Anna Hazare and the Jan Lokpal Bill Movement

Candlelight march for Jan Lokpal bill, new delhi (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

Candlelight march for Jan Lokpal bill, new delhi

(click on photos to go to gallery)

On 8th April, the fourth day of the fast the crowds swelled so much at Jantar Mantar that I  got only a small glimpse of Anna Hazare  between the ears of those before me. Using one of the heads for tripod, I took some shots of the man, being hailed as the latter-day  `Gandhi’, fighting for us another `Freedom’. Before I could download the images of the day on my system , the government had capitulated. All his demands for the Jan LokPal  had been accepted. Anna made an announcement to break his fast but of course, he would not do that in front of the thinning crowds around his dais but ceremonially the next day to dance and song and celebrations.

In just five days the groundswell of support for the Jan Lokpal bill was electrifying. I was there to see if the youth were in as huge numbers as the hysterical Tv anchors were proclaiming.  For a change they were right.  Young and old were out in huge numbers. Around the platform where Anna Hazare sat fasting , someone was singing, a theater act was next in line and there were  speeches. This was an impenetrable area. But there was lots of action outside this circle for the benefit of those like me who could not muscle in. Boys and girls all in black enacted a lively act around corruption. Someone was playing the tambourine. Someone the drums. A painter was giving finishing touching to a ghoulish painting depicting the politician as the blood-sucking cannibal. Some waved the tricolor while others waved a scarecrow of a politician as a dead man.

A young supporter , New Delhi (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

A young supporter , New Delhi

The event had drawn out ace photographer Raghu Rai too, who I saw shooting away in the distance.  But hey was he using a Canon camera?  That delighted the Canon users (but a birdie told me how  Canon had gifted him a Canon 5D Mark 11. A smart advertising move to wean away Raghu Rai fans.)

I took a walk around the area. I was here last at the annual Gay Pride Parade in November 2010. These were very different faces. The Wills Fashion Show was on and the bleeding heart socialites would make it only after the shows in the evening.   Towards the exit I saw  a Muslim family of four huddled together,  the girl in hijab waving the Indian flag. “I have come to be part of this big moment ‘’, said her father in skullcap. “Corruption is a big issue in our country ‘’, he said. His wife said nothing but held her children firmly as I took some pictures.

Where there is an opportunity to garner self-righteous publicity can the `Gurus’ be left behind. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar  had his  posters all around the venue.  Baba Ramdev made a special visit, a little shaken by the great success of the old fasting man in garnering support for a cause compared to his own mediocre effort some months ago.

The movement drew out the ace lensman Raghu Rai too (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

The movement drew out the ace lensman Raghu Rai too

I was accosted by a pretty lady who requested me to shoot her on her mobile camera. . She was a housewife she said it was a great moment for her to come and show solidarity with Anna Hazare. A little later I was tapped on the shoulder by a food-journalist. What are you doing here I asked. What every journalist here is she she replied.  The irony of a foodie covering a fasting event  was lost on her.

But  thanks to the fast the south Indian eatery  at Jantar mantar was making brisk sales. Vada sambar was a big hit for every flag waving activist.

I had just dug into one Vada when a group of  young men arrived shouting slogans against Sonia Gandhi calling her the “mummy’’ of corruption and that she should return to Italy. I had read that the RSS guys had infiltrated the largely apolitical Anna Hazare protesters. So here they were. I tried talking to one of them but he shouted all the louder.

It was growing dark and candles were being lit for the Jantar Mantar to India Gate march. Not just the young but the old also joined in this almost 10 kilometer  to and fro walk. Today everyone was in mood to make a big noise about corruption. Armed with  steel quarter-plates and  spoons they clanged their way to India Gate lawns. The ones in the front were literally running. There seemed to be some urgency to march faster and reach India Gate. I kept up for a while but soon  fell by the wayside blaming it on my shoes.

Students from blind school come to supports Ann Hazare's fast for Jan Lokpal bill, new delhi (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

Students from blind school come to supports Ann Hazare

I brought a mineral water bottle from a stall at India Gate. 17 rupees he said. But when he tried to sell it to a fellow marcher at the same price he was roughed up. The bottle is for 15 rupees said the man. How come you are selling it for 17.? Ok give 15 then the stall owner relented. But no why where you selling it for 17 when its for 15 insisted the man. Some others candle wielding marchers gathered around the stall and harangued the stall-keeper. It was an anti-corruption march after all. And they had to make a start somewhere.

In the morning a very unwilling 5 year old girl was pulled from the crowd. She was handed a glass of lemonade and goaded to offer it to the old man in a funny boat-shaped white cap. Super cop Kiran Bedi stood behind them orchestrating the moment for the cameras. Anna Harare took a sip and broke his fast. It was a big victory. There was spontaneous song and dance and celebrations.

As things stand the Lokpal drafting committee has been set up and will submit its report by June 30th 2011.  The drafting committee would include lawyers Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan , retired Supreme Court Judge Santosh Hegde, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and the serial Gandhian faster Anna Hazare himself. I had met lawyer Prashant Bhushan at his house for a magazine shoot several weeks ago. He seemed like a kind of guy who would go to any length to fight  corruption. He had won quite a few battles against it already.

Lok Pals from the civil society would include Nobel Prize and Magsaysay award winners no less.  So should we now heave a collective sigh of relief ? The country would now finally be in the hands of few good men. Not a good thing some voices warn us.  There is an unsettling and gloating self-righteousness about it all,  the cynics point out. The Lokpal indeed wrests in itself some super-cop powers whereby it can summon any democratic institution but itself remain virtually unaccountable.  But for now the country cheers.



5 Responses to “Anna Hazare and the Jan Lokpal Bill Movement”

  1. meetpatel says:

    it is the best way to stop corruption and reduce it so i am with you to stop it an it may help the country to improve the development of the country

  2. anjali says:

    it is not that only one person can bring the change in system and eradicate curruption… all of us must join hands support leaders like anna hazare.
    A salute to him…!!!

  3. Tell me one thing . Why were you so surprised to see a Canon with Raghu Rai ? 😛

  4. Winston says:

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    Did you create this website yourself? Please reply back as
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    to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is called.

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