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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Turning into Anna-ther Hazard:

Satyagraha (holding on to truth) Vs Duragraha (holding on by force)

In independent India ,Gandhi has been misunderstood out of ignorance and his philosophy sometimes misused and exploited out of sheer political devices.In my personal opinion no leader of modern India has been misunderstood as much as MKG!

A lot many of us have tried writing about him but very few have tried understanding him or his doctrines!

Anna Hazare’s next fast is fast approaching!

We the people, allowed it for one cause,no matter how noble, will we now on, allow fasts for any cause?

Who decides which cause is worthy or more worthy? Anna’s crusade against graft was worthier than, say, a crusade against female infanticide or child labour?What about illegal mining? Or illegal killing of Tigers? What about the Mulla Periyar dam?or AFSPA? Sharmila Irom?-must we leave her to die?

By conceding thus, have we set a precedent whereby the Government will be expected to accede before any form of civic pressure in the form of such fasts?

Has anyone thought what would happen if the cause was not a near unanimous one but an intensely polarising one like reservations.What if two opposing groups in large numbers decide to fast for their respective beliefs? Who will the Government give in to then? Will those on the other side be allowed to die?

At this stage, it is very necessary to have some clarity regarding the Gandhi’s “Satyagraha”…perhaps no single idea has been invoked or distorted as much as this one.Gandhi has just been used as a legitimising stamp with total disregard for the true essence of the Gandhian Satyagraha.Gandhi defined his Satyagraha as an ethical weapon to apply moral pressure on his adversary in order to force him to be a part of a common pursuit for the truth.It was more like a search for the correct option which was to be pursued by both sides.It was surely not blackmail to force the opponent to bend him/her to one’s own will.

Here an important conceptual distinction has to be made between Satyagraha and the contrary! Superficially almost resembling one another but with serious fundamental differences that lie beneath. MKG never resorted to any fasts to get major Indian demands fulfilled.Most often he sat on a strike against his own people.His fast was not a weapon to score victory over his opponent.It was more a moral insturment to carve out common space with an adversary in pursuit of larger social good.In the words of MKG “A true satyagrahi should always be ready for the highest form of settlement.” He will therefore constantly and continually approach the constitued authority,appeal to public opinion, educate the public, state his case calmly and coolly before everybody who wants to listen to him, and after having exhausted all these avenues, resort to Satyagraha.

Gandhi contrasted satyagraha (holding on to truth) with duragraha (holding on by force), as in protest meant more to harass than enlighten opponents. He wrote: “There must be no impatience, no barbarity, no insolence, no undue pressure. If we want to cultivate a true spirit of democracy, we cannot afford to be intolerant. Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause."  (R.K. Prabhu & U.R. Rao (eds.),"Power of Satyagraha" in The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi)

This philosophy has been utterly misunderstood and distorted to suit the need of the hour in Independent India.I can see a clear case of blackmail being practised in the garb of Satyagraha.

Victory I am sure was never a part of MK’s political vocabulary.Also, Satyagraha was not meant to be a routine everyday activity.It was to be resorted to only after all other means had been exhausted.

Formal imperialism is a thing of the past but still we use his philosophy just because it gives people a framework maybe a way out of conflicts, real and apparent that have enveloped our country.Conflicts are much more rampant today and can be much more destructive given the fact that highly developed weapons are available.What one fails to realise is that as Gandhi transformed the national movement he was also transformed by it.So, the need of the hour is to construct a dynamic Gandhian philosophy than some eternal antiquated versions existing suiting the convenience of a random few.

Stop buying into the system-people!The real issue is eradication of corruption.

We surely lack Social Leaders who can show the way to our predominantly aimless masses.In the name of non violence Anna Hazare led an intolerant, irresponsible and adamant movement that paralysed the Indian democratic system.

It almost seems like the Janlokpal Bill is to be written under the dictation of Anna and his group.Then why send representatives to the Parliament at all? The wall created between the Political leadership and civil society can only be broken through dialogue.Wonder how many people gathered around Anna have an idea of the Constitution and the legal framework of our nation?

