Corruption, has, for decades, been an issue of disgust, anger and concern for Indians from all walks of life.
It took the emergence of Anna Hazare and his fasts against corruption that presented people with an outlet to articulate their angst. He was an instant rallying point that all those who were exhausted by rampant corruption could ‘follow’ and support, in the belief and hope, that corruption was a monster that could be tamed.
Almost two years after his famous April 2011 fast, we still do not have a Lokpal at the centre and just a handful of states have a Lokayukta. But the positives for the anti-corruption movements are many. Media has discovered, acknowledged and milked the anti-corruption sentiment in the country and has ensured that even small cases of corruption make the headlines and that the large cases are the subject of prime time news. More importantly, Anna Hazare hasn’t given up. He will launch an 18 month nationwide tour for a citizens’ movement against corruption from January 2013 – and that will have the political classes in a tizzy. Corruption will be in the news, non-stop, as Hazare attacks the establishment, fuelled by the support that he has repeatedly proven.
Corruption has existed in India since Independence, but it took Anna Hazare to bring the issue to the level of national debate and discourse and ensure that it is continuously under focus.
The recent protests provoked by the Delhi gangrape have demonstrated that gender violence is another issue that Indians are deeply concerned and affected by. We saw disparate protests across the country, with people coming out onto the streets in thousands and tens of thousands.
Over the past few days, we have seen an ebb in the attention the issue is getting – and that is why it needs an Anna Hazare. What the issue needs is a leader who people can follow and rally around to make the issue one that is discussed every day, at local, city, state and central governments till concrete action is taken to make the lives of women more safe. A leader will ensure that media pays attention to the issue, that every press conference is covered, that newspapers keep it on the front page. A leader will ensure that the issue is discussed as a national malaise, both rural and urban, and not dismissed as an aberration in a couple of pockets of the country.
Most importantly, once there is an “Anti gender-violence movement”, it will allow the protests, wherever they are, to be more efficient. Each one will amplify the other and build on all the previous efforts, leading, hopefully, to a safer India for women.