Showing posts with label Anna Hazare. Show all posts

Is There Anything Mitt Romney Can Learn from India's Anna Hazare Movement?


Anna Hazare has proved to be the modern Don Quixote of India. Your life is only worth as the cause you stand for and legitimate action by the government can wipe out your cause. That is what Anna Hazare movement eventually shows the world. If America's Mitt Romney has taken up any cause and is counting on it to win the election he has to make sure it won't be gone in thin air, come November.
Like any other consummate politician who he claims he isn't, Anna Hazare took on an opportunistic fight against corruption when an avalanche of perception of rampant corruption was engulfing India and its UPA government, led by the Congress party.

A year back, negative public sentiment, fanned by a series of presumptive allegations by India's CAG of loss of billions of dollars to the government due to corruption, gave Anna Hazare a cause worth giving his life for. The protest and agitation by Anna Hazare, who went on a fast for several days, forcing the Indian parliament to agree to enact a bill, caught the attention of the world by the mass following it generated.
However, a year own his attempt to rekindle the massive public support he had has fallen flat, with hardly a fraction of the masses coming forward to support his fast and forcing his gang to adapt the path of politics to achieve their goals.
So what has happened even as the proclaimed cause of removing corruption from the public life remained unresolved?
The problem was, like Don Quixote, Anna and his gang were trying to tilt his imaginary windmill of corrupt government whereas the real cause lay in the staggering inequality in education, healthcare and housing of urban population, heightened by the influx of massive amount of foreign investment in recent times.
The influx of easy foreign money has since abetted, even retracted with several billions of dollars withdrawn from the Indian stock market on account of falling confidence and global crisis. The reality of faltering growth and unemployment has dawned on the Indian urban elite making Anna's life not all that important to save at any cost.
Perhaps, more importantly, genuinely honest actions of the government and the political leadership to let law take its due course, which saw several high profile ministers and business leaders involved in corrupt practices behind the bar, had a much more sobering effect on the public sentiment as well as anyone prone for corruption.
Though this has not vastly changed the corruption faced by the people in day to day life, several high profile politicians and administrators all over India have been pulled up, giving a common feeling that, after all serious governments can do with existing laws to act against corruption.
Though a series of faux pas by Anna Hazare and his team over the year might have eroded the credibility, this general impression of positive government action may have more do with the evaporation of the mass support for Anna Hazare.
Of course there are no comparable issues in the American public life Mitt Romney can declare to undertake a fast for which will turn millions in his support. Corruption, nepotism and related evils, which get promptly punished whenever exposed, are a way of American life everyone has taken for granted. Mitt Romney's fasting is not going to change much.
However on issues like the Obamacare, which Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal, he might find the hard lesson from Anna Hazare that a cause can disappear over time, worth taking note of.
Given that the presidential aspirant of the GOP has numerous other issues like his taxes and those related to his employer to convince the American public about, this may not be important to him. But for the world who is keenly watching his steps abroad and see only faux pas whether it is with the British Olympics or his recent visit to the Middle East, a scenario of a landslide victory for President Obama, already being talked about, will be more reassuring.


Saturday, August 04, 2012
Posted by Sreedhar Pillai

Who Can Stop Anna Hazare and His Motley Fools from Taking India to Where Gandhi Left it?

Anna Hazare proclaims to be a surviving disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, the Gandhi who won independence for India from the British Empire. It is no secret that Anna Hazare can't read English and can't understand the charges he raises and his team knows very little other than Law, a subject the worst students in India can count on for a degree. For a growing community of frustrated investors and expatriate Indians, Anna Hazare team is looking more and more like a bunch of Motley Fools out to destroy India.

Not without some reason. The "poor" nation of half a billion people Gandhi bequeathed has made impressive strides and record growth even when the rest of the world was reeling under crisis after crisis. Now, along with several other distracters, the very disciple of Gandhi has succeeded to drag the country back several years to where it started from.

The Indian Rupee has touched the lowest ever exchange rate to the US Dollar, the growth has plummeted from the heady 10% India boasted about in the past decade to a 5% range India was stuck with for ages and most of the foreign investment which brought in the growth and prosperity has all but withdrawn.
It is hardly surprising that the investor confidence has taken a flight from a country whose Prime Minister and 15 of his ministers have been accused of corruption without any basis by the Anna Hazare team, crippling any decision making power left with a government held together with finicky regional parties. More disgustingly, it has brought a world renowned economist to offer his resignation as the prime minister of the country. This is a more serious issue affecting not just India but global economy, given the globalisation which render growth in any part of the world vital for the rest of us as well.
The latest accusations of corruption is based on a report the CAG of India has produced which claims loss of astronomical sums to the government by allocation of coal fields to private companies. What the CAG hasn't taken in to account is that the coal the government offered to reluctant and risk-averse entrepreneurs to excavate was worth the mud it was covered with, without the massive inflow of foreign investment. It is different matter that in a fast developing India coal has become a scare and costly commodity. If the ruling government took a view and acted upon it in the interest of developing the Industry, it becomes corrupt act only in the lopsided logic of Indian accountants. What if the companies didn't find any useful coal when they had excavated?

