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MADNESS IS THE METHOD

MADNESS IS THE METHOD

By Sanjay Jha

On http://www.HamaraCongress.com

“ If you had the freedom of choice to invite whoever you wished for dinner home, who would be your first guest ?”. My answer was instantaneous : “Mahatma Gandhi”. This was during those nerve-wracking campus interviews in business school when your energy levels were kinetic. Ergo, imagine my dismay, acute discomfiture, anger even when bombarded by grotesque comparisons of the great Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi with other pretenders to his brilliant, impeccable legacy. But I felt rather foolish, like a singular isolated character with a flawed sense of history. I prefer the serene solitude to the unbearable cacophony though.

Anna Hazare’s advisors have missed the woods for the trees . Besides inspiring us with their sizzling PR skills and media management strategies, they have done tragically nothing to get the anti-corruption debate forward, embroiled as they are in an entrenched egotistical war with the government. The real issues lie obfuscated amidst trite sound bytes and much gobbledygook. His movement has slipped from the once sublime to the sub prime. Ram Lila grounds manifests a dangerous intransigence.

I am pointing out two glaring loopholes in the Jan Lokpal Bill, given that the latter pre-supposes immaculate perfection:

1) Are public servants in the government sector the only sleazy lot? If yes, who ensnares them with monstrous financial blandishments? The needle of suspicion will invariably move to large business corporations who spend fortunes ostensibly in political lobbying to grease palms. But surprisingly, the much vaunted Jan Lok Pal Bill is conspicuously silent on what ought to have been it’s raison detre; the largest influencer of public policy and spectacular corruption is the formidable industry lobby. But Kejriwal & Co have studiously given a charitable concession to big fat sugar daddies. Without providing for coverage of large corporations which use India’s natural resources ( land, oil-reserves, mines, minerals, water, forests etc ) either directly or in public-private partnerships the Jan Lokpal Bill is a sham. Public assets need careful protection. Bhatta Parsaul, Lavasa, Vedanta/Posco in Orissa, may have received national limelight but that needs to be addressed beyond the RTI Act. How can one be mysteriously silent on that ? These significant omissions , it is crystal –clear are cases of willful oversight that raises serious questions on the comprehensiveness of the Jan Lok pal Bill. We need answers.

2) Why is there such a great reluctance to have NGO’s receiving private funding to be included in the Jan Lok Pal Bill? The grave corruption levels in NGO’s is well-documented, and often, their large donors have their own suspicious agendas, which are assiduously promoted using sophisticated stealthy operations. How can anyone take Team Anna seriously when they pretend to be so sanctimonious and above-board when their own backyard stinks of filthy stench? Anyone has a viewpoint?

Whenever a social movement has a sudden preponderance of Bollywood fraternity, fashion jet-set , Page 3 mascara tribe endorsing it, I get prodigiously nervous. Since then some dubious elements have attempted self-purification; BS Yeddyurappa, Lalit Modi, Mayawati , — an eclectic crowd in an electric cocktail. Of course, the omnipresent trouble-shooters who preach the Art of Living and one-bearded proponent of complex yoga completes this august gathering. India has reasons to get profusely perturbed.

If after five months of insane, relentless media consumption , which would have even made Ram Gopal Verma’s Aag into a super-hit like Sholay, if Kiran Bedi has to resort to Tarantino-style hand-held video shoots in Tihar Jail to hit the You Tube, you know we are talking of desperate measures. Over-sold euphoria on synthetic foundations is unsustainable. But it was positioned as a master-stroke in social media marketing. Nobody remonstrated against an act, remarkably tacky, if not, totally unwarranted. After a transitory applause, the law of diminishing returns sets in rather quickly.

The obdurate stand of IAC has clearly created a perceptible divide; paradoxically enough, almost every Indian citizen is actually united on anti-corruption. This I believe has been the greatest blunder made by Hazare’s team. Sure, they have rounded up an impressive Sunday picnic gathering at Ram Lila Ground, but there has been a serious erosion of balanced thinking population from their constituency. The irrational obstinacy of Hazare & Co has not gone unnoticed; frankly if there is going to be such bitter contentiousness now, imagine the insurmountable obstacles that might come up when bruised egos negotiate its actual implementation? God bless us! Electoral, police and judicial reforms need to happen concurrently too, right? Polarization, remember is a double-edged weapon, its razor sharp edges can often lead to an inadvertent deep incision on oneself.. For the thousands on Delhi’s streets, there are millions who are tight-lipped, taciturn, watching a great TV spectacle with a poker-faced countenance. The ballot-box moment is two years away in a distant future. Even if earlier, they will act. They will vote.

