The civil society, so far taciturn on Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption crusade, is opening up slowly. Not many prominent members of the NGO community appreciate Team Anna’s combative ways, not many are sure what the Lokpal is going to achieve and some question the credentials of the members of Team Anna to be the sole representative for the civil society at large.
It was Aruna Roy a couple of days ago. She presented to Parliament’s Standing Committee her version of the Lokpal Bill. Now, civil society’s most articulate voice, Arundhati Roy, has spoken about Anna’s movement. And she spares no darts for the “freshly minted saint” bent on creating another “oligarchy” called the Jan Lokpal, or his team members who run NGOs funded by multi-national corporations, not all of which are clean on the corruption front. This, and a lot more, she says in an editorial in the Hindu newspaper — ‘I’d rather not be Anna’.
For completely different reasons, and in completely different ways, you could say that the Maoists and the Jan Lokpal Bill have one thing in common — they both seek the overthrow of the Indian State. One working from the bottom up, by means of an armed struggle, waged by a largely adivasi army, made up of the poorest of the poor. The other, from the top down, by means of a bloodless Gandhian coup, led by a freshly minted saint, and an army of largely urban, and certainly better off people.
There is nothing Gandhian about the man, she writes, who favours a draconian law and MNS' immigrant phobia and has old associations with the RSS, and calls him a shrewd leader who has timed his campaign remarkably well. The nationalistic tenor he has created has pushed dissenters into a corner where if you are not Anna, you are not not Indian.
She further writes:
At a time when the State is withdrawing from its traditional duties and Corporations and NGOs are taking over government functions (water supply, electricity, transport, telecommunication, mining, health, education); at a time when the terrifying power and reach of the corporate owned media is trying to control the public imagination, one would think that these institutions — the corporations, the media, and NGOs — would be included in the jurisdiction of a Lokpal bill. Instead, the proposed bill leaves them out completely.
Too harsh on Team Anna, one should say, but candid enough. The group has hijacked the entire civil society space by its pointless mass mobilization. It’s time others would consider striking back.
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Updated Date: Aug 22, 2011 21:19:10 IST