Doubting Thomas

OK, I have to write this post because things are getting out of hand here at IITB. I thought I could ignore the issue of Anna Hazare and IAC (India Against Corruption) but I feel I can no longer do so. This might be because I have been forced to switch off my lights, thereby taking away some precious hours of my study-time.

For those not really following the issue closely, Anna Hazare is a 74-year old social activist who, in his fight against corruption in India, has decided to fast unto death starting from 16th August, 2011. To support him, some individuals of IITB have decided to show their support and have convinced all hostel councils into observing a blackout on 15th of August from 8 PM to 9 PM.

Being a member of my hostel council, I am expected to force others to observe the blackout and gather for a rally and listen to some rabble rousing speech and act like a nice, proper rabble by getting roused by the same. A lot of people asked me, am I supporting Anna Hazare in his drive against corruption?

I feel that there are two separate questions here and both need to be understood in the right context. First question is, do I support Anna Hazare? Second question is, do I support the drive that will supposedly end corruption in India?

As to the first, let's try to see the big picture. This is a 74-year old man, with supposedly no political ambitions and nothing to gain. And he is fighting for people the age of his hypothetical grandchildren. This image is enough for anyone in India to have a soft corner for Anna Hazare. And one billion plus such soft corners is what is troubling New Delhi the most.

The second question, however, is tricky. Ending corruption has been the dream of the Utopian idealist since time immemorial. But is that possible? I mean, why do people find it so difficult to accept that corruption is not going to go away with some kind of regulatory body? Corruption, in my rather insignificant opinion, if I may so add, is a natural phenomenon. It is basic human nature to be corrupt, just as it is to have sexual urges or jealousy. Tweaking or making some laws is not going to change that. When a person is given a bottle of champagne and is asked to drink only fifty milliliters from it, is he going to stop at 50 ml? The moment he sips the 51st ml, that is corruption. This is the true nature of corruption: the bastard child of need and ambition. Yes, too much corruption is harmful, but too much focus on removing corruption might distract us from more pressing problems elsewhere.

Of course, there is also the point of what these students are trying to achieve against corruption by switching off lights, shouting slogans for the better part of an hour and then ending up at the nearest pub on a Monday night. But that's a whole different story. Yes, I know I'm a despicable heretic.


  1. Well quite right dude. I would like to see a less corrupt India for sure, but I dont think having a Lokpal who is the be all and end all is the right thing to do. Who will guard the guardian? Some of the requirements raised by Team Anna are plain stupid. And right now they have turned this into an emotional divide, either you support Anna or you support corruption. There is no middle ground for the supporters.

    While I am not very impressed with Anna, I have deep respect for ppl in his entourage, particularly James Micheal Lyndoh. He is one man I could blindly believe, in fact if there was anyone capable of being the Lokpal, it would be him. And yet, I will not blindly believe him. I will not give him the power over and above the judiciary and play jury, judge and executioner all at the same time.

    However, I think Anna's shenanigans will give more saner people like Lyndoh, Bedi and Kejriwal to settle on a middle ground with the govt and come up with a proper Lokpal bill. In fact, if I were in the shoes of any of the above 3 ppl, I would use Anna as a offensive technique to build pressure and gain a upper hand in the negotiation. Its a standard negotiation technique.

    Also we cannot ignore the fact that at the moment Anna has put the govt in a fire fighting mode when it should be working towards keeping the economy in a stable growth path considering that things can get worse in the developed world.

  2. exactly. lyndoh might be an answer but in india, the issue is always about those after lyndoh. very frankly, i see this degenerating into another regulatory body with just the same vices as all others.


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