Monday, August 15, 2011

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.