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‘Fasting Unto Death’ Against Corruption

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There is a social and political revolution in India at the moment, a seminal one, if the media and social networking sites are to be believed. Kisan Baburao Hazare, aka Anna Hazare, a Gandhian and social activist has been sitting on a ‘fast unto death’ since April 5th and has refused any offers to give it up at the time this article was written.

Anna HazareHis target is corruption, a phenomenon that now seems to pervade society in India. Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index ranks India at a low rank of 87, which for a massive country with a booming economy, means a lot of the money finds its way up and down illegal streams, unaccounted for. There have been sufficient scams to tarnish almost every political party in the country; and the educated middle class have for long been disillusioned with the political process. The voter turnout has been a dismal 60% for most of the last few elections, with only the poor (and often illiterate) voters making up most of the numbers.

Amidst this disillusionment, Anna Hazare has decided to take up this battle. He calls it another “Satygraha,” and his methods are Gandhian: non-violence and civil disobedience to fight against a system that will be forced to care as the weight of public opinion builds up. His primary objective is the passing of an anti-graft bill, the Jan Lokpal Bill (or Citizen’s Ombudsman Bill) that will ensure that all, even men in power (i.e. the politicians and bureaucrats), can be prosecuted efficiently, without needing explicit permission from the government.

This is in complete contrast to the current government-drafted Lokpal bill, which is seen as many as a rather inefficient means to target the deep-rooted malaise of corruption  that threatens the very core of development and progress in the country. The bill has been in the making for over 4 decades, and still isn’t close to implementation. With nominal powers and lack of independence for the anti-corruption bodies, the government’s proposal impresses few people.

And this is his primary demand: to include leading civil society members, along with senior untainted ministers, in a joint committee which will draft the Jan Lokpal Bill.  But the cause has now attracted a lot of attention, for reasons that go beyond just this bill. The general frustration that the public has felt against an apathetic political institution has come out on the streets and on social networking sites. Thousands have joined him in solidarity, while many tens of thousands have signed petitions pledging their support.

This is shaping up to be one of the major social movements in recent history. Whether this actually leads to real change completely depends on the support of the public, which for long periods of time has been passive about most of these issues. They needed that push, and the sight of a 71-year old man, who with honest integrity is willing to die for this cause, seems to be sufficient fuel to drive the movement.

Whether a movement against a political system can transform the prevalent social norms of corruption in the country is, of course, up for debate. After all, any devil’s advocate can claim that the political institutions in a democracy are born of its social institutions, and just a creation of a system that effectively punishes all transgressers will not totally transform society into a corruption-free utopia. Nevertheless at the moment, it does seem to be a good enough start.

Image Source : Demotix

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About P Chandra

  • K R Batish

    your views are worth appreciable though I peeped in to the article quite a long delayed moment, but it is never late as the scams are in existence all the time in my India. In case you go through the comments please go through the contents of “dereformer.htda.net” and if a matter of liking,then circulate the same amongst your circle JAI HIND krbatish+dereformer@gmail.com

  • Is It Easter Yet?

    “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:21

    Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible: The Vulgate Latin renders it, “is not cast out”; and so do the Arabic version, and Munster’s Hebrew Gospel; and which confirm the more commonly received sense of these words, that they are to be understood of that kind of devils, one of which was cast out of the lunatic, and was of the worst sort, of a fierce and obstinate kind; and having had long possession, was not easily ejected: and that there is a difference in devils, some are worse and more wicked than others, is clear from Matthew 12:45 and not of that kind of miracles, or kind of faith to the working of such miracles. Moreover, the above versions, as they fitly express the word here used; see Mark 9:17 compared with Matthew 15:17. So they pertinently set forth the dispossession of devils, who do not go out voluntarily, but by force; and this sort could not be ejected,
    but by fasting and prayer: that is, in the exercise of a miraculous faith, expressed in solemn prayer to God, joined with fasting. It seems that Christ not only suggests, that faith was greatly wanting in his disciples; for which reason they could not cast out the devil, and heal the lunatic; but they had been wanting in prayer to God, to assist them in the exercise of their miraculous gifts; and that whilst Christ, and the other three disciples were on the mount, they had been feasting and indulging themselves with the people, and so were in a very undue disposition of mind, for such extraordinary service, for which our Lord tacitly rebukes them. This agrees with the notions of the Jews, who think that, by fasting, a divine soul (f) , “may obtain that which is sought for”; and that among other things, for which a private person may afflict himself with fasting, this is one, , “because of an evil spirit” (g); which they think may be got rid of this way.
    (f) Jacchiades in Dan. x. 3.((g) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 22. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Taaniot, c. 1. sect. 6.

    People’s New Testament17:21 This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Compare Mr 9:29. Only by devout waiting before the Lord for strength. Such strength is always needful to the victories of faith. Often, too, we have demons, envy, pride, covetousness, a revengeful spirit, that must be cast out by prayer.

    Wesley’s Notes “17:21 This kind of devils – goeth not out but by prayer and fasting – What a testimony is here of the efficacy of fasting, when added to fervent prayer! Some kinds of devils the apostles had cast out before this, without fasting.”

    Thanks for the article, Priyank Chandra. Humans all over the world seem to have a sense that going without food makes a difference.

    PS to anyone else, I would love to chat in the comments but I have to go now.

  • [Dr Evil]


    [/Dr Evil]

  • Clavos

    Man, Satish, you have quite an ego, repeatedly referring to yourself as “the greatest living Indian”

    “The [man] doth protest too much, methinks.”

  • Subrata Chatterjee

    Satish you are sad and venomenous man. You must have a terrible family life to spew this kind of negativisim. Yes you are father of everything that is vile and contemtous. Do something useful with your life. Cheers