by Sanjeev Kulkarni
Econintersect : Anna Harare, the 74-year-old Gandhian finally broke his 288 hours fast that began on August 16. He accepted a glass of coconut water mixed with honey from a Dalit [ backward class] and a Muslim girl.
According to the Times Of India, “He maintained that People’s Parliament is bigger than Parliament in Delhi.” Hazare said that is why the government Parliament had to listen to people’s Parliament.”Anna Hazare, on fast from August 16, 2011 in New Delhi, was not fasting for toppling the government. His demand was simple; inclusion of points raised by the “civil society or team Anna ” in the proposed bill against corruption be included for the Parliament’s consideration.
Unfortunately the interlocutors from the ruling government were not only dismissive but openly arrogant against “civil society” or “Team Anna Hazare”, completely blind to the ground swell against wide spread systemic graft that has effected everyone.
The non-violent agitation cut across wealth, age religious, political barriers and class barriers against corruption which had given up hope against ending systemic endemic corruption, finally pressurizing both houses of parliament to unanimously adopt a resolution that the points for consideration of the parliamentary drafting committee would include those supported by Hazare, the so-called Jan Lokpal bill.
According to The Wall Street Journal:
Indeed, their demands by the standards of international protests are almost embarrassingly modest and narrow. The movement’s leader, Anna Hazare, a self-styled Gandhian activist, wants a new anticorruption bill to include the prime minister and the judiciary in its purview. The government, whose officials for weeks sat across the table from Mr. Hazare and a handful of his activist colleagues in a drafting committee, blanched at that demand. It is proposing these two categories be exempted (at least while a prime minister is serving) in the version of the law that the government has agreed to introduce in Parliament. That’s it.”
After a day of contentious debate, The Indian Parliament adopted a resolution endorsing the central demands of Hazare and his supporters. The New York Times summarized the events very well:
India’s Parliament capitulated on Saturday to the anticorruption campaigner Anna Hazare and the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets to support his cause in a standoff that lasted nearly two weeks.
After a day of wrangling and speechifying, Parliament adopted a resolution endorsing Mr. Hazare’s central demands for shaping legislation to create an independent anticorruption agency empowered to scrutinize public officials and bureaucrats in India.
Mr. Hazare, 74, has been waging a hunger strike for 12 days, refusing to call it off unless Parliament adopted his proposed legislation to fight graft rather than a bill put forward by the government. Huge crowds of supporters have participated in peaceful protests and rallies across India in what became an outpouring of public disgust over corruption.
After Parliament accepted some of his demands in a nonbinding “sense of the house” vote, Mr. Hazare ended his fast on Sunday, accepting a glass of juice from a 5-year-old girl, according to The Associated Press.
India ranks a dismal 126 on Corruption Perception Index and has long way to go, but perhaps this round is one the first major step in graft removal. Equally significant is thatit has connected a young cynical Indian youth population in an increasingly violent world to the legacy of Gandhi and his non-violent ways of effecting big changes. The deep positive impact on economics and politics will be felt in time to come.
References and Sources:
From soldier to savior: India’s Hazare another Gandhi?: CNN Corruption Perceptions Index: Wiki Anna Hazare Ends Hunger Strike as Indian Parliament Agrees to His Demands: New York Times