Saturday, August 27, 2011

Anna Hazare – Baba Ramdev = Mountain Dew

Dar sabhi ko lagata hai  (In a difficult situation everyone is scared)

Gala sabhi ka sukhata hai  (everyone has butterflies in the stomach)

Lekin dar ke age jeet hai  (Victory bestows those who overcome fear)


The advertisement shows a group of friends moments before dangerous stunt like river rafting or bull fighting. Everyone is nervous and scared, looking at each other, not sure whether they want to plunge themselves into the unknown. (Then they have mountain dew) Get the courage to overcome that moment of fear and decide to plunge themselves into the unknown.  They live through these moments of fear and “victory” awaits them on the other side.  (


That essentially summarizes the difference between Shri. Anna Hazare and Guru Baba Ramdev.


Baba Ramdev was actually the pioneer in this modern era of mass, media-friendly and mega event style ‘uposhan’ (fast until demands are met).  Baba Ramdev had everything set up. A nice stage with air cooling systems, drinking water, covered spaces for about 10,000 followers. He was all over the media in that week, until Government decided to crack down. Instead of facing this action bravely and calling the bluff, Baba Ramdev decided to dress like a female and escape. It was a very unfortunate, cowardly act which has resulted in character suicide for him. Any budding political ambitions that he might have are ruined. He would have to restrict himself to his core strength of teaching yoga and practicing Ayurveda.


Anna Hazare had initially resorted to more classical Gandhi style uposhan which. What happened when Anna decided to follow "Ramdev's  model" ? The main difference was he was fearless. He knew what he is getting into and was prepared to face to the consequences. He was not ready to leave his position against politically powerful opponent. Second and which perhaps was the game changer was anticipation and pre-empting the opponent. The recorded message which was released after his release  was a pure master stroke designed by his team. Government probably thought that if they arrest him and prevent him from speaking then they would be able nip this problem in the bud. Technology came to rescue. Anna’s message to India, at the point in time he did not have sizeable followers, was released. Although he was in prison, his voice still reached the common man. Then it was great uprising. The rest is history. (


Anna is creating history. Jan-lokpal bill may become a law with little bit modifications but that may not completely eradicate corruption. A lot more needs to be done to weed it out. Still, when modern India’s history would be taught to our grand children, they would definitely learn about Anna and how these 10 days had a deep impact on India. I read that the people who are visiting Ramleela ground in these days are not affiliated to any political party or association. These are common men who are the victims of "cutting edge" corruption and are coming there to support the cause.  They are living moments of history.  All this was possible because Anna overcame that moment of fear and plunged himself into unknown.

Knowingly or unknowingly we are faced with such moments of fear which can possibly change our lives or create history. Be “Anna”, overcome that moment of fear and plunge yourselves in unknown.

Because success lies beyond fear!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Anna reached Ram Leela Ground, What Next?

Anna has reached ram leela ground. It is a great triumph for the “aam adami” who is fade up with corruption. Government made their biggest blunder of decade of arresting Anna four days ago.  Back then nobody believed that we will see this day. Anna was escorted by police to a much bigger venue, allowed fast for more days, allowed to gather more number of people. Really wonder what was the government was thinking while arresting Anna and subsequently negotiating.

Spontaneous country-wide response to the arrest made all the difference. It actually worked well for Anna. There are many who don't support the Lokpal bill but they could not tolerate Anna being sent to the same jail as Mr. Kalmadi and Mr. Raja. They joined Anna as anti corruption crusader rather than the Lokpal bill supporter. Anna has created history! Great moral victory for a frail 73 year old who stood against the establishment much more powerful than him. Hats off!!

The question is what next? A battle is won what about the war? The first battle was against congress government but is the war against them? Who is the enemy? Defining Congress government as the enemy would be too myopic. The actual enemy is corruption. The Lokpal bill is only means to an end and not end in itself. It would be too naïve to think that once the bill is approved the corruption would end.
I am reminded of Harry Potter and deathly hallows at this juncture. In the final confrontation of Harry Potter with Lord Voldemort, Harry discovers that one part of Voldemort’s horcruxes is within his soul.


