Saturday, April 9, 2011

A saffron and green revolution

I have written about corruption in India on this blog before. And, the amount of public frustration with graft in every sphere of  life.

The past week in India has been revolutionary. In every sense of the word.  Mr. Anna Hazare, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, did something quite extraordinary. He presented a draft bill to the people of India, that needs to be passed by the parliament to tackle graft. And then, when the government showed great reluctance to introduce it in the parliament, he traveled to Delhi from the heartland of India, and sat down on a hunger-strike. Or, as Mahatma Gandhi liked to say, a fast until death.  Three days was all that it took to electrify the entire country, bring the people out on the streets to observe fasts, take out candle-light vigils, and pray that Mr. Hazare would be all right.

The government blinked first, and it blinked big time. The people got all they wanted, through what is being dubbed as a "revolution" within a democracy. I had no doubts that Mr. Hazare would take his strike all the way, since he is an extremely resolute man, who is willing to die for a cause he believes in. Since most politicians in India do not believe in anything any more, other than self-preservation, they are not willing to die for anything. Sometimes, the person who is willing to die, has nothing to loose but everything to gain. All this, reminded me of a guy called Karl whom I admire a lot, and a manifesto he wrote a long time ago. That one led to a few revolutions as well. A few times over.

I sat electrified through the whole thing, glued to my television. And, since my wife believes more in people power than I do, she dragged me to a local protest gathering, supporting Mr. Hazare. To protest and revel in the presence of fellow protesters, which we gladly did. For a change, it was nice to see the national flag associated with something other than cricket, since political parties have long stopped using the national flag for anything. Apparently, it unites people across party lines.

In the end, it looks like India is going to have a national ombudsman against corruption, called the Lok Pal, right after the monsoon session of the parliament, when most Indians would be celebrating the arrival of their favorite national fruit, the mango. With its own glorious shades of saffron and green, which are the national colors of India.

Thank you Mr. Hazare, for reminding me of a famous couplet in Urdu, that I like a lot. You showed all of us how relevant these words are. Even today.

"Kaun kehta hai ki aasman mein surakh ho nahin sakta, ek patthar to tabiyat se uchhalo yaron." 
(Who says you cannot make a hole in the sky, just toss a rock with the right temperament.)


  1. very well written...liked the comparison with mango...


  2. :) We all enjoyed this amazing near-revolution. The best part was how we managed to keep politicians out of it. :D
    But there's a long way to go... yet, well begun, half done!

  3. Dear SUB, glad you liked it. Thanks!

    Dear Ruhi, Congratulations to you as well! There is a famous Chinese saying, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. We had to start somewhere...


  4. The Indian national anthem music was playing in my head... I am Malaysian but Indian by lineage... God bless India!

  5. Thank you Desi Babu for the positive things you said about this event.
    It was refreshing to read it after the cynicism on the blogosphere about this movement.

  6. Dear Hdaran: Yes, It was a very touching moment for all of us!

    Dear Laxman: Glad you liked it!