While chatting with Abhilash Mahapatra a couple of days back in gtalk, I came to know that he had visited Jantar Mantar (which could have been India’s Tahrir) and had a direct experience of the anti-corruption Crusade. I urged him to pen down his feelings which you will find below (albeit a bit edited). You can argue with him if you feel that he has expressed himself in a cynical manner.
However, the point that Indian Policy finds noteworthy is:
Bhushan and sons can always be in the same committee. That’s not the issue since they have strong legal backgrounds. But arguing in the same trajectory, why not Kiran Bedi? She has loads of experience in governance, government and legal aspects. Moreover, she holds a doctoral degree in Law. Well, Hazare and Kejriwal have no legal backgrounds!
Please enlighten us on this.
Hazare’s Crusade: First hand Reflections from Jantar Mantar
Modern Democracy as the form of governance and government took birth with Abraham Lincoln and timely updated itself with French revolution and peoples’ revolution world over. The year 2011 has become a breakwater and has added a fresh perspective to democratic form of governance.
Inspired from the historical events, democracy has found new medium of people support like twitter, face book and other social networking sites to propagate its ideas. First it was Tunisia then Egypt, then Libya and recently India. Theoretically democratic governance has no definite boundaries or guidelines to act as restriction till the time peoples’ interests are given priority.
Difficulty arises while practically implementing the democratic setup to upkeep the larger interest of majority. The loopholes are drafted simultaneously while implementing democratic theories. The major outcome of the loopholes can be termed as Corruption. While it has many aspects to it but at the end it is a cancer which victimises the healthiest of democracies.
6th April 2011 was no ordinary evening in Indian democracy. The epicentre was at the historical monument of Jantar Mantar at Delhi and the shock waves reached the hearts of every Mobile subscriber and television viewer of India. After Loknayak JPs call in the mid-1970s, this was a major peaceful demonstration (or protest) against the government in post-independent India. In the lead was a gandhian, Mr Anna Hazare with enormous support from The Civil Society of India.
Essentially, the movement can be dated on 5th April 2011, with a Fast –unto death protest for participation of civil society in the drafting committee of Lokpal Bill. It coincided with Hindu festival of Navratra, when majority of believers keep fast till Navami. Well, it can be said; civil society planned the mass fasting on the smartest dates.
Lokpal bill, considered the most controversial bill for every ruling government party and a prospective issue for opposition since its inception in early 1970s.The scene at Jantar Mantar had its political, social, economic and satirical connotation. It was seen as –if you don’t support the protest then you are corrupt - so it became a necessity for all to support it. After all who wants to be tagged as corrupt; it is rather easy to blame the system and move on.
People of all age group: professionals, students, actors, activists, politician and page 3ites, every one turned out in numbers. Partying the last weekend with Cricket World cup win had not yet steamed out of the minds of people. The ground reality was majority of them discussed the world cup victory under the real demand of Lokpal bill. Tons of wax was melted in the name of protest which diminished the effect of Mar 26 “Earth hour”. I also encountered people who were tourists on Delhi darshan trip in the protest group. Shouting “HAAN” (YES) whenever it was announced – Do you want corruption free India?. This was termed the voice of democracy.
Both print media and television media had their camera angles pre-set and large convoy of media vans were aligned on the spot. Lakhs of stories were made in a day. As it happens most of them were unaware of the theme- The Lokpal bill- but street plays and speeches on corruption were at its best. People thronged to see the famous personalities while lakhs of pamphlets were distributed simultaneously to all passer-bys.
The success of the event was the amount of sensationalism and highlight given by media. Post-26/11 terror attack, this was the first time when every media channel made it a point to be give every detail of its occurrence.
Lokpal bill demands for a separate commission to look over government administrative dealings which wants to have eye over every person that forms the government. In all creating a supreme vigilance branch. The CVC, CAG, Judiciary, Ombudsman are some of the present check gates to look over governmental functioning. They are seen as corrupt and are bound by political will at the end. A new lokpal commission expects to be an authority over all.
My visit to the venue was an experience of vibrant democracy in action. The hope of corruption free India was visible in every soul including the stray dogs that were upset as their favourite hideout was invaded by democratic voices. I could imagine now what kind of support Gandhi had in his non-violent movements as the only visible proof was the photos of mass rallies which I had seen in my NCERT books.
An old man in white leading a huge rally of protesters. Similarly I imagined future text books would surely have a picture “an old man is lying on the bed and huge mass gathering around it all in the background of Jantar Mantar of Delhi. I would not shy to conclude that Jantar Mantar now could be better understood as JAN (People), TAR (Devoted) creating a MANTAR (Magic).
At the end, the old man’s demands were met by the government of the day. All now remains are a strong democratic will and awareness of new literate generation.
Who had thought that the Jantar Mantar of Muhamammd Shah and Jai Singh II [ which recently made its entry in the UNESCO World heritage List ], would get associated with the crusade against corruption in 21st Century India. Abhilash Mohapatra uses his "mighty sword" to express the same...