Anna Hazare arrested - Game of Politics and Corruption - 16 Aug 11

Yesterday India celebrated its 64th Independence Day. Maybe you remember that I wrote about Anna Hazare some months ago, the man who went on hunger strike against corruption. I wrote about him in a diary entry in April. His fast was over after a couple of days and in that time the news was that the government agreed to his demands. Now he said to Indian Media that the government has cheated the public and instead of creating a strong law against corruption, they have only proposed a weak alternative which could not really have any effect on India’s corruption. This is how he announced that he would start another ‘fast unto death’ on 16th August, the day after India’s Independence Day. He called it the ‘Second War of Freedom’, a fight to free India from corruption. Just as India had come together to fight the ‘War of Freedom’ against the British he now invites people to come together and fight corruption.

Obviously the government asked him not to do this hunger strike. They made many restrictions and did not give him the permission for his campaign, for the public place he wanted to use and for the amount of people who would gather there. They told they would arrest him if he tried nevertheless. This is what happened this morning. The police arrested him, his team and many people more who had come to support him. Before and after his arrest he gave a message to media inviting Indians all over the country to come together for this cause and to fill the prisons all over India. He will continue his fast in jail.

This time it does not seem as if Anna Hazare has as much support as he had earlier this year when he started his first fast. It could have been better if he had not agreed with the government in that time but they were clever and knew how to handle this kind of campaign against the government. I have read many articles and opinions of people who are against him and his campaign. The authors are partly supporters of the government and partly have their independent ideas to the topic. They say that making a law and passing a bill is the work of parliament and not of the civil society, the general public. Hazare should understand that this is the system and that is how it should go. Their second argument is that he blackmails the government into doing something. He tells them he would just stop eating and die if they don’t do what he wants. Is that the right way? They suggest he should give his advice to the politicians who are in charge of creating and passing this law. Hazare demands that the judiciary system should also be controlled by a body, called Lokpal, to make sure there is no corruption in the courts. Opposing parties say that this demand is against the constitution because the judiciary has to be independent and cannot be controlled. The Prime Minister, too, should be controlled by this law, say Hazare and his followers. Obviously the government does not agree to this point.

The big problem is that nobody in the government actually has a big wish to create a strong law against corruption. Not the governing and not the opposition party. It is only logical. If this law came into existence, many of them would be on trial and would probably go to jail. Why would they want to pass a strong bill against themselves? Even the opposition party, who now reproaches the government for arresting Hazare, is not keen on passing the law. They have to criticize the government but they are not in a rush to support the anti-corruption law Hazare wants. There is so much corruption that nobody would want to pass such a law.

There is even corruption in judiciary and people know this, too. I agree that it could be difficult to put all institutions and politicians under this one law because the courts should be independent. There is a lot of corruption, though, and this means they have to find another way to control this problem. There are dishonest judges who take money for their decisions. If not in this law, there has to be another one that controls corruption there!

Just as they want to keep the judiciary free of this law, they don’t want the Prime Minister to have to answer to this law. In my opinion this is not the focus of the normal people. A middle class man does not walk to the Prime Minister and give him some rupees as a bribe. Their problem is the daily corruption with smaller clerks on a lower level. They have to give money in every office that they go to just to get what they are entitled to. This is the level where a change has to happen! And if the corruption can stop at that level, why would you not ask the Prime Minister to answer to this law, too? If he is not corrupt, why would he be afraid that he could be included?

I did not like it when I heard they accuse Hazare of ‘blackmailing’. If you say that a hunger strike is blackmail, you believe Mahatma Gandhi was a blackmailer, too. Blackmailers want something for their own benefit. What does he want? He wants to pass a law against corruption for a better situation in whole India. What he is doing is not for himself but for his country. I understand the criticism though: if another group of people came, maybe with fundamentalist ideas, saying they will all die if the government does not agree on what they want, what should the government do? If this starts a trend and people demand to separate parts of the country of different religions, the country will be in big trouble. I still believe however that even if this path is not the best, his issue is a very just one and one that is worth supporting.

For me it is not the person or his organization that is important but the issue that he is fighting for. We know how much corruption is in India. We see daily how dishonest politicians can be and can only imagine how much money of India really gets lost through corruption. Several former ministers and current Members of Parliament are in jail at present and 150 further Members of Parliament are facing criminal charges. They are dishonest and everybody knows about it!

I see the government has some good objections to what Hazare demands. I see, too, that simply arresting a man who tries to raise his voice is not a good solution. I don’t oppose the government and I also don’t say everybody who opposes Anna Hazare is wrong. They all have some justified ideas and a logic behind their opinion. I don’t oppose Anna Hazare either, though. I don’t have any political ambitions and wishes. The only thing that I want to support is the fight against the big issue of corruption in India and I support anybody who has the wish to end corruption. It has to stop. For this cause I want to ask everybody to come together with the wish to stop corruption. It is for our country and we have to leave the ego and thought of our own pockets. Think of all those people who are hungry and dying and think how much help we could give them if not everybody thought of himself. What a difference it would make in the every day’s life of every Indian citizen! Something has to happen. Stop corruption and think of our country.

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. dita

    Dear Swami Ji,this is a very important subject, however the wish to create the law is only part of a greater picture. First of all lets question how the political parties are finansed.
    Is it true (what I recently read in our media) that parts of India have fully banned alcohol, which garanties monopol of the ruling elite in illegal alcohol import and trade? This law is publicly nicely argumented with obedience to hinduistic religion, however in reality does not work how intended.
    I suggest to educate the people if they ever use illegal alcohol and offer bribes they support corruption.

  2. Klaus

    I see your points there, Swami Ji, and I heard that the government brought itself in a difficult situation by arresting him. I also understand however that they don’t want to be blackmailed. See it as it is: if you don’t do what I want, I will hunger until I die. We all know why the government gets afraid: he has such a big following that it would be a public uproar if they really let him die in this way. If everybody comes and does that, it will be a great problem.But of course, it is the cause, the aim that justifies the means here and also in Gandhi’s case. It is an absolutely right demand and the government knows it. This is how I believe it is only a matter of time until they yield and pass a stronger law!

  3. Stefan F. Schmid

    Your blog entry reminds me once more how lucky and privileged I am to live in Germany! However many who live here seem not to be aware of this privilege … and I sometimes also forget.

  4. Ashvini Kumar Saxena

    Great read Swami Ji. Even if we do not agree with Anna we can support his cause .

  5. Emily

    I think it is a great idea that people come together to fight this corruption, no matter what religion or political party you belong to. While the ruling class might want to fight this anti-corruption law because they are corrupt, it is the masses of people in all of India who are fighting for this revolution. If people can put their differences aside (religion, caste, politics) then the uniting force will be much stronger. I hope that this resolves soon so that corruption can end in India.

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