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Anti-corruption Leader Anna Hazare Cannot Yet Be Compared to Gandhi

BY: Anas Khan | Category: Politics | Submitted: 2011-08-24 01:09:45
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Article Summary: "The anti-corruption movement that Anna Hazare and his associates have launched rocked the establishment in Delhi to its foundations; but it is utterly hyperbolic to describe this movement as a second independence movement and to liken Hazare to Gandhi..."

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The anti-corruption movement that Anna Hazare and his associates have launched rocked the establishment in Delhi to its foundations; but it is utterly hyperbolic to describe this movement as a second independence movement and to liken Hazare to Gandhi.

Your leader column says: "Anna Hazare ... whose anti-corruption movement is posing an increasingly serious challenge to the Indian government, has certainly borrowed both style and technique from the Mahatma. He wears plain white clothes, if not the actual homespun on which Gandhi insisted" (Indian corruption: Gandhi's mantle, 18 August). You continue: "Like Gandhi, he fasts. Like Gandhi, he goes to prison - and sometimes refuses to come out. Like Gandhi, he has a model village ... Like Gandhi he has mobilised large numbers of Indians, many thousands of whom have been demonstrating in New Delhi and other cities after Manmohan Singh's government made the mistake of arresting him two days ago."

While Hazare has "borrowed both style and technique" from Gandhi and has mobilised many of his compatriots, issues of scale and substance separate the two men and the movements associated with them.

Gandhi galvanised millions and was instrumental in bringing them into the anti-colonial movement. But the numbers coming out on the streets to support Hazare are minuscule, and they hardly cut across social classes and regions - his following as yet is predominantly urban and significantly middle-class.

Gandhi had a holistic social and political philosophy which underlined his actions and which he tried to make the basis of the movement he led - which, too, had universalistic aspirations. That can hardly be said of Hazare. If he has a larger worldview, we have not yet been told about it, and his movement is also informed by often superficial assumptions. One is that the political/bureaucratic establishment is almost solely responsible for corruption and, therefore, setting up an authoritarian ombudsman operating outside the process of politics can eradicate this canker. Indeed, Hazare and his associates go to great lengths to dissociate themselves from politics - though, of course, they are anything but apolitical.

From the inception of this movement I have been arguing that, to be a potent anti-establishment force, it has to link up with the more substantive movements against exploitation by a depredatory capitalism aided by a neoliberal state. My conviction stems from my experience as a journalist and academic researcher working on issues of dispossession and displacement. Last Saturday, Hazare addressed these questions for the first time at a public rally, when he spoke about land being taken from the poor and given to industrialists.

If this rhetoric is translated into substantial action, this movement has a potential for potency. At the same time, it would alienate Hazare's most vocal backers - the middle-class and capitalist entrepreneurs. Gandhi understood the gravity of this contradiction, which is why he never spoke the language of class.

About Author / Additional Info:
My name is Md Anas Khan and i am a writer. I have completed my gradation from Cambridge university. I have wrote at least 1000 plus articles for magazine, newspaper and media.

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