Thursday, September 1, 2011


Last week was very hectic and eventful. I followed closely the Team Anna (Hazare).

He used Gandhian method of protest, Satyagraha, like no one after Gandhi himself. Anna took no food for 12 days. When I met him, he was glowing. I have known him from before. I felt that fasting did something to him. Aap logo ki urja se mai jinda huan (the energy i derive from you have kept me alive), he told me. The Parliament passed unanimous (unanimity is rare, the parliament is known for disruptions, walkouts and commotion) resolution meeting Anna's demands.

I am a witness to this special event where ordinary people did extraordinary things. Though it was a struggle against government, to enact a strong anti-graft law, people were celebrating, it was a huge carnival happening. The party lasted for 12 days, everyday it became stronger than the last.

The government played every trick in the book to attack, defame, belittle, sabotage the movement and people who were running it. They even planted a spy.

Team Anna succeeded for four reasons:

First: The movement was selfless. There was no political agenda.

Two: They were penniless but as the movement captured imagination of the people, thousands of them contributed to it. The kitchen at Ramlila Maidan was feeding 50,000 people everyday. In that sense it was truly a people's movement.

Three: they maintained absolute transparency about their dealings with the government. The dubious politicians representing government, experts in double talk, would say something behind the closed doors and make different pronouncements in the public. Arvind would go out and announce everything that was discussed with the representatives of the government--bunch of rich, English speaking arguementative lawyers who were clueless about the popular mood of the nation-- on public address system. News channels would transmit it to every household in the country. People would be outraged. The English speaking lawyers in the government----have all the reason to protect the status quo as they are its beneficiaries---would then be condemned to shitting bricks. The government was forced to give in. The managers of the government have never dealt with people who have nothing to hide.

Anna captured the popular mood of the nation, by Gandhian means, like no one else since Gandhi himself, forced government to make unprecedented concessions twice in last five months.

His popularity has taken the rest of the civil society by storm. In heated television debates now lesser players of the civil society fight an existential battle: Anna is not civil society. Civil society is not Anna.

Civil society's reaction is plethora conspiracy theories against each one of the Team Anna. One gifted writer-activist, who specializes in questioning other peoples' intent and motives by writing excellent prose sitting cozy from her posh South Delhi apartment, call this movement a “copy book World Bank agenda." If she is not part of a movement, it has to be flawed. She has never been able to capture the mood of nation like Anna did. Will never do. She is perhaps jealous. Her caustic writings are beautiful, but has lost its sting. It is more rhetorical, lack rigor, divorsed to reality. Her great need to differ from the rest of the world has made her very innovative in her writings. I wonder how much unrest she harbors to paint everyone with the same brush: you are compromised! May she get some peace of mind.

In the meantime ordinary people keep doing extraordinary things. Extraordinary people stop being ordinary.

Medha Patekar cleaning the inside enclosure.(bad picture...thanks my BlackBerry)

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