From skeptic to believer?
A tale of Gandhian proportions.
For the entire duration of this past month, India seems to have been focused on one man and one man alone – Anna Hazare.
This Gandhian from Maharashtra had been leading a movement against corruption. I’ll spare you the details – broadly, Anna and his supporters were together demanding that an effective and useful version of a bill against corruption be passed in the Indian Parliament. As opposed to a lame and virtually powerless version of the same bill.
When the government didn’t accept the version proposed by Team Anna, Anna Hazare proclaimed that he was going to fast till the government accepted his demands. In front of a crowd of millions of people at Delhi’s famed “Ramlila Maidan“, Anna began his fast.
Now if you’ve every tried to deal with any person employed with the government services in India, you would know how bad the corruption really is. We are not talking about petty bribes – bribes of a few thousand rupees to get things moving are too common here for people to even raise an eyebrow. We are talking about corruption at a scale unimaginable to the common man – corruption involving the embezzlement of crores and crores of rupees around events as big as the Commonwealth Games.
I’ve been a part of this system for 20 years and I recognize how bad the situation is. And I’ve learned to accept the system for what it is. And I’ve grown cynical – very, very cynical – about it. Which is why, along with multitudes of others, I too thought this movement was going nowhere. We naysayers said stuff like
“The government will never, ever listen to his demands. They can afford to wait him out.”
“Nothing’s going to change.”
“He’s just wasting his time. How can one man hold the entire government hostage?”
Recently – just yesterday, in fact – after 12 days of Anna’s fasting, the government accepted his demands for the inclusions in the bill. This was something unprecendented – at least in my lifetime – and celebrations broke out all across the country.
Sure, we have just won the battle – and the war still remains. But this is one big, big victory for the common man. That common man who forewent his daily livelihood to come support Hazare as he single-handedly made the government officials quiver in their tax-payer sponsored castles of luxury.
And more than that, it made skeptics like me pause for a moment and think – hey, maybe the state of the system isn’t irreversible. Maybe we can still hope to achieve a corruption-free system a decade from now. Maybe we can look forward to newspaper front-pages which have news which isn’t about big people embezzling big money or small people suffering from painful bribes they need to pay to get stuff done.