Tag Archives: Tamil

In this Movement… (Anna Hazare)

28 Aug

One of my self imposed rules is not to speak about contemporary politics. The first instance when it was broken was Anna Hazare’s movement. It happened involuntarily. In the beginning itself, it struck me as a turning point in history. I wrote back when I heard too much of blanket disdain and empty arguments. It has continued as a serial activity till today. My thought that one ought not immediately comment has been strengthened.

There are about 450 people in my group. Those who usually write mails have been writing a lot there itself. Its one group in Tamilnadu which is most active in discussions. Beyond that, the number of mails I receive usually is just half of what I used to get. But once I started writing about this movement, my inbox started overflowing. After a long time, I had to spend nights and days replying to mails.

The reason is that I am the only writer who is easily reachable on the internet and who replies to mails. When an event is happening, emotions and irresoluteness are at their peak. Everywhere everyone is discusses this alone. They want to speak with the same gusto to their favourite writer. But no writer can debate with several thousand persons. If he starts, that will grow and exhaust his energy. There are over 1500 mails unreplied emails in my inbox. I apologise to those who sent them. My task for the next few days is to finish replying to them.

I think I would have written around 60 articles on Anna Hazare’s movement over these few days. My website itself has become a platform for Anna Hazare. As its content and the visitors grew, it slowed down and we had to search for a new server. The site went down for a day. If the replies had been published too, around five to six times more capacity would have been required. Nothing else could find its place.

This constaint happened to me because of those who debated with me. I couldn’t reject them since the queries were genuine. There was also a need for those articles in the Tamil context. The only platform that provided elaborate explanations continuously was mine. But nothing else except this could be done. This is the danger of involving oneself in internet debates over immediate and contemporary politics. If it had been after the event, it can be dealt with clarity in a maximum of two articles after compiling all these pages. Hence, I am not going to debate contemporary politics immediately.

Its satisfying to see my friends involve in these discussions intensely. The English translation of my articles on Anna Hazare are appearing in the website https://thesabarmati.wordpress.com . The website created for articles on Anna Hazare, http://annahazare-tamil.blogspot.com has come out as an internet magazine http://www.gandhitoday.in . Its objective is to collate information about Gandhi and Gandhian movements at one place. Friends can help by translating.

An anthology of these articles on Anna Hazare is going to be published through Kizhakku Publications. ‘Anna Hazare: Oozhalukku Ethiraana Gandhiya Porattam’ – ‘Anna Hazare: The Gandhian Movement against Corruption’.

I am content that I have participated atleast in a small part. Thats enough for now.

Websites:

Gandhism Today: Articles on Gandhi
Sabarmati : English Translations

Anna Hazare – Two Viewpoints

28 Aug

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

Translation from: http://www.jeyamohan.in/?p=20266

——————————

I am receiving two particular categories of letters in response to my opinions about Anna Hazare’s movement. I do not wish to dump several letters on the website and waste pages.

One viewpoint – Cho’s supporters. For an example of this common voice:
——————————
Mr. Jeyamohan,

I believe your opinion about Cho’s stand on Anna Hazare is written in haste. You write what ought to happen through Anna Hazare’s movement. Cho writes what will happen, i.e. nothing.

This is politics. I believe Cho’s opinion will last in the end. Everyone has voiced their opinion over this including Namitha. Though your opinions are clear about this, in the end it appears that there will be disappointment for all of us.

Anand Sundaram.
——————————
This letter.

Most of Cho supporters say that ‘He sees the reality, thats all. He doesn’t oppose it’. It’s merely their wish, not the truth.

When this movement was at its height, Cho appeared on TV to vehemently denounce Anna Hazare with all the abuse that Arundhati Roy heaped on Anna Hazare in a bitter and malicious tone. He says that this is a minor matter and no support exists for Anna Hazare in the country. He said that the Centre shouldn’t bow down to him and that Anna Hazare is a false image created by the media.