Anyone hear the word Duragraha?...errr mean blackmail?....umm arm-twisting? Holding by force?

When the cacophony of the civil society and the senile chants of the politicians reach a cresecendo the voice of reason is lost.We need transparency in existing set ups rather than invent a whole new one.

Lokshahi cannot be replaced by a Lokpal-Shahi! Hope we don’t turn into Anna-ther Hazard!

May “Satyagraha” decide whether it’s going to be collective survival or collective suicide!


  1. Ushy ... fantastic insight there, always a pleasure to read your POV's. On this one ... I agree it's time we set our priorities right and define what is what. Last not the least ... second you on the thought that Late Mahatma Gandhi and his ideas and thoughts have been misunderstood and sometimes misinterpreted ... anyway ... each to his own when it comes to opinions. Peace.

  2. Hey Robby

    Lots of gratitude mate for the feed back!...Write straight from my heart and just the way I feel.

    Penning Honest opinions requires tremendous gut and a certain amount of conviction.Respect opinions but also loved the way you reflected the need for "each to his own"

    Keep coming back!

  3. to compare anna with the mahatma is downright foolish and therefore to equate this present crusade with the ones carried out bapuji isnt justifiable...whilst i agree with every point u have made let us not forget to give credit to anna for galvanizing the youth to focus on the biggest challenge to modern india in a way no social leader has done before.in whatsoever means he may have used atleast it served a warning to our cocky politicians about the power of the indian people... i am sure without this movement the govt wouldnt have understood the seriousness of the issue.. i am sure Anna Hazare could not have led an intolerant, irresponsible and adamant movement of this scale that paralysed the Indian democratic system without the support of the tolerant, very responsibe and an extemely flexible citizens of india who felt at this point of time in history it is worthy cause to behave this way to bring senseless politicians in line..while i don not agree that only the anna way is the right one without much debate but i would still say sometimes to to get the other side to agree to a middle path one needs to do extreme posturing.

  4. Hey Ganges

    Thanx a ton for sparing a few moments on.

    This is a part of what u felt and i quote u "Let us not forget to give credit to anna for galvanizing the youth to focus on the biggest challenge to modern india in a way no social leader has done before"...yeah sure it's a great beginning...credit to Anna... but every tom dick and harry into the movement is like driving on formula 1 without the track for it.

    I was implying a little less force and a lot more patience.

    Thanx again for your precious time!

  5. Ushy -
    "I can see a clear case of blackmail being practised in the garb of Satyagraha "

    its my contention that when a thousand people unite for a cause ; leave their comfort zone ; chuck their political affiliations ; refuse their pay for a day and gather in Delhi Maidan - then it has caught the highest ideals they were aiming at -
    when it catches the fancy of a Nation ; when the Ideal is Articulated in such simple Lines -
    then your entire argument against "deciding the worthiness of a cause" comes to a standstill.

    No doubt many have tried this in the past - many have immolated themselves before Parliaments - before Supreme Courts - DID the Nation rally behind them ?

    Did the Nation rally behind Jessica Lal - ? No it was a regional affair that caught the fancy of Jessica's well wishers -

    Farmers have fasted and protested on Delhi Agra highway ..Did the nation lift a finger ? No .
    It was a regional demonstration.

    People in Kerala are protesting .does it make front page news ;) No .. The rest of India decides its not a National Cause.. Just a Regional Cause ..Regional Satyagrahas/Non Violent Protests affet regional powers :)

    But Anna Hazare has captured the collective imagination from Jammu ( or a little below it ;)] to Kanyakumari. !! How did this non descript fellow manage to do that ?


    In a true democracy - let the people DECIDE what cause they will follow and what they wont ..In such a democracy , dissenters ( like thyself ) stand an EQUAL chance .. But dont tell me what CAUSE i DEEM fit to FOLLOW ;) Thats what i would think ...

  6. Ushy at her best. Liked the line: Satyagraha (holding on to truth) with duragraha (holding on by force).

    My opinion is, untill the govt changes its very mindset, gets more professional & starts delivering all the promises which it promises before the elections, situation will become even more worse.

