What went over Delhi in the past few days, has shaken the beliefs and faith of the political and apolitical class of Indians alike- though because of completely different reasons. The political class is shaken by the weakness in the ruling party, its lack of stand on a sensational issue and its barbaric act. The apolitical class, without any political awareness is either praising the Baba or Anna Hazare without any critical analysis or saying that there will be an intellectual awakening in the country and we are moving forward to a utopian India. But either way, everyone has suddenly started thinking.
On one side we have a self styled yoga icon “Baba” and another side we have a shaken UPA, trying hard to rescue its sunken ship, and in the process besmeared its hands with autocratic and undemocratic waters. But the battle is not just between these two central characters, the war is between people who have screwed the system and are now acting as saints, and people who have found the loop holes of the system to get the maximum out of it for them. And yes, there is again the onlookers- the intellectuals-the whisky sipping gentlemen who talk of poverty sitting in their cosy drawing rooms; the opposition who are aiming for an ultimate gain out of the whole fiasco, the media who are competing for TRPs and maintaining a straight face against all allegations of being biased, and of course the general public- some supporting the Baba, some criticising him; some supporting the ruling coalition, some predicting its eminent defeat; and some disregarding the entire political system of the country.
Baba Ramdev, in tune with Anna Hazare’s movement, came up with an ever sensitive issue of black money being stashed away in foreign banks, in the fertile political field treated by the manure of scandalous exposures of the ruling party. Apart from being a yoga guru giving nuances of nationalism and anti-western rhetoric, he is also the head of a multi crore “business house” (no am not with Digvijay Singh!). He also has political ambitions.
From an article by Vandita Mishra-
“Last year, when he announced his intent to set up a separate political party before the general elections in 2014, the most favoured image in the Ramdev camp featured King Chandragupta and his mentor Chanakya. “Swamiji will select the right people who will bring in value-based politics but he himself will be like Chanakya. We now need to find Chandragupta who is presently hiding in the womb of future,” Arya told The Indian Express a few days after Ramdev announced his plans for a political party in March 2010”
In a very well written article in the Indian Express, the writer P Vaidyanathan Iyer points out that all of Baba’s demands are actually baseless. He wrote that Baba’s demand
“Declare stashing away black money in tax havens as a national crime. 883 people die every hour of malnutrition and hunger, whereas the corrupt carry out scams worth lakhs of crores”, is basically flawed because
“Money, on which tax is not paid, is called black money. Not paying taxes is a crime and there are enough laws to take the person to task. What can prevent hunger and malnutrition are good policies and better targeting. Any amount of black money won’t help.”
And again his demand,
“Remove high denomination currency notes to prevent formation of black money. Today, we have Rs 100 lakh crore of black money because Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes make it easier for corrupt people to transport, carry and store large sums of money. There is no use of these notes when over 80 crore people in our country live on a daily income of Rs 20”, is impractical because,
“In 1978, the RBI did demonetise notes of Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 denominations to curb black money. It was demonetised earlier too, in 1946, for the same reasons, only to be reintroduced in 1954. The RBI action did not help the cause of honesty. There is no credible study on the quantum of black money in India, but Ramdev believes it is Rs 100 lakh crore. Even the figure of 80 crore people living on less than Rs 20 a day (the Arjun Sengupta report) has been disputed.”
It is just obvious that the government with its decision of lathi charge and applying tear gas on Ramdev and his followers have made a hero out of him. He has been and will be propagating rhetoric about him being thrashed mercilessly even though he only sat down in the Ramlila grounds, sang bhajans and wanted a promise from the government on the issue of black money in tax havens. His followers won’t ever understand the ulterior political motives which their guru harbours; they won’t realise that with the presence of some top right wing Hindu fanatic leaders on the stage, Ramdev’s fast had strong connection with the saffron brigade and that even after almost settling for a political agreement God knows why he kept on with his adamant fast.
On the other hand we have a morally degraded government who had to resort to a barbaric action just because, “there was no alternative.” They sent their top cabinet ministers to receive the tele-star Baba in the air port and then within 48 hours something so-odd happened that they decided to beat him up.
What led the Congress led UPA to such an action?
Were they threatened by the mass support which Baba has with him and it became imperative to take such an action on him in an effort to impress upon the public that “Look! This man is actually doing all sort of baseless things and he doesn’t deserve to be given any importance”.
May be due to the rise in the exposition of million dollar scams the government thought that the people must be given an impression that they are doing a lot for anti-corruption and no one, especially a yoga guru, needs to teach them anything on it! Perhaps the government has simply become very nervous.
But this swinging between the poles of extreme behaviour speaks of instability in the Congress party- while one of their top leaders have called a man a “thug” some other goes to give him a special reception at the airport. Whatever game the Baba might be playing with the government, no one can in any way justify that attack on a peaceful gathering with lathi and teargas. Yes the Baba and his followers violated many of the restrictions in the permission (as pointed out now by the Congress luminaries), but the attack can never be accepted as the only possible measure to control the yoga guru’s activities, as claimed by our Prime Minister.
Then there are our opposition leaders who are throwing axe at the UPA as if they themselves are hermits. One of them compared the “midnight drama” to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre while another danced at the Rajghat and someone also called the event as “the saddest day in Indian history”- somehow this same person has forgotten about the post-Godhra carnage. Now c’mon every Indian knows that they are not clean, and with that realisation when they act like what they have been doing, Indian democracy just represents Indian hypocrisy and mass hysteria.
We have reached such a position in the country where it seems no one is what he appears to be. Just let your grey cells dwell on any sensational matter and you will start doubting the presence of vested interest of third parties. Who is using whom for what, is a major question in today’s political India. With the rise of an upper middle class- thoroughly apolitical, busy in its own sphere of entertainment, and always faking to be quite ideologically strong and rebellious- the country has somehow come to believe that some self styled fast-ists will save us from our doom.
Nothing is that easy as we are made to believe. No one can wipe out corruption with a fasting. The foundation of a new law can’t eradicate the menace of corruption in a day. What we need are reforms, not only in one level, but in different levels- social, political, intellectual, and then finally electoral. Only then can we as a country stand up as strong, uncorrupt and rational.
(Abhishek Saha, a third year Civil engineering student BIT, Mesra, is an active blogger and freelance photographer. He can be contacted at email@example.com)