As I have earlier said, this is the BJP’s voice. There are two voices in the Hindutva front. One, that of its workers. Thats the RSS voice. The second is the voice of the corporate centers which have captured and control its leadership. Cho echoes the voice of these corporate owners. Its his chagrin that it has been defeated within the BJP through Modi and Yashwant Sinha.

The crux of another category of letters questions what is the place of dalits in this.  It’s an obvious truth that all ombudsman organizations outside of the Parliament are a support for the lower castes. Like the National Human Rights Commission.

Even if the Lokpal becomes like the Election Commission, it will be favorable for the lower castes. It’s a reality that in the past 20 years, only after the Election Commission started acting with real authority that Dalits have been able to form a political authority of their own.  Especially in the northern states.

People are suddenly worried about the supremacy of the Parliament and the sanctity of the constitution. But if the Election Commission were not to behave independently and adamantly, the dalit political sphere in UP and Bihar will disappear in a single election.  This is the real face of Parliamentary politics.

Dalits can make the Lokpal as a body to achieve their rights and demands. That’s the reason why Mayawati is thinking.

This news was comforting:

“Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) chief, Thol. Thirumavalavan went 
to the Ramlila Maidan on 26.08.2011 at 8 pm at night to meet Anna 
Hazare in person who has been on a Satyagraha fast at the Ramlila 
Maidan at New Delhi, to request him to give up his fast and to 
continue his movement through other means. 

He was welcomed by Arvind Kejriwal, a member of Team Anna. They 
conversed for over 15 minutes. Anna was extremely tired and was 
resting. Hence a bouquet of flowers and the request to give up the 
fast were placed before Arvind Kejriwal with the request to convey 
them to Anna Hazare so as not to disturb him.” 

Thirumavalavan who has understood contemporary history in the right
sense deserves credit.  Others corrupt persons in authority from the depressed classes like Ramdoss and Mulayam Singh Yadav too understand the real implications. That’s the reason they oppose this.

Congress and Anna Hazare

28 Aug

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

Translated by:  Sathya Srinivasan

Translation from: http://www.jeyamohan.in/?p=20057

—————————

What do you think about the manner in which Congress deals with Anna Hazare? Aren’t they acting democratically? Do you not appreciate that?

Saminathan

—————————

Dear Saminathan,

Today’s news that I just saw a while ago. The Congress government has brought together religious minorities to oppose Anna Hazare’s struggle.

http://expressbuzz.com/nation/foxed-upa-government-tries-to-play-minority-card/306758.html

All of these are people who had earlier spoken in support of Anna. They are making a U-turn quite abruptly. Rather, they are made to. They allege Anna Hazare’s struggle is one of the upper castes. Congress is promoting a few Dalit leaders who they say will fight against Anna Hazare.

Where do matters of religion and caste arise in Anna Hazare’s struggle? If Lokpal becomes a reality is it not for everyone?

This is not democracy. This is a divisive act. The British government did exactly the same thing. We are experiencing its effects till today.

Gandhian movements have always been massive people’s movements that encompassed all people. The British government countered it in many ways.

Firstly, with the help of the intellectuals who were on its side it constantly spread a fervent propaganda that Gandhi’s movement “spreads anarchy“ and is “practically useless”.

Secondly, it continuously bought over individuals from within the Congress party. It made them malign Gandhi – like in the case of Surendranath Banerjee.

Finally, when it realised all these methods did not work, it branded Gandhi as a representative of the upper castes. With the ‘democratic view’ that ‘everyone needs representation’ it discovered leaders from Muslims and Sikhs and they were promoted against Gandhi. They unearthed leaders from Dalits and backward castes.

Several among them were brought into politics by the British during the first Non-Cooperation movement. Only when the British gave them a place in the round-table conference were they introduced to the people from their own religions and castes. Even today the blood spilled as a result of this divisive politics has not dried.

