Long live, Anna Hazare! The 74-year-old Gandhian fasted for 12 days recently taking India by storm. The TV channels and print media were full of news of the movement that he started. That of fighting corruption which truly is a cancer eating into every system in India. For the first time in living memory, a cause was supported with such enthusiasm.It’s about 8.00 a.m. here in India and in two hours time, Anna will break his fast which has lasted for nearly two weeks! The story is too well-known to be repeated. I would like to share a few observations:
- One sees elected representatives under pressure for the first time, thanks in part to the proceedings in Parliament being televised and of course to the movement led by Anna Hazare. In Parliament too we saw the contrasting styles and approaches of the wily old world politicians like Sharad Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav and of the younger ones like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jayant Chaudhary.
- For the first time, the so-called upper middle class took to the streets in a nonviolent protest. The issue of corruption was one that struck a chord in every Indian irrespective of age or socio- economic strata.
- We will see, I am sure, a much higher voter turn out by the so-called urban middle class who usually stay away from the elections as if it has nothing to do with them.
- Gradually the traditional vote bank politics will start breaking. This will be one of the best things to have happened in Indian politics. Till now it was convenient for our politicians to lump people in defined categories and pamper only those who voted for them. They generally did so blindly, following a symbol, with no regard whatsoever to the qualities of the candidate.
- With greater prosperity, although I must admit, it still remains sharply skewed, and general awareness thanks to television, cell phones, internet and the like, the days of the “uneducated masses” who were led like sheep are fast vanishing.
- The urban educated groups have a responsibility which goes beyond paying their taxes and hoping for the best.
- Civil society groups emerged as powerful catalysts in getting people who were earlier largely indifferent engaged in political issues.