Rising Resentment against Corruption in India

Suddenly India wakes against corruption. The people of the largest democracy in the world came to the streets, organizes rallies and pledged to fight against corruption. Living in a corrupt political system for decades, conscious citizens are demanding more participation in governance. In fact, soon after civil society activist Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare (Anna Hazare), 72, fasted in the national capital for a stringent law to deal with the social disease, it ignited the media and the civil societies of India.

More and more individual and activist groups around the country have joined the movement, extending their whole hearted support for the cause. Hazare’s mission (India Against Corruption) began on April 5 urging the Union government to take necessary arrangements to introduce the Jan Lokpal bill.

hazare assam
Candle lit procession in Guwahati, Northeast India, against corruption on the evening of April 8.

The fast-unto-death by the Gandhian (follower of Mahatma Gandhi) Hazare at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi already completed its fourth day on Friday. Numerous organizations including National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), led by Medha Patkar, have extended support to Hazare and it has organised rallies, morchas, solidarity fasts, public meetings and other such programmes in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Unao, Itawah, Muzaffarnagar, Delhi, Guwahati and many other places across the country.

NAPM also welcomed the larger upsurge in the country and coming out of the millions of people cutting across caste, religion, class and professional boundaries on the street in support of the demand for rooting out corruption.

“The agitation has given a hope for wider political awakening in the country and hopefully the struggles against the corporate corruption, massive loot of natural resources and larger institutional corruption will gain strength from this.”

– National Alliance of People’s Movement

procession against corruption
Candle lit procession in Guwahati, Northeast India, against corruption, evening of April 8

“Anna Hazare’s sitting on indefinite fast in Delhi has galvanized the middle class of India, which is most vocal against corruption but also the one responsible for most corruption in this country. Corruption is a very contentious issue. Our morals tell us to oppose it but for convenience we often make a compromise, always giving ourselves the benefit of doubt,” said Sandeep Pandey, an acclaimed social activist.

He also added, “Hazare’s campaign has raised very interesting issues. His main demand is that a committee with half the members from civil society drafts the Lokpal Bill. Even though the government has been discussing the Lokpal Bill for the past 42 years the people are not happy with various versions of the bill.

Civil society has been demanding a much more stringent bill. The government’s bill hardly empowers the Lokpal to take any action against the corrupt.” Many activists have mentioned the initiative as second Freedom (from corruption) Struggle by the conscious people of India.

Supporting the cause, thousands joined in a candle lit procession in Guwahati on April 8. The citizens of Assam joined the programme, where patriotic songs were played and the Tri-colour waved by participants.

In two separate letters to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, the septuagenarian activist appealed for brave actions against corruption. Both, with many other high profile leaders from various political parties, appealed to Hazare to withdraw his fasting.

Meanwhile, the government had three rounds of discussion with the agitating activist, where finally on April 8, Hazare’s emissaries namely Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal met the Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal, law minister Veerappa Moily and minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid. Hazare indicated that the discussion was almost successful.