Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Anna:From King Kong to Mickey Mouse...

This appeared in the Asian Age on Saturday...

Anna : From King Kong to Mickey Mouse.
One thing was proved in 2011 : India needs better laundries. And dhobis. All our dirty linen was right there for the world to see. And no amount of Robin Blue could white- wash our soiled international reputation as one scam after another hit the headlines. The stains were of the permanent kind, unfortunately. Like leaked ink on pristine white school uniforms. Obstinate and indelible. Despite this far- from- pretty picture, there was a silver lining, too. As citizens reeled from one scandal after another, there was also a sense of something major, something positive, taking place under the grimy exterior. Finally, the C-word was out in the public domain. Corruption not just defined the dirty doings on parade in 2011, but it also became the centerpiece of an overdue national awakening. India desperately needed a symbol, a catalyst, a change agent. And that responsibility fell squarely on the frail shoulders of just one person – a 74- year- old man called Anna Hazare. Anna came out of virtually nowhere, and became an unlikely, overnight folk hero, capable of generating mass hysteria. Everybody suddenly wanted to ‘be Anna’ not just support him. Anna appropriated this monumental, moral responsibility (I would like to believe it was by design and not through default), and kick- started an aggressive anti-corruption campaign on a brilliant note. What happened subsequently, will need years of decoding by historians. But what cannot be denied is that a man, who started off as King Kong, ended the year as Mickey Mouse.
Where did India’s Saviour go wrong? Oh… there will be books devoted to that in the future, I’m sure. But I’d say, Anna slipped up when he stepped off the dusty highway of social activism, and stepped on to a lofty pedestal. Anna failed the day he started to play Gandhi-2. The 21st century Mahatma. There are no second acts in history. There are only pretenders and wannabes. Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle took 30 long years before it succeeded. It was a strategic battle fought against foreign rulers. Anna and his misguided team treated their agitation like a cup of instant coffee. Get the mix and temperature right, whip up some foam. Voila! It’s done. Perhaps, carried away by the first wave of spontaneous euphoria, Team Anna sensed victory in the offing. The ‘brains’ decided to scale up the protests. In the bargain, the tone got shriller and shriller. And minor characters began to overshadow the star – Anna. References to the ‘Second Freedom Struggle’, did nothing to tone down the tenor of the andolan. Prompting critics to snigger, “What’s needed is a third Freedom Struggle - to free poor Anna from the clutches of the coterie.” With Anna more or less marginalized and the coterie hogging centre stage, it was already a doomed strategy that would eventually derail the agitation. The worst fallout of the Flop Show was the sense of disillusionment it generated in the hearts and minds of young Indians, whose hopes were pinned exclusively on Anna. When their Messiah faltered and failed, they turned away feeling cheated and let down. I’d say, the ‘dirtiest’ picture of 2011, was that of the half-empty MMRDA grounds in Mumbai. That single image signified the anti-climactic end to what could have been a passionate, inclusive movement which could have transformed India – not overnight. But over time.
We lost an invaluable advantage. We lost the momentum. We also lost the plot! Chances are , India may have to wait for another decade or more for the next Anna Hazare. Whoever that person turns to be, let’s hope it’s a better team he or she picks. Though we aren’t back to square one yet, the scenario is looking pretty grim. Politicians have won a key round by stone walling the Bill yet again. And cynicism has replaced idealism. Questions and debates revolving around a ‘stronger’ Lokpal Bill are likely to remain unresolved, unanswered. For the rather obvious truth is that nobody wants it! Least of all the political class. Forget Anna’s version of the Jan Lokpal Bill (uncompromising and unrealistic), but even a Lokpal Bill with more teeth than the one under scrutiny, will be played like a ping- pong ball in the days ahead. Technicalities and alibis will be trotted out to ensure there is a stalemate. Citizens will be palmed off with the standard excuse: ‘This is how things work in a democracy. The parliament is supreme’. More dirty pictures of rowdy parliamentarians will hog prime time on television, as hyper-ventilating anchors ‘demand answers” (but from whom, beta?). In all the ensuing confusion, the aam aadmi will meekly go back to doing what he does best – minding his own business and getting on with life. This is the exact and shrewd calculation our netas are banking on – wear down the believers. Distract them. Confuse citizens. Soon, they’ll tire, and forget there was someone called Anna Hazare.
Poor Anna. For all his flawed vision and obduracy, he meant well. He fasted. He suffered. There was nothing fake about any of that.Which is precisely why he touched so many hearts. Those same hearts are broken today. Does Anna have the will or even the desire to reconnect with his original , impassioned war against rampant corruption? Or has he switched sides and become a politician himself? Instead of campaigning against a political party and thereby denigrating himself, Anna should consider withdrawing from his spot under the bright glare of lights, and introspecting. Away from his minders. Away from the media. Away from sycophants. Perhaps he’ll get an answer to what he and his countrymen are looking for – how to effectively tackle the monster called ‘Corruption’. And when lightning does strike, I’m confident Anna will be good enough to share his homegrown wisdom with the waiting world. The unprecedented success of a movie called ‘The Dirty Picture’ proved one thing : Indians have come of age and can handle, ummm… dirt. In all its forms. Let’s hope 2012 will be India’s ‘Ooh La La’ moment. It’s time for the world’s hottest item girl to graduate and become a full fledged heroine.
Happy New Year, readers!


