Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Me and the Anna movement

A colleague asked me if I wanted to participate in the Anna Hazare movement when it was in full swing. It was being held at Freedom Park, Bangalore where many took part. I told him that I wont join as I was not really sure if it was the right way.

My response was met with "Here is another unpatriotic techie!" kind of look. We went for tea and a conversation followed. I asked him if he knew the reason behind the fast and the movement. He said "I have a cheat sheet where they have explained in a simple way about the entire thing. I will forward it to you". But he did not explain himself the intent. He added "If so many people are supporting it; its right". I asked "Forget about others. Do you feel it is logical?" He did not respond; he was not sure. It was merely a case of following the herd. Techies came out in groups and they formed a 17 km long human chain.

I did not wear the Topi, neither did I fast. I did not even buy our flag. I did not feel bad or sad because Anna was fasting. I did not tweet nor did I write on my wall. In short; I did not jump into the bandwagon. I did shun corruption - then, now, tomorrow. I did not even tune to news channels to know the status. They were riding on the Anna wave and making hella lotta money for themselves. I definitely cannot digest Burkha Dutt talking about morality and corruption!! I did not want the Anna thing to intrude my normal life; some Tom, Dick, Harry and Mona, Sona and Reena giving expert suggestions on what should be done to curb corruption.

I did pose a question to myself if I was less patriotic than those who bunked classes to attend the rally, than those who made statements, than those who left their day to day work to fast and join the protest; than those who wore "I am Anna" topis. Were they all brave hearts willing to make sacrifice or were they finding solace in this while trying to escape their day to day problems?

"I can make a difference" attitude was welcome, it was nice to see people from all walks of life garnering support for a cleaner system. But participating in a rally and swaying your national flag is all the difference that you can make? Honestly no one likes corruption which brings us trouble yet we will harbor them. Do you need a Anna for you to start? What if tomorrow you dont have Anna? What next? Would the movement just stop?

Can we abolish corruption by having an organization to curb? What if the organization in future is bought by the corrupt? How long does that take? We are not fighting corruption at each step; do we really believe Lokpal bill will put an end to it? Yes, this is just THE beginning. Beginning of what? Beginning of a newer you who wont bribe anymore? Who will be transparent in every step? Who will behave with integrity?

This is not against the supporters or the movement. In fact, its interesting as to what motivated people to support the movement who did not actually think about doing something on their own in day to day life. We were all WAITING for someone to take the lead? We cant step up and speak out. We cant stand for what we believe and stand against what we dont.

For me, the bill will not curb corruption or Anna's movement wont be fruitful unless we resolve to end the corruption in our life as we go about our daily chores. By the way; I dont see 'patriotic' messages anymore on Facebook or Twitter :-)

P.S These are my personal opinion. No brickbats please :)


  1. Insignia,

    Corruption needs to end. Public as well as government both need to stop corruption. You can stop corruption if refuse to pay bribe (see my post on India Against Corruption - wrote in January).

    Anna's movement is also important because even if public stops or want to stop paying bribe, leaders need to stop too. Leaders need to stop first.

    Another organization will help for the time being....once that becomes corrupt, we will have another Anna.

  2. I have a suggestion. Someone else’s idea has been tweaked here. If there is a publicly posted bribery price list in every office for completion of each work, then there would be no problem. For example, take the Department of Motor Vehicle:

    New Driver’s License = Rs.2000 (Same day service = Rs.4000) = Hand over the money and the application to the peon standing near the second gate.

    Driver License Renewal = Rs.1000 = Hand over the money and the application to the clerk sitting third on the right side of the hall.

    New car Registration = Rs.5000 = Hand over the money and the application to the supervisor sitting on the north east corner of the hall.

    No need for broker and other hassles. People will pay and get their job done quickly. The problem comes only when we don’t know who to pay, how many people to pay, and how much to pay as bribe.

  3. I am not Anna. I am Thambi. I want to start a movement for each office to post a bribery price list. Anyone wants to join my movement. How about you Insignia akka?

