When I wrote my previous editorial, “Anna, my Prime Minister,” many people pounced on me accusing me of writing it a bit too soon and getting carried away. It is true that I had written that piece on the second day of Anna's fast. But to us, Anna was not a new phenomenon. Twelve years ago, the IIPM Think Tank had initiated visits to Anna’s villages and had undertaken a study. For us, he has been a great icon since then and before too. And therefore, when he decided to come to Delhi, I instantly knew we needed to be behind him. Dr Kiran Bedi, whom I personally respect very much, had already come to our institute during the Bharatiya Manavata Vikas Puraskar ceremony – where she had also received an award for her longstanding commitment to changing India – and had given a passionate speech to support the cause. Arvind Kejriwal, to whom not just me but the entire nation also should be thankful (for fighting selflessly for the RTI Act) was also there with Anna; and so was Swami Agnivesh – a swami with a very balanced outlook to social causes. That's a group that, for the first time in my life, I could feel proud of. And yes, these are the people I want our country to be led by. That is why even in this issue, instead of doing a story in our magazine, we decided to do a special supplement on this great movement initiated by this great man Anna Hazare – for the first time ever in our magazine’s four and a half year history.
So, if the question is whether I still stand by my initial proclamation, the answer is yes; I do stand by it – and more so after meeting the man himself in person. India is the country of people who barely live around the globally defined standard of poverty line of 2 dollars a day. And Anna is one their true representatives. India is a land where the common man has not been allowed to get great education. And Anna is one of them, and yet someone whose life education is worth many Ph.Ds. India lives in its villages and so does Anna. India still has a heart of gold and so does this man. When we suggested to him that we wished to institute the Anna Hazare rural leadership fellowship, he had such wonderful thoughts on the same and explained why we needed leaders in rural India more than w did in urban India if we really wanted to change the nation as a whole. The man, his selflessness, his down-to-earth ways, his simple yet honest and powerful thoughts... everything made me personally respect him far more than I had imagined.
Sitting next to him in the most unassuming and simple manner was Arvind Kejriwal – another inspiration and solid example of selflessness, the man who had given an entire nation hope through the RTI Act and made the government much more responsible in many ways. And every word he spoke added to the belief with which I went to them – the belief that we needed to bring them to mainstream politics. Although they both vehemently disagreed on coming to mainstream vote-politics, I was more than convinced that these are the leaders we needed; because if we can't respect our current leaders, then the current ones are of no good. Anna and his people, on the contrary, are those that every Indian can easily respect.
I just want to say that it is time that we don't breathe easy just with this one small win that Anna and his group of committed Indians have achieved. I was happy to know that even they don't plan to leave it here. Up on their agenda are judicial and electoral reforms – two subjects extremely close to our hearts at the IIPM Think Tank and Planman Media. Anna and his people plan to bring forth each of these issues and continue their struggle till things change. I wonder why they are ready to be called unelected people’s representatives, when they can win with votes and do much more than they can do now by staying out of politics. Politics is not the last resort of scoundrels. It’s the first resort of every committed soul. They need to show us the way. And I, for one would rather have a man like Anna Hazare as my Prime Minister – simply because his heart is in the right place – than having a Ph.D in economics as my Prime Minister who breeds corruption and keeps his eyes closed to all the filth around him.
- 15 April 2011 |
- Arindam on Indian Politics