Saturday, April 9, 2011

Anna's win is a mile post for Satyagraha

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

In a Satyagraha nobody looses and hence it’s a ‘win win’, not a ‘zero sum’, game.
Sri Anna Hazare- a true follower of Mahatma Gandhi- rightly felt aghast at the corrupt state of affairs of our country. He has been a crusader against injustice for decades. Till recently his activities were confined to Maharashatra. Finding an utter void and the helplessness of the common man in the face of rampant corruption he decided to step in and he chose to press for appropriate legislations as a first step.

After having zeroed his objective to one set of concrete legislations- Lokpal bill & Lokayukta bill - he embarked upon yet another Satyagraha. And this time it was to become a nation wide movement. Joining of hands by people like Ms Kiran Bedi and Mr Arvind Kejeriwal brought in the required intellectual quotient.

They did their home work when they got a water tight lokpal bill drafted. This bill is significantly different from the one the government was willing to table. The government bill did not have any teeth and the one drafted by Anna’s team has real provisions to discharge justice. It envisages timely completion of investigation and adjudication and then awarding punishment to the guilty. Now the stage was set for pressing for its acceptance, in the interest of the ‘common man’, by the government. Quite naturally this alternate bill is named ‘Jan Lokpal bill’.

In true Gandhian spirit Anna informed the government- last year, December’ 2010- and intimated that if the government did not relent he would go on a hunger strike from April 5, 2011; if his demands were not met. This heralded the setting in of the first stage - the government ignored him.

When he started his righteous fight- on 5 April 2011- by launching the hunger strike the PM ridiculed him and accused that he is heeding the advice of wrong advisers. This marked the second stage- they ridiculed him!

The septuagenarian sat for his ‘fast onto death’ and seeing the overwhelming support for him the government decided to fight with him. In the morning of 8 April- when he had been going without food for 3 days- Mr Kapil Sibbal rejected two of his demands. Though by accepting three other they’d already indicated who was winning. The two rejected demands; one of a government notification/ order regarding all these and the other regarding conceding the chairmanship of the drafting committee to a civil society worker were quite reasonable, in the prevailing environment.

The entire country waited in anticipation and in the meanwhile support for Anna’s satyagraha crossed the national boundary. NRIs abroad also sat in solidarity with Anna. It was difficult for the government to miss the writings on the walls. Sensing the groundswell support for Mr Hazare Mrs Gandhi expressed her desire to concede to the demands.

The adamant government interlocutor- Mr Kapil Sibbal- agreed to pass an order and it was agreed that there would be a co-chairman of the drafting committee from the civil society, who would enjoy equal status with the chairman. The chairmanship is vested with Mr Pranab Mukherjee- a very senior minister of the ruling dispensation- who also enjoys the trust of the civil society.

A smiling Anna said, he would end his fast after having that order in his hand. He won!

History was repeated and the entire nation won!

Interestingly neither did Mr Kappil Sibbal, Mrs Gandhi or The PM lost! For, in the midst of a tsunami of corruption charges- that are incessantly hitting the ruling elites in the form of daily unfolding of mega scams- for once the government looked magnanimous!

IMHO, a congress government was better suited to tackle such a situation. For, despite their stooping to such lowly depths and rampant gross immorality among their rank and file, still they profess by Gandhi and his principles!

Could we have expected the same magnanimity from communists who believe that ‘power flows through the barrel of a gun’? Neither such lofty gestures are expected from a motley crowd of ultra nationalists, who so much value “Chanakya Niti”, which advocates elimination of adversaries by deceit or cheating. Is it not a fact that the kings of yore routinely employed prostitutes and imposters to poison even their kith and kin, to usurp the throne? And the people who slander Gandhi and secretly plot to bring about such monarchies can be least trusted upon. Very recently the very same people were aghast when monarchy was toppled in Nepal, the absurd practices of the then king notwithstanding.

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