Anti-Corruption Drive: Already De-railed

Even before the so-called anti-corruption movement has actually begun, questions are being raised over credentials of some members supposedly seriously involved in the same. And this raises the question, should this phase be genuinely considered as a movement? India has of course been witness to many movements, the most outstanding of which was the freedom movement. Among others, history stands witness to movements calling for greater rights for women, against discrimination spread by caste-n-class system and that of secularism against communalism. While the freedom movement’s success was marked by independence by India, though the others have certainly achieved success, it would be wrong to assume that they have all reached the desired peak. This is despite the fact that they have continued for decades, spreading over centuries.

Certainly, this indicates that even if numerous voices are raised over one issue, over a span of few days, weeks, months or even years, it would be wrong to instantly label the same as a part of some movement. Be it one or several demonstrations, gatherings, going on hunger strike for a few days, holding protest marches and other similar exercises, their prevalence for a brief phase does not justify the same being labelled as a movement.  

Yes, the mistake often made in using the label of a movement for such exercises is silently accepted as soon as the bubbles raised for a brief phase burst.

At this point, one may draw attention to hype raised about so-called Hindutva-movement, targeting Muslims and other minorities with the aim of transforming secular India into a Hindu state. Demolition of Babari Masjid, riots during the demolition-phase, the Gujarat-carnage and also the political prominence gained by Bharatiya Janata Party are certainly reflective of communal activities engaged in by promoters of Hindutva-”movement.” Yet, the participants in these activities were at no point representative of the entire Hindu community. Nor did they ever receive total and absolute support from all members of the Hindu community. In fact, from the very beginning, these communal exercises have received strong opposition from a large number of Hindus. The last point in itself raises questions about usage of the label- Hindutva. This also increases doubts about the promoters and participants of these exercises having labelled their activities as a movement. What a few decide and act upon, without being totally representative of the community they claim to represent, cannot be defined as a movement. It is well-known, the “movement-bubble” burst when the same promoters had to put their own “Hindutva” agenda on the backburner for the sake of political power. The façade raised over the same has been blatantly exposed in recent past with their associates being held responsible for terrorist-operations, for which several Muslims had earlier been charged. These points also suggest, howsoever much noise is made or even communal violence is provoked, lack of strong foundation and grass-root support built over a long period of time is bound to lead to collapse of the same, even if utmost energy is used for labelling them as movements and gaining active support of a select few.

A similar mistake is exercised in grouping terrorist incidents taking place in different places for varying reasons as symbols of Islamic movement. Even if Muslims are genuinely held as responsible for several terrorist incidents, with each being provoked for different reasons, which may have little to do with their religious identity, certainly they cannot be held as symbols of any Islamic or even Muslim movement. Ironically, wrong usage of label- as a movement- for such activities, whether hunger strikes, communal violence, demonstrations or even terrorist incidents, only adds to the hype needed by participants for promoting their agenda and also gaining publicity.

Coming back to hype raised about anti-corruption “movement” with Anna Hazare at the helm, even before a debate has been actively indulged in on whether it should be called a movement or not, it appears to have already gone off-track. This is marked by “smear-campaigns” being indulged in over credentials of several crusaders of this so-called movement. Besides, with each passing day, greater noise is being made over the manner in which participants off and on-stage indulged in building public opinion about their stand against corruption. They are alleged to have also been engaged in using the opportunity to spread some “literature” against minorities. Now, in addition to Hazare having praised Narendra Modi, criticism of this “movement” being “sponsored” and “supported” by associates of saffron brigade, more dust is being raised over its negative points.

Without doubt, the country needs a strong movement against corruption. This, however, does not justify labelling of any opportunistic or even genuinely motivated exercise as a movement. A few-days hunger-strike, demonstrations, formation of a committee and some smear campaigns are hardly sufficient for any anti-corruption drive to be labeled as a movement. Not surprisingly, the Hazare-drive has gone off-track even before it has built up the necessary base and support to be called a “movement!”  

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2011 on page no. 14

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