“The ideas by which a ruling group maintains its power must be suited to the intellectual climate of the given epoch,” says Barrows Dunham in his eminently thought-provoking and erudite book, Man Against Myth.
The Anna Hazare phenomenon that is taking India by storm has certainly become a pain in the posteriors which are stuck to the seats of power. The intellectual climate in India seems to have changed all of a sudden. “A terrible beauty is born,” W B Yeats would have said.
But Anna, the soldier, seems to be shooting a bit off the mark when he insists that his version of the Lokpal bill must be accepted. Nevertheless, Anna is bringing about a paradigm shift in Indian politics.
Power is shifting from the venal politicians. This may be the real cause of alarm for the bigwigs in the Indian Parliament.
Sheer swindlers and hardcore criminals have never been rare exceptions in politics of any sort – democracy or others. Power has corrupted and absolute power has corrupted absolutely since time immemorial. The ordinary people had as much power to question such rulers in the past as the black slave in Mark Twain’s America had to question his white master or an untouchable coolie in Mulk Raj Anand’s India had to challenge his higher caste lord.
Awareness brought about largely by the television has dramatically altered the condition of the common man today. The common man is aware of his rights and powers. Sting operations have also revealed to him nakedly the nefariousness that hides beneath the sleek apparel of his political leader. The support of the media adds immeasurable momentum to the common man’s desire to liberate himself from the bondage imposed on him by corrupt or inefficient leaders.
The Lokpal Bill that Anna Hazare seeks to implement is a blow at the roots of the power wielded by the present political leaders. That is why they will do all that is in their power to jettison that bill.
But they won’t succeed now. It’s too late.
In this Darwinian struggle in which everything from land and water to the air we breathe was being taken over and apportioned between the politician-manipulator and the corporate billionaire, the common man seems to be asserting his ‘fitness for survival.’
I hope Anna will not defeat this struggle with rigidity about his version of the Bill.