India is witnessing an uprising that has not been seen since the struggle for independence. There is a nationwide outpouring of the people, of their intolerance to corruption, an open questioning of the integrity of their leaders. Thousands have willingly joined Anna Hazare in his fast against corruption. T V channels are fixed on long queues of people streaming into the Ram Lila grounds to join Anna in his crusade.
One wonders why this issue has a nationwide consensus. After 64 years of independence, do we really enjoy freedom socially and economically? The father of our nation and his contemporaries dreamed of a nation that, in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, “has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls”. The gap between the have’s and the have not’s has never been so wide. While many in our country live in the underbelly of poverty, the upper classes evade payment of taxes and resort to shameless consumerism. They evade taxes with the assistance of policymakers, accountants and greedy government officials. Citizens of this country have been bearing this silently, quietly letting their revolt simmer within them.
Corruption has been a road block to our progress. Embezzlement, scams amounting to crores of rupees, and Wiki leaks exposing huge amounts of money stashed away in Swiss banks have burned the headlines of newspapers for months. The people are fed up and have risen in one voice.
In the 1970’s, Jayaprakash Narayan’s people movement was very similar to Anna’s but finally sidetracked into becoming the Janata Party. It would do Team Anna well to guard against evolving into yet another party but stay focussed on the need of the people for responsible, transparent and upright governance.
It is a matter of pride to watch youngsters resort to quiet and non violent protest to voice their protest and I commend Anna and his team for handling it well. The fact that the nation has risen in one voice is a ray of hope, a hope for a better tomorrow; one in which honesty and integrity shines through.