A Victory and A Small Step for the People of India

The Parliament of India finally managed to come together to acknowledge that it was expected to emergently address the issue of corruption in governance. It took 12 days of protest fasts across the nation, led by 74-year-old Anna Hazare, to achieve this. 27th August, 2011 will be remembered as the day when governmental arrogance and indifference had to bow to the power of the people, with the Parliament accepting that the "sense of the house" was that all the demands of the civil society's movement against corruption be met.

As I publish this post, Anna Hazare is breaking his fast, after being arrested for wanting to protest 12 days days, being sent to jail, and being accused of being steeped in corruption himself by official spokespersons of the Congress. The nonstop media coverage also helped expose the resistance that the political system had to a bill that would address governmental corruption. It was amusing to hear them voice their protest against the citizens' movement, sounding hollow and scared. It was amusing to see security personnel trying to stifle a protestor shouting slogans in support of the national pride in the Parliament compound. This is probably the most scathing indictment of the system's insensitivity, to have themselves shown on prime time television prosecuting a person who is voicing his devotion to the nation.

It is easy to focus on what is wrong with our system, but this victory is proof that the people have in them the wisdom and the tenacity to bring about change. It was a pleasant surprise, almost mystic in nature, to see the parliamentarians come together to agree on the people's demand. What remains to be seen is how this will translate to real action against corruption, and how this movement will be taken forward to include corporate corruption.

The biggest achievement of this movement that I can tangibly see is the difference it has made to the mindset of the people. Society has begun to reflect on its role in the dynamics of corruption. Issues such as dowry, baksheesh, speed money, falsification of property valuation, donations for admission are being looked at afresh, instead of being taken for granted as par for the course. The youth, who have not yet begun to play a role in public life, have started questioning the principles by which they are expected to live. The elderly, who had resigned themselves to the loss of values in public life, have suddenly started standing up and voicing their beliefs, in the certainty that there is hope for the future.

For the half a million people in Delhi, and the several millions of people across the nation who actively participated in this protest, this is a first step towards a human revolution of the utmost importance. Today, I am even more proud to be an Indian.

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