For the Love of writing...
Saturday, April 16, 2011
  The phenomena called Anna and its implications for politicians.

With the government relenting to all of Anna’s demands and Anna declaring that the war has just begun, politicians can be sure that they are going to have a tough time ahead. The entire agitation by the civil society led by ‘tat lil old man in a topi’ has buttressed a few overarching themes of India and Indians; Democracy, Technology, Media and a Nonviolent-Satyagraha as a form of protest.

Four decades ago Professor W.H. Jones observed that Indians basically follow three idioms; the traditional, the modern and the saintly. So here you had our traditional nonviolent form of protest being publicized by modern technology by a saintly looking 73 year old Gandhian spearheading the crusade against corruption. In plain simple words, he caught the fancy of the crowds, nothing more, and nothing less.

It is definitely Anna’s victory, but all the more it is the triumph of Democracy. As human society in different parts of the world experiments with different governing mechanisms ranging from autocracy to plutocracy to communalism and the welfare state, I believe that we are already on the right track and as we go about perfecting our democratic institutions, a 100 years later the world will look upon this campaign as the watershed event that broke the back of institutionalized corruption and propelled the rise of a truly participative and reactive democracy.

As the number of news channels ballooned they also adopted the issue based format in which they keep focusing on one particular issue rather than the 40 second byte for each event of the day that was prevalent in the olden days. And it is because of this format, for the past 6 months, the only issue that seemed to be broadcast was that of corruption in one form or other with figures in lakhs of crores being thrown in with ease. The public was so utterly disgusted with the entire political establishment that Anna only acted as a catalytic seed to the million scattered voices. And in a social networking oriented society 5 days is what it took for an obscure group named ‘India against Corruption’ to grow into the voice of India and bring about change.

I sincerely hope that politicians go into analyzing the nuances of the entire campaign and if they do they will stumble upon some interesting inferences that could help them in reshaping their political campaigns for future elections.

First and foremost, the youth of the country choose to rally behind a 73 year old man who stood up for a just cause. This has great implications for Rahul Gandhi who projects himself as the voice and face of young India. So dear Rahul, in spite of all your dramatics that you attempt in the villages of Uttar Pradesh, the youth and the civil society may not choose you as long as you continue to indulge in hypocritical behavior like criticizing the 88 year old Kerala Chief Minister VS Achutananadan for being too old for politics and campaigning for the 88 year old DMK leader Karunanidhi. There is one thing that you have to take note of Mr. Gandhi, and that is that a large section of the society is now awakened and then you have experts on the 24 hour news channels continuously analyzing and explain situations to the general public.

Needless to say, the second year of the second term has been disastrous for the Congress government, rather it was their own mismanagement that led to this. First they let the tainted Thomas issue get out of hand and then they messed up with the entire JPC issue and now the biggest blow was when they let a much ridiculed local activist become a national hero. It seems very unlikely that this government will be able to complete its second term in office.

A weak organization is a reflection of a weak leader. It would be cliché for me to quote here that when the going gets tough the tough get going, but our dear Prime Minister never actually got going. If I understand politics well, as soon as the Congresses’ ship sails into calmer waters and steady winds, we may very well see Dr Singh calling it quits. And we have had the fire figher Pranab Mukherjee waiting in the sidelines for way too long.

It is also time for the Maoists to take lessons from history and this campaign in particular and give up their violent means of agitation. Maoism has flourished for several decades in several states and the only result of that has been bloodshed. Violence has not solved anything in the world; be it the Kashmir issue or the Israel-Palestine conflict or for that matter the childish behavior of both South and North Korea. I sincerely hope that Maoists leaders have watched this campaign and think of a change in strategy.

Though we adopted Democracy as a means of governance after independence, six decades later we can say that ours is still not a perfect system and there is still a long way to go. The Jan Lok Pal bill is only one of the steps in perfecting out systems.


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