India’s split psyche is witnessing a mighty clash between Her personalities. Two colossal Maharastrian bhoomi putras. Hazare the son of the soil and Pawar who seems to own each and every last crumb of it. A man defined by austerity, on a fast unto the death, against a blimp, defined by unbridled greed.
This historical smack down began with the Government watering down the Lokpal Bill(Citizen Ombudsman Bill) draft to an unrecognizable concoction of itself. This molestation of the spirit of the Bill has been in process for the 42 years that the Bill has been pending. The original draft was designed to bring the corrupt to an expedited justice on a complaint of the common man.
This is in the spirit of the Right To Information Act that Hazare was so terribly instrumental in. An act that empowers any lunatic, who can bang up a letter, unprecedented access to Government files which leads to exposure of bureaucratic misdeeds. Previously this was the privilege of nephews of forgettable MLA’s and life members of the Gymkhana Club.
A memorable reported case was of a disheveled gentlemen dressed in a lungi and bathroom slippers given VIP treatment by his local ration shop administrators. Previously they had refused to supply him a ration card with a large dose of contempt. The chap had availed the RTI Act and these bullies, who had been pulled up by their superiors, supplied the card and asked for forgiveness.
The promise of this poetic justice cannot be compromised. But a cancerously corrupt Congress Government not only has redrafted the proposed bill to only allow the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha Chairman to refer cases of alleged graft but they also formed a Group Of Ministers to draft the bill led by none other than the perfect embodiment of corruption, Sharad Pawar. The equivalent of installing Tiger Woods as the Principal of Lady Shri Ram College.
I can imagine Hazare laughing heartedly to this comical absurdity then experiencing an intense contempt for another obscene molestation by Pawar on his country. Hazare has risen to lead this national movement out of sheer bloody mindedness. With a God like strength of character that feeds the energy needed to treat a cancer that most us see as inoperable.
That character has been formed by a hard life. Hazare hails from Ralegan Siddhi in Maharastra. The village was parched half dead by drought, alcoholism being the only thirst satiated with copious amounts of local grog. Her inhabitants in a life sucking feudal quicksand.
Returning to Ralegan Siddhi and fired by the teachings of the Mahatma, which he read quietly in his spare time whilst an Indian Army driver, he first tackled the alcoholism that crippled the villagers.
He then implemented a water collection and conservation system that made, for the first time, irrigation possible. A resurrecting, baptism of hope.
Then with community labour he built a school for the newly inspired village youth.
Constructive victories that made Ralegan Siddhi a pilot village for Indian rural development. A guiding light that saw untold thousands achieve a self reliance, allowing them to enjoy an undreamt of human dignity.
Pawar shares these developmental instincts. However, it is no secret that his ‘village’ population consists entirely of his close relatives. Who have enjoyed a long golden age of prosperity.
His criminal intelligence is colossal. If it had been applied to the betterment of India there is no telling where She would stand. There is no doubt his legacy would have shone a great shine. But now in the increasingly dim twilight of his life he is perceived as a pathologically greedy old man who has the gall to declare he is worth 3.6 crore to the Election Commission.
Pawar’s mantra of ‘greed is good’ is as fashionable as Hazare’s Gandhian beliefs are unfashionable. Hazare’s gospel of an India of self-reliant villages has long been pigeon holed in the looney file. But he has made a spiritual connection with a young middle class that aspire to internationalism and whose closest experience to rural India is Hauz Khaas village. Young adults who use mobile phones, the 21st century’s Kalashnikov, indiscriminality.
Blissfully, with this genteel uprising Pawar has already resigned from the drafting of the Bill. Can the movement keep up this momentum? Can India find a peace between the two warring impulses instilled in Her DNA? The sulking tactics of utopian non-violence and shamelessly exploitative feudal politics. The rustic pureness of Khadi pressed against a comfortable Raymond suit.
I pray the final equilibrium finds an India that is not a fiefdom of fractured personalities. It needs to be home to the Lokpal Bill and sizeable prisons, well stocked with Pawar’s extended family.