Anna Hazare has proved me wrong. Maybe I'm bitter about that.
To begin with, I never thought the entire country could be distracted away from Sonia Gandhi's cancer & hospitalization. But it turns out that a Gandhian (*sic*) fasting can actually do that. I wasn't spared either - I was debating about the protests and its impact on future democracy to notice this. But in retrospect, Soniaji failing to survive that surgery was an actual national crisis than anything the Team Anna could cause or prevent. It would've been an all-out civil war to fill that particular power vacuum.
And I feel like a sucker. But that is merely the conspiracy theorist in me talking.
Now, let me tackle the bonafide followers in said "Team Anna". I would like to welcome you to the land of unintended consequences.
Just because I approve of your goals does not mean I approve how you go about it - hunger strike or protests. Netaji & Gandhi had the same vision of a unified India. And I'll say with no doubt that they never saw eye-to-eye on the means. If you are trying to devise a legislative way to solve corruption in India, you are barking up the wrong tree. A social majority movement would work, but then you have a luxury Gandhi never had - elections. That is, if indeed you believe enough in democracy to go through with it. But more on that later, let's first assume that the legislations go through.
Making something already illegal, more illegal does not work. The problem was never the legislation, but more in terms of enforcement. Honestly, Kanimozhi never even suspected she would be in jail (I'm glad she is) - deterrence is a non-factor for career politicians. The issue is one completely of enforcement and the problem right now is that the bosses of enforcers are the criminals involved. Producing a different authority body would solve this, but it's a solution with a limited shelf life - until that authority is corrupted or worse, neutered.
Upping the severity of crimes has an even more negative effect. When vigilance raids on police stations in Kerala picked up, my dad was in the home department as one of the good guys. He used to lament that the extra enforcement merely upped the risk involved in taking bribes, pushing up the "rate" as a sort of risk-offset. Ironically, during the raids, people suffered more - paid more or had their needs ignored.
I don't mean to drag down the new-age revolutionaries here, but this is a democracy. Every uninformed voter in this country dilutes my personal vote. If you can bring that majority over to your fold and fight this battle against corruption, I'd stand with you and vote - the only other way would leave bloodstains across history. But the media based guilt fest that you staged was shameful. If this was the best attempt at fixing corruption in this country, I don't want to really support this movement.
Let's assume you want to start a social revolution and bring aboard the majority. The problems start from the top - I don't think very many would want to live in an Anna Hazare world. To begin with I don't eat meat, don't drink, and have never smoked. I don't gamble and I've *never* paid a bribe. But those are my values and they work for me. I might not stand to lose much in an Anna Hazare world, but I wouldn't let him take away my freedom to eat meat, if I wish to. He might be an incorruptible man, but he's still a fascist who values his written laws over the real legislature's. And even worse, he's not open for negotiations - I get to do what I'm told (yeah, we all clap when the politicians are in his cross-hairs).
A "cure": Maybe there will be a more moderate leader who's policies on my private life are more sane? No, the story gets even worse. If Anna Hazare fails to make any impact on indian politics and its kleptocracy, would you support a new leader next year? Could it be that this is a ploy to disillusion the vocal intelligentisa into not supporting revolutionary leaders? Something to convince the indian middle class that the only people the protests affect are the plebs, while the politicos sit in some farmhouse upstate. A political vaccine if you will, to build up some antibodies to clip off the next cycle of protests in the bud. Even if they didn't mean it, would it work that way?
All in all, the whole episode illustrates the failure of democracy. Its weaknesses exploited by both the politicians and protestors - but two wrongs make a right, so it's okay.--
“The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means”
-- Georges Bernanos