TheBluntBlogger said...

//There are no second acts in history.//

This statement says it all, doesn't it?

I was shocked to hear Kiran Bedi's take on Anna's ill health. They simply say," He isn't taking medicines, we insisted"!

I wish, he recovers soon from the chest infection and India well, who am I kidding! Corruption is in our blood....it needs more than a Bill...

Happy new year, Shobhaa!

NAT said...

@the BluntBlogger,
Corruption is in our blood like a cancer....It needs more than a bill..
It needs someone to have a good/clear conscience, someone to see what the Big C has brought this lovely Country down to...
Each One of us must have PRIDE in what we do. We must be able to look at what constructive work has been taken on and say "That's a good job well done"
Take the smallest jobs that these contractors take on, for instance the dividers. They do their work without a care. They mess up the roads by throwing the debris on the main road, messing up what was OK till they commenced on the dividers. This is just one example.
Just before the monsoons. They remove the silt from the drains and leave it on the road. One shower and all the trouble (forget money)literally gone down the drain.
There's no one to check on all this type of waste.
Newly built flyovers are a sight for sore eyes.
One does not have to go abroad to see the roads and the cleanliness in those Countries.
Anyway All the best for 2012.
Hoping against hope. At least our children will have a better life, as even after 60 plus years of telling us "bear with us for a better future" we see things slipping....


चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

When a string is stretched too far, it breaks, that is a cardinal and eternal principle :)

Arjun said...

Truth of the matter is that its easy to blog, and try proving yourselves to be great analysts of the changing dynamics of the country, especially since most of the blogs are a result of second hand information being served sizzling hot by our new-age media houses. In the cold war era, do not forget the pain that disintegration of USSR had to go through, and in great part orchestrated by the west (read US) uncomfortable with the unmanageable rise of the soviet union. We as a nation have to show sanity not to go that way however unbearable corruption is or stinking politics of the country. Ppl like Anna and the entire team might seem god-send to free the country of the clutches of corruption, but bear in mind, we must not be carried away by the force thats being created by this team, however compelling. Who in the world is gonna ensure that we remain an integrated country is far bigger a question than the whirlwind that this lokpal thingy is creating. The western developed economies would love to see strife, agitation, and all of that in emerging economies as part of their economic recovery plan.
Most important, terming againg souls like Anna kingkong or mickey mouse is just another form of extreme reaction. Bear in mind, while proponents of the lokpal have been debating that this bill has been awaiting clearance for 40 yrs, but that still does not become reason to leave just 40 days to act on a bill. Its almost like you sit on it for 40 yrs, but the passage has to happen in 40 days. Not the question of patience. Its more to do with prudence, and ensuring that the nation is close on the heels of politicians whenever they are elected, following their work or lack of it, through the media or otherwise, and not feel elated by pushing those politicians on the back-foot, thinking that finally in this democracy, its "by the people", cos at the end of it the entire country will be made to look stupid, integrated or disintegrated, only time will tell.