Large sections of the media are indulgently back-slapping each other in gratuitous self-congratulations, as if they have been party to a great social revolution. That might be a trifle premature. They may have actually also contributed to an early demise of stimulating animated intellectual debate on real issues that never got mentioned. In a country of a billion people with multiple challenges, it is not difficult to instigate mass popular discontent on a core, central issue such as corruption. The media has merely played along with the self-righteous crusaders like a handy accessory with insouciant ease. Anti-government tirade always creates both high-pitched decibel levels and dizzying velocity.. Some myopic, pseudo liberals even dream of a Tahrir Square! I guess we are entitled to our obtuse hallucinations.

Many political commentators have berated UPA for being incommunicado with the urban middle-class. The hard fact is that India’s middle-class is a nebulous fraction , as it has far too over-stretched a definition. It includes that well-paid urban driver , a modestly compensated TV mechanic, a government clerk as well as the corporate whiz-kid, , well-heeled professionals and affluent businessmen. Are their daily grievances the same? Does the skilled worker from Rae Bareli watch Kiran Bedi’s You Tube? Whatever, this notional middle class as is popularly understood , is in reality the first beneficiary of UPA’s economic reforms. The malls, multiplexes, mobile phone changing generation of the new rich is the social media segment that everyone believes is the new game-changer. Really? These are the same shouting brigade that lionized MS Dhoni on April 2nd 2011, but now wants his head chopped off after the England wash-out. It’s the nature of the beast. They are easily dissatisfied; hence politically maneuverable. The UPA has not failed the real middle-class; but it may have the disenchanted hard-to-please upper middle class.

For Team Anna, the You Tube generation is their “ target segment”, because they are constantly wired, reading text, retweeting them, creating corny limericks. The English-speaking internet savvy crowd is ideal to also provide further fodder to all media outlets. Thus, Anna’s team rumoredly has several ex-media professionals providing off-the-shelf cheesy sound bytes which are reproduced with rehearsed panache by its vociferous proponents. Sure, it helps to have the mighty Fourth Estate on your side, but its over-reliance on vitriolic anti-UPA abuse has begun to boomerang. Symptoms of delusions of grandeur have begun to set in. Thus, belligerence and bellicosity; Jan Lokpal Bill or nothing! Lassitude has crept up on many as human sensibilities cannot endure mindless incongruous assaults. Team Anna actually believe that they can overthrow a democratically elected government of the Indian republic. And several editors have quietly chickened out on the “ great maturity of the Indian voter” line that they magnanimously mouth post-elections. Because the Anna agitation is not about the disaffected tribal , the landless labor, unemployed Muslim, or the immigrant in Mumbai. For the Indian media too there is a lesson, you may be the watch- dog, but even you are being watched.

There is a simple way forward:
1) Anna Hazare should stop his fast forthwith ( after all, no one wants his life to be endangered, and he has already succeeded in drawing attention to the corruption virus).
2) The Government should introduce all the three versions of the Lok Pal Bill ( including that of Aruna Roy ) before the Standing Committee
3) The Standing Committee must engage with other NGO’s and the public at large by taking their feedback on the website for the purpose ( already done) as well as direct dialogue.
4) Parliament ( including all opposition parties) must declare that the Bill we be passed latest by the winter session of Parliament.
5) Once passed, they will outline milestones for its implementation

India is witnessing a sudden outpouring of opportunities, a near gold-rush syndrome. In a country which is work-in progress , imperfect and inchoate , battling hostile contradictions in various stages of its growth , the fissures which are uncovered become coveted spots. Suddenly everyone wants to dominate its shape, its destiny, its character; some for power in the state, others for commerce, and some for societal reasons. Thus, what India needs now is the classic cliché, method in the madness. But currently , the only method is madness.

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10 Comments on MADNESS IS THE METHOD

  1. In a TV Channel – Arvind Kejriwal said that justice Soumitra Sen deserved to be imprisoned for minimum 5 years. Does not Arvind Kerjriwal deserve same sentance for attempting to abet suicide?

  2. Jennifer Fernandes // August 22, 2011 at 9:36 am // Reply

    Comprehensive and sane. Good going Mr. Jha

  3. Rajkiran.R.P. // August 22, 2011 at 11:14 am // Reply

    It is incredibly insightful! Informative,relevant,progressive.Kudos! Sir.