    I dont blame Anna, Tajinder or Harvinder for their actions at all. If the govt. becomes thick skinned & insensitive towards the nation & its people & fails miserably year after year in governance then citizens will react in their own way. There is a trigger for every action & unfortunately the trigger for all the unrest in our country is due to ZERO governance.


  7. Very nicely written and well thought out article.
    It showed more restraint than the people mentioned in the blog :-)

  8. Hey Nibu

    Thanx a ton...keep reading and sharing..After all it's a collective viewpoint!

  9. Hey BRM

    Always appreciate your candid views!

    They are "frozen" into posterity as you put it!

    Loved the honesty in the comments made by you and I take this opportunity to say a huge thank you!

  10. My Dear Jimmy

    As usual nice to inter act with an honest soul!
    thank you for all the kind words of appreciation and very grateful for having spent some of your valuable time going through my labour and expression

  11. Mataji, yup, this is, rather getting to be a persistently irritating cause for concern. A movement, named maybe rightfully the AnnaHazare movement, is now loosing its focus and becoming more arbitrary like their adversaries in the Government. It is all nice and halo to say that here was a great man who roped in a movement that caught the inspiration of the entire country to rally behind him for a just cause, that being Corruption! Great, because corruption was yours and mine problem, a common man's problem, a poor man's problem just as it was an elite person's problem. To usher in an collective opposition against the naive and repeated flaws committed by an insipid Government would have happened in any X,Y or Z's case had he/she been there in the right time at the right place. This movement had already occupied national interest when Baba Ramdev followers mobilized in masses at the Ramlila Maidan for the same cause. That it was chased away with might & force was too evident for all to see. It evoked not just blatant anger, but mass hysteria against the establishment with a determination to bring them to book. Anna Hazare's advent was timely at this juncture and no doubt, the ensuing mass mobilization of peaceful protests was a direct reaction to the Baba Ramdev episode. That certainly is not to take the credit away from Anna Hazare. It is anytime hats off to him for his bold and decisive method of agitation, one that was adopted by the weak Indians during their colonial times under a half naked strong man called MK Gandhi. But the comparison rests there. To equate this fight against corruption as that of one like the freedom struggle would be like asking for the moon.

    Several times earlier, as in response to other blogs on the same subject, I had vociferously opposed to this movement, not for its intention but for its method. Nowhere in the world of democracy can such actions be tolerated or entertained. It would be tantamount to mocking the democratic establishment wholly. Why do we need a Government then if at all a Anna Hazare was there to address, redress and redeem the woes of the general public? One can not hijack the rights of an elected government, however despotic they are, ruthless they are, tyrannical they are or however oppressive they are. They are a legally elected bunch of jokers voted into power through a democratic procedure where a nation full of comedians had deemed them fit to govern the nation. To veto their prerogative by whimsical agitations and threat of fast unto death merely distances right from wrong. Supreme Court is the body that checks and balances the superfluity of inactive governments and they must be approached for ratification to check misgivings of an elected government. I can not ever agree to the measures Anna Hazare or anyone else for that matter resorts to, to bring a legally elected body to its knees in this manner. Nay, this is not democracy. Not to me at least.

    Well done Ushy. I am glad you too voice the same concern as mine regardless of the cause for which a Anna Hazare type agitation is being undertaken. M.K. Gandhi did it for Freedom, for sovereignty. And Anna Hazare???

  12. Dear Ushy,

    You have hit the nail on the head. What was a tool of self realization & discovery has been distorted keeping in tune with present day India, is now being used as a weapon of destruction.

    The cause may be noble it gets defeated moment ill conceived methods or routes are followed to get the desire results.

    Politicians thumping desks and civil society thumping chests don’t make a revolution.

    Levels of intolerance were very high & future may see still higher levels of belligerence since the government did cave in the first time round.

    Finally Anna is no Gandhi not by any stretch of imagination, we lack role models is also very true hence we have the Plastic Gandhi's and the pretenders.