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Pooja Rathore said...

Bold post!
fasting is fine ,but i feel one's health is most important ,if you have that you can fight anything and Anna should not have put his health at stake...outcome failure to achieve the goal as for his team your prediction was right (u had mentioned your views about them in your posts)eventually their true colors were out.
you are right aam admi will mind his buisness and get on with life sad but true.

Himadri said...

I am always an ardent fan of Ms. Shobha for her writting in a manner which depicts a picture. Anna was not ready in the 2nd stage of campaign and could not put his attention to the main issue. It is possibly correct to say, he was being framed by his opportunist chamchas in to the mould of Bapu, which is not possible. Finally the dhoti and kurta with Gandhi topi got some other color also.
Anna is un-lucky but we are more fate less common man, who thought our combined strength will erase out the word "corruption" at least from the face of country.

numerounity said...

Its very easy to write off something than otherwise. Anna Hazare ain't another Mahatama Gandhi, for we do not need MG at all. But we need people like Anna and more to re stir such evolution.May be someone package made like Anna & Bhagat Singh!

Wonder what would have happened if all the so called followers of Anna incl us, have fasted along with him?

Well ma' its very easy to write things off...ain't it :)

Himadri said...

For MS. Numerounity.

I did not say Anna was not necessary. My only emphasise was that when he got moulded in to the fantasy of his group members, so called followers. I have no intensions to write things off. We have to search with in our soul, is that what I write or speak exactly what I do ?

Anil Kumar said...

Shobha De's heart is with Rahul baba. There are no secrets she has soft corner for Congress party. In my opinion this country will be better off with Anna's chamchas than the bastards like Digviay Singh or the silence of Sonia Gandhi on critical issues affecting this counry. HONEST PEOPLE SPEAK UP THEIR MIND. THEY DON'T KEEP QUIET ON ISSUES AFFECTING AAM AADMI.

The educated class of India being the worst enemy of India..Many having their own interests and it looks obvious when you read blogs or see views on news channels.

Recently I noticed something interesting. The TV news channels in China and South Korea focus on how to improve their economy, how to make the quality of their products world class, improving the life of rural polulation and they spend lots of time discussing this with university professors, foreign analysts and various intellectuals around the world.

In our Chudakkad country, with the exception of Newshour on Timesnow, the news channels here discuss Kareena's ass, Mallika Shehrawats kiss and the list go on and on. In last 10 years India has managed to make their woman dance like Hijadas and speak like Hijadas. The programs here focus on how to flirt, reveal more of their pao-bhaji ass and use sadak-chhap language. Our poor sardar Manmohan Singh is now sad that China has overtaken India in the field of Science.

Sardarji - if few - mutthi bhar people in this country - in the name of entertainment tear apart the soul of this country and you don't realize it - then I advise you to stop licking the white feets of madam. Take bold decisions and do what is right for the country.

And Shobhai - you will do service to the country if you don't take sides on issues affecting this country. Can you write a whole article on how our Madamji chose not to respond on the public debate. Is she Micky Mouse too?? Can you clear some air on this. I know you can and hope you will.

Anonymous said...

I like the last line! Happy new year to you too

Rahul said...

