The Anna Side-Effect

Zee News, Zee Exclusive
June 09, 2010

A couple of months back a Gandhian went on a fast unto death for our country. Within no time thousands joined him. Anna Hazare, a noted Indian social activist, became a household name thereafter.

It is not the first time that somebody went on fast. So, what was so special about this man that so many connected with him? Is it his simplicity? Is it his clean background? Is it his apolitical stance? Is it his words of wisdom? Or, is it the cause that he espouses? The answer lies in the combination of all. Suddenly, people saw a silver lining emerge from the dark clouds of corruption that engulfed our skies. People could identify with him as he seemed to be one of them. The cause that he supported struck a chord with all. Anna Hazare became an icon.

There is no doubt that Anna Hazare has helped highlight the problem that has been ignored for many decades but, inadvertently he has done some damage too. He has set a trend that can have grave consequences. The Anna team’s demand of having unelected representatives in the Lokpal Bill Drafting Committee and the government’s giving in to the demand, has set a dangerous precedent.

What is the guarantee that this fasting strategy shall not be misused? Proponents of the strategy argue that if a cause is not genuine then there would not be enough followers. History shows that in reality many times the reverse is true. Irom Sharmila has been fasting for over ten years against human rights abuses in Manipur. Medha Patkar recently ended her nine-day fast seeking amendment to Maharashtra Slum Dwellers Act after the state government agreed to her demands. Are these concerns not genuine? How many people supported these causes? How many people are actually aware of these? Thus, the argument that the genuineness of a cause can always attract people is weak.

Anybody who has a decent number of followers can take up a cause and go on a fast. And, Baba Ramdev has done just that. He is a very popular Yoga Guru and is financially strong as well. All he required to go on a fast was to give a call to his followers and they followed suit. Whether his intentions are good or not is a debatable issue. But, a dangerous chain reaction has begun.

Just because the government listened to Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev went on fast. We do not live in an ideal world as is evident by the cause for which the two are fighting. Chances of increased cases of blackmailing the government are very high. It may not be appropriate to compare the Anna movement with the Naxalite movement but, the latter group also thinks they have legitimate demands. It is just that they have gone to the other extreme.

If things were to continue on this path then our democracy would be at risk. Would it be correct to give important decision making powers to unelected representatives? Are we not creating another arena for corruption? Is this not a threat to democracy from mobocracy?

The recent event of senior ministers going to the airport to receive Baba Ramdev paints a very sorry picture. Is this not ominous of elected representatives being held hostage by the acts and wish-lists of unelected people? The Anna team has set a deadline of 15 August, 2011 for the passage of the Lokpal Bill and if unmet, he would again resort to agitation. Is this not unjustifiably coercive?

The biggest threat to such movements would be politics. Anna Hazare may have kept politicians out of his movement, but that did not stop Baba Ramdev from doing so even though they both are fighting for the same cause. The latter claims that he does not have any political motivations, but can he be trusted? He has already announced his intentions to launch a political party, so this could also be a pre-launch build up.

Today, the government is at the receiving end and all the Opposition parties seem to take a moral high ground. But, the tables can turn any time. Today’s Opposition can be tomorrow’s ruling party and then they may have to taste their own medicine. Why wait for the tables to turn? It could happen now also. What if the UPA-II sponsors a fast unto death by some popular leader for a speedy trial of perpetrators of Gujarat riots or Babri Masjid demolition? What if they demand that they would not break their fast till all the guilty are punished? What if the common man joins them in huge numbers? The excessive increase of anything can cause unwarranted reactions.

The government and the Opposition should be very careful in its actions. What it does today shall have ramifications in future. The government considered giving Anna’s team powers equal to the elected representatives then, Baba Ramdev came up. A few years back, an Iraqi journalist threw a shoe at former US President George Bush to vent his anger at him. The latter pardoned the journalist, who instantly became a hero. This started a new trend and India was soon to catch up. Shoes began to be thrown frequently at other politicians like Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and recently, at Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi.

It is not the event or the cause of the event that is a reason for concern. It is the reaction of all that is ringing warning bells. The common man can come together to draw attention to their problems but, should desist from dictating terms to the legally elected government representatives. All this for the sake of a healthy democracy, for democracy is the only system that persists in asking powers whether they are the powers that ought to be.


