"I‘d rather not be Anna”. This was the caption of the article in The Hindu, published this week. It was Arundathi Roy the bewitching activist in her usual incensed self. For me, an admirer of Ms Roy both for her pretty looks and most of all the utter education she has on topics that she dwells upon, the passion that she articulates and exercises in her words and into issues that she hauls herself into, the candid, unafraid analysis and statements on matters that impact our everyday life and existence, issues that touches her heart.
But is it that a discerning and persistent fan following and appreciation has got into her? The article spots that state, I’m afraid. She seems to want to arrogate and have for her exclusive domain anything that has to do with society, the country and the world at large? She seems to be in the state of mind that if a cause, a fight does not include the cause of the tribal, the injustices in Kashmir, the Narmada basin oustees, then the cause is trivia?. And she seems to have picked up the paranoia of smelling rat in every corner, a nefarious intent behind any movement other than the ones she may be involved in.?
She has trivialised a movement spearheaded by Anna Hazare and supported wholesale by the citizenry. A movement that is not mere elite jamboree. It has been reported that many middle class employed among the gentry had abstained from work without pay for a day to be at the venue where the septuagenarian was lying fasting.
She smells designs of big business and big money behind the Anna crusade. She lambasts Anna and the activists for not taking up the fact that the government is fighting its own people in the central Indian heartland. She ridicules the media for eulogising Anna’s campaign and fast and being silent about the fast “Irom Sharmila” has been on now for ten years in Manipur protesting against the draconian Armed Personnel Act by which the Security forces can kill anyone under mere suspicion..
She alleges that the oligarchy that we have now ,run by the government will be accompanied by another oligarchy of the civil society should the Lokpal Bill as demanded by the civil society come into force.
A cause is a cause. While Ms Roy has been focussed on the injustices meted out to the poorest of the poor- the Adivasis, the dispossessed and hapless of the Narmada basin, the Singur or by the POSCO from the Villages in Orissa for instance,or the brazen hegemony of the imperialism of the US. Well truly impassioned she is in matters such as these.
By the very same token, one can also ask her why not corruption has taken its due place in her scheme of things. To ridicule the Anna movement is naiveté.
There is nothing unconstitutional in society demanding their rights be safe guarded, rights as enshrined in the constitution. Whatever one may disparage about Jawaharlal Nehru’s economic policies the beacon that glowed in that man was his acceptance and humility towards dissent. He was unlike his daughter or like the cronies in the present government run by a geriatric senile Sardar.
Since the allegations of corruption began to surface in India in the late 1960s and to this day, can we count even on our fingers the number of cases that have seen conviction ?While during the Nehru era even he was not spared by Feroz Gandhi his vigilante son in law. And Mr Nehru did not order his incarceration.
Whether the second freedom struggle as the Anna Hazare campaign is termed will reach a positive culmination is a moot question. Which even an ardent optimist will not answer! But the cause is worth pursuing in its present intensity. Because the government has in its means, the press, the turncoats and the array of political parties and big business who all are in cahoots and will want to see that the civil campaign whimper out.