Similarly, some part of corruption’s horcruxes is within our soul. It is difficult to irradiate corruption as long as it lives inside us. We are tempted to pay 100 bucks to avoid a fine of 500 buks. At registration desk we are ready to grease the palms to change the sequence of the registrations. A corrupt groom does not find it difficult to get a good bride even if his corrupt lifestyle is clearly visible. A rich but corrupt officer is envied than hated forget about exposure. The same tendency when escalated at the level of companies, organizations and corporations are responsible for 2G scams and CWG scams.

Now that Anna has resumed the war against corruption, the next target should be to fight against this tendency to support corruption in direct and indirect ways which is deeply ingrained inside us. A candle light march or sympathy fast to show solidarity to Anna has limited impact. If we really want Anna to win we should take vow that today onwards we will not bribe anyone for selfish benefits. If we come across any corrupt person we will do whatever we can within our limits to expose or discourage him. That would the true victory for Anna and his movement.


Jai Hind! Bharat Mata ki Jai!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Haveli ki Umra saath saal! (Big mansion can last only sixty years)

News 1

The country is close to bankruptcy….government is likely to default on its own commitments…teachers, public servants may not get paid…unemployment is at record high level….


News 2

Looting on streets…rich shops being targeted…mobs are burning down shops, burning buses…police are either missing or not doing anything…


Frankly, I could not believe my eyes when I read this news in last couple of weeks. Not that the news was unheard of. In fact such news was staple diet for my news hungry childhood. 1980s were my formative years in India, I grew reading about frustrated youth, unemployment, mobs causing riots and empty government coffers. The news wasn’t a surprise but the country definitely was. It is happening in the “United Kingdom” and “United States of America”. I was also amazed by the coincidence about two unrelated but disturbing events happening at the same week. Why am I so surprised…this was on cards for years, right?


UK and USA both were world powers who dominated the world politically and economically for many decades and are struggling today with problems which are pretty basic in nature. That’s the surprise!


UK was the first acknowledged world power. They ruled the world directly or indirectly in 19th century. Unchallenged at sea and powered with industrial revolution, they adopted the role of global policeman and were called workshop of the world. At one point in time they controlled USA, India, Australia and parts of Africa. “The Sun never set on British Empire” they said. They did contribute a lot to the world during their domination. Parliamentary democracy, post offices, railways were the inventions popularized by UK. In 18th century they lead industrial revolution, many breakthru’ theories such as laws of gravity (Newton), Theory of evolution (Darwin) originated in UK. By turn of twentieth century, UK had started losing its influence on the world. Two world wars weakened the economy. USA was the rising power and UK resorted to gracious exit by endorsing the next global power United States of America.


United States of America, assumed global central stage by their decisive participation in World War I which tilted balance in favor of UK and allies. Since then the baton of global policing from UK got passed on to them. USA assumed the role of global policeman and the military. UK had ruled with their domination on sea, USA ruled with their domination in Air. They became the “market of the world”. Times had changed and consumption had become more important than production. Services had become more important than manufacturing. USA redefined the ruling the world without invasion. They discovered economic domination by making their dollar the world currency. Their contribution to the world includes atomic energy, internet, cellphone and google.



I can’t help but remember a saying that goes in Indian business community (generally marawadis) “Haveli ki umra 60 saal” which roughly translates to “Big mansion can last only sixty years.”  The story goes like this that there was a struggling entrepreneur who worked very hard to build his business and that was symbolized by a big mansion (haveli). Money was his top priority and he earned it. When his son took over he did not really care about money, he wanted to power. So he ran after power and by the time his career ended they had both money and power. However, when the grandson took over he cared neither about money nor about power, he wanted “self expression”, he wanted to leave his mark. So he floundered all the wealth and power that was accumulated for couple of generations. The big mansion was thus, sold off after 60 years. And the great grandson probably started all over again to build another mansion.


There must have been a generation in UK who braved the sea and unknown territories and fought wars to earn money. The next generations would have used the money to establish itself as the power center of the world. The generation today however is different. Some self confessed looters in London riots mentioned that it was their best day ever in their lives. Some others who looted things that they did not need, just show that they could do it. Many looters are not needy people we thought initially but those were youth from well to do family who wanted to express themselves.


UK and USA now need to accept the fact that their “60 years in the mansion” are over. Comfortable and cushy life in haveli is a thing of past, now it’s time to put on the running shoes again.