterday and the day before yesterday had such overtones. And state power with this psyche of nervousness can do blunder!
Mobilization seems massified. Support is pouring. And it’s not just the media hype. It looks on the ground, from across the country. Everyone including the media was caught unawares when Anna Hazare began and got huge unprecedented support during his April fast, so even the media caring for its survival interests seems to hit the right chord this time by giving the movement of the common Indian its due right from the gestation stage. They look right on the job and that is what a democracy has to be in a situation like this. It’s not about taking sides. It is about being the voice of the masses, the most basic tenet of media of any developing society.
The mass mobilization is real and so is the imminent clash of ethics and values. But who is pitted against whom. On the surface, they look divided into two groups, certainly with appendages.
But it is not just that!
It is ironically outrageous and subversively deleterious for a ‘not-so-mature-yet’ democracy like India, where quality literacy is well below 50%; where one-fourth of the countrymen are still below the poverty line (and surely this is debatable as many welfare economists put this figure significantly higher!), that its own members are pitted against each other divided by the two symbolic terms, the Civil Society and the Government. They both are us and so are the appendages, still waiting and watching to park their vehicles based on the mileage the confrontation can offer.
And midst all these, teachings and vision of the Mahatma are being pushed into the oblivion by the one with mightier sword. Yes, the mightier sword in the hands of the establishment in a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic that won its independence after experimenting for centuries with the method to fight and ultimately relying on the non-violent protest of ‘Satyagraha’ practiced by a man of frugal means but of higher than every established norm of morality.
It is happening on a land that began on a foundation of peace and non-violence. It is happening on a land which had the wounds of witnessing savagery of millions being killed and left displaced to be taken care of. But it started and began to drift apart. What else can we say when we see the establishment’s locus-standi on corrective and urgent issues like the Jan Lokpal and the Women Reservation Bill, decades old and still lingering?
Should we see this as part of the evolutionary process of a democracy? If so, for how long we need to see it as mute spectators? Please mind, we just celebrated our 65th Independence Day!
The atmosphere tells Anna Hazare is going to get support. That tells the government to pre-empt and abort Anna’s attempts. The most significant aspect is Mahatma’s methods are at the forefront of the movement this time and support base is swelling irrespective of regional affiliations. When that could drive the mighty British out, it can work successfully to weed out our internal anomalies.
We, as the Indian citizens, need to be part of the movement to see what synthesis it can offer because it is the most significant Pan-India mass mobilization on an issue of common man’s concern since the Independence and the days of Emergency. It is fight against corruption, something that is killing the social ethos and so the concept of Mahatma’s India daily and so the common Indian that is you and me. It is now or never. We need to act with the sense of urgency.
Let’s be there. It is need of the time.
The author is a social entrepreneur and communication professional straddling efficiently the qualitative and quantitative aspects of communication with deep insights and innovative approach to take on assignments, be it for the mainstream media, or for the ‘not for profit’ sector, or for consultancy on ‘corporate social responsibility’ or for designing customized projects, both of academic rigour and of socioeconomic propositions. His forte is his creative intellect. There is nothing like free time. When he is not on his professional assignments, he is into writing, scripting, documentary making, photography and his development sector initiatives.