Anna Hazare campaign against corruption doing well let's support him.

Kirpal, Ludhiana

Is the author happy seeing India in the bottom 10 most corrupt countrie in this world. This massive corruption by the Congress leaders in India is having adverse impact on every man, every women and every child those who are not corrupt. That is why there is so much poverty. In statistics issued by United Nations recently 42% of the world's undernourished and hungry children live in India. Is this the accomplishment of your elected Congress government?

Paul, Canada

Baba & Anna are doing good. Let's support them.

Prabhu, Mumbai

Even our PM is unelected, so why unelected people can not deal or work in politics?

Prakash S, Mumbai

Yes, everbody knows Congress and all polictical party has taken positive steps to draft lokpal bill for last 42 years. And also now they all are started to takeing positive steps on paper to bring the black money back. To bring black money back they also require minimum 42 years time then how they can bring back with in a week or a month time.

Surendra, Ahmedabad

Congress has taken positive steps and it will take some time to bring the black money back ....This cannot be done within a week's time.

Vinod, Abu Dhabi

Some body who thinks that Baba Ramdev's intentions may be bad, is a fool.

Indian, India

I feel so sorry for people like you. No one is saying that decision making power be given to anyone other than elected representatives that point is well taken. But, can the government do anything and give the excuse that they are right because they won the elections. Can they take away the fundamental right to peaceful protest. Police can beat anyone? Because Mr. PM is saying and he is elected representative. Come-on ...........this is ridiculous.....

Arun Kumar Singh, Gurgaon

It is very easy to give contrary points to such campaigns. Can you also provide an alternative to deal with the corruption situation in India which is extremely detrimental for the growth of nation and is posing grave threats even from outside from countries like China, Pakistan and so on...

Yogender, New Delhi

Do not worry, there is no case of misuse in last 60 years because public does not support misuse cases so misuse cases dies itself.

Chukked, Delhi

Hi, I don't understand your motive from this article. If you are saying that public should not entertain the unelected representatives, then you should also condemn the Congress leaders claiming that a common man has no rights to get into politics. They made it clear by saying that yoga guru should confine himself to yoga and not to politics. I hope that Congress leaders should be aware that every Indian citizen has rights to get into politics. Also beating lakhs of people and forcibly moving them out of Ramlila ground is a bigger threat to democracy. I hope you should understand that peaceful activists are not threat to democracy at all. These guys are not blackmailing the government, infact they are just putting their thoughts before the deaf politicians and people who never dared to come forward for their rigts. I personally believe that the politicians who are passing inappropriate comments by blaming social activists (like Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev) as RSS/BJP members, should be sent to jail. I request you to respect the views of crores of Indians (standing by with Anna and Ramdev) and help them to achieve the goal of "corruption free India".

Manish Gupta, Delhi

Shovika Puri. You apper to be very much concerned with the possibility of misuse of this fasting method that is being resorted by Anna and Baba to compel this govt to bring back the money taken out of the country and also to punish the perpetrators who own these black money kept abroad. You are not at all concerned with the magnitude of the crime being indulged by powerful ministers, businessmen and bureaucrats. I do not wish to brand you as one of the persons who appears to highly afraid in the event govt is forced to bring in such tough law. Please consider the loot of our national wealth hasbeen continuing eversince british stated sharing power with Congress since 1937 or so. Without hesitation it can be inferred that if any single political party is the biggest beneficiary it is Cong. These people are mortally afraid if the blackmoney owners are punished most of the Congress will be behind bar. Think about the benefit. Each and every Indian except blackmoney owners will be benifited. The country's foreign debt may be fully repaid. Therefore don't try to equate with godhra or any other issues. In the history of our country there was no bigger issue than this. By the way, there are a number of people who are trying to confuse readers and trying deflect the attention from this anti corruption. Let all of us support Baba and Anna in their fight against corruption.

Kanti, Kolkata

Mr. Puri's writing is absurd. He says so many things by his imaginations.

Satya Mitra, Delhi

Elected govt/ministers are forgetting that they are public servants. Govt is not doing anything to stop curruption and protecting the currupt ministers. The public has no other choice. Elected govt turned out to be currupt to the core. Baba Ramdev & Anna's demands are just. When the elected ministers are corrupt what is wrong in taking learned & honest civilians in the lokpal bill drafting committee?

