Tag Archives: Gram Swaraj

Anna Hazare – A Critique by Jeyamohan

27 Aug

This is a translation of a blog post from Tamil writer Jeyamohan’s blog.

Translation from: http://www.jeyamohan.in/?p=20273

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Jeyamohan,

A direct question. You should answer this without deflecting the question. Do you consider Anna Hazare a saviour? Do you have no critiques on Anna?

Ramkumar,
Madurai

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Dear Ramkumar,

I do not consider anyone a saviour. Even in my earlier articles on Gandhi, I have not presented him as a saviour. I have only tried to see his contribution to the historical situation of his time as a whole. I don’t even say ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi.

I try to fit Anna Hazare’s movement to this day’s place in history and then view his contribution to the ideologies of today’s civil society. This movement is important since it is happening at a time in Indian history when corruption cannot be tolerated any more. I believe its consequences will form a new
beginning since it presents corruption as a major political issue to the masses of India who are apolitical.

I do not believe that Anna Hazare or his movement will eradicate corruption. There are never such simplifications in my writings.  Its contribution solely lies in shaping the common social opinion that is forming against corruption today. That social opinion will transform into a political power that will fight corruption. Hence his movement is important. This alone has been my stand – I have written this several times.

I have been saying that Gandhi’s achievement was not that he defeated the British through his Satyagraha struggle. His achievement was that he gradually changed the common social opinion of Indian civil society through that
movement.

Critics of Anna fail to see the huge change that his movement is creating in contemporary civil society’s opinions. They fail to see that the people are watching. They only view and raise questions about this Lokpal, the fast for that and its related politics. This is the difference betweeen them and me. I have not exaggerated this movement – nor have I underestimated it like many intellectuals have done.

I have written about Anna Hazare before these agitations. About his Gandhian economics – Gram Swaraj setup.  In the book ‘Indraya Gandhi’ (‘Today’s Gandhi’), I have recorded my broad study of Gandhian economics. I have spoken extensively on its possibilities and my reservations about them.

Gandhi’s concept of Gram Swaraj is simply to build villages as regional economically self sufficient centers as apposed to globally sourced capital. Hence it rejects modern technology, modern communications etc.
Gandhi’s Gram Swaraj puts forward a decentralised structure of authority and
direct power of the people. I have doubts about the former and hopes of the latter.

Anna Hazare has been someone who has taken Gandhi’s Gram Swaraj principles almost as a religious belief. He has attempted to create this in Ralegan Siddhi. Ralegan Siddhi is an economically self sufficent village. An independent political circle which has a panchyat of its own. But it achieved this only by reducing its links with the outside world.

I doubt if this is feasible at the national level. Like Gandhi, Anna Hazare too rejects the entire Western civilisation, international capital and modern science. In these twenty years, his opinion has further hardened. Particularly, people like Medha Patkar have made him turn against all sorts of modernisation.

The Gandhians whom I consider seriously are those who have attempted to adapt Gandhism to contemporary neds. A list like Nelson Mandela, Schumacher and Ivan Illich. I have not added Anna Hazare to this list. He is only a Gandhian
worker.

I have several critiques on his Gandhism. But this is not the occassion to mention them. Today what he is doing is a different task. He is pointing out the value of sacrifice in politics to the younger generation. I will not use my critiques to cover this movement with misgivings.

I will write about Anna Hazare’s vision of economics (which is also Medha Patkar’s) after this movement rests.

J