Citizens Fight for ‘Zero Tolerance for Corruption’

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Citizens indeed see a ray of hope in the campaign led by Anna Hazare to stem corruption. Never before I had seen hundreds of citizens in Lucknow marching to Hazratganj with a candle lit in their hands and hope beaming in their hearts – to stop corruption.

The fight against corruption got unprecedented support on the 4th day since Anna Hazare sat on a fast-unto-death in New Delhi. Three Lucknow citizens are also on an indefinite fast since 5th April – Akhilesh Saxena, Munna Lal Shukla and Indu Singh.

This was akin to social media – where people were driving a campaign. No single agency was coordinating or facilitating the event. Every participant was a leader – who wanted to contribute her or his might to this cause against corruption.

People flocked to Hazratganj near Gandhiji’s statue in big and small groups. Students including those from Lucknow’s prestigious Loreto Convent were there too with their parents, teachers and Principal. Another group of students was performing a music show against corruption.

When the compound of Gandhiji’s statue and adjoining park was full with people, increasing number of people with candles in their hand and hope in their hearts were spreading all over Hazratganj. Another big group was marching from Hindi Sansthan, Hazratganj towards the Gandhiji’s statue – some citizens were marching in Aliganj, some were doing so near Manoj Pandey Chowk, Gomti Nagar, and some took to streets in Mahanagar.

Some citizens were mobilizing people to miss a meal to support the campaign while going ahead with their routine life and duties. Some were mobilizing people to wear black clothes to register their protest against corruption. Some were requesting people to switch off all lights in the evening for a black out in support of the campaign against corruption. Another group of citizens were sending text messages to put a black cloth outside our homes and offices to record our vote against corruption.

It was an absolutely terrific atmosphere brimming with hope for a magic wand to root out corruption (let us not insult and defeat this spirit of people to stem corruption by discussing how real such ‘magic wands’ are likely to be to usher in a new era sans corruption).

This is a historic moment because of the spontaneity with which citizens connected to the cause and are doing what they can to support – to publicly demonstrate their support to a campaign aiming to cleanse a system. This was not perceived as a political campaign, although aimed to change the character of politics in India. Citizens across the country have given a resounding mandate for a system where there is zero tolerance for corruption.

One interesting allegation and rightly so was that people were participating in this campaign regardless of the implicit or explicit corruption they themselves might be roped in. Evading tax to the government, giving bribe for small conveniences, are also the corruption this campaign aims to root out, and of which, some participants might be a party to. Lawyers, traders, educationists, doctors, engineers, clerical staff, business women and men, and others from different walks of life were those driving the campaign in Lucknow.

“Even the most corrupt person wants a trustworthy and honest co-worker,” said a speaker at Jhulelal Park where 3 Lucknow citizens are fasting in support of Anna Hazare.

“I used to give bribe to get a confirmed berth in train or to traffic police if found in a vehicle without adequate papers, but will not do so anymore,” said a faculty member of Lucknow’s Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University who was openly in support of the campaign.

“This is a nautanki (drama),” comments a very sincere and honest citizen who probably is perturbed with corrupt people participating in this campaign and not focussing on self transformation to not be a party to corruption at any level.

The time for change is now. Citizens hope that this campaign led by Anna Hazare will cleanse a system. Citizens have clearly voted and come out as strongly as they could to have a better tomorrow without corruption at any level. The responsibility is collective – and the change will begin from our individual level first. Let’s resolve not to be a party to corruption in our own lives.

Last night while discussing with Dr. Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and a noted social activist, one of the suggestions he made to take this spirit to bring in the change forward was to request the people at local level to form a group which should genuinely act upon the complaints received from the citizens who are confronted with corruption. Beginning from ourselves we need to be ready to support each other to bring in this change at every step – every level. The fight has just begun. (CNS)