  4. Sharmila Ghose // August 23, 2011 at 7:37 pm // Reply

    Very insightful and comprehensive. Thank you.

    Too much vested interest in the name of social cleansing. We desperately need a Mark Anthony to to talk sane and quieten the rabble down. Sadly, Congress doesn’t market itself effectively and unfortunately many of the allies who have kept it in power, stink.

  5. Simerjeet Singh // August 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm // Reply

    Very well articulated!.

    The problem for the last so many years has been that the power vests with a few individuals in the system who have repeatedly misused it. With an all powerful single entity like Lokpal suggested by Jan Lokpal bill, we are repeating the same mistakes. This is an important bill and the inputs should be broad based. The power to deal with corruption should be distributed at different levels otherwise there is a fear that we may have another law like IPC 498a (dowry act) which will be misused rampantly

  6. Good Lord, how wrong can you be, and for how long! (You were really long without arriving at all 🙂 Lets face this: This government has got it all wrong- from not co-opting Anna, to arresting Anna, and now trying to get the Opposition when slapped hard. The problem is that Team Anna with people support (and you would be completely blind in denying that!) has been getting it alright. When was the last time you had so many people – young and old come out voluntarily? We know how political parties (taught by the grand old party itself) pay for conveyance, food and overheads to fill up their rallies. I dont even want to discuss the bill here. It is secondary. What is primary is this old party which claimed to have back with a thumping majority (and the markets gave it a thumbs up by 20% jump that day ..oh,how can I forget that day:) ) has so badly floundered that there is no single constituency- farmers, defence, government class, industries and economy, which seems to be happy with its performance. Believe me, and I know you won’t, this government has lost all its marbles. Worse, the absence of Madam has brought to gore how inept this PM is. I really feel sorry for you and other hardcore supporters visiting this blog.

  7. Dear Sanjay ,

    thoughtful insights into the current fiasco , The great indian middle class is highly delusional and classic example of herd mentality , PM basing is the best time pass for the MC middle urban class in india today .

    too many things about corporate corruption is left out , corruption is portrayed as a police constable asking for 100 bucks and they expect him to be nailed thru Jan Lokpal !!!!.
    wonder when we will this country learn to look rationally @ things and issues .
    No Jan Lokpal will be of any help when someone like Reddy’s of bellary in full open collision with 500 plus government officials and off course our own Yeddyurappa loots the iron ore for three years @ a stretch and no act or any kanoon can do anything about it .

    The bigger joke is Sri Sri Ravishankar “negotiating ” with L K Advani , Anna Team and trying to get an seat as a negotiator !!!!!!!! , he is neck deep in land grabbing in and around bangalore and we will need a special lok pal bill itself to try out this “Sri Sri” (Wonder why two Sri Sri s’) . As recent as yesterday his organization is caught sitting on encroached government land in mysore city worth 20 crores . Its time media shows some maturity and rationale and keep him out of limelight .

  8. Congress Funded websites started for propaganda….thats what this site is all about!
    This like paid news, which Mr. Jaitely talked about in parl yesterday.

  9. Mr Sanjay,
    You have mentioned about persons like Yediyurappa,Mayavati,Lalit modi whom you feels that are corrupt. Are you very much sure that A Raja,Dixit,Kanimozi are innocent ? What about Shinde and Vilasrao Deshmuk ?.God knows how many scams will unearth in coming days …
    One specific mention I noticed on unemployed Muslim…Why specific Muslim. Do you think that in Hindu’s or any other religion all are employed ?.From this ,it is very clear that congress is purely trying to divide communities in the name of religion and act like secular.Trying to irritate other communties by appeasement to Muslims. Shame on you.

  10. Open letter to Ford Foundation and Arvind Kejriwal on charge of US bankrolling anti-corruption agitation

    Business Standard published this morning an interview with Arvind Kejriwal and Steven Solnick, India country Rep of Ford Foundation in an article titled Claims that Hazare’s movement is US-funded baseless: Arvind.

    They confirmed Arundhati Roy’s charge that Kabir, a Kerjiwal NGO received $ 400,000 during the last 3 years as funding from Ford Foundation. On the broader allegations whether the US steamrolled the Anna Hazare anti-corruption agitation, they drove themselves further to a corner. We send them an open letter as a reaction to their interview.

    Read more: http://exitopinionpollsindia.blogspot.com/2011/08/open-letter-to-ford-foundation-and.html

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