To be honest I seriously considered going to Jantar Mantar, perhaps even participate in the fast. But I couldn’t. I kept following the event closely but I could not participate. Not because I want more corruption, of course not.

For some strange reason the ‘topi’ sitting on the head of Anna Hazare reminded me of the real Gandhi and the story about the kid who eats too much sugar. For the benefit of those who may not be familiar, the story goes like this: A woman brings her son to Gandhi and asks him to talk to her child to stop eating too much sugar because it is not good for his health. Gandhi asks the lady to return in two weeks. When she comes back he just asks the child to stop eating sugar. Apparently he did not give this advice to the kid earlier because he himself was eating too much sugar.

It seems ‘Gandhigiri’ itself came in the way of my participating in a non-violent protest. I was forced to look inwards and ask some hard questions. Am I corrupt? Have I ever been corrupt? What does it mean to be ‘corrupt? Is the word reserved for the illegal, unethical, and unfair acts of ministers, babus, police and the like? Does accepting part of the salary as cash (and therefore non-taxable) qualify as corruption? Does claiming taxi fare from your company, when you actually took the Metro qualify? Does leasing a car through your company so that the company deducts the amount from your ‘unofficial salary’ and pays the leasing company directly, thereby helping you save substantial tax, qualify? Does exploiting a loophole to label a chemicals-laden product as ‘herbal’ qualify? When your company or RWA employs guards/cleaners through a contractor, of course, who pays less than the legal minimum salary, or makes them work 12-hour shifts, and you say nothing, does that qualify? Does buying products made by children (or even adults) in massively exploitative sweat-shops qualify?

These and many more such questions, all theoretical, of course, kept swirling though my head, and while I was sorting all of this in my mind, the ‘revolution’ was over. And I missed my chance to participate in it.

Now that the dust has settled, the question that is plaguing me is this: Given that corruption (illegal, as well as unethical and unfair acts) is pervasive, and permeates almost every aspect of our private and public life, how long will it be before the massively powerful office of the ‘Lok Pal’ itself is occupied by a corrupt person.

I look around my self the only deduction I am forced to make is that given sufficient inducement, most of us are corruptible. Creating a super-cop, I am sure will help, but will it bring lasting change?

I have no reason to doubt the intent of the leader or the followers and do not have any alternate solutions. I am no constitutional expert but I do know something about the media. Any time all major TV channels, newspapers agree on something, it is likely to be an issue that the media owners expect to resonate with majority of the advertisement-consuming middle-class, and therefore with the advertisers. It is time to examine the issue more carefully… like most complex issues in life, there may not be absolute blacks and whites, but if media defines it as pure as mother’s-milk, odds are very high that the contaminants are lurking just below the surface.

It is unfortunate that “serious” analysis in mainstream media has been limited to tweet-sized self-congratulatory messages along with large photos. And on the other end of the spectrum it has been limited to personal attacks on Anna Hazare and his politics.

A few links that attempt to, perhaps not entirely successfully, objectively analyse the content of the ‘revolution’. I found some of the comments to the post very insightful too.

At the Risk of Heresy: Why I am not Celebrating with Anna Hazare
‘Anna Hazare’, Democracy and Politics (A response to the previous item)
Of a few, By a few, For the few
Hysteria will not end corruption

First published on April 12, 2011
#comment#corruption, #hunger-strike

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