Congress has always done this. When there was a democratic war for the Punjab problem, they created Bhindranwale. When there was a students’ uprising in Assam, they encouraged terrorism against the Assamese in Manipur.

Congress never understood what democracy is after Indira.

J.

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

————————

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

————————-

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

Anna Hazare – Can Corruption Be Eradicated From The Top?

27 Aug

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

Translated by: Skanda Narayanan

Translation from: http://www.jeyamohan.in/?p=19924

—————————

Dear J,

It looks like you have so far not addressed  an important point raised in many earlier questions. That question is, how can we remove corruption by starting at the top, when corruption is very much part of all ordinary citizens? Shouldn’t we first fight corruption at the lower level, and then move on to the top? If so, what is the point of Lokpal? Unless each one of us turn against corruption, how will we eradicate it?

Saminathan, Chennai

——————————

Dear Saminathan,

We can easily find answers if the question is put as “How to tackle this situation”, rather than questioning Anna’s movement.

Yes, we have corruption at the lower levels. What should be done about it? How do we find it out? How do we punish it? Who will punish it? Someone above that level, right? Subsequent monitoring can happen incrementally, one level on top of the other and so on. So, for corruption at a given level, only levels above can monitor and punish. If the top is completely corrupt, monitoring will become negligible, and corruption will increase. Isn’t that the truth today?

Historically, it has only been about 50 years since our society has moved from a monarchy towards democracy. Many countries that we consider corruption free, have been very much into democracy since about 200 years or so. In a typical monarchy, the king is beyond all reasonable doubt. Everything he does is right. Also, people who are close to the king possess all powers.

In a monarchy, it was ok to pay something to the king to get things done. There was no concept of equality or equal chance to everyone. If one person had all the ability and the other has the support of the king, or the king’s relative, or his courtesan, who do you think will get a chance?  We all know the answer. That was accepted as right, in a monarchy.

We are used to such behavior. We continued with the same mind set througout the British Raj. Everything the Britisher did was right. Their mercy was the route to success. We moved into democracy with the same mind set. The same mind set makes us a society that accepts corruption.

Ok, even with such a mind set, for the first 20 years of independence we had a totally corruption free rule. How was that possible? That was because we had ideological and corruption free rulers at the top. People continued to be the same, and how were they kept out of corruption? During British rule, a Tehsildar could buy 10 houses in 10 years of service. For the first 20 years after independence, nothing of that sort happened. Why? Because incorrupt rulers were monitoring from the top. Control from the top trickled down to the bottom most level.

Forget history, let us consider contemporary times. The same people under Lalu’s regime continue to be the citizens of Bihar even now. How did the boundless corruption of Lalu’s time come down now? It is because of Nitish Kumar at the top who trys not be corrupt. It is as simple as that.

Corruption can be eradicated only from the top. Those countries where corruption was brought under control, it was controlled from the top. Take the USA, or Europe. First, a few people who are against corruption form a people’s movement. This movement changes the mind set of general public. The rules are elected out of this mind set. The rulers in turn control corruption from the top.

You can see this change happening in India as well. Previous generation politicians such as A.R. Antulay, Karpoori Thakur, Karunanidhi, Gundu Rao, Nandini Satpathy have faded into oblivion. People have started supporting leaders who are considered much more corruption free such as Nitish Kumar, Narendra Modi, Oommen chandy and so on. The likes of Yeddyurappa are being driven out.  Soon, this trend will become stronger. People’s movements such as the one lead by Anna Hazare will contribute to this changing mind set. Provided this is not defeated by the mistrusting elitist thinkers of our society.

I do not believe that there will be a golden age where corruption from daily life will be completely eradicated. That would be an ignorant belief of a krutha yuga, where all forms of human weaknesses, likes and dislikes are destroyed. Even in the western countries, strict electronic surveillance and punishment are the means through which day to day corruption is kept under check. The danger of losing one’s entire life if found corrupt, acts as a detriment in these countries.

