The Political Alternative

The past 18 months have been a roller coaster ride for Team India Against Corruption - starting with the massive interest in the movement in April 11, moving on to the next few heady months... right till the peace in December. During this period, the Team IAC saw it all: heady adulation, vicious targeting and misinformation campaigns etc; they saw the mass frenzy in their support, and also the loss in followers after the initial euphoria. Not a bad experience for a team whose core agenda is to eradicate corruption

But first, the Lokpal. The much vaunted Lokpal, as I had observed in one of my earlier posts, cannot be the final solution; it can only be one of the cogs. The problem is far too deeply entrenched for it to be legislated away. When just about everyone you see is involved in some form of corruption - whether as the taker or as the giver - then a statutory body can only do so much. Further, anyone actually involved in corruption - and in a position of power - would not want a body along the lines of the Janlokpal. Forget about the Lokpal; our political class has even been unable to implement the Supreme Court directive to give autonomy to the police forces. How anyone seriously contemplates the possibility of a genuine lokpal is beyond me.

Next, the much-vaunted middle class. Sorry to say so, but they are either busy in harvesting the fruits of corruption - or are simply not in a position to do anything about it for lack of avenues. In an environ where speaking up leads to being targeted and all your efforts being hindered, any family man will turn a blind eye. This is the way things are done; I cannot participate in it since I am honest; but that does not make me so foolish as to court disaster by trying to buck the system - these thoughts are pretty much what pass through the honest guy. As a result, corruption festers unhindered; it also propagates unhindered as more and more honest people get pulled into the quagmire.

That is the situation as it stood before the advent of India Against Corruption. Now let us analyse the achievements, so as to arrive at a definitive idea of exactly what has been achieved and what needs to be done.To those among us who believe that the movement has fizzled out - please read the points given below with an open mind:

  1. The biggest achievement of this movement has been the galvanisation of the middle class. The laid back middle class with its "chalta hai" attitude was shown to have at least a core of constituents who cared, and cared deeply. They cared enough to come onto the streets all over India: and consistently at that, right upto this latest attempt. Dont look at the dwindling numbers - that is looking at it upside-down. Look at this the right way: you now know that you have a core set of Indians who care deeply and want to implement change, and a tertiary set of citizens who care but have lost hope or trust in you. The moot point here is that the tertiary set is also wanting an improvement in the state of affairs
  2. Creating pressure on the political class: the political class, for the first time in the history of Indian Democracy, got a taste of the power of the people of India. The fact that they verbally ripped apart IAC leaders bears mute testimony to this fact. Sure - they won the first round. But then they were always going to win the first round, no matter how hard anyone tried! They are after all in power, they are known leaders and some of them are genuinely well liked and respected. In this class of respected leaders are some who want change but do not agree with some modalities of IAC - this realisation is also critical
  3. Team IAC has provided a ray of hope in the darkness that was beginning to engulf the nation in the sphere of rampant corruption; it is like the proverbial spark that lights a fire. And the fire that has been lit is the fire in the bellies of all honest Indians who now have some genuine hope of change - and have shown the willingness to do something concrete about it. This is one factor that was conspicuous in its absence earlier.
  4. It is serving as a magnet that is drawing like-minded people... people from all walks of life are now beginning to interact with team IAC. Again, dont look at their numbers. Look at what they can contribute and more pertinently look at the fact that even a figure "1" is numerically greater than "0" - which is precisely what it was just 2 years ago
  5. It has also brought the issue front-and-centre onto the national stage - a factor which was not present even 3 years ago. No mean feat, that
These 4 significant factors are not ones that can be so easily ignored. They points towards a qualitative change in the atmosphere of the Indian people; they point out that there is now a core set of citizens who are actually willing to put the first food forward in the process of change. The political class is now under more pressure than it has ever been; they are under attack from the entire spectrum of interests - including people who disagree with Team IAC. Thirdly, a person without hope will do no efforts; a ray of hope can work wonders : given sufficient time. And fourth, the coming together of people of probity in one forum or one one platform (meaning crusaders who dont agree with IAC but are anti-corruption nonetheless) is also a pwerful factor: it gives the normal citizen a role model and it acts as a further magnet. Not only that, the galivanisation of the middle class also acts as a catalyst as people see citizens they can identify with playing a role and taking a stand. A professional or a doctor as an activist will catch the interest and attention of all professionals or doctors; that is bound to fuel change

Moving on to the political alternative, it should not be and cannot be discounted so long as you dont target specific parties and keep your agenda as Lokpal, probity in public life, anti-corruption and providing a clean alternative. You have to differentiate yourself from the mess out there. No easy task, but there is no other way. We have seen that the political class is in no mood to even relinquish control of the police forces- for which there is an apex court order pending-  so obviously any dreams of a strong lokpal or CBI independence are not going to be realised so easily. We have seen the fear of the political class: they are scared out of their wits by the movement, judging by their vituperative methods as well as long-drawn efforts to appease the people by trying to get in a so-called lokpal. Hence, a political move is indicated

So long as the new clean party harbours no dreams of power, there should not be a problem. It would still cause untold discomfort to the established parties as the votes will be split. Even a few percentage point shift can change the whole scenario; so all in all it could just turn out to be a good move. If the people standing for elections are genuinely clean - and if you can galvanise the middle class who prefers so stay at home on election day then there is no telling what may happen. But at the core of it all is your connect with the movement... it has to grow organically, and your connect with the people has to grow. If you can provide that alternative and cause even a small swing in the calculations - it will give the existing top parties a reason to change simply because the more decent among them might just cause the change. This is simply because your move will have hurt them where it hurts the most: the vote. All in all, a good move... 


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