Paradigm Change in Indian Politics


“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.


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4 Responses to Paradigm Change in Indian Politics

  1. Raghuram Ekambaram says:

    Your hope comes too late in the day, after the horses have bolted. How can Anna listen to you NOW, after putting all his mangos in one basket, HIS bill? It should never have been HIS bill and how is it that none of the Anna acolytes (I do not mean you) could tell him that earlier. From day one I had said, civil society, as amorphous as it is, is more capable of throwing out what comes out of the government but no posse of mere half a dozen can speak in one voice on behalf of the people in even a sham democracy. My simple question – a decade or more ago why did the same civil society take up the issue of rehabilitation of Narmada dam oustees? No self-interest is compromised. No one thinks in terms of Jogn Rawls,s “veil of ignaorance”. And, that is the pity.

    Raghuram Ekambaram

    • matheikal says:

      Raghuram, no self-interest is ever compromised. I too write in self-interest. My self-interest happens to be the welfare of the neglected sections. If Anna is bringing about some change which will eventually benefit those I accept that change, I support that change. In spite of the side effects!

      I don’t count on the masses. That’s why I’m not there in the ‘playground’ with a lit candle in the middle of the night. Let the candle shine in my heart in the enclosure of my bedroom. But let the cause go on.

  2. Raghuram Ekambaram says:

    Matehikal, perhaps you know this already. In case you do not, I would offer the below:

    In simple terms, in “Veil of ignorance”, one has to decide on a course of action on a matter without knowing on which side of the divide the individual would fall. Therefore, when you say, “My self-interest happens to be the welfare of the neglected sections”, you are at leat partly veiled. This is good.

    But Anna, knowingly or not, is into politics. He is not working for the others. He is protecting his image, of a crusader, a Gandhi capped one at that. Sorry, I am too cynical to accept that any single person can offer a comprehensive solution, or even sketch out a silhouette of a solution space for the problems any coleltive as big and diverse as India is facing. Corruption is not to be reckoned only in dollar terms.


    Raghuram Ekambaram

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