Civil servants start following in Anna Hazare’s footsteps
By Annie Banerji
He came, he saw and he took the Congress-led government by storm with his 12-day fast against corruption at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi that became the epicentre of a national crusade.
Sipping coconut water and honey, 74-year-old Anna Hazare ended a hunger strike on its 13th day on Sunday when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government caved in to the demands of the veteran social reformer as parliament backed anti-graft legislation that met many of his demands.
In the past two weeks, the Ramlila Maidan, a common location for festivals and political rallies, had become a microcosm of the nation when it witnessed a lively gathering on a daily basis catering to supporters from all walks of life during a politically-driven movement.
But now that the grounds lay bare, with the restoration process already underway for upcoming events, suddenly there seems to be a vacuum. Not only school kids, but young professionals and daily wagers who sold “I am Anna” caps may be showing withdrawal symptoms from a busy fortnight as everyone goes back to their humdrum lives.
Even 24-hour news channels have gone back to airing sports and entertainment stories, which seemed to have been on a hiatus during the tense stand-off between Anna Hazare and the government.
Despite the present lull, people have been foraying into the corruption-free way of life, highlighting honest and transparent means. A deputy inspector general of police in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, made all his subordinates take an oath to reject bribes and corrupt practices on Sunday.
“It was always my aim to infuse honesty in our rank and file. So, after a heart-to-heart talk with my men, I thought of this experiment and am hopeful it will bring the desired results,” said Asim Arun.
In another case, a public servant, police inspector Bhanupratap Barge set an example by voluntarily declaring the list of his movable and immovable properties on his Facebook wall.
Technically, the government hasn’t yielded much by merely agreeing to the social reformer’s key demands in principle. Nevertheless, the government knows the possible ramifications if it decides to renege on its given word of a “strong and effective Lokpal (ombudsman) bill” in the next session of parliament.
“Till there is complete change, I will not sit quiet … everyone is united in this cause now,” said the self-styled Gandhian activist, promising to create another stir if the government doesn’t bring the anti-graft law soon.