Does Arindam Chaudhuri help or hinder Anna’s cause?

A movement is known by the company it keeps. It needs to ask itself whether the endorsement of an Aamir Khan or Arindam Chaudhuri helps or hinders its cause.

Anant Rangaswami August 27, 2011 10:11:57 IST
Does Arindam Chaudhuri help or hinder Anna’s cause?

The nation is not divided on the need to tackle corruption. Every right thinking Indian supports the principle fuelling Anna Hazare’s movement – but there is a division when it comes to his methods.

We all look for cues to aid us in forming our own opinions on his strategy. We read and hear of those who support his movement and method without qualification, those who support with some reservations, those who reject his method.

The personalities who do any of the above matter. Those who offer Anna unqualified support would take heart when they see, for example, an announcement by superstar Rajinikanth saying he supports Anna and his cause.

When a personality like Rajinikanth makes his support clear and equivocal, it aids all Rajini’s fans in their decision on whether or not to take a position in support of Anna Hazare.

Does Arindam Chaudhuri help or hinder Annas cause

What happens when support is shown by an Arindam Chaudhuri? More so when it is not support shown through a statement made from afar, which Anna Hazare has no control over, but made on the stage at Ramlila, where Anna and his team certainly have control? PTI

As more and more celebrities make their support known, Anna Hazare’s movement gets a fillip. “It is therefore with great hope and all humility that I request you to pay heed to the voice of Mr Anna Hazare. I would like to submit to you that the nation is slowly but surely collecting behind Mr Hazare in appreciation for what he is fighting for. I am merely one of many who support Mr Hazare and have come to appreciate that this upright 72-year-old man is willing to sacrifice his life in the fight against corruption,” says actor Aamir Khan in a letter to the Prime Minister.

While statements of support work well, there is nothing that does as well as a celebrity making an appearance at Ramlila grounds to express solidarity with Anna’s cause. A few minutes on live news television and a statement or two explaining why they support Anna are likely to drive citizens into greater commitment and support for Anna.

Anna’s hands are strengthened when Usha Uthup croons in support, when Kabir Bedi and Pooja Bedi speak out for him, when John Abraham breaks a dahi handi to demonstrate his solidarity.

What happens, however, when support is shown by an Arindam Chaudhuri? More so when it is not support shown through a statement made from afar, which Anna Hazare has no control over, but made on the stage at Ramlila, where Anna and his team certainly have control?

Anna’s choice of cause is that corruption is the root of all that is wrong in the country. Corruption is the impediment to development, corruption is the reason for the plight of farmers, for the youth of the country in the context of corruption in education.

His commitment was supreme, underlined when he turned down an award of Rs 1 crore from IIPM.

“Social activist Anna Hazare, whose fast for a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal Bill last month made global headlines, has spurned the Rs 1 crore 2011 Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize announced by the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM).

“I have rejected the award announced by the Delhi-based organisation,” Hazare told reporters at Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district. “I cannot tell why I decided to reject the award. But my mind said ‘no’ to accepting the award,” Hazare said. The award carries a cash reward of Rs 1 crore, a gold medal and a citation,” reports PTI.

His mind said “no”, for reasons many people will understand.

Caravan magazine, which has been sued by IIPM for Rs 50 crore, explains why. “In 2005, the IIPM filed a case against Rashmi Bansal, a blogger and editor of Just Another Magazine (JAM), who published an article in print and online questioning many of the claims made by the IIPM in its brochures and advertisements, which highlighted that the IIPM had not been accredited by any Indian agency such as AICTE, UGC or under other state acts. The IIPM filed a case against Bansal from Silchar, Assam, even though she runs a small independent outfit based in Mumbai. The IIPM managed to get an ex-parte order from the court, forcing Bansal to remove the article from the website. The IIPM also filed for damages.”

In 2009, Careers360 magazine, published by Maheshwar Peri, who is also the publisher of Outlook magazine, carried an article titled “IIPM - Best only in claims?” investigating the authenticity of many of the claims made by IIPM in its advertisements. The magazine’s investigation revealed that the IIPM claimed that its students were eligible for MBA degrees from IMI, Belgium, but that NVAO, the accreditation organisation of Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium), did not recognise IMI.

Also, it reported that following a local agitation against the opening of a new campus in Dehradun, the state government of Uttarakhand had asked the Uttarakhand Technical University to conduct an enquiry on the activities of the IIPM, with which IIPM did not cooperate. The investigations revealed that IIPM could not in any circumstances award valid MBA/BBA degrees or conduct such courses in the state of Uttarakhand.”

More details here, for those who care.

So when Arindam Chaudhuri appears on stage at Ramlila, one asks, is this a man whose support Anna Hazare and team are happy and proud to show off?

And to me, it says, maybe the movement isn’t so worried about the company it seeks.

Many will think so, Anna. Be careful of the company you keep – especially those who do little for your image.

As was the case when you were offered an award by IIPM, your mind should have said ‘no’ when Chaudhuri offered to show his support for you.

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