'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On the Anna Phenomenon

The following words are not mine; I merely record the take of someone who I know and whose judgement I have grown to trust in a broad sense.

If you do read on, you won't find any 'Bharat Mata' slogans and jingoism; neither will you have to endure the screams of rabble-rousing dissidents.


I visited Ralegan Siddhi with some collegemates in 1989 and spent a couple of days with Anna. Then, he had no Padma Award. I found him a strict idealist. I could see his work for his village. He was almost god to folks there; but his lifestyle was very frugal. He was quite an inspirational figure to the young crowd. Thereafter, I have not seen him but I have kept hearing about him every now and then, like everyone else.

Over the last couple of years, I have had to deal extensively with the Co-operative society Registrar and Fire Service officers - it is very true that without Right to Information act, it would have been impossible to get any serious co-operation from the Babus. Frankly speaking, I know of no other mechanism to make these government officers to work on a normal person's plea, except the fear of RTI or Court order. Going to court can be painful but RTI does make a difference.

About the current movement lead by Anna, I think it is a good reminder to ministers, political parties and govt officers that people have a voice and it can't be ignored all the time.

The present movement has elements of blackmail, challenge to the constitution or the beginning of anarchy. Some people have absurdly high expectations of Anna and after some time they would surely come out of this delusion that he is some kind of Messiah. But, it is very true that although the masses who support Anna hazare may not know technicalities of the Jan Lokpal bill, their non-violent upsurge speaks volumes of our rotten system; and there are real issues being raised - issues which had better be addressed one or other way.

I also think there is some substance to allegations that Anna has dictatorial tendencies: indeed, way back in '89, I heard of Anna lashing with a belt someone who tried to sell liquor in Ralegaon; there was a certain fear for Anna among the villagers. And there are videos on Youtube where former associates have raised similar issues. Be that as it may, now the country as a whole should look not at the man but at the issues.


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