Anna...the collectivist. Yeah I know people will strongly negate me by saying he didn't ask any one to join his cause, he didn't ask any one to be with him etc etc.
But he was sensitive enough to choose the cause wisely to get the best and the most maximum support. A pointer of a fame hungry collectivist. I read some where that guy with the locals help has bull dozed many wine shop in his village. So here is a person who cant change the defects of morality came out to bulldoze the business perhaps a guy have set with his own hard work and mind. He do not stop there. Later he imposed a kind of brotherhood in the village that if any one is having shortfall of crops from their agriculture must be helped by those who had a surplus. The ideology which is the very aberration of the human spirit of existence.
Later came the person with an agenda to make a Frankenstein to fight the existing monster. He hit the harp on the "C" Scale.
The old man did knew that a crowd which has been enticed to mediocricity by Cricket and Bollywood will definitely find masala here. And Masala was what was promised. Drama ensure, even we have participant which I can bet with the last bit of my blood of my body has been a part of some kind of corruption in some part of their life.....who came there to give birth to the new face of power domination and corruption.
Damnation followed...
Thing is the old man took his best staged shot. The collectivist mind of the collectivist Indians. The one termed as AAM AADMI....
Well if the AAM AADMI has so much against Corruption why not stop paying taxes till a reform is made? Why not stop every economic activity that is pulling this country to a certain direction???Why not go for the ultimate strike? Why not Shrug India? Why target one party and not all?? Why so biased? Why talk about concentrating power to one body only...??
One will surely like to see then the strength of the resolve of the AAM AADMI.
Frankly Anna is dangerous and his movement is extremely dangerous for what we are observing right now is a phase transition of the face of corruption. Though I will be trashed for saying this but this is what I feel. You don't correct others in case of Corruption....you Correct yourself. This is a case of morality.

At least Anna got his share of fame for which he came out. Another fame hungry collectivist.

Another dangerous man with dangerous utopia.

Anil Kumar said...

You may be living in a fool's paradise. For 40 odd years this country failed to correct their own morality and you think it will work now.

You remove corruption by putting people behind jail and to accomplish that you need an agency which is independent with necessary check and balances. Just check the statistics of USA and other developed country we ape. Every thirteeth person in America is jailed for violation of law - be it traffic violation, corruption, assault or anything.

Unless you instill fear of being jailed for corruption, you can never get rid of cancer which is swallowing this country. Lots of people have been preaching for last 40 years to have high moral values. But bollywood's cheap stunt and language has the last laugh.

I failed to understand one thing and specially from people who have soft corner for congress. Why do they spread the words like Anna is hungry for fame or has links with RSS. This is crap to misguide people. Why cant govt take all the limelight and pass a bill which will screw it two - three years down the line.
This is a peoples movement. Tomorrow if by some magic, a donkey from Delhis zoo, starts speaking and send a message that he will use his 26 inch long instrument and put it deep inside all those politicians who acted like junglee in parliament and were playing double-game (be it BJP or UPA or some haraamkhors hungry for muslim votes)then people will follow that donkey too.
That's how much a honest Aam aadmi wants something to happen rather than same old excuses.

Pooja Rathore said...

Dear shobhaa de,
Happy Birthday!God bless you with the best for you deserve nothing less.....wishing you good health,prosperity and let grace of God be on you and your family always Amen!

Sunita Ghosh said...

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Sunita Ghosh said...

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Santhosh Kuniyil said...

A brave post; not to the liking of many Indian urban middle class, who likes fighting through facebook & blogs, swallowing all fascist propaganda. Nobody other than corrupted ones will stand for corruption. But there should be a sane move for every agitation. if you cant trust any body in parliament what is the point in sending them there in the first place. Anna & team are scolding not only the rulers but the whole people of this country for their democratic stand.

Desi Babu said...

Dear Mrs. De:

Here's is the concluding part of my 2012 Doomsday short story that I shared with you earlier. Hope you like it!

The Useless Dust


venkat gaddam said...

Didnt know where else i could get to wish you. Have an amazing day! :)

And keep writing and entertaining us more. Btw are you attending the Jaipur Lit Fest 2012?

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday :)

NAT said...

Many Happy Returns Of The Day.
You missed a day when the King Of Rock N Roll made an entry into this world.
Today we miss Ricky Nelson, another great artist, a very good singer. Listening to his hits on 107.1.

All the best.



Anonymous said...

Maybe it is too early to judge and write half-empty ground means worst fallout of the Flop Show.
- Happy 2012

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Hello Madam Shobhaa De (Author)

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Have a great day;

Yours Faithfully
Bittu Gandhi
(Researcher, Author, International Record Holder)

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