  4. I can foresee the kind of comments you will get for this post.

    I see the whole matter as thus- We are all more keen about the demarcation in our lives , of comfort zone. So joining the Anna Bandwagon too will be confined to a few posts on the Blog, a day at the rally sans pay etc. Nothing more, because we do not want the system that has given us the middle class trappings to go.

    And if Anna is no more from today, the whole matter will end in a whimper. There need to be someone to galavanise,someone who will forego personal needs to the necessity of the general society. Gandhi was one such and was ably assisted by other men. And though the slumbering nation was awakened then, remember it was Indians who were assisting the British to rule. Four thousand English men ruled India. ie one English man for a lakh of brown skinned natives.
    The same applies now. The voices against Anna’s movement and modus operandi is more than the opinion that supports the need for a revolt against the perpetuation of the corrupt system in the government, and society and within the individual.
    When people say that the agitation is unconstitutional, I wonder if there is any respect for the constitution itself- shown by the government. For the law? In fact laws are drafted and made to assist the plunder.
    Yes the Jana Lokpal is not a holy granth. It has to be discussed and then redrafted in parliament.
    Let it be done . Why decry a movement if that panic the government. If the govt was clean why be frightened by a bunch of civilians?
    One example B, the govt gets a royalty of about Rs 27 or Rs 30 for a tonne of coal or I guess even iron ore from the mines they lease. A contractor like the Reddy brothers make Rs 5000 a tonne.
    And what has the constitutional system and a government that respect that , as well as the gentry who denounce a non violent movement against the system got to say about this? Are we not corrupt when we give such a day light looting constitutional protection?

  5. I went through the rigmarole of explaining my pov when the movement was going at full speed. Well, on certain counts, you are right. Yes, sometimes we feel that we are caught up in a system we can't get out of. You and I can probably pay the bribe but the system grinds to a halt for those who can't and they suffer. What about them? Yes, one legislation cannot offer an all encompassing solution. But, unless there is a law that can try to curb these babus, ministers etc., we are steeply hurtling towards a banana republic. Yes, each one of us is guilty in our own way of contributing to our corruption. I have taken a stand not to bribe much before the movement. After Anna began a fast, I also introspected and stopped buying pirated CDs or downloading stuff without rights. I would say at least, he is making me think about what am I doing to curb corruption. You have a right to your opinion. No, it does not make you less patriotic but hopefully the movement made you think about what you are doing to curb this corruption. If it managed to do that, then it was successful. There is a choice we can make, either be cynical and point fingers at others and then no one does anything. Or hope that with our united strength and awakening, perhaps just perhaps, we might try to change the system somewhere. I choose to still nurture that hope.

    All this said, I only fail to understand how this movement has harmed anyone. Perhaps, Jan Lokpal bill when passed might not answer all our woes, but do you really think that it will cause the status quo to worsen?

  6. I definitely cannot digest Burkha Dutt talking about morality and corruption!! (I had this tendency to throw up seeing the same.Suddenly switched it off)

    some Tom, Dick, Harry and Mona, Sona and Reena giving expert suggestions on what should be done to curb corruption.(haha..that's what we learn to skip in this country.I think we need a youth to think on their own)

    It seems the 'PR' section of the Anna 'Event' had a better realisation of this country and people.How we are into and obsessed with 'shows' and processions to keep the spirits high.

    Now what we ultimately need is the courage and urge from Individuals to say big NO to bribing.Decades back I had this first battle of mine with a village officer on issuing a certificate.I refused to 'see' him properly (his language for bribe).It was just after my Daddy's death I was forced to learn how our civil service operates.My mother who, then was in a position to do this for me within minutes,had warned me.But I fought back.With lots of mud slinging and resistance finally the officer issued the same to me.For a 19 year old that was a real victory to fight many to come.

    My colleagues used to ask me often why I bargain with auto people for 'silly money'.Insi,to me it was about implementing my right to live,about being fair and discharging my duty in a civil society.But then it was spontaneous that time.It followed me in college,hostels and everywhere I went.What I intend to say here- it's all within us,if we want to do.It has to come and begin from within you.My idea was not to boast anything,but to just share you the idea that each one of us has to react in our own way.The other option which we all follow is easy and cowardious I must say.

