Anna Hazare & Questions on Democracy (Part 1)

23 Aug

This Jan Lokpal that they speak of, is it really powerful? I too share the doubt which a few others have raised that this will create a powerful authority outside of parliament. Leaders who are power drunk and other headaches might come from this new shortcut to power, isn’t it?


Dear Bogan,

I have faced this question several times on several occasions. Importantly this question was asked verbatim in the 1980s at a time when people’s movements focusing on the environment started emerging. ‘These groups will have authority over government institutions and politicians, grow into private groups and will destroy our democracy’. At that time a corrupt politician like Nandhini Satpathi and a honest one like E K. Nayanar both asked this question. At first glance, it will seem valid.

But in the Indian democratic setup, this can only bring an equilibrium of power, never an absolute power in itself. This was argued by a few who saw reason – notably late Dr. Sivarama Karanth. That has remained true till date. These people’s movements have remained the foremost constructive forces in preventing environmental damage in India. The civil society activists in those movements. Without them, the Govt. and its officials would have stripped our nation bare and turned it into a desert.

Its is a usual complaint that environmental groups threaten Govt. officials and institutions. Mostly by those who seek to destroy the environment. The factory owners in Tiruppur who let untreated polluted water into the river and corrupt politicians and officials will say this. But it remains true that without another front with authority, a front outside of the Govt., people would not be able to control persons like these.

From human rights, to women’s rights in all platforms this participation by other people and civil society activists has created successful results. That is the reason why its being demanded in the fight against corruption too.

The problem is most of us are not aware of what has happened and been achieved in these platforms till now. Hence, with a new surprise and new confusion we ask ‘Whats this? isn’t this anti-democratic? The Govt. and elections are there no?’



This is a translation  of a blog post from Tamil writer Jeyamohan’s blog.  This was in response to a letter from a reader.

Translation from:


One Response to “Anna Hazare & Questions on Democracy (Part 1)”

  1. Ramalaxmi January 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    Our duty does not end by voting alone. Democracy is also threatened when wrong deeds are not criticized and questioned.

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