Even at the top, there cannot be a completely incorrupt administration. If capitalism is corruption prone, communism is prone to boundless corruption. Power and corruption go together all the time. However, if public welfare schemes and fundamental nation building activities are prone to corruption, they would restrict our country’s growth. It will increase inequality. The immediate need today is to control corruption at this level.

The agitations such as Anna’s movement will contribute towards this control of corruption. All positive changes happen through such continuous agitations. History is a standing evidence to this.

– J

Anna Hazare & Questions on Democracy (Part 3)

23 Aug

J,
I have been observing your discussions. I have only one question. Is this not anti-democractic? How can somebody who is unelected by the people threaten somebody elected by the people? Can we bring political problems to the streets like this?

Sakthivel

————–
Dear Sakthivel,

I faced this question for the first time in the early 1980s when environmental groups fought to prevent the destruction of Silent Valley in Kerala. At that time, both the ruling and the opposition parties spoke the same language. Magazines allotted pages for the sake of ‘development’.

Environmental groups took to the streets protesting this. It was the culturists who lead this. None of them had ever won an election. The Silent Valley movement was carried out using fasts and Satyagraha. I too participated in it as one among thousands. It was Gandhians who led that movement also.

Those movements were abused using the same words – that its against democracy. That one can raise this in the next elections. That one can contest elections. But it was through that war that Kerala’s forests were saved.

Dr. Sivarama Karanth, social activist, Gandhian and a man of letters had waged more than a hundred cases against the Karnataka Government. He held single man protests in several places. Corrupt politicians like Gundurao and Bangarappa abused him saying that he acts as a government over the elected government. But Karanth’s objective was environmental protection alone. Without him, Karnataka would have been destroyed.

Democracy provided by the constitution yields the right to vote only once every five years. Gandhian measures remain the true means of protest for people to demand for their needs from the elected government.

In reality, all fronts are constantly demanding their objectives from the government. Trade unions, several organisations. But our intellectuals do not see them as against democracy. Why, to them stopping trains for casteist protests appear as democratic activities to be supported. These casteist groups appear as ‘people’ to them. If a few lakh people fast against corruption, it appears anti-democratic.

J

——————–

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: http://www.jeyamohan.in/?p=19989

Anna Hazare & Questions on Democracy (Part 2)

23 Aug

J,
It is being said that the crowds that come to Anna Hazare’s movement are all middle class and not the general population. What is your opinion?

Sivaraj.
——————–
Sivaraj,

Almost everyone has answered this one. In all the movements that have ever happened, not only in India, but all over the world, the first and foremost to participate are the middle classes. Marxist principles state so too – in different words.

Only the middle class is able to spend their attention on contemporary politics and to observe and understand beyond day to day problems. Only they are sufficiently educated. And they are the ones that have sufficent access to communication.

All the peoples’ movements that have occurred in India have been conducted by the middle classes. They were in the forefront of Gandhi’s struggle. They were the ones who brought forward Communist movements. During the 1960s, it was the educated middle class youth of Bengal that brought forth Left wing extremism. In the 1980s,  educated middle class dalit youth started Dalit movements.

Movements started by the middle classes will gain participation from lower strata of society only after they gain momentum. There are almost no exceptions to this rule. We see in world history that even after lower classes participate, most of the control over the movement remains with the middle classes. They remain its  controlling forces. The lower class participation will be agitated and loosely structured.

But when the movement continues for some time, it’s the lower classes that sustain it. The middle class loses hope easily. Easily it falters. We have seen this many times in Gandhi’s movements.

Its a common rule that even in a usual trade union protest, its the white shirt workers who start it and that the blue shirt works participate later on and that once they enter, the blue shirts will sustain it.

Left wing groups are always controlled by educated middle classes. But they will call their protests as people’s movements. They will label other movements as ‘middle class’.