    But then I am not against any movement as such.To bring drastic changes in a society you need collective and individual feedbacks almost parallel.That can ensure the success.I have been invited to many feminist meetings for example,which I often refuse with a smile.They all know that I respond spontaneously and that may be the reason for invitation.But I have my own views there and nothing against them.I have found some decent souls who love to respond with support,in groups.For people like them that's an option and they need a platform.Well and good.

    Hugs Insi,that makes SENSE to me.The post and YOU.

    (Btw,mentioning some personal experiences was just to give a sense to what I wrote.If it was 'self',then pity me !)

  7. That's my opinion too.Half of the people won't be knowing the details of this movement. It has become a fad to join the movement virtually and flaunting it. Dong it for teh sake of awareness i can understand but then we should bring anti corruption in practise too.

  8. TOTALLY a Million % with you on this.
    We need to go back to the start of this campaign the people that were ASKED to join or WANTED to join, Many did not later but a lot of the people amongst had skeletons in the cupboard.

    Moreover as u say a organisation to check the corruption I say here we go again .. Moreover after the baba ramdev FIasco I did not appreciate the FAST that happened..

    I also have to say and most will draw swords against me but majority of the people who were in that huge rally or the long march .. they were in it for the FUN of it .. how many of the people went home from that rally and those who were in Govt office DEMADED bribe the very NEXT DAY..
    or gave BRIBE ...

    A funny thing happened, I have a disputed property which i need to be vacated .. The offer is to give __K's to the people to get it vacated :) and If i go through court the lawyer says I can kiss it good bye .. Now you tell me What should i do Or ask the person who you were talking to .. What should i do .. let it go or pay the money to get MY PROPERTY vacated ...

    The problem with this movement is that one person cant bring about a change many of the people who are with ANNA will disappear in a instant if things go wrong , THOUGH i hope they dont go wrong , I do support the Movement and have joined a few initiatives here in uk, Started one of our own , But we the group are doing this for Ourself for I want that CHANGE NOW.. not after I have died :)

    Things have to change but to bring that change if we are asking the same people , that aint happening.. I strongly beleive that the leader presently good or bad .. EVERYONE has to be brought to the book and justice ..

    Till that happens i doubt is things will change .. It will be same, we made the mistake when the british left us Inspite of warnings from our freedom fighters who gave their life and look where we are now .. The same will happen again ...

    A leader never retires in our country I doubt if the lokpal bill will do anything what needs doing is different , get young blood to be leader , put age barriers , retire and SWIFT justice .. None of this silly committees etc they are all the same ..


  9. I have blogged about the same thing with same views already! These days I ask my student a question - do you support Anna Hazare? They say yes. I ask them what is he doing? Their reply is - fighting corruption. I ask them, do you know the name of the bill he wants the Government to pass?

    Then the whole series of explanation of the laws, Indian constitution, democracy, fundamental rights, how a law is passed etc starts. They don't even know what they are following.

    And that's the case with most!

    I received essays too as comments. The ones that said - he is at least doing something made me laugh my guts out!

  10. sumukh,

    Thanks. I am not against the movement; nor do I appreciate it.
    I am just trying to analyze the pulse of the people.


    As mentioned; its my opinion.
    A, we will have another Anna? How many more Annas?

    How many organizations? Is it practical? How come few countries have so low corruption rate? Why cant it happen in India? Its not that we have to invent some new rule; there are examples to study.


    I dont agree with the bribe concept itself. So I wont support your idea.
    They are civil servants; paid to do their job; they are not doing a favor.

    I follow my SBC religiously. Why? I am scared to go haywire and indulge in dirty process of bribe. If I can be instilled a sense of fear and integrity; why cant it be done at all levels?

    On your second comment, I dont appreciate you mocking Anna. My intention is not that.


    :) Thats why the PS

    Let me make it clear that I am not voicing against anna's movement. All I am saying is it needs more than just a bill to stop corruption. The bill is just the beginning - its not going to curb corruption 100%

    I want to change myself - I want to bring the change before asking others to change is what I meant. Thats why I did not participate; let me cleanse myself first.

