Wilder dreams of a citizens’ renaissance

By Manu Zafar

You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy. You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution.”
G.K Chesterton

As suns florid rays flash through the rusty windows of 'SAFIRE LODGE' , the daily news from the receptionist's transistor shouts out  'Anna Hazare' aloud. And yesterday too, I had had 'Anna ' for breakfast-lunch-and dinner. Iam forced to look beyond who this messiah is, for his movement  has definitely sparked the hidden sentiments of at least a fraction of Indians to protest the fallacies of their elected government.It showed the resilience of hope of a nation at the beginning, but has shrunk to  mere facade of a persons path to glory peppered with a crowd full of emotions bereft of any sense. The media seems to be in blazing love with the whole episode, that Anna has grown far beyond his  proportion onto an epitome of truth and justice. Now that we have seen, that a democratically elected government which does anything according to its whims and fancies can be challenged, shaken and woken up from the slumber it pretends to be in, it is high time to direct our creative energy to think freely and debate with reason - what we actually should do next.Take the case of Hong Kong and Singapore where the campaign against dishonesty was both a drive to generate wealth and a movement to impart values of honesty and responsibility within their respective public. As such, the citizens had direct stakes in the success of these programs. In many other cases, in Africa and elsewhere, anti-corruption campaigns were either disguised campaigns to purge political opponents, as some claim underlies anti-corruption campaigns in Nigeria and China.

In a democracy like ours, where politics has mostly been an unprincipled scramble for power, we surely are bound to have a  very crucial role to play. Such is the state of affairs that we are forced to protest if we go by our own conscience. But, isn't this luxury of having an opinion something that is restricted to an infinitesimal fraction among us? The answer lies  in the simple fact that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, in order to pursue politics, to read newspapers, to be socially conscious, to be vigilant or to protest. To vote?? Well, that is altogether a different question because you get votes for colour TVs, mixer grinders, laptops, 10 rupees, or for a square meal a day. We have gloriously developed in a way where the have-nots have shrunk to have nothing-at-alls meanwhile the haves have expanded to have-alls. Finding the voice of the poor that accounts for two thirds among us and more importantly, raising them to a level they can sustain their living has always remained a prime challenge. We also have had governments which banned the use of word ‘famine’ from the lexicon of government records and declared that they eradicated it. And a government body as well, that continuously eradicates poverty by lowering the poverty line in proportions unthinkable by common sense, interests itself thus by the creation of ridiculous jokes. All these instances as well as the incidents of corruption, nepotism, or redtapism have been things that have continuously stained Indian Democracy. Witnessing all of these for over half a century, we have sat idle and muted ourselves.

Now that there is a huge pool of people who have reacted to at least one crucial issue, its vital to tap this pool of frustrated countrymen and channelize ourselves to attain something sensible. Many of us have shown the courage to emerge out of the cocoon which thinks "I and my associates are happy, and so let the country be" to "Save my country and what part should I play?” .It is high time to be free individuals representing none but one’s own conscience at least in the domain of thought. It is only then that the democratic principle - the greatest good to the greatest number-can be realized. And likewise, until the intellectual and moral level of the entire community is raised considerably, our elections alone cannot possibly bring its best elements to the forefront and the menaces mentioned earlier would follow behind. As far as our intellectual independence and moral integrity aren’t eclipsed, the hope of a better tomorrow will never die. With this enlightenment, the spring of Indian democracy can never be far behind.

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