10 April 2011

Its about time

In something that was a long time coming, a small man (In physical height only) with a nonviolent hunger fast brought a mighty government and its inertial bureaucracy to the negotiating table. He got the entire nation singing his praise and rallying behind him for a cause everyone believed was a long time overdue. There were parallel hunger strikes, rallies, marches, sit ins, candle light protests, everything peaceful non violent and orderly.

Sounds an awfully lot like Mahatma Gandhi doesn't it. Except this is April 2011, well into the 21st century. A far cry away from the mid 20th century. A far cry merely in terms of decades past, but not in terms of empowerment of the middle class and the impoverished.

So who am I talking about? Well if you have been following the uprisings around the world that started in early 2011, you will have an idea. First it was Tunisia, Egypt though Libya recently has taken on a violent turn...keep going eastward and you reach India. A democracy for sure. One touted as a model for some years now by every politician, CEO or economist stopping by to bag some business for their country, company or organization respectively. Yeah the country is booming economically. The rich are getting richer..obscenely in some cases. The middle class is flush with money. Consumerism has caught on like wild fire. Huge projects are underway, warts, delays and schedule/cost overruns not withstanding. But people on the ground are not seeing the change that everyone else talks about. Definitely not non residents like me, who on every visit continue to experience culture shock in terms of the amount of corruption every day life entails, not to mention the scandal a day that seems characteristic of politics in the country.

Living in the developed world, blinds one to the fact that the developing world accepts as inevitable the corrupt practices required to just live through a day. To accomplish necessary tasks, something as silly as getting a broken telephone connection fixed. Something unimaginable in western society. So along comes a little known man (At least outside the activist, NGO circles) called Anna Hazare and kick starts a mini revolution that has at least set in motion an anti corruption bill that would give an independent ombudsman the authority to bring on corruption charges against anybody. Either in the government or bureaucracy or otherwise based on complaints from the public. Will this actually see the light of day? Will this be yet another toothless bill like all previous bills? I am not sure, but hope springs eternal. Hope that things can and will change..and not some distant day, but immediately. As the eternal rally song of the US Civil rights movement goes "We Shall Overcome....some day" and the Hindi version of it that I grew up listening to goes "हम होंगे कामयाब, हम होंगे कामयाब.... हम होंगे कामयाब एक दिन...ओह हो मन में हैं विश्वास ...पूरा हैं विश्वास.....हम होंगे कामयाब एक दिन.", its about time that someday is NOW.

This is a supporting cry that goes from a fellow Indian, though far away physically, but not far away in thought.  Also as the middle east protests have shown, this is not just the Indians fasting to get their corrupt government and bureaucratic house in order, but to every society on earth that even in the 21st century struggles to get rid of the powerful amongst them who don't think twice when stamping on the basic rights of its populace. Enough is enough... is what the world is saying.