Are We Really Against Corruption?

Posted on September 9, 2011 in Politics

By Pranietha Mudliar:

When my fellow Indians are united in their show of support to Mr. Anna Hazare, I am now wondering what cause are they exactly supporting. Is it merely being reduced to a show of status messages on Facebook or is it really a fight against corruption or now as it is being called- India’s second struggle for independence. Really now, this is bordering on the corny.

Corruption as being understood now is narrowly construed as being involved in bribery but what about the corruption that we blatantly and willingly do when we refuse to exercise our right to vote. Just supporting Hazare’s cause and believing that it is time to bring about a change is foolhardy. When words have to be translated to action, very few stand up to be counted.

I have become increasingly disillusioned by Anna Hazare’s campaign of India against corruption. Here is a man who was initially known for changing the face of Ralegaon Siddhi and also the recipient of the Padma Bhushan. But hunt for the stories behind this and you will find a dangerously authoritarian man who preaches Gandhi but doesn’t blink an eye while endorsing public flogging. People in the village are not permitted to listen or view films, television programs, they aren’t allowed to consume meat because it is unbrahminical to do so. People are only allowed to listen to religious music. People acquiesce to these decision due to fear. So is this the kind of democracy that Hazare is rooting for?

By not supporting Hazare’s crusade against corruption doesn’t make me a supporter of UPA, the opposition or any other political party. I do not subscribe to any political ideology but this disenchantment is harder to ignore by the day. The government’s charges against Hazare exposing his ‘corruption’ is certainly laughable and just goes to show how the hapless government is now jumping on any opportunity to discredit Hazare and his creed. To call it a circus also doesn’t do justice to the kind of rigmarole playing out on our television sets.

The very middle class who is miffed at the abstract notion of black money is in support of the movement which has fast yet again turned into an elitist middle class event. Where is this middle class when it comes to paying a wee little bit of money to speed up their work or to escape the clutches of the traffic policeman? What people are actually doing is registering their disdain for an utterly incompetent government. It is quite clear that Hazare’s movement is a way to vent their frustration against our hapless government.

Corruption has reached such alarming proportions due to wicked policies that are always anti-people. Cleverly disguised under words such as development and liberalisation, all our resources of land and water have been siphoned off while our people have become refugees 10 times over. How many of us know that Medha Patkar is fasting against the eviction of people from the slums in Mumbai? Irom Sharmila has completed 11 years of fasting now. Aren’t they all too fighting against apathetic instititutions? Are their fasts going to just be in vain? I wish there was a way to get rid of the government, pull them down. But what are the other options? The opposition seems to be grappling with its own internal problems. It’s akin to being caught between the devil and the deep sea.

This is not a critique of Hazare or the Government (though the government deserves a more violent diatribe) nor am I self-styling myself to be a saint. If there is a chance self introspection take it. I end with a small incident. Recently, late at night I was headed back home. Just the fact that it is the night doesn’t give one the right to speed through one-way stretches. If I wouldn’t have braked and swerved in the nick of time, it would have been catastrophic. Isn’t that too being corrupt too? How in the world does the other person get the authority to play with my life? Corruption as I see it is not just about exchange of bribes. Corruption transcends all these perceptions and in the end rests at moral corruption. And in the end who is to know whether the committee created by the Jan Lok Pal Bill will be devoid of corruption. Who is to say that this committee will be totally free of being dishonest. Who watches over them? What justifies resting so much power in the committee?

Power corrupts, doesn’t it? In the meantime, the hunt for an all encompassing solution continues. But that is being too optimistic, isn’t it.