    Would it make sense to participate in the rally after paying a 50 Rs bribe to the constable? No! thats what my point is.


    My opinion is just a partial one. Its more to do with us individuals than the movement itself. I am not talking about the movement. I am not going to voice my opinion on it.

    Exactly, do we need an Anna at each step to make us realize? Are we just herds? Why didnt you or I or anybody not think about it earlier? Its none of my business?

    Again, let me just repeat my statement. For me, the bill will not curb corruption or Anna's movement wont be fruitful unless we resolve to end the corruption in our life as we go about our daily chores. All that hard work would only end up in drain if we dont commit to clean the act ourselves in every way we can.

    And no!! I didnt need an Anna to awaken my spirit to think what I am doing to curb corruption. I have been doing my bit even much earlier. You know? people laugh at me when I go to Landmarks and buy a book for 500 Rs when you can get a pirated one for Rs 50 or buy a movie DVD for 400/- when you have torrent!!

    However I still download music, not even an Anna could stop me. I am ashamed of it but yeah I surrender. I have to stop it myself. That way; each of us must resolve to stop and if done; Lokpal bill will be a grand success.


    Haha yeah. The PR section did a good job. Nothing wrong in what they did; if thats how you can garner support for a right cause; why not?

    I say the same thing; we not only need a legal/constitutional way but individual responsibility as well. I am not against the movement; but just questioning the people if they follow what Anna preaches? If they do; I am sure we will emerge victorious.

    I agree with you; there have been many occasions when I didnt part with extra money and I was treated with disgust. I was made to wait; was not treated properly. This is what you get!!


    Its fine if its practiced; in fact its great news if we all practiced. That way, Anna's movement will be a huge success in real sense.


    Each of us have such real life issues to deal with isnt it?

    We have to choose how to handle it. Either you pay that money or run up and down the court.

    The bill is just miniscule of the work; there is much more.


    If the bill does wonders; there would be no happier folks than us isnt it?
    But the bill is just a part of the movement; we need to do our job righteously.

    Thats the challenge.

  11. why be scared of brickbats :)
    i wasn't pleased with the whole herd mentality either. it's sheer nonsense how people support something w/o understand why they are supporting it...these are the same people who will bribe when needed :)

    first time on your blog..cheers!

  12. Chill Insignia. Those were funny sarcastic comments. Nothing is more discouraging than unappreciated sarcasm.

    I am not mocking Anna. People of Tamilnadu are great visionaries. That is why they have already named international terminal at Chennai Airport as Anna Terminal.

  13. Chintan,

    Welcome to B Log :)

    And what a post to begin with :)

    I am wary of brickbats on my blog; not scared by fed up and have no energy for new ones :)

    Thats my point. Can people sustain and be consistent with their belief? It should not end with just a parade and a cap and a slogan. If so, its great.

    Keep visiting :)


    I honestly was in no mood of sarcasm for this post. It did look like a mockery; maybe I fail to fathom your sarcasm. The Anna you mention in TN is not the same Anna I am talking about. I know you didnt mean it too. But if this was again a sarcasm, then its only that I didnt understand.

  14. Insignia, I do appreciate how you convey your point without being ballistic. When I read some people even in your comments section who are so disparaging and use such bitter language, I wonder on what high horse are they seated? Honestly, fine Anna alone cannot make a difference. As a detractor, are you actually saying that we wait for each one's conscience to awaken to see a change or we begin by doing something now, however, miniscule. You said that you are ashamed of the music downloads even though you are aware of it. In other words, you are not willing to make that change within you now. Likewise, most others including me will have things we do that adds to the corruption. And you and I are educated folks, so how will that change within happen?

    Also, the middle class is slammed when they stay away, and they are slammed when they participate being accused of herd mentality :). At least, the massive outpouring against corruption made some politicians take note that people can no longer be fooled by mere words. That they need action! I am waiting to see how much action will be taken by them, and whether the movement will translate into some large-scale action. I have seen the Karnataka Lokayukta perform under high pressure and unearthing scams. I have faith that there are people of high morals too who can head such institutions. My father was one such upright man in Income Tax Dept.

