Aug 17, 2011

India: When History repeats itself

Unless you've been buried alive, you wouldn't have missed the loud groaning of a billion people against corruption.
For all those who thought Anna Hazare couldn't and wouldn't be able to replicate his fight against corruption nationwide, the events that have unfolded since yesterday has kicked their butt all the way back to 1947.

But the irony does not end there. What the British were 65 years ago, the Congress with their ragtag bunch of political crooks are now.

Surprisingly, the British are having their own litany of trouble with gang violence and such. Looks like the Great Britain is no longer 'Great'.

Coming back to India, where we are suffering from the birth pangs of yet another Freedom struggle, this time not against foreigners but against Indians who have looted us for way too long.
Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.
The irony is that we are fighting against a government that is led by the first family of politics - The Gandhi's.
How the family that once symbolized every virtue, pure and free became a concocted mix of greed, corruption, nepotism and oppression is something that we as Indians need to introspect.

Aug 16th, 2011 will forever be the day in Indian history when the second Freedom Struggle started.
A fight against a government that refuses to relinquish absolute power and shed all reason to oppress needs to win. We owe it to our children.
We may not live to see all the changes that this struggle will bring about. But we ought to have started it.
After having threatened, reasoned and cajoled Anna Hazare to abandon his plans of fasting until death, the government erred greatly by arresting him.
The first family of Indian politics should have known better than to stifle a nonviolent protest.

The Satyagraha as a peaceful, non violent form of public protest became a powerful
The idea was first mooted by the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau and it was Gandhi who effectively demonstrated the enormous impact of various forms of non-violent civil disobedience.


A peaceful gathering by disobeying prohibitory orders and courting arrest was one form. Marching to the seashore to symbolically make your own salt was another.
The most effective form of satyagraha was used occasionally, somewhat rarely, as a last resort — the indefinite hunger strike. One man’s fast would rivet the subcontinent and often deliver quick results, be it quelling communal riots or scoring a compromise with formidable opponents like the British.


Gandhi’s extraordinary capacity to rouse masses did not just bring freedom to India but also brought justice to blacks in the US through Martin Luther King Jr, an avowed follower of the Gandhian doctrine of civil disobedience. In South Africa, it was Nelson Mandela.


When non-violent public protests turn into mass movements, growing bigger by the day, it’s not easy to stop them. The nationwide protests against the Emergency that brought down Indira Gandhi is an instance, with an almost parallel example that originated in Egypt’s Tahrir Square and finally dethroned president Hosni Mubarak.


In India, the issue of the day is corruption. Rather ironically, it is the “clean and incorruptible” prime minister Manmohan Singh’s team that has lost face in the way it has handled the Lokpal Bill issue.


Barely four months ago, Team Manmohan agreed to include civil society members in the drafting of the Lokpal Bill in a frustrated attempt to bring Anna Hazare’s first round of satyagraha to a quick close.


From then on, every attempt was made to discredit the civil society members of the panel — from questioning the inclusion of the father-son legal team of Shanti and Prashant Bhushan and challenging their integrity right down to calling Anna a corrupt man.


Finally, Team Manmohan submitted a diluted version of the bill to parliament and in the intervening period, Baba Ramdev and his supporters were caned out of Delhi. Team Anna was warned that they would suffer a same fate.


This arrogance of the Congress-led UPA government was on display at every turn and as a final roll-out of the plot, the government decided to thwart Anna’s plans for a second satyagraha in Delhi from August 16. Twenty-two pre-conditions were imposed and finally Anna was arrested from his Delhi residence even before he could step out to proceed towards JP Park.


Today’s generation could as well imagine Team Manmohan as part of the British Raj at its wit’s end in trying to deal with Mahatma Gandhi.


If the British police had their Rottweilers, Team Manmohan has its equivalents in Congress spokesman Manish Tewari and senior leader Digvijay Singh who lost no opportunity to try and tear Anna to pieces. Calling Hazare a corrupt man, dismissing his locus standi as he was not elected by the people (unlike our great netas) and telling him how to — and how not to — conduct his protest, were all part of the strategy to scuttle the public crusade against corruption.


It almost seemed that Team Manmohan had won this second round and demonstrated how to effectively puncture a satyagraha. But they erred greatly.
With barely a year to go before the largest democracy in the planet goes into an electoral huddle, history will prove once again that freedom will prevail.

Gandhiji is surely squirming in his grave.
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