Letters | Sep 19, 2011
  • V, the People of India
    Sep 19, 2011

    Apropos your cover story (A Longdrawn Endgame, Sep 5), both Anna Hazare and Afzal Guru tried to blow up Parliament in their own ways. One is considered a hero, the other a villain. This is because people value the Parliament building more than the representatives sitting inside. If people think MPs are not worth the building they sit inside, will they consider their legislations worth the paper on which they are printed? What say, Anna?

    Som Thomas, Bangalore

    Vox populi, vox dei. It’s a principle for which our government has shown supreme contempt by attempting to subdue a people’s movement with a clumsy combination of brute force and sophistry. The opposition, too, matches the ruling UPA’s cynicism: it remained silent, and only when it was sure it had an opportunity, moved in for the kill. Anna Hazare’s triumph, even if it should prove only symbolic, is nevertheless significant as an attempt to clean the Augean stables of Indian politics and corruption—all led by a diminutive man armed only with the courage of his convictions.

    Chandan Das, Cuttack

    Kindly refer to your cover report, in which the following sentence appears: “Gone were the Kapil Sibals, Manish Tewaris and P. Chidambarams, who briefly vented their bile against the movement and without reservations cussedly reviled an old man.” I challenge you to produce a single statement attributed to me which would fit the above description. If you cannot, I expect you, in all fairness, to publish a retraction and an apology.

    P. Chidambaram, Union home minister, New Delhi

    Our correspondent replies: The Delhi police, which arrested Anna Hazare, reports directly to the Union home ministry. The decision to arrest Hazare in consultation with senior officials of the MHA reflects on the position of the Union home minister on how to deal with the agitation. And this has been widely reported in the media.

    Anna’s cause was a good one and his agitation was peaceful. But had something gone wrong and it had turned violent, did Anna’s team have any contingency plan to deal with it? Anna is a simple man and I believe he was egged on by his team and by the media focus on him. The methods adopted, overall, by his team were coercive and I hope they aren’t followed anymore. Going on a fast-unto-death is not a legitimate way of bringing about change. One fast-unto-death by Potti Sriramulu Naidu has done enough to divide the country on the basis of language.

    G. Venkataraman, Mumbai

    Hazare may not have heard of Stuart Eizenstat’s theory of “closing gaps”, but he seemed to be referring, with precision, to the political-economist’s “capacity gap” and the “legitimacy gap” when he said the government had failed to check inflation and provide food at affordable costs to the poor and to the middle class and that it could not say it derived legitimacy from having been elected, for true legitimacy comes only from good governance, which the UPA government has miserably failed to provide. Instead of conducting a socio-political audit of their policies or taking time out for introspection, Manmohan and his team chose vengeance and arrogance as the means of dealing with Anna Hazare’s team.

    Dr Krantikumar Sharma, on e-mail

    Our decline emanates from the standards of behaviour of those who make our laws: they make laws and then seek to protect themselves from those very laws. Unless this is challenged, and our nation’s character reformed, there is no hope for us.

    Anumon Lakshmi, Chennai

    We will never get a prime minister as clean as Manmohan Singh. If he pushes through a Lokpal bill taking into account the suggestions of civil society, it will be his crowning achievement. Why doesn’t he go for it?

    Vinod Gangadharan, Bangalore

    The Anna Hazare agitation has reached a peaceful conclusion, but all said and done, the tone adopted by his team was authoritarian and hectoring. It was un-Gandhian, though Anna claims to be a Gandhian.

    S.R. Kaudinya, Bangalore

    Kapil Sibal, P. Chidambaram, Digvijay Singh, Ambika Soni, Manish Tewari and others are doing a perfect job of finishing the Gandhi family legacy.

    Harbans Singh, Hyderabad

    Why is it that artists, actors, filmmakers, singers, dancers, writers and teachers—and there are thousands of them in our country—did not come out in the thousands to support Anna? Their silence is shameful. The presence of Om Puri, Aamir Khan, Kailash Kher, Anupam Kher and a few others—who came as individuals—was commendable, though.

    Arvind Gigoo, Jammu

    Parliament may be the supreme lawmaking body, deriving legitimacy from the fact that it comprises elected representatives of the people, but this does not mean it can ignore the vox populi. If civil society, through a peaceful agitation, reminded government and Parliament that we badly need a law to rid us of corruption, it wasn’t subverting parliamentary democracy, as some intellectuals tried to make us believe.

    B. Seetharam, Hanamkonda

    Please don’t talk in terms of People vs Parliament. Anna’s movement was essentially a case of People vs the Corrupt.

    Asha, Bangalore

    Attributing a conspiratorial role to the media in Anna Hazare’s campaign, Arundhati Roy said if they were doing it for the TRPs, they could well have settled for pornography. What has Ms Roy done but burned the fiction-writer’s fears that infest her mind onto the consciousness of Outlook’s readers? She asks why Anna did not take up the cause of farmer suicides and so on, but what has she done but write some pieces for this far-left magazine that, for reasons best known to its erudite editor, Vinod Mehta, occasionally publishes intellectual pornography?

    Viswanath V., Kurnool

    Team Anna seemed to want to keep the media attention focused on itself. Did it really matter who Swami Agnivesh was speaking to? If their movement had the support of crores of Indians, what could one Swami Agnivesh have done to undermine it? And the media, too, did its bit: exaggerated the affair. What to say of the mindless playing up of trivia, like Rakhi Sawant saying ‘Anna is Ram, Kejriwal is Ravan’!

    Ashutosh Kumar, Delhi

    It was young Congress MPs like Priya Dutt, Sandeep Dikshit, Milind Deora and some others who campaigned for a solution to the impasse between Anna’s team and the Congress-led UPA government. They seemed to have their finger on the pulse of the people and did their best to convey to the higher-ups in government the signals from the ground. Their political sense was clearly sharper than that of many other more experienced hands. I wonder if the party will give them more responsibility.

    P. Arihant, Secunderabad

    What was astonishing about the Hazare movement was the way it gathered strength without much of an organisational framework.

    Bichu Muttathara, Pune

    Hazare’s campaign against corruption might be described as victorious, but the very people whose anger was its moving force will, I believe, fail Anna in the day-to-day fight against corruption. After all, so many of us surrender meekly to threats from corrupt officials or, out of the need to get things done fast, pay bribes.

    Sankaran N.V., on e-mail

    Irrespective of whether Anna has won or the government has lost, one thing is clear: people are angry about misgovernance, fraud and corruption. It was this anger that Anna was able to channel, and the government would do well to recognise the anger as real.

    S.R. Gadicherla, Bangalore

    Rahul Gandhi’s remarks during zero hour in Parliament were unexceptionable. Indeed, demands for law by diktat will set a dangerous precedent. Why not make the Lokpal a constitutional body, like the Election Commission?

    G. David Milton, Maruthancode

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