August 16, 2011 by Parthajeet
Anna Hazare was born in 1937, and was arrested today, in his mission towards eroding corruption from India. When I was born, Anna Hazare was about as old as I am today. At my age today, I often think; “What have I done in life?”. This question fuels me to do something better (and hopefully less stressful) with the rest of my life. I like to feel that I have another 30-40 years to achieve this. The attraction of ‘years of come’ and the need to earn a mix of peace and materialistic needs; does not allow me to put ‘eroding corruption’ as one of the top 3 ‘must do’ items. Anna Hazare has been there and done that; at 73, does he need to do anything for publicity or for any materialistic gain? I would not think so.
One must understand that, despite all the distractions and questions about the anti-corruption movement, a person like Anna Hazare must be doing what he is doing, because he sincerely feels like doing it. He feels that India would do better with less corruption. Quite simple, isn’t it?
VOICE OF THE COMMON MAN
Now, what Anna Hazare is voicing today, is largely the voice of the common man; rich and poor. Isn’t everyone fed up of corruption? It’s just that the common man on the street does not have the will, power, courage, time, money, charisma, focus or bandwidth to raise his voice against corruption. If someone rises to the occasion and does raise his voice, everyone rallies behind him and are willing to stand by him. Unless the voice of the common man is loud, no one hears it. In India, from the time of Gandhi, such ‘loudness’ comes from typical Indian symbolic gestures like protest marches, hunger strikes, public functions, etc. It was the Congress which started such practices in India and were successful in evicting the British rulers from India. Team Anna Hazare has only chosen the time tested and most effective way of letting the common man’s voice be heard. Is there any other way?
Sadly, an attempt is being made to silence the common man’s voice. A common man’s voice for a cause, which everyone agrees, is for the benefit of the country. Where does the common man go now?
Although much is being debated about the efficacy of the other big democracy USA, one must ask some questions about the sense of freedom one enjoys in the USA vis-à-vis India. When I walk through the streets of Mumbai at 1 am, I feel free. When I walk through the streets of Manhattan at 1 am, I do not feel half as free. Even if you replace me with a local in Manhattan, it is quite possible that the Mumbai man will come off feeling ‘free-er’ than his Manhattan counterpart. This is one kind of freedom.
To understand the other type of freedom, one must read up on American writer and film-maker Michael Moore. Caucasian Michael has written books like “Stupid White Men” and “Dude – Where’s my country?.”He has made films like “Capitalism-A love story”, “Sicko”, “Fahrenheit 9/11” and others. In all his books and movies, he has always rallied for and exposed one government fault or the other. He openly questions issues of national importance, while exposing people, corporate organisatios and governments; today he is a feared man with government officials and CEOs of corrupt corporations. Although his books and films are not easily available, he is relentless in his efforts to rid the American society of its many ills. Although there has been tremendous pressure on him from several quarters to slow down, he continues in his fight. And he is alive. Can we expect this kind of freedom in India? Can any of our Indian film-makers dare to take the Michael Moore path? You know what happens to the whistle-blower in India. You know what happens to “Tehelka’ in India.
WHERE IS MY COUNTRY DUDE?
Can India’s common man walk and talk freely without the fear of getting castigated? Will that happen sometime soon? Only when that happens, can we truly call India a free country and celebrate Independence Day with fervor. Our forefathers have given their blood and sweat to give India independence….let us earn our freedom now. Give the common man his voice back! Give my country back….this is certainly not what my grandfather fought for. Where is my country dude?