By- Priyankan Goswami
In the public meeting at Guwahati protesting corruption, Anna Hazare questioned to a huge gathering Desh ka Pradhan Mantri Malik hona chahiye ki Naukar? (Should the Prime Minister be the owner or the servant of his country?) With this example, a lesson which every student learns in primary school, Anna was trying to convince rightfully that the current system does not allow the Indian rulers to act as public servants. Some would point out that he was indirectly selling the concept of the Jan Lokpal bill to have control over the Prime Minister’s office. However while citing this example, he either did not realize or ignored completely the fact that the Prime Minister or any political leader in India is actually doing the exactly the same, for in India the most corrupted ones are WE, the common man.
Corruption as a term does not just refer to the wealth looted by our leaders who we elect to loot. It also includes acts like simple selling of (and buying knowingly) adulterated milk or paying donations to get admissions into good schools or colleges. The public of our country, who are the king in a democracy is itself corrupted to the core and this has made it easier for their elected leaders to indulge in further corruption. The point however is not criticizing the public, but to raise a concern that Anna Hazare and Akhil Gogoi themselves do not deserve the hype, support and fame they are claiming and getting.
Anna Hazare spoke vigorously against corruption in the highest levels of the nation and was applauded by the public of Guwahati. But is it not the same public who also attended similar public meetings by different political leaders, who too speaks big words on different big issues? Is it not the same public that came out on the roads to protest against Akhil Gogoi’s arrest one day before assembly elections and next day went on to vote for Himanta Biswa Sharma, against whom Gogoi had revolted so immensely with charges of corruption, to give him a record win? That way, there is no difference between the public speech by a political leader and that given by Anna Hazare, since the people are the same lot who are used to speeches and taking them through one ear and throwing out of the other. The campaigns against corruption by staging meetings and giving public speeches is now just a symbolic protest, something the Indian democracy sees every day in different shapes and sizes.
Akhil Gogoi with his new found National Level Glory is now found concentrating much more on political issues than for the farmers, whom he claims to represent. Akhil Gogoi staged and leaded huge masses against the issue of mega dams in Arunachal Pradesh convincing everyone, – farmers, students, media and the common men that Come an earthquake and the dam will explode to take away thousands of lives and destroy all land and agriculture. Could he have not demanded for the dam to constructed scientifically within safety norms and added up by demanding more right on the massive power to be generated from that dam? Could he have not demanded more rights for the farmers and the common man, from the power and revenue generated from the dam (after ensuring that it is safe)?
Our very educated young generation, even those who live in Facebook did not even think for once that countries like Japan has never stopped any development plans to improve industry or power due to fear of earthquake. Today’s world has only one mantra, – to work towards a better future with the best vision and mission. However with Akhil Gogoi and his conscious as well as blind followers, the vision still remains symbolic, something similar to what AASU did during the Assam Agitation. They could shout about the problem, but when the same leadership got a chance to lead the state, they found themselves in a position where they had no idea how to solve the problem.
To add this further, Akhil Gogoi, diverting from his fights for the rights and cause of the farmers, diverting further from the issue of dams and even corruption, was at last found to be fighting only against the Congress (I). Press meets appealing not to vote for Congress (I), continuous attacks on the corruption of Himanta Biswa Sharma but ignoring equal level of corruption by leaders of opposition like Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has led many to believe that Akhil Gogoi was being used as a proxy warrior by Mahanta and AGP.
Anna Hazare has been called the new Mahatma Gandhi and he himself has proudly declared his campaign as the Second Freedom Struggle of the Nation. But is his or Akhil Gogoi’s struggle indeed that great and selfless? The concept of the Jan Lokpal Bill for which Anna or Akhil is fighting is not free from modes of failure and has a chance of becoming a Frankenstein in itself. Most importantly Jan Lokpal will form parallel governance in the country and Anna Hazare himself is the chief campaigner to be one of those members of the committee who would be able to control even the Prime Minister’s office with the new power chords in hands. Needless to say, the brightest candidate for this post in Assam would be Akhil Gogoi.
Anna Hazare and Akhil Gogoi are taking pride in calling themselves the new freedom fighters, but in reality they do not even come near the greatness of people like Irom Sharmila. Irom Sharmila has sacrificed her entire life for the basic living rights of people of northeast. Unlike Anna or Akhil, she is destined to gain nothing when she selflessly started her decade long struggle against the Indian System in her early twenties. Yet her fight is not considered a freedom struggle, nor will Anna Hazare, a former army man himself would ever have the ethics to give due respect to Irom Sharmila’s lone struggle against Indian armed forces, if not call her freedom fighter.
And to us, the common man:
- Any public meeting against corruption has no meaning for us if we continue to go those meetings in autos which do not run on meters (and we still hire them) or in buses which do not give us a ticket against the fare (and we do not ask!)
- Anti Corruption rallies means nothing to us as long as people pay huge donations to get their children admitted to good schools or in Engineering-medical colleges.
- What promise does an anti-corruption meet by national leaders (or speakers) bring to hundreds and thousands of farmers of Assam whose cultivable lands was long destroyed by floods and now lives off by the mere salary their sons earn by acting as security guards in front of offices and malls in outside states and Metros? What would Akhil Gogoi, the leaders bring them?
- It means nothing as long as school students have to pay gifts to teachers in teacher’s day or on the teacher’s birthday, not out of respect but out of hope to get a leniency when the answer sheets are checked.
The above are only a few examples of corruption that we all are involved in. There are hundreds of other examples, which we all know and consciously indulge in.
Right from adulterated baby food to paying to get into schools, vegetable salesmen to the RBI who has helped corruption a great deal at grass root level by banning the 25 paisa, corruption is let free to each and every youth of this country. The youth gets used to corruption and finally the most talented and educated of them who become high officials uses their intelligence and knowledge in corruption. The same applies for the corrupt Indian media, formed by the common men themselves. Most of the media in reality enjoys almost equal or more right as the proposed Jan Lokpal yet have been acting only as either faithful dogs or puppets of some or other corrupted political agenda.
If there has to be a drive against corruption, it has to be driven with a vision for long term. It has to be eradicated from its roots. Unfortunately people like Anna Hazare and Akhil Gogoi are fighting only the top most section of corruption, the tip of the huge ice berg formed by politicians because they are easy targets. While this stand against the tip of corruption is still appreciated, it is unfortunate that Anna or Akhil is not even trying to mobilize the public in removing the issue at the ground level. Here we should mention the efforts take by late Parag Kumar Das, who always made sure that any issue that needs to be protested against is first understood, accepted and practiced by the masses. Anna or Akhil does not even come close to what an Irom has gone through or what late Parag Kumar Das was able to do during his short stint. Yet they claim to be bringing the second freedom movement of India!
We can prevent a future official or politician becoming corrupted only if the common people itself become corruption free in the first place. Till then, Anti Corruption rallies like the one of Anna Hazare and Akhil Gogoi yesterday are just like Cricket matches; we wait for them, love them, talk about them, and feel happy when a new rising player scores sixes hoping that he is the future for the team. But finally, – we get nothing out of them for ourselves except few moments of enjoyment at the cost of time and money.
Times of Assam is not against anti-corruption cause but it has concerns over the methods and claims of Anna Hazare and Akhil Gogoi. This was earlier reported in following write ups:
Akhil Gogoi and Anna Hazare, will you dare to fast with Irom Sharmila and Anna Hazare and Jan Lokpal Bill May Fail