Anti Corruption Campaign Has Lost its Way

 At a time when Anna Hazare has announced to form a new team to revive the anti corruption movement, speculations are rife whether his second innings to cleanse the bane of corruption would again start with a thunder and end in a whimper or actually it may serve such genuine cause.

Catcalls are being made that it is high time that India should look beyond Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal to defeat the forces of corruption in the country.

A year ago, when Anna Hazare launched the nationwide anti corruption movement, there was a genuine support and appreciation from all quarters. Every Indian saw in it a ray of hope to get ameliorated from the ills of corruption.  

However, a year after the situation has totally changed on the ground. Even though the grouse against corruption remains a seething ember, the mass support has vanished in thin air. In such situation whether the revival of anti corruption movement by Anna Hazare would instill faith amongst the people is something that remains to be seen.

Corruption is an issue plaguing India for long. Scam after scam has become the order of the day, even foreign direct investment has slowed down due to its menace. The politician (neta) the bureaucrats (babu) the musclemen (dada) and the NGOs (johla) are all seen as symbols of corruption.  

When Anna Hazare came to the forefront to take up cudgels against corruption, his image of being a Gandhian and his method of using the Gandhian tool of protest gave him due respect. People had faith in his commitment to the cause and believed that he would usher the second freedom struggle in the country.  

However, when Anna Hazare gave the prescription that Lokpal Bill to be the ultimate tool to root out corruption, many started having reservations. The way he dictated that the Lokpal Bill should be drafted by the civil the society and it would lead to the appointment of an independent body to investigate corruption cases, peeved people closely following the developments.  

The idea of Lokpal was inspired by the Hong Kong ‘Independent Commission against Corruption’ (ICAC) of the 1970s, when the HK government created a commission with direct powers to investigate and deal with corruption cases. 

On similar lines team Anna demanded the Lok Pal to be constituted as a supra constructional body to monitor corruption cases. Its when the clash of interest between the role of the government and the civil society started surfacing and the question who may have an upper hand started emerging. People got alarmed when the civil activists started demonizing the government and it was seen as an assault on democracy. 

The anti corruption movement lost its sheen due to the use of vituperative language and sort of coercive tactics in demanding the Lok Pal. And when all and sundry jumped into Anna Hazare’s bandwagon to become overnight famous, the anti corruption movement lost its sense direction. The Gandhian social worker, in order to save his image, had to withdraw himself from the campaign for all practical purposes.

With the petering of Anna Hazare’s anti corruption movement, Arvind Kejriwal tried to step into his shoes to fill the vacuum. However, his style of playing to the gallery gave entirely a new color to the movement. The dignity associated with Anna Hazare was not evident in the antics of Arvind Kejriwal. His method of leveling corruption charges against public figures provoked animosity in the society. 

People got put off by his regular rants on the television and they questioned what stops him from adopting the due process of law. Kejriwal’s desire to be in the media glare virtually brought the anti corruption movement to the level of ridicule. He reduced the anti corruption campaign to a matter of stage shows and in the process did huge damage to the anti corruption cause.  

People started questioning the source of his funding and the lack of transparency in that further put a question mark to his anti corruption campaign. There is little doubt that Arvind Kejriwal could be singled out for derailing the anti corruption movement in India. 

Corruption as an issue continues to haunt the country and the way to tackle is back to square one. In such situation Anna Hazre’s declaration to start the second innings of anti corruption campaign and Kejrewal’s formation of political party to take up the cause, is being questioned to take the cause forward. 

There is no doubt that the pronouncements of anti corruption crusaders would be widely covered in the media. They may even succeed in building up sensation and whip up mass hysteria, but will their campaign remain de politicized and reach out to the micro level of the society is something that remains to be seen.  

The average Indian can see through the game of the politicians and social activists and they certainly could decipher the antics of these two categories of people. It’s beyond doubt that if the people are not happy with the government, they are not pleased with the performance of the civil society as well. It appears that the era of Anna Hazre and Kejriwal has past its prime and the country has to search for new messiah to defeat the forces of corruption. 

The battle against corruption has to be fought in the minds and hearts of people and has to go beyond individuals if it were to provide the intended results. The laws and legislation can never over power individual greed. Only those in the position of making money if are willing to sacrifice their personal benefits and comforts can alone serve the cause of anti corruption in India. 

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com