In effect, there was no governance in India for the last 3-4 years because Anna Hazare and several insane politicians refused to let the government or the parliament function. More than Anna Hazare, the people who have ganged up around him, in the name of fighting corruption, must be made answerable for this plight.

Unfortunately it doesn't look like the Anna team can understand that the deliverance of a billion poor citizens of India from poverty will only happen from sustained economic growth. But this motley crowd who use his popularity to stir up emotions and obstruct all efforts of a hard working and well meaning government, by casting aspersions and raising baseless allegations, eroding investor confidence, must surely share the responsibility for the downfall of India

Article first published as Who Can Stop Anna Hazare and His Motley Fools from Taking India to Where Gandhi Left it? on Technorati.

Will Someone Spare Anna Hazare a Copy of “Don Quixote” by Cervantes?



Anna Hazare is playing ‘Don Quixote’ again without reading the novel. If he will care to read, perhaps he will realise the futility of his own actions in his old age.

“Many critics came to view the work as a tragedy in which Don Quixote's innate idealism and nobility are viewed by the world as insane, and are defeated and rendered useless by common reality”

There is none so blind as those who won’t see and Anna Hazare and his team won’t see that their game of “Don Quixote” is not fair on 1.3 billion Indians!

There are striking resemblances. For a starter like Alonso Quijano who adapts the name Don Quixote, Anna who is 74, must have been reading too many books on chivalry (certainly not “Don Quixote”) while all that corruption was going on under his nose for all these years. It is not clear though what has woken him up to the ‘menace’ of corruption he must save his country from, even if he has to give up his life for that!

Arvind Kejriwal, who acts as if he has been secretly offered and aspire to the post of Lokpal of India, fits very well in to the role of the illiterate and gullible Sancho Panza, the squire of Don Quixote, who was offered the post of the governor.

Kiran Bedi, the frustrated and very first woman police officer of the prestigious IPS cadre of India, fits in very well as Antonia, the niece of Don Quixote and Prasanth Bushan, the leading lawyer, as the village curate, both acting in advisory roles to Don Quixote.

There are of course several minor characters, Rocinante the skinny horse of Don Quixote and Rucio, the donkey of Sancho Panza included, in the team of Anna Hazare.

Like Don Quixote, Anna and his team, in their wild dreams pick on anything they can which don’t retaliate, to blame for the epidemic of corruption in India while the real causes and reasons lie elsewhere and beyond the combined intelligence of the whole team.

The very notion that corruption is the biggest problem the nation is facing and getting rid of it must be the priority and there is only one way by entrusting a super cop who has the life and death power over 1.3 billion people to do it, all ideas propped up by Anna Hazare and his team, show how close Anna’s hallucinations are to those of Don Quixote.

For one thing, ‘corruption’ is in the vein of Asian culture which is based on spirituality and in pleasing gods by offerings to get along in life. It is in the blood of Indians. An honestly conducted survey among 1.3 billion Indians to find someone who has never been part of a corrupt act in life is likely to draw a blank. But then again honesty is not easy to find.

In fact corruption in India has numerous manifestations. Bribery rampant among public servants, capitation fees in education, baksheesh for services, horse trading in politics, and favouritism in government, only to name a few, each with its own causes and remedies if any.

Many of these are natural and unavoidable in a vast nation like India, which remained a closed economy insulated from the rest of the world till the nineties when near national bankruptcy forced the government to open the country’s economy to influx of foreign investment.

In reality, while the bribes were considered an ‘acceptable means’ to make up for the measly income in the public sector, the recent surge of foreign funds has aggravated the problems in urban life, exploding the difference between  the haves and have-nots.  This is different from the commercialisation of education, medical and other services. The corporate corruption involving the government is of different nature as well.

In effect, all these can be contained by a Lokpal is not logical. The recent actions by the supreme court sending central ministers to Jail also prove that nothing more than the existing system is required if the government and everyone empowered is willing to act conscientiously without interference or intimidation.

What then is the justification of blaming and picking on a ‘minority’ coalition government, which has tried to give the cleanest governance India has ever seen, for the windmill Don Quixote was trying to tilt?

Kejrival’s naming of 14 ministers, based on mere media reports, as corrupt and Anna Harare’s demand that they be sent to jail by August smacks of accusation, trial and punishment all by mere imagination and shows the dangers of an all powerful Lokpal which cannot be acceptable in any democracy.

It is interesting that the ‘real’ politicians who have managed to sabotage the Lokpal bill like Mamta Banerjee or strong men like Mulayam Singh Yadav whose newly elected government has appointed members with criminal background has not been challenged by the new Don Quixote of Indian politics.

Anyone who has listened to Anna Harare’s recent speech also can’t miss the lack of sound reasoning and racist overtones of his backers with a political agenda.

Like Don Quixote, Anna always chooses a nice sunny weekend for his pursuits. It is not surprising that young girls who like the fragrance of the candles looking for a chance to light some are always out to watch and applause the escapades. But it looks like Mumbaikars are busy running their lives and have no time for such madness!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Posted by Sreedhar Pillai

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