Friday, 30 December 2011

The Year of the Protester

       For as long as I can remember, people around me have always been disillusioned with the state of Indian polity. Corruption was/is accepted as a part of dealing with any kind of bureaucracy. The words honest politician were are regarded oxymoronic. As one of my friends remarked, India develops in spite of her government not because of her government. As a nation, we are notoriously disinclined towards participation in any sort of political movement. We have convinced ourselves that this is as good as it gets. We accept rise in the prices of commodities, encroachment on the freedom of the press, billion dollar scams, corruption and scandals with equanimity, - no worse - with indifference.

       Time Magazine named "The Protester", person of the year for 2011. All over the world, people from all walks of life took to the streets in protest against a host of issues. People across the Arab nations stood united against oppressive regimes in their countries. People in Greece, Spain and other European countries revolted against the high unemployment rates and the inability of their respective governments to do anything about it. People in the US protested against inequitable wealth distribution, the huge gap between the incomes of the richest 1% and the rest with their Occupy Wall Street movement.

     In India, Indians of all demographics, all social and economic strata joined forces to support the fight against corruption spearheaded by the Gandhian, Anna Hazare.What makes the Anna Hazare movement special is that it has galvanised Indians to let go of their apathy and become actively involved in the process of political change. The aim of this movement is to push for the establishment of a central Lokpal and Lokayukthas in each state, constitutional bodies independent of parliamentary control which would investigate and judge cases of corruption.

     The fast unto death undertaken by Anna Hazare came to an end with the Government acceding to the terms set by him. A Jan Lokpal Bill has been introduced in the Parliament but is being delayed by the members of the Parliament seeking to water down the provisions of the Bill. They are now trying to make the caste based Reservation system factor in to the appointment process of the members of Lokpal. A genuine debate to fine tune the Bill is welcome but the whole process reeks of an attempt to put the Bill on the back burner and delay it indefinitely. Unfortunately, it is working. Already, the interest is dwindling and the movement is losing momentum.

      I urge everyone reading this to tap into the sense of outrage you feel when you have to pay a bribe. I want you to express the indignation you feel when you read the headlines about another billion dollar scam. I want you to take offense at the unapologetic plunder of our nation's resources. I want you to stand up and support the fight against corruption.  Don t let the Jan Lokpal bill be a casualty of our indifference. Do not sacrifice the future of our country to our short attention span. We have a small window of opportunity, one that is rapidly closing, to ensure the start of a political cleansing. 

      2011 was the year of the protester. It was the year in which the self immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a humble Tunisian grocer, incited the people of his country to overthrow an oppressive regime and earned Tunisia the title of Arab Gdansk. The fires of Tunisia spread to Tahrir Square in Egypt and then to Libya. 2011 was the year we Indians, finally let go of our reticence and made our discontent known.

     I fervently hope History does not remember 2012 as a missed opportunity. 

1 comment:

  1. I like your light hearted and humorous posts. But when I read your articles about politics like the one about reservation and this one i really feel what you are feeling. you write best when you write about serious issues.