Anna Hazare, widely known as the last Gandhian, who forced the federal government to agree to introduce stringent anti-graft legislation, has become a rallying point for youths in India. The 71-year-old former Indian army driver-turned-social reformer’s five-day hunger strike, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, galvanized youths across religions, and hundreds of thousands of people joined Hazare’s crusade. The wave of support grew into an avalanche through candle-lit rallies in towns and cities in India, and through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. As a result, the fast for an anti-graft law shook the federal government and forced it to concede to popular demand.
Anna Hazare’s agitation has highlighted the disconnect between the young and the old schools in the Congress. The younger lot of Ministers of Parliament (MPs) fear an “Anna wave” against corruption, while the veterans hope to ride the Anna storm with the traditional recipe of caste combinations during elections. However, the public rhetoric by the MPs is different from their private views. Many are apprehensive that the 74-year-old man who has drawn a huge response from ordinary people all across the country—in all probability, even he did not expect it—is making them redundant. The MPs, cutting across party lines, now have to pay lip service to Anna because of the current public sentiment. The government, which sent him to Tihar jail, has suddenly started “saluting” him, and Congress spokesman Manish Tewari has even apologised to Anna for calling him corrupt.
For good or for bad, Anna has captured the moment. Given the support he has, he is no longer pushing for just a discussion on his bill (known as the Lokpal Bill) in Parliament. That was his demand about a month ago. Now, he wants Parliament to pass the bill, and in his given time frame. Naturally, this is difficult for every political party, as MPs will have less leeway in government matters. Whatever the outcome of Anna’s agitation—and the situation is still fluid—he has given a jolt to the political class. Let us hope that the agitation will strengthen both the citizenry and the functioning of Parliament.
The crusade against corruption unleashed by Anna Hazare has given a platform for each and every one to voice their opinions they have kept pent-up for long. Seminars and discussions were held in many colleges, and more than 40 voluntary groups in Pune organised a rally from Nal Stop to Balgandharva Chowk on Tuesday morning to support Hazare. Nearly 3,000 youth participated in the agitation. At Balgandharva Chowk, the volunteers sat on a relay fast and a makeshift pandal was set up opposite Balgandharva Rangmandir. They raised slogans and sang patriotic songs. “I have taken a day off on Tuesday to be present for the rally and the relay fast,” said Dombe, a young professional participating in the movement, who carried an “arrest me” placard and wore an “I am Anna” Gandhi cap.
In addition, the Internet is being extensively used by young information technology (IT) and other professionals from Pune to spread the word. According to one participant, “The Facebook page of India Against Corruption (IAC) is flooded with hits and we are updating the latest news on it.”
This post is an excerpt from regular contributor Kaustav SenGupta. Read the full article on his blog, Ingene Insights.