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Title How Gandhiji would have viewed Anna Hazare Anti-Corruption Movement?
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Article by Habib Zafar NALSAR
Category Law Students


                                 “How Gandhiji would have viewed Anna Hazare’s Anti-Corruption Movement”


“Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today”

                                                                                                                                                      -Mahatma Gandhi.


Corruption affects the entire society at all levels and in all sectors. It is also of the most obvious concern of society and a theme of everyday discussion and debate. Apart from the moral and ethical mission to tone up the moral level of the entire society, the administrative reform is also an integral part of the overall strategy against corruption for simplification of procedure accountability and openness. In Huntington words, “Corruption is behavior of public officials which deviates from accepted norms in order to serve private ends. The character of corruption in India has not changed over time, though its magnitude certainly has. Conventional wisdom might suggest that the corruption that plagues India today is a vestige of the widespread corruption of the state-centered economy, which preceded the liberalizing reforms of 1991. Yet many of the worst cases of corruption in recent years were borne out of deregulation, privatization, and the fostering of public-private partnerships—the very processes that were meant to reduce the discretionary powers of public officials. An example is the notorious “2G spectrum scam,” in which cellphone licenses were sold for a fraction of their value, resulting in the loss of a staggering $39 billion to the national exchequer. Corruption in politics has become a plague across our country, it is draining our resources and demoralizing our nation.

Anna Hazare, is the man of initial protester- an anti-corruption crusader who is determined to establish the Jan Lokpal Bill that can bring in a strong anti-corruption law in India. In today’s generation, most of us have not seen Mahatma Gandhi and his way of fighting against the English. However, Anna Hazare has provided us a glimpse of the ‘Freedom Struggle’ His actions was reminding the shadow of Mahatma Gandhi. The question arises here: does nonviolence serve as mighty tool in the 21st century as well? & how Mahatma Gandhi would have viewed this movement?

Anna Hazare struggle against corruption was a gentle reminder of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha. His fast-unto death, has shown the world what Gandhism means in today’s world. The power of Gandhiji’s nonviolence will never cease to exist in the ages to come. While in Libya and Yemen there is bloodshed for freedom, where people are waging war against one another during the crisis, here in India, a respected social activist Anna Hazare is waging a peaceful, nonviolent war against corruption. His urge to free India of the greatest evil, corruption, commends appreciation. This fight against corruption staged at Jantar Mantar was not a one- man show. People from different parts of the country gave their support to Anna Hazare. The greatest merit of this nonviolent struggle was that no political party was involved in it. Anna Hazare and his supporters were not influenced by any political party. There was only one flag waving high in the sky and in our minds, the Indian National Flag. IT IS evident from his interviews and speeches that Hazare views corruption as the result of unchecked human greed. There is no further analysis. Gandhi too stressed the importance of personal ethics: “Be the change you want to see in the world” is one of his best-remembered axioms. But Gandhi’s understanding of why humans err was more profound, his diagnosis more structural. For Gandhi, personal greed had a wider social context, and was also rooted in the unethical choices and practices of the state. . Gandhi would surely condemn India’s bitter scourge of corruption were he alive today. Unlike Hazare, however, he would demand a more systemic answer to a more preliminary question: How did this come to pass?

Hazare and his supporters have been silent on a range of recent developments—such as illegal mining and the land acquisition process for SEZs (special economic zones)—in which corruption hurts poor farmers, fisher folk, and indigenous communities rather than well-heeled city-dwellers. Reckless and rapacious economic transformations have proceeded unchecked, even as Hazare has prayed, fasted, and stressed the importance of vegetarianism and tee totaling. Gandhi would surely have been critical of such unwillingness to connect personal ideals of moral living with a broader vision of social and environmental justice. While Gandhi curried favor with wealthy business elites—a strategy that earned him enduring opprobrium from India’s Communist Left—his primary base of support was always the rural poor, in whose service he advocated a smaller-scale and more ecologically conscious road to “development” than the one India ultimately adopted. Hazare, in contrast, has yet to formulate a position that challenges the neoliberal objectives and ill-founded nationalism of his financiers and followers. An anti-corruption route more in keeping with Gandhian principles is that of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI).

