MUMBAI — Earlier this year, I blogged about “The dilemma of democracy” and Pritish Nandy‘s accurate depiction of the Indian mentality: “What is most corrosive in India today is cynicism; it is the idea that nothing can change.”
So have recent events demonstrated the reverse?
There’s no doubt that the India against Corruption movement has taught us one thing. We’re not willing to tolerate mis-governance anymore.
At the same time, I don’t think a lot of us are willing to ask ourselves: is the lokpall bill really the panacea to our problems?
There’s a difference between blind support and constructive criticism. It’s a fine line which the media in our country continues to overlook, because it’s always more exciting to portray the situation as black and white. Either you support team UPA or team Anna.
If you read the PM’s speech in response to Anna’s arrest, you’ll know why the media has blown this out of proportion.
“I should also make it clear that the issue between the Government and Shri Anna Hazare is not one of different attitudes to fighting corruption,” were the exact words of Manmohan Singh.
However if you’ve been watching television, which is more likely all you will see is footage of Hazare and his supporters, a countdown blinking on the screen to how many hours left for his fast to start and end, and some exaggerated statements flashing on the tickertape like, “The ultimate battle.” “Anna versus UPA.” “Round 2 begins.” It’s the usual tamasha of Indian T.V.
Anti-corruption as a long-term objective has captured the public imagination and sustained Hazare’s movement. As for debating this, we need a constructive and intelligent dialogue, along the lines of how to promote transparency and accountability of institutions and leaders. What methods are required to create political and civic awareness?
Right now the government needs time to reach a comprehensive solution, to come up with an effective mechanism to expose corruption. It’s not a battle between Anna and the government, because the government wants to tackle corruption. But the answer does not lie in starvation nor by shoving a legislation in the face of this country’s law-making body.
In the meantime the media needs more nuanced coverage of the issue, which doesn’t reduce this into a “team anna – versus Congress battle.” Because right now the only team that needs our support is anti-corruption.