    Anil Kohli

  13. Thanks for sharing you POV, We cant compare Gandhiji's movement with Anna's one for one simple reason, none of us has seen Gandhiji's movements. All we have done is to read someone's pov about Gandhiji's movements in some book or seen in movie. So I feel we are under-qualified for that comparison.
    As for Anna's movement weather its a "SATYAGRAHA" OR something else is purely matter or ones choice, people will always follow who they feel is raising their inner voices or rather their suppressed voices.
    Thats making Anna a iconic figure.
    P.S.- Again, its my POV.

  14. Palash

    It's I guess the Connect Anna and his team have established But it surely does not compare with the Gandhian Philosophy!

    Thanx a lot for sharing a POV.Appreciate it.

  15. Dear Anil

    Loved these two statements you have shared.

    "You have hit the nail on the head."...agree and sure hope they have not hit the last nail in our coffins!

    "What was a tool of self realization & discovery has been distorted keeping in tune with present day India, is now being used as a weapon of destruction."...Guess this is the quickest way to self destruct!

    Thanx so much for sharing and sure looking forward to lots more.

  16. Dear Prash

    Your words truly mean Lots. Thanx a ton for sharing.

    Several times earlier, as in response to other blogs on the same subject, I had vociferously opposed to this movement, not for its intention but for its method....Agree and for the same reason I expressed that this is more like wanting for them to hog the limelight and the Media has ensured it today!

    Nowhere in the world of democracy can such actions be tolerated or entertained...but our politicians are so hell bent on pleasing anyone and anything that comes in their way!

    Wonder what confusion and chaos is going to be added to a country which is already so muddled and riddled!

  17. very well observed and framed....

  18. First of all,this is outright armtwisting!!Second,this is like a "bigger daddy" looking down on "big daddy" who is already doing nothing!!Could not have put it better!!

  19. Hey Wisecracking

    thank you for sparing one line for me!

  20. My Dear Rajeev

    Good to see some feed back.Thank you!

    Do keep visiting in your spare time and share.

  21. spot on. the Jan lokpal and team Anna are fast becoming a sham with all these ex bureaucrats with ngos and foreign funding trying to brow beat the system
    If Kiran Bedi's statement of paying back the sum she siphoned collected as ballooned air ticket bills and be absolved of misdemeanor then, kanomozhis case also should be dropped if she pays back the money to db reality :)
    A movement with a lot of promise and a Man with a name are being made pawns by the most dangerous and corrupt evil in todays democratic society (bureaucrats )
    can a minister commit a Scam with out a civil officer in conduit?
    seriously things are going drasticaly wrong

  22. This reminds me of a thought penned by Jawaharlal Nehru:

    Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.

    There could be many more who would adopt the 'modern style of satyagraha/duragraha' for various reasons. Anna's stand is though supported by millions in India. What so ever movement/revolution are scripted by politicians/bureaucrats/anyone for that matter, until or unless we (people) buy that thought it will not materialize. We are so used to get carried away by situations. As long as we think of ourselves as "innocent public" we will keep getting swayed. Consciously or unconsciously, we are directing our valuable energy. Let the common public decide where they want to use/direct their energies..


  23. Hey Mathew

    If Kiran Bedi's statement of paying back the sum she siphoned collected as ballooned air ticket bills and be absolved of misdemeanor then, kanomozhis case also should be dropped if she pays back the money to db reality :)

    Bang on!...the essence of what I was intending so well stated by you!

    Thanx a lot for sharing!

  24. Dear Sunil

    Thanx a lot for sharing some intense views.
    Yes..As long as we think of ourselves as "innocent public" we will keep getting swayed. Consciously or unconsciously, we are directing our valuable energy. Let the common public decide where they want to use/direct their energies..

    This is true but it's wrong to manipulate those who cannot think for themselves under "pretexts"
    Its rather evil and this Anna effect is surely gonna have a cascading effect!

    One said its totally apolitical etc but even on the dais u have all the political party members preaching! A bundle of LIES is what it is!

    The opposition has hardly any inclination to debate in Parliament but on TV channels and Streets they are ready!...I mean does it make any sense? Always adjourning the Parliament!

    Swaying the people conning them is the wrong thing to do.That's what this group is unto!

    Again lots of gratitude for sharing.