    Well, perhaps the movement did nothing for you. I appreciate that it might have done something for some people to start taking steps in this corruption-ridden society. Also, the argument that change begins from within does not cut much ice when public servants make your life a miserable hell to ensure that you pay bribe or suffer for months or years on end to get documents that you legally deserve. I think the bribe paid in such scenarios cannot be equated to bribing a traffic cop for a ticket. The system really is rotting; I faced it for passport and khata sitting in a big city like bangalore. Unless, the law is tough on these "public" servants, I don't see much way out through the mess. As an example, a tough law and enforcement is definitely a deterrent for criminals. I see the larger corrupt system of politicians and babus as those criminals.

  15. To support a cause the faith and will should come from deep with in and not because others are supporting it.For me i know for sure that i believe in Anna and also in Jan Lok Pal Bill.The movement has my wholehearted support .I never attended any meeting or rallies ,gatherings or wore Anna topi.I did tweet and had updates related to the movement on my wall.And i don't believe in bashing those who are not supporting it.For a healthy democracy we need to respect and listen to each other's views without being disrespectful or rediculing .Once again a 'dil se' post from you B :):)

  16. Instead of it being called JLPB, it became a movement against corruption.We can question the way Anna went about fasting and bringing a mighty, arrogant, insensitive, corrupt govt to its knees.I agree, most of his followers didn't know about LPB, but they knew that they have and and they are suffering due to corruption.
    Man on the street is very angry and suddenly found a convincing face in Anna.
    I bought and still wear Anna cap, though our friends in the Condominium feel I look funny. So be it

  17. Rachna,

    I agree with you 100% on what you mentioned about law being enforced for stricter punishment and policing.

    We need that for tackling corrupt politicians, government servants etc. Thats just one part.
    Next, I call it the herd mentality because how many of us or those who participated in the rallies actually change for good? I doubt it. Well, if they did change; no one is going to be happier than you and me.

    The bill is just one bit; there is lots more to be done; it has to start from the grass root level. You and I and people like us must make that as a habit; not for few days when the movement is on but forever as part of our daily life.

    Yes, we cant wait forever but yes, each one of us must do our bit however miniscule that is.
    All I feel is that the bill cant solve the issue alone; we have lot more work to do.


    You got it kavita. I am neither critical nor appreciating of the fact that people participated. It was a welcome change but all I am asking is; will we sustain? If so, well there is nothing better than that. Thank you :)

    Chowla sir,

    Corruption is at levels. The bill is just a start; we need that to sustain. I seriously worry as to how many still continue to be passionate about the cause. If everyone is; whats better than that

  18. I understand you completely. I feel exactly the same way.

    Tweets and wall posts were full of Anna for a long time. Then it became... "to all those who thought that Jan Lokpal Bill will not work"....and now...there is silence on the issue.

    I heard he is looking for a new venue for the third session.

    The only thing I had against the movement was the "fast". I don't think that can be compared to Gandhji's Ahimsa movement. He fought for our freedom from the British. We were freed from the British Rule into the Democracy Rule. Now we will have a Jan Lokpal Bill Rule. I fear an all powerful Lokpal, who will have the power to overthrow a government.

    We are not less patriotic, I think we are just a bit more apprehensive.

  19. Juxtaposition,

    Thanks ma'am.

    You got my feeling :) I am apprehensive too; I just hope we dont have few more babus to pay bribes to :(

  20. I joined the movement as I thought this was the ray of hope with everyone can relate to. We have to start from something and this was our chance. I am not saying that what Anna did was 100% correct but at least someone stood up against wrong.

  21. Abhinav,

    I dont deny that aspect at all. I am only concerned about how are we going to keep the momentum going?

    Has the Anna movement taught everyone to stand up against corruption and would they practice for the rest of their life? If yes, we know we can change the way things are working for good.


I'd love to know what you thought :-) Please shoot!