Anna Hazare and the Lokpal movement- everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject, however ill informed and shallow it might be. A lot of young guns have deemed it trendy to deride the man as a crazy-loon, hell bent on usurping the sobriquet of Gandhi. Tired of the 24*7 media coverage and endless debates on Hazare, many of us have spaced out and moved on to ‘hotter’ news. We are an apolitical generation, with a deep-rooted sense of cynicism embedded in our very core. The idea of a social revolution is antipathy to us, something of a joke that the naive and idealistic take solace in. For the street smart, 20-something, know-it-all of today change is a textbook concept that is impractical when applied to society.
At the very onset, I want to confess that I don’t have a clear position on Hazare and the storm he has kicked up. Undoubtedly, the issue he has decided to champion is extremely relevant to the nation state and immediate course correction is need of the hour. But many argue that his methods amount to blackmail and these regular fasts unto death will have a domino effect on copy cat organizations with less noble causes across the country. This is a genuine worry that can not be completely ignored. Should we allow such ambiguity on the means to overshadow a vital end and if not, then are we willing to accept hooliganism from certain quarters as collateral damage. These are questions that pose an ideological challenge to intellectuals from different spheres.
My point of contention is not that such ambiguity exists and we are confused. Rather, I am a tad bit disgusted with certain smugness that I see in a lot of my friends who are quick to dismiss the whole movement as a mere publicity gimmick. Have we forgotten that there is strength in numbers. A lone man is able to attract such huge crowds for a sustained period of time, and he is dismissed as a freak. There is something amiss in the maths there. I would have loved for these skeptics to engage in a systematic debate, arguing on the merits and de-merits of Anna’s strategy. It would have been a fruitful exercise, where a corruption free society was the final destination and the citizenry could discuss what the best path to get there is. Unfortunately, many of us dismiss the final destination itself, terming it a utopian construct that can not be realized.