M.N. Rai, Abu Dhabi

For Shobhika Puri:

I am happy that we agree to disagree on some of the points, while we have in general agreement of integrity and cause of Annaji and firmly condemn inaction and ill actions of these democratically elected government and parliament, here I do not discriminate person on treasury bench or opposition side.

I would invite you kind attention to mythological story of choice of Youvraj between Duryodhan and Udhishtir. The wise PM of Indraprasth presented for judgement four criminals who had jointly committed crime of robbing and killing. In brief Yudhistir choice was upheld because of his discriminative judgement for a jointly committed crime based on their status. Bhrahmin was judged for capital punishment, since he has committed crime despite ful knowledge of rights and wrongs. Kshatriya was given Life imprisonment since despite being responsible for maintaining law and order he committed sinful crime. Vishya was given 15 years imprisonment since he by attitude and upbringing has learnt to amass wealth. The Shudra was given 1 year rigorous imprisonment simply because he does not possess proper knowledge and lives on mercy of others.

Moral of the storey lies not in the castes but position held by a person who commits an act. The news that are pouring in clearly shows Hon Min. Kapil Sibbal (I reiterate that I am bound to prefix Hon.) had masterminded all his tactical and crocked game of killing the movement of Baba Ramdev, police action at mid night on peacefully sleeping men, women and children and assure the government that he is capable of curbing Annaji and his team. Mr Digvijay Singh might deny that it was a sheer police action and not party's mandate.

I have seen life for six decades and nearly four decades in engineering, execution and administration. I have very closely experienced what honesty and dedication with efficacy on the ground demands. This kind of life brings me here to research at institute of national importance at the age of Sixty.

Had this government had slightest sincere intention to control, Baba Ramdev with whom I also don't agree, there were many ways and sufficient history is available to trust upon the wisdom of police and administration. What has happened is clear indication of lack of political wisdom and capability in this Democratically Elected System. I am suffixing word SYSTEM because response to the cause of other political parties is also apathetic.

Innocence and anger being shown by Mrs Sonia on visiting Hon. Min. Pranab Mukharjee is a total fraud since the red carpet welcome to Baba Ramdev was widely publicized at least two days ahead of it. If she was ignorant about it, which I take on face of it, then she and her team are most undeserving person for the most powerful position in UPA and in India.

Body language of Hon. Min Kapil Sibbal and his associate Mr Digvijay Singh is that of crook and GUNDA. What authority does Mr Singh enjoy to manhandle the attacker on Mr Janardan Mishra, in press conference, while police and security had taken control of him? Why he has not been arrested and put behind bars?

You will agree that UPA government is heading towards GUNDA RAJ, under pretext of being democratically government, Thus they are damaging the Democratic system more than even Baba Ramdev. Thus comparing peaceful demonstration and assertion of discomfort on the existing system through ANSHAN by Annaji and his Team, who are coming up with solutions to the problems too, is an act of highest wisdom and democratic and is within the rights of freedom of expression granted by the Constitution and democracy. Thus by the logic of story cited above this Democratically Elected Government and system deserves highest condemnation for abusing authority, acting foolishly and crookedly and creating anarchy in this democratic peace loving country.

Before taking a good bye on the issue I would expect your apolitical article condemning this Democratically elected Government and Parliament to wake them up for their responsibilities first and then authority. I would suggest they should read inaugural speeches of US President like George Washington, Abrham Lincoln and other.

I am not interested in any publicity, but want to see logically and judiciously founded opinions appearing in the media which give right direction to the masses and not misguide them for their vested interests.

Thanks for feedback.

God bless these politicians and media with wisdom to judge their duties and responsibilities first and then rights and authority.

Om Shanti.

Subhash Kumar Joshi, Roorkee

For Subhash Kumar Joshi:

Let me begin by thanking you for taking out the time for your valuable feedback.

After reading your feedback I realized that we agree on most of the points that you have mentioned. No way in the article have I doubted the integrity of Anna Hazare. Infact, am a big fan of Kiran Bedi, who is an integral part of his team. To quote from the article:

"It is not the first time that somebody went on fast. So, what was so special about this man that so many connected with him? Is it his simplicity? Is it his clean background? Is it his apolitical stance? Is it his words of wisdom? Or, is it the cause that he espouses? The answer lies in the combination of all."

