Why the Anna movement is so popular?

Not a day passes without a full coverage of the display of support for the Anna movement from every part of the country and the world too.  And it grows bigger and bigger what with the Dabbawallahs breaking their 120 year old tradition and striking in solidarity of Anna movement!!  In fact, a friend of mine who is not known to leave his office and business even for a moment, went to the centre in Chennai and fasted for a day to urge the Government to release Anna!!!

Why all this?  Panelists have repeated ad nauseum on the TV and other media that this response is because of the chord that Anna has struck with the common man on the issue of corruption and so we do not want to discuss it here.

My take on the phenomenal popularity of the movement is this:  The common man feels that it will be milk and honey on the streets once this jan lokpal bill is passed and has conveniently overlooked his/her part of the corruption that has deeply eroded the fabric of the country.

The entire anti-corruption movement presupposes that we citizens are all saints and that the establishment consisting of the politicians and the bureaucracy is evil.  Nothing is farther from the truth than this.  But this perception is keeping everybody happy for the moment and that is what is making the groundswell of support for this movement.  It is like those people who take to liquor because for a temporary moment, they are able to forget their problems and live in an illusory world.  The problems are still there and waiting to strike when he is sober again.

In my opinion, there are 2 kinds of corruption viz one sponsored by the state and the other by the citizens themselves.  If we look at the mega scams like the 2G, CWG, they are the ones that are conceived by the powers that be and executed by a supportive official machinery.

The Jan Lokpal bill can hope to address a few of these but it is still unclear what it can do!!  I had posed a couple of questions to Team Anna yesterday and I am waiting for responses either from them or their supporters!!

In fact, the impact of the state sponsored corruption is not really felt by the common man as much as the day-to-day issues like getting a ration card, a passport, bribery at the hands of a traffic cop, getting a certificate at the corporation etc.  Now, most people who are talking about corruption are referring to this and believe that once Jan Lokpal bill is passed, cops will become honest, government officials at the various departments will do their work without expecting any grease and so on!!  Time to tell them that nothing of this kind will happen unless they decide to be honest themselves.

Lets remember that corruption at the street level involves 2 parties: one seeking and the other giving!! If one is unwilling then the transaction will not happen.  Most instances of corruption at the ground level happen because we are not fully aware of our rights and even if we do, are not willing to go all the way to exercise them.  We would rather pay Rs.50 to the cop so that he condones our lack of compliance than wear helmet or obey the rules in the first place.  Our attitude is “nobody will catch and even if they do, lets pay and get away”

Another way to minimize the corruption at the lower levels is to bring in a level of governance which is transparent.  Computers and internet are making this possible and I understand that Gujarat is leading at the front in making citizen-facing initiatives as transparent as required.

And now we have tools like RTI.  My cousin in Hyderabad leverages the power of RTI for all his government-related transactions and claims that he is able to get his things done without having to step into an office leave alone pay a bribe.

So a large part of our problems can be solved by transforming our own attitude towards compliance and by a determination to refuse to participate in a corrupt transaction.  The Government can do its best to match this by bringing in transparency in the interactions with the citizens.



1 Comment

  1. August 22, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    […] Why the Anna movement is so popular? (badrirag.wordpress.com) […]

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