If Anna Hazare was a CEO, he would have been sacked. For he failed to deliver what he promised.
He’s the ultimate underachiever. Consider this timeline of actions.
5 April 2011: Anna Hazare starts an indefinite fast demanding a strong Lokpal Bill. “I will fast until Jan Lokpal Bill is passed,” he said.
The fast, and the announcement that followed, captured the imagination of all of India; the poor, the middle-class, and even sections of the rich. Everyone wanted Anna Hazare to succeed, buying into his dream of an India free of corruption.
6 April 2011: Sharad Pawar resigned from the group of ministers formed for reviewing the 2010 draft. Pawar’s resignation is seen as the first victory for Anna Hazare.
8 April 2011: The Government accepts Anna hazare’s demands.
9 April 2011: Government issues a notification in the Gazette of India on formation of a joint committee with a politician chairing the committee and an activist, non-politician co-chairing it. Anna Hazare ends his 98-hour hunger strike and announces a 15 August deadline for the Lokpal bill to be passed.
In 98 hours, Anna Hazare seems to have brought the political classes to their knees and brings hope to a population that is ravaged by corruption.
If Anna Hazare was a CEO, he was the stuff of legends. Imagine a CEO making an announcement of intent to accomplish a seemingly impossible task on 5 April, and, by 9 April disbelieving shareholders join the ranks of the converted. Anna Hazare’s ‘company’ is the bluest of the blue-chips; everyone wants a piece of it.
As we near 15 August expectations are high.
28 July 2011: The union cabinet approves a draft of the Lokpal Bill, keeping the Prime Minister, judiciary and lower bureaucracy out of the Lokpal’s ambit.
Anna Hazare rejects the draft, and promises to go on an indefinite fast from 16 August 2011 if a ‘weak’ Lokpal Bill is presented in Parliament.
16 August 2011: Anna Hazare is arrested hours before he is scheduled to begin his fast. Four hours later, as the media and the general public tear into the government, Hazare is released unconditionally. He refuses to leave or suspend the fast unless he is given permisssion to fast and protest at the Ramlila grounds.
20 August 2011: Hazare leaves Tihar jail and begins fast at Ramlila. Hazare tells the media that “he would fight to the ‘last breath’ until the government passes his team’s Jan Lokpal Bill in this session of Parliament, which ends on 8 September.”
27 August 2011: The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha pass a resolution proposed by Pranab Mukherjee ‘conveying the sense of the House’ on the Lokpal Bill.
On the face of it, Anna’s shareholders are feeling buoyant, and the movement is the darling of the media. The fast is covered live on all news TV channels, and quotable quotes are the front page headlines in the morning newspapers. Anna promised and Anna, it seems, would deliver.
No, he didn’t. The bill was not passed by the end of the monsoon session of Parliament.
Anna Hazare’s ‘shareholders’ were distraught – especially the converted. They were sceptical to begin with, but his confidence that he could make the politicians bend gave his supporters the confidence as well. Was Anna like everyone else – especially the politicians – making promises he couldn’t keep?
22 December 2011: The Lokpal was tabled in the Lok Sabha and passed by voice vote on the first day of the three-day extended session of the winter session of the Lok Sabha.
27 December 2011: Bill passed in the Lok Sabha after a marathon 10-hour debate.
29 December 2011: Bill was debated for over 12 hours in the Rajya Sabha, ending at midnight as the House ran out of scheduled time. The upper house does not pass the bill.
Hazare called off his hunger strike prematurely, blaming poor health, despite the Lokpal Bill not being passed.
Today, as Anna Hazare lends his support to Arvind Kejriwal’s fast at Jantar Mantar, there is no progress in the passage of the bill since December 2011.
It’s 15 months since Anna told the nation that he would get ‘his’ version’ of the bill passed by 15 August 2011.
No bill, even a watered down version, has been passed since.
Predictably, the media is no longer in love with Anna Hazare, sensing that he is underperforming and that his ‘shareholders’ no longer see him as a magician with the wand that will make corruption disappear. Today’s Times of India Mumbai edition doesn’t even make a reference to him on the front page; The Hindustan Times’ front page has a small pointer to a story on the lowly page 13, as do The Indian Express and DNA. The Economic Times ignores him altogether.
In the harsh, real world, if Anna Hazare was a CEO, he would have been sacked. In the final analysis, his sincerity, his hours of hard work, his commitment to making things work, his courage in the face of adversity matter little.
Only results matter. And Anna has delivered nothing.