For this too, the answer which I gave earlier on. Many of those who say this are observing a people’s movement or a movement for the first time. Hence these inane speeches.

J

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: http://www.jeyamohan.in/?p=19989

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?

Bogan.

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?’

J

——————–

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: http://www.jeyamohan.in/?p=19989

Anna Hazare And Us

21 Aug

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: http://www.jeyamohan.in/?p=19891

(Note: Sections of the post.  Not in its entirety.)

————————

Greetings.

I have been reading your blog recently.  Your recent letter on Anna Hazare was a shocker.  For me.  Even after thinking for several days, I couldn’t support Anna’s movement completely.  Our forefathers told us to think twice about anything and we take it too seriously to think a million times about anything. Thoughts without actions.  Armchair / tea shop critics – I think we have the most of these in the entire country.  I am a changed person now.  While I discuss the questions I have had,  I will attempt to participate atleast a bit in this movement.

To the question – I have no questions about Anna’s integrity.  Because the Govt. has searched so long for a stain and even they have given up.  He is clean.  I have no other crooked questions.  This protest against the Government is essential.  I too desire some corrupt people to go burn in hell.  Even so, why did I keep on thinking?  Guilt.  I live in Bangalore.  Its impossible for me to even for one day follow all the traffic rules.  Honestly.  And then tax.

The only reason I pay tax correctly is because the company deducts it.  Would I have paid tax correctly, had I been doing business?  The answer is most likely no.  Most people I happen to know are likewise.  With all these faults, I cannot pretend.  I have thought a million times, more thoughts remain.  Those who participate in these protests if they take an oath to be a right citizen and to question every small corruption that they see and implement it – two things will happen. 1) moral right to question will arise 2) society will rectify itself.

This movement, if it reaches a happy ending like Shankar’s movies, it will be wonderful.

Ravi

————-

Dear Friend,

The reason why I write in an intense language is not because of anger.  Its a commentary on those who do not look within themselves for even a second but consistently keep raising such arguments.

Firstly – the doubts about Anna Hazare’s integrity.  Can such questions arise if those who raise such questions look at themselves?  A man in public life for over 30 years; gained international fame and still lives in a lower middle class background.  His family does so likewise.  His integrity is evident from his coming on to a public stage and saying ‘I charge these people with corruption’. It’s not possible to say this with while hiding something fishy.

He has fought corruption in his state for over fifteen years.  Has sent many ministers packing to their homes.  Had he been wrong somewhere, the administrators and officials would have made laughing stock out of him by now. To find a stain on him, the Govt. has spent day and night and come up with a charge that maybe two lakhs were spent on a function in his name and appointed a commission to investigate.  That too is spoken of by the media as if it were something equivalent to a commission investigating the 2G spectrum scam.

To debate this ‘corruption’ we have our magazines and political agents who live out of five star hotel receptions.  Without a bit of rational thought, our people start speaking the same.  The reason is our own dishonesty. We believe dishonest people more easily.  And refuse to belive that somebody can be entirely honest.

Secondly – those who depict him as some kind of a simpleton.  These people are the well educated ones.  I heard one person saying on TV that Anna doesn’t possess intelligence because Anna reads only Hindi.  What a shame! In India its easy to write and speak a thousand pages.  Try doing a single thing and you will see. No intellectual is ever bigger than a man of action.  We easily side with those speech-specialists who deride Anna because we believe ourselves incapable of doing anything except speaking.

Will all this ever happen?

Whats the point of doing all this?

This could have done differently…

There is only one reason why we keep speaking like this. To hide our own inaction and helplessness from ourselves.

Why are we so sure that the problem with this movement lies in Anna Hazare? Why cannot we look within ourselves? Why do we think like this and why do we passionately question Anna? Why do such questions and bitterness happen within us naturally when we look at this movement?

Most of us are ‘thinkers’.  And the rest of us deride.  Thats the issue.

Jeyamohan.