Nowhere have I suggested that just because he does not speak in English, he does not deserve to be where he is today.

I am in favour of raising voice against injustice but, I do not agree with the methodology being adopted. This is because this is prone to misuse. Baba Ramdev is a befitting example. Again, to quote from the article:

"There is no doubt that Anna Hazare has helped highlight the problem that has been ignored for many decades but, inadvertently he has done some damage too."

"The common man can come together to draw attention to their problems but, should desist from dictating terms to the legally elected government representatives. All this for the sake of a healthy democracy..."

I completely agree with you that this government just like the past ones has failed to address issues affecting the common man. This calls for raising one's voice but, not dictating terms. This shall put our democracy at risk. Democracy is a great system even though it has its own shortfalls. Is there any better alternative than democracy? One should remember that it is because of democracy only that Anna Hazare, you and I are able to express our divergent views freely.

As far as the Zee Editor is concerned, I shall pass on your message to the concerned person. This article may seem one-sided to you but, the website has many other articles about the same topic that express different views. This is the beauty of the system that differing voices can co-exist. This only adds to the richness of the content.

Shobhika Puri, UP

You have built a very logical base in favor of democratically elected government and representatives on the premise “It is the reaction of all that is ringing warning bells.”

Here I try to extend your logic on your own premise. Is the action of Anna Ji , and his Team, members of civic activists who have long standing credentials of genius, honesty and dedication, not a reaction of the failure of our democratically elected parliament and government to extend the service to the people and not become their masters.

To cite only a few instances-

1) Parliament/Government wastes months over to decide cases on national interest viz nuclear pact, to have or not JPC over 2G Scam, Leaving terrorist attacking Indian Democracy wait for prosecution/capital punishment and wait for other terrorists to sabotage and claim such terrorist in detention in exchange of hostages.

2) Wait for hoarders to make money before control is effected

3) But, pass bills of benefits to Democratically Elected Representatives (MPs etc) with no loss of time.

4) Have rates of high quality catering in Parliament house, as reported, at a price on which beggar’s food won’t be available.

5) Democratically elected government waits for DMK to loose elections in TN and then institute arrest of Kani..

6) Our Hon. Prime Minister waits for a nod from UPA leader ship to take a stand, with total disregard to position and institution of PM. If such person cries for his goodness and honesty, what do we do of it? Do we make squash, jam or pickle out of the goodness and honesty?

The Team of Annaji does not comprise of people of any less achievement through honesty. One should not be just lead away by argument that Annaji does not understand English, but should dare to see his life of dedication and commitment. Kabir, Tulsi Das, Jesus Chrish, Hazrat Mohammed were not scholar of Harvard, Delhi School of Economics, IIT or any other reputed academics. But, they were scholars of school of life. Accordingly, Annaji is like these prophets who is supported by accomplished people who understand law, administration, technology etc to get them positions much higher than the positions occupied by these Democratically Elected Representatives in Parliament and Government.

Extending the logic used for prophets, I would say that Government and Parliament does not qualify to assume all the powers and become deaf and insensitive to call of people simple because they are Democratically Elected and crush any voice of people.

Annaji and his Team, is a group of people some of whom have relinquished power and authority much before their superannuation and have taken cause of people on the call of their conscious. These are the people who have aptly made clear that they focus is not on power but on transparency and corruption free system through democratically elected representatives.

Annaji and his Team can be trusted upon for the credentials that they have earned but not this democratically elected government and parliament has betrayed the trust of people by their acts and precedence. If at any time Annaji and his Team is found to be abusing trust they shall also have to meet brutal wrath being meted out to Democratically Elected Government and Representatives in Parliament.

In my opinion Baba Ramdev lacks intellectual base and advisers and, therefore, any act of comparing Baba Ramdev with Annaji and his Team is like take same yard stick for two unequal.

I believe you are a young journalist and has to emerge as mirror of the system duly respecting sensitivities, equality and equality, and causes of reaction beyond obvious.

I also appreciate ZEE Exclusive Editor to allow freedom of expression, but request them to ensure that comment are not one sided rather balanced. Journalism is a very sensitive profession. Any obsessed observation could create uncalled for unrest/restlessness.

Subhash Kumar Joshi, Roorkee

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