Is that the real alternative?
In a multi-party democracy like India, to start one more party and to fight the elections is no big news. Or, is it? Ironically, The Hindu, the famed news daily wrote an editorial but didn’t carry this “big news” on its front page!

This is irony! We, Indians basically, are very conservative citizens, we respect the establishment and we like to sail with the political wind of the time. Let us see what Anna Hazare can achieve by this decision.  So, the 22 eminent citizens’ appeal to Team Anna to end the fast seems to have worked. There must be more coordination and more open discussion and even some in-depth study of the issue of starting a new political party.

Also, this is the time to say certain things openly.

Non-violence is a great concept. It is religious as well as secular concept. But always there is violence at all through man’s history. All through almost all religions. All through secular life, in politics. So, we have to understand the advantages and the disadvantages, the limitations of a non-violence-based mass struggle.

Democracy on the other hand is a great concept that takes care of popular will; all violent struggles took place, both in the Marxist as well as non-Marxist, autocratic regimes when there was suppression of popular will.

Even the recent Arab Spring  popular agitations in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East rose and succeeded in great measure for the simple reason that there were dictatorships of long standing, Libya is another example and so too other countries. Even in China now there are popular agitations, some even turned violent and yet there is a response to these latest upheavals.

The response lately is through democratic manner only. Courts functioned and punished the dictators. Democratic dissent is now vaguely seen even in China. Resort to violence, be it police firing or the masses indulging in violent activities, is becoming lesser these days.

The world is interconnected as never before and every country learns to live in a globalised world. The point is that fast unto death is no more as that glamorous as it was made during Mahatma Gandhi’s days.

Even the Gandhian agitations, if we study them carefully, from the current perspective, as new books on Gandhi show, is not free of many deficiencies.

After all Gandhiji’s such heroic struggles ended up finally in the partition of India! Is that a great reward for our non-violence politics?
Civil disobedience too has its potential as well as its limitations. To refuse to listen to the other point of view or other points of view, in these days of Google and Twitter and Facebook is simply ruinous to the political system we are operating in the country. Also, Team Anna must look at the broad picture. Corruption, black money, why, even the rise of inequality, the persistence of poverty and much of bad governance are all part of what we see today. We have to seek solutions to these problems within our own system. Certainly, there are ways, alternative ways. Team Anna could be a powerful popular force in the elections and it is there, the crusaders have to fight their battles.

They can identify the corrupt leaders, corrupt candidates. There are any number of NGOs who have devoted much time and energy to calculate and monitor such corrupt elements in our system. The best way is the moderate way. The Fabian Socialism way, if you so desire. Gradual change, moderate change, peaceful and even the Constitutional change is the only permanent and sustainable change that could improve the lives of the poor and the vulnerable.

Anna Hazare is an unique name now. Let the country benefit by his leadership. Let Indian democracy, the Indian people, the last man stand to gain by such a great man’s leadership.

In a liberal democracy, you

Can’t push an extreme agenda! Anna’s agenda is just one-sided. A strong Lokpal Bill can mean many things. India is a liberal democracy, however, you interpret it. Yes, the political scene today is far from perfect. Far from an open society.

The Congress party is certainly not a democratically constituted historic party. Its moral core is just rotten. Yes, the people around the leader or leaders are all just driven by greed and power-grabbing and corruption is on a colossal scale. So, what to do? This is the question uppermost on every citizen’s mind. But let us not forget the big picture. India has been practicing democracy for 65 years and India’s is the largest democracy. This is something every citizen has to ponder over.

In a democracy with multiple parties and multiple ethnic and caste groups and also with dominant religions, like Islam and Christianity along with India’s own historic Hinduism and other religions like Buddhism and Jainism and others, India is a country held together by some basic international level political philosophies, democracy, secularism and equality of opportunities. There is no one way in a democracy. By definition the approaches have to be democratic. Now, Anna Hazare has acquired a great moral stature and moral authority. So, people respect his views. But the same can’t be said about his Team! There are so many disparate elements.

Shanti Bushan, senior and junior is lawyers of the first rate. Please remember lawyers have their own points of view. But lawyers can’t be political ideological articulators.

Nor are they the right people to guide and lead a mass movement. So, the mass appeal of Anna’s original agenda is now fading.

This is plain. What is needed is a much more comprehensive articulation.

Anna Team has to travel and rouse the people. Certainly, Team Anna can propagate in elections their points of view. Of course, nothing prevents them even in forming political parties or co-operating with other parties and mass movements for propagating their agenda.
Only one Lokpal Bill won’t banish corruption from Indian public life. Corruption is there in all countries, even in China and even in the USA. Each country has its own ways of fighting this evil of the modern times. But then Anna Team must have a mass appeal programme. This they don’t have today.

And much more serious is their idea of fast unto death! This is certainly out of date today in an open society.

You have so many other, more persuasive methods. Even civil disobedience can be varied. You can still organise protests and also must be able to articulate your views and opinions using the new media, social media and other print and online versions.
We saw just now in the second phase of Anna fast, the Twitter is not covering Anna agitation among the ten topics. This is a serious setback.

You have to win the hearts and minds of the people. This is very important. It is here we like to point to the example set by the great Dalai Lama. How successfully he is leading his people.

Now, the Tibetan cause is espoused by all the great minds, from Hollywood to White House. Dalai Lama is also a very charismatic personality and he has a way with his words. He has won the hearts and minds of the world.

So, Anna would prove to be a magnetic personality if only he gives a pause and make more consultations and also gives his support for various parties and groups which are also doing his job, fighting corruption and for a clean public life.

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