“If it is blackmail, I will do it again”, he said firmly. No roaring, no tantrums, just statement of fact. It was an unequal fight. One 73 year old, frail gentleman, who holds no official position, sits in a village and starts fasting. It shakes the foundations of people with all the powers, money and influence to run a country of a billion people. He does not target anyone in particular but those who are sitting on the chair not only have to take notice but have to bow in front of him and have to swing into action. Unassuming Anna emerges winner. No celebrations, no pumping fists, just one statement “(if required) I will do it again”.
Isn’t it a big irony?
Anna Hazare is one of the handful living Gadhians. The rulers did not believe in Gandian principals of rural development. But Anna practiced it. He transformed Ralegan Siddhi with sustained efforts. The village was on a typical downward spiral of poverty, jobless population, addiction to local made liquor, no rains so no agriculture. Anna started off with attacking the liquor addiction, got the jobless youth to work on fields, implemented rain water harvesting projects, empowered people. Today Ralegan Siddhi is transformed place. A brief description of the achievements:
- Earlier just 300-350 acres of land was usable after water harvesting projects and building a micro dam the water table level increased and now villagers are able to harvest 2 crops in 1,500 acres
- Milk production earlier was just 300 liters which has now gone up to 4,000 liters
- The per capita income of villagers Rs. 225 to Rs. 2,500
But the irony begins with Anna having to use the same principles that Gandhiji had to use against British rulers against our own rulers. There was no dandi march but he gets the same level of support from the “public”. People don’t gather in a place to become easy targets for police but the pressure of public opinion, amplified by media is immense. The rulers have to bow. Again.
64 years after independence satyagrah has to happen against our own rulers. That too for a something as basic as “corruption”. A 73 year old has to threaten to kill himself because people with power are not honest? Isn’t it ironical? Isn’t it shameful? Does it put question mark on what is India’s so called “progress”? In 64 years of self rule, we have not been able to create a single political party that is corruption-free. India has to go a long way to be a mature democracy…forgets about being global superpower.
Anna has shown us the way. Gandhian principals still work. In a fight of principals Vs power, Principal wins. In a fight of Gandhi’s satyagrah Vs Gandhi’s name, satyagrah wins.
This victory should be the beginning. Battle is won, the war is still ON.