Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How Gandhiji would have viewed Anna Hazare Anti-Corruption Movement? by Habib Zafar, NALSAR

“Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today”                                                                                   

                                                                                                                               -Mahatma Gandhi.

Corruption affects the entire society at all levels and in all sectors. It is also of the most obvious concern of society and a theme of everyday discussion and debate. Apart from the moral and ethical mission to tone up the moral level of the entire society, the administrative reform is also an integral part of the overall strategy against corruption for simplification of procedure accountability and openness. In Huntington words, “Corruption is behavior of public officials which deviates from accepted norms in order to serve private ends. The character of corruption in India has not changed over time, though its magnitude certainly has. Conventional wisdom might suggest that the corruption that plagues India today is a vestige of the widespread corruption of the state-centered economy, which preceded the liberalizing reforms of 1991. Yet many of the worst cases of corruption in recent years were borne out of deregulation, privatization, and the fostering of public-private partnerships—the very processes that were meant to reduce the discretionary powers of public officials. An example is the notorious “2G spectrum scam,” in which cellphone licenses were sold for a fraction of their value, resulting in the loss of a staggering $39 billion to the national exchequer. Corruption in politics has become a plague across our country, it is draining our resources and demoralizing our nation.

Anna Hazare, is the man of initial protester- an anti-corruption crusader who is determined to establish the Jan Lokpal Bill that can bring in a strong anti-corruption law in India. In today’s generation, most of us have not seen Mahatma Gandhi and his way of fighting against the English. However, Anna Hazare has provided us a glimpse of the ‘Freedom Struggle’ His actions was reminding the shadow of Mahatma Gandhi. The question arises here: does nonviolence serve as mighty tool in the 21st century as well? & how Mahatma Gandhi would have viewed this movement?

Anna Hazare struggle against corruption was a gentle reminder of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha. His fast-unto death, has shown the world what Gandhism means in today’s world. The power of Gandhiji’s nonviolence will never cease to exist in the ages to come. While in Libya and Yemen there is bloodshed for freedom, where people are waging war against one another during the crisis, here in India, a respected social activist Anna Hazare is waging a peaceful, nonviolent war against corruption. His urge to free India of the greatest evil, corruption, commends appreciation. This fight against corruption staged at Jantar Mantar was not a one- man show. People from different parts of the country gave their support to Anna Hazare. The greatest merit of this nonviolent struggle was that no political party was involved in it. Anna Hazare and his supporters were not influenced by any political party. There was only one flag waving high in the sky and in our minds, the Indian National Flag. IT IS evident from his interviews and speeches that Hazare views corruption as the result of unchecked human greed. There is no further analysis. Gandhi too stressed the importance of personal ethics: “Be the change you want to see in the world” is one of his best-remembered axioms. But Gandhi’s understanding of why humans err was more profound, his diagnosis more structural. For Gandhi, personal greed had a wider social context, and was also rooted in the unethical choices and practices of the state. . Gandhi would surely condemn India’s bitter scourge of corruption were he alive today. Unlike Hazare, however, he would demand a more systemic answer to a more preliminary question: How did this come to pass?

Hazare and his supporters have been silent on a range of recent developments—such as illegal mining and the land acquisition process for SEZs (special economic zones)—in which corruption hurts poor farmers, fisher folk, and indigenous communities rather than well-heeled city-dwellers. Reckless and rapacious economic transformations have proceeded unchecked, even as Hazare has prayed, fasted, and stressed the importance of vegetarianism and tee totaling. Gandhi would surely have been critical of such unwillingness to connect personal ideals of moral living with a broader vision of social and environmental justice. While Gandhi curried favor with wealthy business elites—a strategy that earned him enduring opprobrium from India’s Communist Left—his primary base of support was always the rural poor, in whose service he advocated a smaller-scale and more ecologically conscious road to “development” than the one India ultimately adopted. Hazare, in contrast, has yet to formulate a position that challenges the neoliberal objectives and ill-founded nationalism of his financiers and followers. An anti-corruption route more in keeping with Gandhian principles is that of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI).

This lime Unlike Gandhi, Hazare is not a deep thinker. Nor is he an educated man. More worrying, he seems to lack the Mahatma’s sense of compassion and good judgment. Hazare’s critics say that he has a soldier’s view of corruption rather than that of the spiritual leader he claims to be but these lines of Gandhi is enough to guide anyone:

"A small body of determined spirit, fired by an unquenchable faith
in their mission can alter the course of History."

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