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Tuhin A Sinha
Tuesday , August 23, 2011 at 16 : 41

The Good and the Bad of Anna's revolution


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Eight days after Anna Hazare started fasting, demanding that his team's Jan Lokpal Bill be tabled in Parliament, far from the 'revolution' (that's what I'd call Anna's present crusade) wearing out, there is every indication of it culminating towards a dangerous crescendo. As a concerned Indian who is determined not to let go of his objectivity in the midst of this heightened chaos and frenzy, my emotions are mixed.

I can't blindly support every move of Anna, as some of them are outright naive. At the same time, I share the anguish of the masses against this government which by far is the most mediocre, ill-advised and spineless, in addition to being the most corrupt one in independent India.

It therefore makes sense to put things in perspective and analyze the good and the bad of this unprecedented mass revolution. I would begin with the good.

First of all, in recent years, one increasingly got the impression that the government had started believing that we are a nation of indifferent, selfish and helpless people who had no option but to be taken for granted. This complacence was evident in the manner in which the government arrested Baba Ramdev to crush his crusade and then bolstered by its success then, tried to do a repeat when they arrested Anna Hazare on 16th August and of all places, took him to Tihar jail.

The present revolution was thus important to acquaint the government with the power of the masses. At the same time, the revolution was important for the masses to believe that they could still make the government act on issues critical to the nation's interests. So what if it shames the image of India internationally?

The truth about India's corrupt political class cannot be shielded perpetually. This revolution thus needs to be seen as a one time purging act which had become inevitable.

Two, the revolution reiterates that non-violent fasting is still superior and more impactful a means than armed struggle. So when one thinks of the recent violent struggles against the government in Egypt or Libya, one can't help thinking that we are blessed to be able to exercise peaceful ways to attain virtually the same results.

This revolution, after all, has shaken the government like no Opposition movement could. So what if the means are extra-constitutional? They're Gandhian and most importantly non-violent. Moreover, they serve the nation's interests.

Most importantly, graft generates such collective, emotive outrage among the masses that the revolution has united the country like very few things do.

In a country divided by caste, creed, religion and of late vested financial interests, it takes a miracle to unite people the way this revolution has done. Should we able to leverage this unity to help our masses bridge the divide created by politics and wealth, India would emerge a healthier nation.

Having counted its benefits, it is only fair to look at the dangers posed by the revolution.

One, unlike the times when Gandhi or even JP carried their movements, today terrorism poses a big threat to the country. The terrorists, I'm sure see this present deadlock between the government and the civil society as a huge opportunity to strike, more so when the Union Home Minister's credibility is at a low.

Moreover, the revolution coincides with the Indian festive season. God forbid, if a terror strike does take place at one of the protest rallies, it will only magnify the confrontation between the government and the masses, with each side blaming the other.

Two, what if something happens to Anna? For a 74 year old, it is rather exceptional to exude such energy after one week of fasting. But as days go by, his condition is bound to weaken. Will Anna's followers manage to keep the revolution non-violent in a worse-case situation?

Three, history has shown that some of the most well-intentioned revolutions have been misinterpreted, either deliberately or otherwise, in successive years and used as a justification to attain ulterior demands. To that extent, it makes sense to examine whether Anna's revolution is setting a wrong precedent whereby others could be inspired to subvert the law-drafting mechanism in order to extract their demands. Not every crusader's demands, after all, can be as well-intentioned for the country, as Anna's is.

As anticipated, the Government is pretty much clueless about how to address the present crisis. Its crisis management team comprising P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni have rightly left the scene realizing that they compound problems instead of solving them. Manish Tewari and Digvijay Singh, who until now, had kept provoking the masses with their loose talks and insinuations have disappeared as well. And the PM, expectedly, instead of directly speaking to Anna Hazare keeps scouting for newer negotiators.

The crisis that the country has witnessed so far is not even a fraction of what it can escalate into if the deadlock persists. The only option left for the PM is to apologize for the mess his government has landed the country in and table Team Anna's Jan Lok Pal Bill in Parliament. For a PM, who refuses to quit despite unending humiliation, that surely is a safer bet instead of putting the country through bigger dangers.


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More about Tuhin A Sinha

Tuhin A Sinha is among the best-selling authors in India, a columnist and a screenwriter. Starting in 2006 with his first book, That Thing Called Love, an unconventional romance set in a Mumbai monsoon, Tuhin has written five novels. They include The Captain (formerly 22 Yards), Of Love And Politics, The Edge of Desire and The Edge Of Power. Tuhin is acknowledged among the most prolific Indian writers with a maverick knack to experiment with new genres. While his first book was an offbeat romance, The Captain was a cricket thriller that explored the underbelly of modern cricket. Of Love And Politics was a political thriller. His last two books which comprise the Edge series can be called socio-political thrillers with a strong feminist skew. Tuhin is a screenwriter of several popular TV shows, the most noteworthy being Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai on Star Plus. Apart from his fiction novels and scripts, Tuhin is a keen political observer. His columns on Indian politics appear regularly in India’s leading dailies. Tuhin has a regular blog on ibnlive.com. He also appears frequently on news channels on discussions around politics and cricket.
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