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Category: Politics

India needs to move on to freedom

India, much like my own blog, has not moved on for a long time.

Moving on implies a major and demonstrable diversion from the past. We have been in a time warp for sixty six years and it is time for India, its citizens and everything Indian to wake up…The wake up call comes from an experience called Aam Aadmi Party

AAP represents a shared and collective hope. Of freedom from exploitation, corruption and inequality.

It is time to move on.

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Is ‘Anna’ phenomenon over?

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Like a match stick which fails to ignite first time, it so appears, Anna movement missed its mark. But he was up against an adversary of gigantic proportions. Who is this adversary? Why did it turn out to be a mountain of resistance when Congress, the party in power looked so clueless, helpless, isolated and ‘pinned on the wall’ against what seemed like a tornado of people’s aspirations. Herein lies the master stroke of deception.

The adversary, blocking Anna’s movement, as also aspirations of a billion people, was not congress party. It was a monolith, a mountain comprising of all political parties, entire polity, the bureaucracy, the law enforcement machinery, the press and the business.

How they maneuvered, plotted, executed and destroyed Anna movement is an unparalleled piece of India’s modern history. And why? More on this soon.

But did they manage to kill the movement?………not quite.

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Anna Hazare – Advantage ‘Anna’!

Anna-21-150x150Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come! In India’s current context it is not even an idea. There is a dire and desperate need to cleanse our system of corruption.  Lock, stock and barrel.

Prior to April 2011, an overwhelming majority of Indians were despondent, devoid of hope. Anna (colloquial for elder brother) was a local hero in Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra, having fought relentlessly against political wrong doers for over 25 years. He is a cult figure in that area, a dedicated leader who transformed his languishing village into a self reliant, progressive, flourishing community. No mean task that, however, still an obscure and localized achievement on a national scale.

Till Anna Hazare exploded on the national scene in April 2011, with an overwhelming pan national support, cutting across age, caste, religion and regions.  He touched hearts, stirred and mobilized public sentiment against corruption, like no one before, much like Mahatma Gandhi had done in the ’30s and 40’s.

From a local hero to a symbol of national hope. Why?

Anna is simple. He walks his talk. A Gandhi like minimalistic lifestyle, brutally frank opinions expressed in a rustic, hard hitting style of communication.

He is tough as nails. No dichotomy of word and action. A proven non-negotiable approach.

He is ‘Indian’. India rediscovered ‘Nationalism’ through Anna’s simplicity. There is a sudden respect for the Gandhi cap. There is a melody of nationalism in the air.

He mistrusts politicians. He shares a deep mistrust for the ‘politicians’ with 1.2 Billion people of this country. He understands the sly and unprincipled ways of Indian politics. The whole nation is loving him for that.

He is a ‘young’ old man. Energetic, full of stamina, optimism and die-hard approach, he is a role model for the young. He connects with youth who constitute half of India. His sway over youth helps him to keep the movement peaceful. They listen to him with respect. Never before have we seen a  connect so strong and a sentiment so clear.  All at a scale that can detonate political equations in the country with blinding intensity.

He is strategic. He plays his pieces carefully, with professional élan, starting with simple notes and then weaving complex symphonies. He is unpretentious yet totally in command. He leverages his strengths to the T.

India can now dream of a life without corruption. Suddenly hope has touched our shores, like a whiff of a long forgotten fragrance.

It is now or never, if the political class lets him survive that is. Till then it is advantage Anna!

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Genesis of corruption

I could write a world class treatise on corruption, having seen it all around me for so many years. No need, though.

I shall attempt to explain how and why corruption seeped into Indian ethos:

Scarcity of resources: More people, less opportunity. Not only hard commodities in the marketplace but services, admissions, travel tickets, practically everything.  So in a state of near panic, we jump the que, neglecting all lessons on moral education we received in school. Our political system sensed this opportunity to make money way back in the 60’s. They made sure the equation stays this way. More scarcity leads to more panic leads to heightened desire to jump the que. So bribe your way out of any situation. QED.

Excessive laws and controls: Excessive controls in post independence era created a plethora of opportunities for the bureaucracy and at a more immediate level, the babus, to fleece the common citizen. Keep the laws twisted and beyond understanding. This was practiced in every single government budget, policy and procedure. Sadly, it continues even today.

Scant respect or fear of law enforcement: Not that a common Indian is not scared of law or officials. On the contrary it is the very fear which drives people to evade taxes, fines, regulations and at a more specific level evade punishment for offences of all nature. Law enforcement machinery will show you the way. viola!

Lack of education: and as a consequence little awareness of rights and no awareness of duties. Democracy without an educated people is the basic reason why we went corrupt and enjoy being so. As of today, the educated percentage of India’s population is a pathetic 74% (less than 60% for women!). India has the world’s largest illiterate population. Add to this the deficit of quality education that’s available to lower income groups, you have a perfect recipe for disaster. At the DNA level.

Dishonest Governance: I will not comment on this one. A dishonest society will get a government to match. This alliance has continued for a long time and the society has grown immune, insensitive and resistant to change. We get what we want. Quid pro quo of sorts.

Rise of the professional (murky) politician:  Seduced by the abundance of easy sleazy money, the more aggressive members of society took to politics as a profession, right after college, rather than as an avenue for service to the nation. They misinterpreted our constitution and threw all standards of morality into a dark and dirty pit where ironically, our political system has stuck its roots and derives sustenance from.

The greatest tragedy of post independence India is that it allowed corruption to seep in, take root and find a congenial, receptive, fertile social soil.

Who knows, this might be the undoing of this once great civilization.


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We the people…

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Delightfully slow!

My generation were  children of post-independence. Flags in hand, 15th August function at school, sweets, Nehru on Red Fort, dreams and more dreams, Binaca geetmala, Rafi and Dev and Lata…. life was so good.

Then something went awfully wrong.

Slowly, inching in with soft steps, a desolate dullgrey haze of corruption surrounded us. Loss of values. Rampant public loot. Degeneration of public morality. Layers of desperation. We were buried under an all pervasive pile of corruption. We metamorphosed from bright youngsters with a dream in our heads, to hopeless disconnected middle class citizens, trudging along, our heads cradled in our hands, scrapping our knees to attain material prosperity. Welcome to India of stifling bureaucracy, long ques for shoddy services and products, hope and despair for those of us who wanted to breathe an honest fresh air,  in the lap of our own country.

Sadly….. this happened to millions of us, the children of Independent India.

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