This lime Unlike Gandhi, Hazare is not a deep thinker. Nor is he an educated man. More worrying, he seems to lack the Mahatma’s sense of compassion and good judgment. Hazare’s critics say that he has a soldier’s view of corruption rather than that of the spiritual leader he claims to be but these lines of Gandhi is enough to guide anyone:

"A small body of determined spirit, fired by an unquenchable faith

in their mission can alter the course of History."


Hazare caught India's imagination with his self-proclaimed similarity to the imagery of Mahatma Gandhi. Hazare called his movement the second freedom struggle and claimed that his ''Satyagrah'' would continue till his last breath. In his anti-corruption movement Anna Hazare applied basically five main principles of Mahatma Gandhi: 1) Love your enemy: This does not require Anna to dance around trees with Team UPA. Love can be a great unifier when implementing Satyagraha techniques. Phase one of Team Anna's movement resembled more of a hate campaign against the Congress Party. 2) Be truthful: Truth is the strongest weapon in any satyagrah. 3) Try to win your enemy over: The mantra is to act virtuously at all times so that even your opponents become sympathetic to your cause. So if as Team Anna alleges, ministers in the UPA government were behaving arrogantly towards them, then the trick should have been such humility that would have shamed them into action. 4) don’t show anger; instead suffer the anger of your opponent.5) Don't lose sight of the goal: Sympathy for a movement can only be built by continuously displaying great strength of commitment towards the cause.  

Gandhiji famously wrote that “I have derived my politics from ethics…It is because I swear by ethics that I find myself in politics”. It is heartening that when ethical deficit in governance and public life is being acknowledged by top leadership of our country, people are campaigning for corruption free society the movement led by Anna by invoking the name of Mahatma Gandhi.  The awakening among citizens of our country to battle against graft is truly inspiring.  Even beyond the frontiers of our country people are agitated on the rising levels of corruption. Mahatma Gandhi exhorted people to take proactive measures to expose bribery and sleaze and nip them in the bud.  “Instead of suing one’s calumniator in a law court for false allegations of corruption,” he wrote, “the best and the only right course would be for the public to prevent actual corruption from taking place by maintaining a sleepless vigilance, and for the servant to keep the public on the qui vive”.Shri Hazare also constitutes an important step to remain vigilant for the cause of a public life pulsating with values and ethics.  

Mounting levels of corruption and the collapse of norms for running the affairs of nation are matters of serious concern. Mahatma Gandhi had said that the day corruption would be removed that day India would get independence from foreign rule. The spectre of corruption is hunting ordinary people and paralyzing administration. It calls for a movement in the pattern of our freedom struggle to detoxify our public life. The central figure of that movement was Mahatma Gandhi. For corruption free country Mahatma Gandhi would have supported Anna’s movement.

Gandhi's success was partly because of his philosophy and thinking a large part of it had to do with the British. Gandhi's weapons were only successful because he believed that the British had a conscience that could be appealed to. In order to appeal to the British conscience Gandhi used the teachings of the New Testament. He followed the parables and the teachings of Jesus. "One who enters into no dispute with his neighbor, he neither attacks nor uses violence. On the contrary, he suffers himself without resistance and by his attitude towards evil not only sets himself free but helps to free the world at large from all outward authority

As Gandhiji also appreciated corruption free country and Anna is following the principles and ways which Gandhi practiced and by which he provided freedom to nation, so Gandhiji would have affirmative view on anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare as it is in the interest and welfare of the society. Gandhiji would have addressed Anna Hazare with there words:

“If I have the believe that I can do it,

I will surely acquire the capacity to do it,

Even if I may not have it at the beginning.

-          Mahatma Gandhi.





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