By B. Raman
The whole nation of India is watching with a mix of feelings TV visuals from the Ramlila Grounds and other places in India regarding the epic anti-corruption struggle being waged by Anna Hazare and his followers from different age groups and different strata of society.
It is not the Arab spring. Nor is it a Jasmine Revolution. It is a cry of anguish and anger from large sections of the Indian people over the repeated failure of successive Governments to take sincere and meaningful steps to reduce, if not end, corruption which has besmirched public life and made us seem unworthy inheritors of the Gandhian legacy.
We are all supporters of Anna’s epic struggle today. We are all his Crusaders against corruption. We are all admirers of his team of dedicated and passionate advisers. We endorse his campaign against this evil wholeheartedly.
Many of us feel that this worthy campaign should not have been allowed to assume the shape of a confrontation between the State and a group of concerned citizens that could be detrimental to our democratic structure and traditions. There have been faults and lack of finesse on both sides, but this is not the time to apportion blame. This is the time to let wisdom prevail on both sides, enabling them to resume the search for a democratic compromise.
For wisdom to prevail, it is important that Anna lives. His glorious life as a perennial crusader has given strength and leadership to this movement. His death will have unpredictable consequences and may make it wither away. Death in a fast may be tactically glorious, but strategically pointless and unwise. Imagine what might have been the course of Indian history if Gandhiji had died prematurely during one of his fasts.
Team Anna and his other followers have a moral obligation to ensure that he lives to continue to lead this crusade. They should persuade him to accept drips being administered on the spot—even if he is not willing to be shifted to a hospital— so that he can continue to lead the struggle without endangering his life.
The Government too has a moral obligation to take note of the support enjoyed by this crusade. It should have the moral courage to admit that its Lok Pal Bill has very little credibility in the eyes of large sections of the public. It should not stand on false prestige. It should discard the Bill and request a team of two eminent judges enjoying the confidence of both sides to prepare a new draft incorporating the acceptable and feasible suggestions emanating from the Government, Team Anna and others.
The Prime Minister should give a moral commitment to the people of this country that he would ensure that the entire process of re-drafting and adoption by the Parliament is completed within a reasonable time.
Let wisdom prevail. Let Anna live to lead the movement. Let the search for a compromise be resumed with sincerity on both sides.