  25. http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/254456

  26. http://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20111212/1889838.html

  27. While deliberating on the crisis of governance in the 37th All India Sociological Conference held at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, eminent sociologists Professor Andre Beteille, Professor K L Sharma and Professor K Choudhari expressed their opposition to the methods used by Team Anna to secure passage in parliament of a strong Lokpal Bill.

    The sociologists took a dig at the anti-corruption movement being led by Anna Hazare.

    Professor Beteille felt that the manner in which it should be expressed is important.

    He said that the grammar of Team Anna's civil disobedience movement is riddled with overarching assumptions and unnecessary ridicule, which obviously do not have any rational basis.

    Terming the demand for inclusion of the 'right to recall' in the Jan Lokpal Bill as preposterous, he added that it possibly cannot restore order in a society in which the constitutional mandate is circumscribed around equality and where structural reality is based on a highly stratified and a pervasively unequal social order.

  28. Professor Sharma added that total absence of governance, which Team Anna asserts, was completely untrue.

    Accentuating the role of civil society as important, he chided the movement for advocating 'rights' while totally negating 'duties': apparent in Kejriwal's initial reluctance to pay his accumulated dues and in Bedi inflating her travel bills.

    Professor Choudhari said that the anti-corruption movement is built around only one aspect of governance, i.e. operational.

    Since it does not take into account structural inconsistencies, it is unlikely to bring any systemic change, he added.

    Professor Nirmal Singh added that Hazare's movement only harps on a crisis in governance. The proper approach in his opinion would be to contextualize it around the 'functioning of democracy' and instead of focusing only on 'governors'/politicians, the movement should emphasize 'governance', which unfortunately does not seem to be the case.
    Summary from the above mentioned Link:

    They felt that though it is fashionable to talk about crisis, and given the fact that the Indian society is undergoing immense transformation and change; not everything is breaking down. The magnitude of crisis in governance, they opined, is moderate, but can have dangerous consequences if left unheeded.

  29. Ushy has analysed the situation from a very unconventional angle, that makes it a rare read. Only a mature mind can understand the intricacy of her view. Hoping to see more writing on this topic...

  30. The big question is should an underdeveloped country like ours concentrate more on eradicating poverty and illiteracy or should we cure the disease called corruption; which for sure hurts but does not kill?

    I just can’t agree to this mass agitation; holding the government and country to ransom method. Just gives an impression that anyone can paralyze everyday life in the interest of their cause. And what do we achieve? Still finding it very difficult to understand the end goal. In Anna’s case, what I see is a loosely hanging, 'in-the-air' movement. It seems to drift, gather steam and then dissipate again. What exactly is the end goal? Is it just to get some Bill into the Indian government's system? That's it? What after that?

    Sad to see Indians celebrating rebellion more than the cause for which they assembled. Startled to see that those people rallying don't even know what the Lok Pal Bill is — leave alone what's inside it.

  31. A lovely well-thought out piece. There are a couple of aspects which we tend to forget - how to put pressure on obdurate thick-skinned politicians (solution- put pressure from their vote-bank) and how to get the vote-bank to put pressure.

    The masses (the vote bank) can only be involved if there is a emotional connect. And that's where the hyperbole and the theatrics come in.

    I see this as a beginning - of consciousness amongst politicians that they can't take people for granted; of the first lap of a relay race, where the baton will be taken by someone else, as the movement takes on substance.

    As far as Lokpal Bill goes - oh its a natural end-result of theatre: you can't elicit promise of governance from old sinners (or excite masses), it has to be done through a new product - ergo, Lokpal Bill. What will be its fate? I'm sure it won't be worse than what the situation is just now.

    And see it this way - something is happening, at a time when nothing was happening...

    Sunil B

  32. Anna is mislead by self declared activist like Kejrival etc.Becoz their agenda is to put down congress govt.Upto 60+ years we living without Lokpal.Yet to born from Parliement.These Activist predicting that weak lokpal.
    Do we predict the Baby Powerful or weak at the time birth ?

  33. Nice article. I just go through it. really awesome. Thank you for sharing such a nice information.

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