India: Hazare Wins Round One

April 9th, 2011
in Background, econ_news

India protest 1 Econintersect (reported by Sanjeev Kulkarni):  The 72 year Gandhian, Anna Hazare has won the first round against the Government.  Hazare has been on fast for the last four days and will break his fast on Saturday (April 9).

As reported by GEI Thursday, initially the Government was dismissive of the protest. It tried hard to stonewall the issues. The Government's calculation was that, like the Lokpal bill (see previous GEI News item, link in Sources, below), this protest would become another roach motel. However the public mood was completely misread.  Even school children have turned out to protest, as shown in the photo above.

Follow up:

India protest 2 The corrupt in power have become increasingly brazen. The public is fed up with the series of corruption scandals that has rocked India in recent past and the petty corruption faced by them in their interaction with state and central civil officials.
The photo shows Hazare at a public appearance during his fast. 

The Government blinked and has agreed for a joint panel with 50:50 ministerial-activist composition. However there is consensus in civil society, that this is only the beginning. 

Corruption has become a way of life and its  pernicious omnipotent presence is felt everywhere. People recognize that it is a bottoms up process. To root out the process, it  starts by refusing to give petty bribes or grease money. It requires more than legislation and law to make it disappear. However this is good first step. 

It is significant that Hazare's fast demonstrates an interesting phenomenon which was first used very effectively by Gandhi against the colonial British. To quote Times of India:

"There is no greater symbol of coercive non-violent protest in India than a fast”
The change in political temperment is reflected by an excerpt from another Times of India article:
"In Anna season, Comptroller & Auditor General Vinod Rai launched an offensive against corruption and asked the public to take the responsibility of cleansing government. "You can no longer remain passive and expect the government to fight corruption. That model has failed. It will not deliver till we make it deliver," Rai said. 

In his address at the national executive meeting of industry chamber CII on Friday, the retired Kerala-cadre IAS officer said opinion leaders have to ensure that they mould the opinion of others so that they have a credible voice which can be heard. "That will make babus like me deliver," he said while proposing a paradigm shift."
Sources: Times of India (here and here), GEI News and BBC News

 Sanjeev Kulkarni is an entrepreneur based in Pune, India. He worked for large organizations in board level position before venturing on his own. He is currently involved as an investor in health care software company and as an investor, mentor in an automation company. Very widely traveled, he has experience of working in different geographical areas with people of varying nationalities. He did his BS from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. 


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