This is India 2011, where everyone- irrespective of gender, class, caste, or religion- has the right to be heard, where even a tiny old man with a white hat on his head can take the country by storm. You must know who I’m talking about, unless of course you’ve been living on Mars for the past few months. Yes, that’s right-Anna Hazare.
A man who was seemingly unknown six months ago, and who is now impossible not to know, by face, by name, by voice, and by cause. Think anti-corruption, you think Anna Hazare. Corruption has since long been a national issue, forever present in the back of our minds. It pricked people only when they were forced to pay another bribe or read another article about corrupt government officials.
Ask someone what India’s problems are, and they will definitely list corruption as one of them. However, it was not until Anna Hazare came along that so many thousands of people actually stood up and voiced their protest. He was able to bring people from all sections of society together, and that truly is a
laudable feat. Even the supposedly politically apathetic middle class joined the candlelight marches with enthusiastic vigor.
In truth, Anna Hazare was fighting for a Jan Lokpal. But how many of his supporters actually knew that?
Most of them, I am sure, had gotten caught up in the anti-corruption frenzy, only knowing that corruption, the root of all evil, must be eradicated. For a few months, all of Delhi was overwhelmed with the contagious fervor, while the rest of the nation watched, their mouths agape. Anna Hazare is an amazing leader-Fact.
His cause was admirable-Fact. But what about his methods? The man went on a fast-yes, that’s right, he stopped eating. He declared that he would not break his fast until the Jan Lokpal Bill was passed. The government, fearsome of the loyal followers that would surely wreak havoc if anything happened to Hazare, sped up negotiations and legislative sessions. Ultimately, Anna Hazare broke his fast, declaring that what he wanted was on its way.
India is a democracy-the world’s largest one, in fact. A democracy is, essentially, the rule of the people. But that does not mean that a citizen can declare a fast unto death and, in a sense, blackmail the government into meeting his demands. If this is the way to champion a cause, tomorrow more people with
such ability to inspire and lead well can use a similar method and declare a fast or some other such basically suicidal project.
As long as they have a huge pack of faithful followers ready to fight for them, they can manipulate the government and make it do whatever they want them to do. Imagine the consequences-yes, they are terrifying. India would be completely changed-why, you ask? The answer lies in the diversity of India. There are so many different people with so many different needs and desires. Each section of the population would demand something different of the government, and conflict would rise.
Luckily, India does not have to face such predicament, at least not yet. While there is no doubt that Anna
Hazare deserves much of our praise, we must also stop to consider his methods. Peaceful protest is a Gandhian philosophy. But then again, so is using truth, the force of the soul. Instead of forcing them to comply, convince the opponents that they are wrong; show them the light. By doing so, we can recreate the India that Gandhi dreamed of, and India can once again be the world’s golden bird.