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A Crusader”s Dream Falling Short Of Ingredients: Team Anna’s “Safarnama”

Posted on August 7, 2012 in Politics, Society

By Arti Manchanda:

‘Jo safar ki shuruwat karte hain, who manzil ko par karte hain. Bas ek baar chalne ka hosla chahiye, aise musafiron ka to raaste bhi intezar karte hain.’

The above quote aptly summarizes the quest that a group of citizens in our country has set out to achieve, the quest for a corruption free nation. Don’t we all want to see such an India, which is not being constantly decayed by the bug named corruption that has smeared everyone from top to bottom?

Anna Hazare and his team started a herculean looking journey with hopes to reach the destination by giving the country the first ever ‘Lokpal’, a people’s ombudsman who would act against corrupt doers and bring justice to people. The hopes that this team had, have always been tarnished, all thanks to ‘our’ power bearers. I purposely use ‘our’ because it was us who elected them to power. But today these so called power bearers have turned a deaf ear to a responsible group of citizenry who together came up with a draft of ‘Jan Lokpal as opposed to the long pending Lokpal Bill that has just been taking rounds in parliamentary lobbies. Not to say that Jan Lokpal is flawless, but it also in no way undermines their move for a corruption free nation.

From April 5 to date, the ‘Lokpal’ saga has been discussed, played up, debated and demeaned, except being taken seriously and being looked at as a potential solution to the nation’s problem. In this whole saga, there has been dissent, followers, fast observers, disciples thronging the demonstration venue (the guest appearance that Baba Ramdev staged, which later turned into a nightmare for Baba), allegations, bouquets, brickbats, and not to forget the ‘common man’, the most affected protagonist by corruption and last but not the least media.

Media Mates

As P. Sainath rightly mentions, ‘A lot of what we call journalism is just stenography to the powerful.’ Getting what the veteran means to say here is that the fourth pillar of democracy should work to uphold the Constitution and not engage in PR to build individuals into brands.

Apart from Anna and his team, the other major stakeholder in this safarnama has undoubtedly been the media. A hungry TRP tide swayed all news channels alike and they all made this Gandhi-caped man, who stormed the nation, an icon overnight. He is ‘well deserving’ of this adjective, icon, because very few people have courage to oppose the ones in power and demand things that could change the face of the world’s biggest democracy. Team Anna in their first edition used the media to mobilize masses and build a favorable public opinion, and in this they did succeed to a large extent. Media did extend an unbridled TV coverage to support the crusader. But I wonder if it was that short lived and the phenomenon died an early death.

That’s actually the beauty of the media, forgetfulness and changing loyalties and believingly, it works wonderfully most of the times. From day long coverage of Anna’s fast unto death, to the crusader’s second edition of realizing the abstract dream, the coverage has merely reduced to reportage of his addresses. The prime time debates shout out statements like ‘Has Team Anna lost credibility?’, or ‘decrease in the number of crowds attending the Jantar Mantar gathering’ and ‘Kejriwal being too ambitious?’ I doubt if Kejriwal is getting his fortune savings from this staged tamasha, as referred to it most of the newspapers. Yes, if a foreign hand is established, then maybe he is on the right track hoping to earn at least few more crores than the Commonwealth or a 2G. But when the media talks about having the same standards for team Anna and the government, does that really happen?

Now that team Anna decided to call off their fast with no positive signs from the government and for that matter any other quarter, it also at the same time signals their entry into politics as an alternative. This time they are surely going to get their hands dirty but I really wish that their foray into politics, uncovers the dirty layers of corruption and we get a good Lokpal for us till the time moral governance in this country gets a strong foothold and lays foundations of a prosperous nation.