Anna Hazare is a much written, spoken and heard phenomenon in media all over India. in fairness, his lifestyle and life are pretty transparent. His honesty is forthcoming. He is achiever as well. He has demonstrated how a village can be transformed and sustained. Pretty difficult task, but he did achieve it. Most people would baulk at such a daunting task. The inner strength to continue is obvious.
So, is Medha Patkar. But why Anna Hazare becomes a ‘darling’ of the media and the middle class and the middle class-on-the-climb ladder. For me, this is politics. It is no fault of Anna Hazare to become the darling. We need to fathom the factors behind such ‘iconisation’. Ambedkar has warned us not to worship a person. Mahatma Gandhi warned us about means being important than ends.
I would like to cite Medha Patkar. There are others too. But she fits the comparison in many ways. Medha Patkar ‘lives’ her views. She has also demonstrated, worked and questioned the corruption. I would think she is on the same pedestal as Anna Hazare. But, she did not become the ‘darling’ of the above mentioned sections. The difference in my opinion is Medha Patkar has a political viewpoint, which Anna does not have. Medha has questioned various policies, which impact the above mentioned sections negatively, especially media houses, who do benefit from such policies.
Medha’s work is much more wider and inclusive. She also steered away from getting associated with the existing political satraps. Anna does not do that. Twelve years back, Anna Hazare was a frequent visitor to Andhra Pradesh, as a guest of Chandrababu Naidu. Then CBN was supported by multi-lateral financial institutions, to implement a reform agenda. Anna was probably interested only in looking at the progress of watershed development programmes. But he had no qualms in associating with a person/regime, which has a baggage, is a characteristic we need to assimilate. India Against Corruption received funds, from ‘shady’ sources as well. Anna is not corrupt, which is obvious from his lifestyle, but unfortunately not from his deeds. The worry here is whether such associations or fund sources have any influence on the crusade?
Lest any recent addition to anti-corruption crusade jump to any conclusions, I am not here to castigate Anna. We are here to discuss various things. We need to take stand on the issue: how puritan a crusader need to be?
In present times, when resources and power are in fewer hands, to get something done, or achieve a broader goal, association invariably would be with persons or organisations with ‘some shades’. We need to be above all those, through our deeds, words and methods.
There is also an argument that Anna is ‘naive’, which makes him a fall guy, hero or a pawn. Some might say so was Baba Ramdev. But Ramdev had his own baggage, leave others baggage. While we can, and should celebrate naivete, or being a hero, suspicions of being a fall guy or pawn would be very worrisome.
Imagine, Medha Patkar in the place of Anna Hazare. What would have happened? Medha’s views are ‘loaded’ and complicated for many. Anna’s views are simple. To say it otherwise, Anna may not have become a hero, if he had strong and deep political views. That is his strength. And, weakness too. I am saying it as a weakness, because of the methods they are adopting. My worry is here.
That is where the viewpoints of other activists ‘hit the nail’. Anna is talking of regulation, while others have been working on removing the sources of corruption, through changing the development model. Regulation is required. It is like building a dam, across a ‘flooding river’, instead of slowing down the water drops, through watershed initiatives. Dams would become mighty and unwieldy, while water conservation at the point of rainfall is much more participatory and controllable. Anna’s campaign needs to learn from his own flagship work.
Apart from all these, it would be a fallacy to say Anna and the campaign is a plant, or a conspiracy. As I said, media and other sections made him a hero for their ‘own’ reasons. It is also gross codswallop to say Anna is a ‘American or multi-national’ conspiracy. Maybe these theories gain credence, in certain sections, indicating a situation of trust deficit (to borrow the recent lingo) all over.