Friday, April 22, 2011

Thank God... It's Hazare!

We all wanted something like Anna Hazare’s movement. We all wanted something like that to happen, though none of us wanted to do it ourselves. When none of us knew what to do, he found a way out. There was will, so there was way. I wonder if he took his inspiration from a wrong person like Chandrasekhar Rao the separatist politician. I know I am committing a sin by comparing these two gentlemen who have no commonality whatsoever. I don’t even know if it is fair to call one of them a gentleman. Anyways, my apologies for that!

When the whole of middle class India is rejoicing its success (it’s not just the success of Mr. Hazare, but of the entire frustrated Indian middle class), a number of politicos and others are voicing their opinions against the Gandhian’s approach. And, some smarter souls have started their smear campaign against him and his team mates as they have always been doing – just to stall the progress towards a corruption-free India, which would affect their bottom line. This is not the first time they do such thing. They are the masters in tackling their threats. This should be the biggest threat that they ever faced in their lifetime. Will they keep quiet?!

Starting with Omar Abdullah, who is considered to be one of the decent chief ministers of our time, every one that has a role in democracy has a question about Hazare’s approach. All of them are valid questions. There is no denying that their questions are valid, but I doubt their intentions.  How should they have handled this if they were really worried about the nation? If I was a clean politician with no wrong intentions, I would have first appreciated Mr. Hazare for what he has done despite being a simple non-political individual and then talked about the problems in his approach at some other time.

If it is so disturbing and I can’t reserve it for some other time, even then I would have appreciated Mr. Hazare and then said why it is not a good precedent and why others should not use this approach for all their problems in future. I would have spent days together explaining why Chandrasekhar Raos (even if his demand is justified) and Hazares are not the same, because politicians anyway have plenty of time to spend explaining and justifying what they do to their people.

Having said that, we should also admit that there are some sincere souls that have the same questions. For their sake, let’s be open to their questions and for a discussion. OK. Now… what is their biggest question of the moment?

This is undemocratic. What if everyone in the country starts blackmailing the government like this in future? Even for selfish, anti-national and anti-democratic demands!

A common man’s answer is – “I don’t care.”.

“I don’t understand whether democracy is the best model or something better than that exists anywhere. All I want is a clean system. If that is possible only in an undemocratic model or approach then I would love that more than democracy. I have no reason to love anything blindly. It is not my invention or my grandfather’s. I am not benefited directly by it unlike some great grandfather’s great grandchildren. It’s the headache of those who advocate democracy – who want to keep it alive at all costs – at the cost of billion lives. I am okay with revolution if it could get rid of my problems. This country with its huge size and all its complexities is not conducive for a revolution. If I dream of it, I am sure I would die without seeing that in reality like all our communist grandfathers did.”.

However, though it is not my responsibility (at this point, you should visualize the face of a street-smart colleague who always highlights every silly extra thing he does just for the sake of highlighting it!), I can go an extra mile for the benefit of my democracy-crazy politician friends, who don’t want to waste their brainpower on not-so-critical issues like this.

Here are the options that the Governments have in front of them:
1.      The Government can ignore those who fast for wrong demands and allow them to die. This has a risk of losing people’s support in the next election, but if you respect the individual’s demand and meet it, you might still lose more people’s support. This dilemma is exactly what is killing Congress in Telengana. But, what our Governments and leaders have to realize is that governance is not cakewalk any more. They are there to solve our difficult problems. Even a manager who handles a small function in a private company has difficult problems to solve. Then why not these highly powerful – overly respected people?

2.      I am not sure if such a bill is already there. If not, they can pass a bill strictly prohibiting such fasts in future. They will have to jail everyone that sits to fast unto death and forcefully feed them unto death. Seeing this live on 24X7 news channels, no one would ever dare to do it again. But, even this would gain negative publicity to Governments if people like Hazare do it for attractive causes like what he did now.

3.      The third option is a mixed one – like situational leadership. One should use judgment here. What is reasonable and what would gain quick popularity with people have to be accepted and other demands should be ignored. If it is just a popular demand and not very reasonable, the demand should not be accepted and a team of retired judges should be nominated to look into the issue and come out with a report before or after the death of the demand or the demander. I think, we are more or less falling in this category now.

4.      Fourth one seems to be the simplest option. Governments and people in high offices could be little more sincere and little more accountable to their people so that nobody would ever have a reason to fast unto death. This is what I expect from our Indian leaders. If they can’t, what would happen is, one by one, frustrated youth in jungles will take arms in their hand. And then it would spread to the nearby towns. And then they would together take the law in their hand. And then it would spread to even the corporate world. And then they would together take the land itself in their hand. Then what will happen? Those who wanted to keep democracy alive won’t be alive themselves. Nor will their democracy!

Accepting or not accepting Telengana demand would have only cost them a state government. If they had not accepted Hazare’s demands, I am 200% sure – it would have cost them the central government itself sooner or later. So, as usual, Congress has played its game well. They have willingly lost it this time knowing that they would have a bigger loss if they try to win.

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