Swimming with the sharks
You have probably heard by now that the publicly celebrated “Team Anna” has officially split. This means Arvind Kejriwal and Anna Hazare go their separate ways. The former will be forming a political party with the intention of contesting elections. Mr. Hazare, who 18 months ago became a national icon of sorts, will continue to, well, do whatever it is he does.
This shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. It was public knowledge that there was a schism within the ranks of Team Anna for quite some time. Mr. Hazare has always maintained that he wants absolutely nothing to do with the political system. Mr. Kejriwal, the man most people hold responsible for Team Anna’s success in the first place, has taken a more, shall we say, realistic approach. The time is ripe then, for me to confess that which I have refrained from admitting to in public until now.
I never really supported Anna Hazare. And once you are done chucking rotten produce in my direction, I shall explain why.
Let me make one thing crystal clear: my respect for the man is absolute. Anna Hazare IS an icon. If for no other reason than the fact that he did something many (including me) talk about but few have the courage to actually DO.
Taking a stand.
So yes, I admire the man. It’s his methods that concern me. The fact that Mr. Hazare’s “solution” involves the creation of a body that is for all practical purposes, extra constitutional? That terrifies me. Think on what that truly implies. It basically comes down to stating and indeed, accepting this:
The entire system is so broken, it is beyond salvage.
As I said, please consider what that means for a moment. The creation of a body that is not limited by the constitution. A body beholden to no one. Well, except the people. At least, that’s the theory. The German’s had one like that in the 1930’s. They called it the Gestapo.
Hell of a theory.
To clarify, I’m not saying Anna is a closet Nazi. The point is it sets a precedent that is both stupid and dangerous to ignore. If the Lokpal bill were to become law (in its original form), we are basically saying that the constitution is no longer relevant. Well if that’s the case, what we are looking at is the uprooting of the very foundations that any democracy stands on. The entire political machinery is beyond repair and any appreciable change can only come from without not within. It puts us on a very perilous path and one that doesn’t guarantee we will be any better off.
In other words, we are signaling for a revolution. Sure, that may sound appealing. Romantic even. The reality of course if quite different. Revolutions are bloody affairs. They are horribly messy and include at least brief periods of anarchy. India has precious little in terms of a professional police force or indeed any internal security structure to speak of (not including the army). Even after the disastrous and embarrassing events of 2008s Bombay attacks this country’s idea of “crisis management” boils down to holding meetings between people that can barely spell the phrase. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so goddamn scary.
Can you imagine what a prolonged period of lawlessness would look like in this place? A population of 1.2 billion pissed off people with NOTHING to give them pause. Sorry folks, but when that dam breaks, it becomes every man for himself. Any ideas of nationalism and comradeship are quickly forgotten on an empty stomach. When the wolves are at our door, waving the tricolor isn’t going to be high on the list of priorities. I’ve been a refugee once. I’ve seen firsthand how perfectly “nice” people turn on each other when the situation becomes desperate. I sure as hell don’t want to live though that nightmare again.
Anna Hazare believes holding the government to ransom by starving himself is actually going to work. Or holding a meeting with a commercial yogi furthers his cause in some way. To me these are signs of a man who knows what he wants but has no real idea of how to get it. He hates the game so he doesn’t want to play. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really have a choice. Sorry, but this country needs more than just a shiny icon. I hate admitting it, but change has to come from within. Not because we want it to but because it NEEDS to. The alternative is just too horrifying.
Now let’s look at what Mr. Kejriwal proposes. The establishment of a political entity. In other words, changing the system from within. Is it less appealing? Sure. Will it be slow? Painfully so. The chances of success? Not very promising (at least at the start).
But it’s a heck of a lot safer. And saner.
In my personal opinion, Mr. Kejriwal understands exactly what he’s getting into. He realizes that sometimes you need to swim with the sharks. Keep your enemies close. Wrestle in the mud. Get your hands dirty to clean up the filth. The trick is to not come out of the pit becoming the very thing you tried to kill.
And just for the record, we would be fools to blindly put our faith in one man. We’ve been burned by that all too many times. Needless to say, we should be watching him like a billion hawks.
Over the next few months, the establishment is going to try its level best to break him down. They will threaten him (they have done this before). They will sully his name. They will they try to win him over. If all that fails and he becomes a serious threat, they will try to eliminate him. Either with a cheque or a bullet.
I don’t envy the man’s choices.
And here’s where you and I come in. Let’s stop kidding ourselves by thinking we are changing anything by watching an episode of “Satyamev Jayate”. Let’s get pissed about something other than which team won the T-freaking-20.
The next time the opportunity presents itself, let us use the only real weapon we have been left with, broken as it may be.