By Umar Waqar
"On August 17, 2011, the Times of India headline flashed, Anna Hazare arrest: A million mutinies erupt across India. One of the bloggers under the news story exclaimed: India is now in a silent revolution after independence under the leadership of Gandhian Anna Hazare to implement a strong Lokpal Bill to eradicate corruption from the Indian society. It is the need of the hour!
From Guardian in London to Times of India in New Delhi, and from the cyber world of YouTube and Facebook to the streets of Allahabad and Bangalore, Anna Hazare has earned a reputation of a strong figure, whose struggle against corruption has been acclaimed within India and abroad.
According to the Guardian, Anna Hazare, whose real name is Kisan Baburao, is a former soldier with a long history of campaigning. He is an old-style Indian social activist - evidenced by his spotless white clothes, the white cap, or topi, popularised by activists, including Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi, and the pen in his top pocket as a marker of literacy. Hazare`s vision of India is both deeply conservative and reforming. A strictly teetotal Hindu, he has banned tobacco, meat, and cable TV from the village where he lives, and has campaigned against caste prejudice. Hazare also played a part in setting up India`s revolutionary right to information laws. He does not have a mobile phone. Earlier this year, his topi briefly became a sartorial icon with supporters wearing similar caps bearing the slogan `I am Anna Hazare` in English and Hindi. He is popular among the middle classes, the liberal elite, and in the bigger cities.
His message is simple and unambiguous: For too long the people of India have lived under artificially created poverty, corruption is gnawing at the roots of the Indian Union, and cannot be allowed to persist any further, and the time has come for the people to come out and hold Hazare`s old hands and lead India out of the morass of corruption. But how deep corruption is in the Indian polity and public life is anybody`s guess!
It is estimated that the Indian black money stashed in foreign banks could be a staggering 1.5 trillion dollars. According to Wikipedia, India tops the list for black money in the entire world with almost $1,456 billion in Swiss banks in the form of black money. According to the data provided by the Swiss Banking Association Report (2006), India has more black money than the rest of the world combined. To put things in perspective, the Indian-owned Swiss bank account assets are worth 13 times the country`s national debt. Independent reports published through 1991 to 2011, calculated the financial net worth of its most powerful and traditionally ruling family (the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty) to be anywhere between $9.41 billion and $18.66 billion, most of it in the form of illegal monies. Yevgenia Albats, Russian investigative journalist and a Harvard scholar, cited KGB Chief Viktor Mikhailovich Chebrikov about the payments to Rajiv Gandhi and his family that had been arranged by him, which shows that he (Chebrikov) sought in writing an `authorisation to make payments in US dollars to the family members of Rajiv Gandhi, namely Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Paola Maino, mother of Sonia Gandhi` from the CPSU in December 1985.
Recent discoveries of corruption in Dr Manmohan Singh`s (read Sonia Gandhi) UPA government were blasted by the media. The Hindu supporting the stance of CPI(M) ran the story on June 13 this year as, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Sunday hit out at the United Progressive Alliance government, saying it lacked credibility to fight corruption. The party advocated inclusion of the Prime Minister in the Lokpal legislation.
Why has the leftist India, including the Naxals, CPI(M), members of the civil society (lawyers, students, teachers, factory workers, and peasants), as well as Dalits supported the call of Mr Hazare? Because the capitalist giants, like Tatas, Ambanies, Mittals, and Birlas, along with their cohorts in Indian politics and civil-military bureaucracy, own 90 percent of India`s wealth, while the rest of the country reels under abject poverty. The factory workers and peasants toil in the sweat shops and humidified paddy fields for a paltry sum of $2 a day, whereas the rich and famous build billion dollar villas adjacent to the slums of Mumbai and Bangalore. While the islands of prosperity are being built within a sea of misery , it is becoming increasingly difficult for the government as well as the rich to justify this great divide.
So, enters Hazare .an old man with a spirit of a tiger, shaking the very foundation of the Indian house of cards built on rampant corruption, injustice, and inhuman cast system. Can the downtrodden and suppressed Naxals, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of the civil society hold his wrinkled hand and march to New Delhi for a final showsdown with the flag bearers of the most corrupt system in the world? This is a million dollar question.
Undoubtedly, Hazare`s movement is picking up the momentum. If you closely watch his videos on YouTube and other social networks, invariably his messages are followed by revolutionary poetry, especially Faiz Ahmed Faiz`s famous poem Hum Dekhen Gay has become very popular with the call for the time, when the mightiest rulers are dethroned and their crowns are tossed in the air. Incidentally, South Asia (fed up with the scourge of corruption) is gazing at the horizon for the advent of a messiah, who could liberate the masses from the clutches of corruption and usher in an era of true democracy. If Anna Hazare`s anti-corruption struggle succeeds in India, it may become a catalyst for positive change within the region. Maybe history honours the old man with the title of the biggest anti-corruption jihadist of our times?"