Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Blockbuster Lokpal, Chartbuster Hazare and Other ‘facebook’ Super Hits

Popular agitations and public protests have been largely fashioned and embroidered as a ‘get-together of groups out on the streets having a facebook birth to share in common’ regardless of the issues and matters concerned. In other words celebrating the scope of ‘social networking’ beyond the cyber space. The ‘facebook model of mass protest’ begins with Egyptians right from the much heard, most viewed and best copied ‘Tahrir Square’ , but it does not end there. It spreads across the borders. Bloggers, facebook friends, online activists, writers across the countries join together on the steps of the capital cities singing the hymn ‘power in people is much stronger than people in power’. And what happens is; perceptions become headlines and emotions and sensations, to a large extend, continue to dominate the debate. Film stars and other celebrities reach out to the public and tagging a flamboyant label on their empty luggage of public interest. Our screen heroes showing their thumps up through micro blogging sites and the entire events turn out to be a national best seller story or a youth roaring success. Further, television anchors extend the span of their shows by coming out of the studio to a rather busy coffee shop right in the middle of capital cities to have a livelier debating feast.

Among the so called protests commenced so far across the globe, starting from Egypt then Sudan, Bahrain, Libya and recently London, the India specific side of the story is the most up to date and in a sense significantly ‘hottest’ in the list. All these outrages do necessarily share something in common and that leads all of us to a robust equation of ‘connecting through chatting to meeting’. But India could have chosen a better craft of storytelling. Our great nation, the world’s largest democracy had exercised its prior general election two years back. The country; where around 70% of its estimated 1.3 billion population are less than 35 years of age and of course many of them indisputably first-time voters, appointed the new government in the office through the world’s largest free and fair democratic election process. And it was the 15th general election in our country. We the people of India are enormously au fait with democratic system and parliamentary government. Now the major cities in the country are on an emergency like situation. Despite the fact that there are effective mechanisms in our country and we are dealing with our problems, spotting the culprits and punishing the robbers in our systematic way of procedure even if not as speedy as someone would want to, we are challenging the primary principles of democracy and the basics of our constitution. And the solution is a systematic self correcting course of actions without damaging the supremacy of our parliament and pre-eminence of our constitution. Law cannot and should not be made out on the streets of Delhi or Chennai or Bangalore.

Here is a Gandhian rights activist, Anna Hazare , Few spiritual leaders including an affluent Yoga teacher, and a group of youngsters seem to have trivialised Gandhi’s well experimented and well succeeded principle of ‘sathyagraha’ by ‘demanding’ instead of ‘urging’ as Gandhiji had applied sathyagraha as an effective tool to get things done. Protesters go on ‘fast unto death’ proposing a demand to be approved contained by a specific deadline. If Gandhiji was alive he would have gone on ‘fast unto death’ against these protesters! But remembering the cliched statement that, ‘India is a land of paradoxes’ makes things quite unsurprising to an extent. We have done huge enough to Gandhiji quite early in the post independence history. He conferred his life on a long lasting struggle for freedom of our country and in return we shot him down brutally! India indeed is a land of paradox! It took us more than three score long years to have a debate on the fundamentals of the Gandhian philosophy of ‘fast unto death’. We trivialise, misuse and underestimate the message and meaning of ‘fast unto death’.

What makes Hazare’s movement lively and sensational? Is that ‘sathyagraha’? It is not the case; if it was the factor no one would have ignored ‘Irom Sharmila’. She has been on her ‘sathyagraha’ for eleven years. Then what makes Hazare a national hero? Here comes the truth of the perception v/s reality debate. Here comes theory v/s practical debate and here comes the emotion V/S action debate. Hazare is getting tremendous support from the ‘netizens’ of metropolitan cities where figures showing an unprecedented ‘diffusion of internet’ happening recently. The protesters having glamorous Bollywood stars on their side and are making politics and politicians our enimies. Pointing fingers at politicians for what is going wrong is likely to become an area of interest for media. And the Bollywood stars make the protest an issue of ‘public interest’. Now the anti corruption protest turned out to be an ‘anti constitutional’ disagreement; a disagreement on the fundamental principle of supremacy of parliament.

Fight against corruption is the only way out to ‘reconstruct’ our demolished ‘incredible India’ from being a ‘country of scam’. Corruption and corruptive elements in our system should be terminated. No questions about that. Now the scam after scam has put our system on trial. Let our elected representatives’ act on behalf of us. Let the shrine of our democracy function fairly. Let not a chosen few overact against the fundamentals of our democracy and parliamentary system. And let not politically biased activists hijack our right to protest for petty political scoring. And let not forget the primary reason for us to hug each other that “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC”.

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