There was an article by Arundhati against the movement for Janlokpal,
she's eloquent as usual, and she misses the point, pretty much as
usual. In this article I am trying to talk about the points she raised
and hopefully when we are done we might have a broader perspective of
this movement than what Arundhati has projected.
Arundhati's most important gripe seems to be that the people in the
movement are raising slogans like – (a) Vande Mataram (b) Bharat Mata
ki jai (c) India is Anna, Anna is India (d) Jai Hindi. Would she
prefer if they said (a) India Hai Hai (b) Indian govt murdabad (c)
Jeeve-jeeve Pakistan, when they come out on the streets to demand that
the Indian government creates a better system for our people?
She's lying when she says that the slogans are the answer you get when
you ask questions about Janlokpal. The team that's running Janlokpal
has made every attempt to talk to anyone who is concerned about it,
and to alleviate all their doubts. For months there was a public
referendum on the provisions of Janlokpal, very openly, and lots of
provisions were rejected, modified, and adapted according to the
inputs of the people. This is a fact, not what Arundhati is saying.
Even now Anna Hazare and his team has announced that they are open to
any public debate on Janlokpal and they will answer all the questions
that anyone might have on any issue. Yesterday Arvind Kejriwal and
Prashant Bhushan did just that on a popular television network. There
are videos of the team members speaking on different aspects of
Janlokpal and why we need them that have been online for months.
Arundhati, lie one caught.
Her second claim is that Janlokpal seeks an overthrow of the Indian
state. Lying again. For almost an year now the Janlokpal team has been
working with the government, with all the members who care, to frame a
strong law against corruption. They've met the current government
leaders, opposition leaders, chief ministers, individual MPs, talking
to them, and telling them why the country needs a strong
anti-corruption framework. Is that working to overthrow the state?
They sat on a very hostile government panel and tried everything they
could to push their proposals forward in the way government wanted
them to. After the government panel wasted the nation's time and
failed to include even one, repeat, even one important proposal of the
Janlokpal bill, and instead sought to push their own Jokepal which
would prosecute the victims instead of the perpetrators, they decided
to sit on a dharna asking the government to make a strong bill.
Let me remind Arundhati that this was done in a perfectly legal and
non-violent manner, and Anna is asking this administration to
implement Janlokpal, not seeking a new government. Are you trying to
tell the people of India that demanding a strong anti-corruption
framework amounts to overthrowing the government? Let us hear that
again more clearly.
Arundhati, lie two caught.
Next she proceeds to tell us that Anna Hazare is a 'freshly minted
saint,' which should suggest that he has no right to speak against
public injustice as apparently, only stale saints are allowed to
crusade for India.
Wait a minute though, this freshly minted thing doesn't sound true at
all. Anna Hazare took voluntary retirement from the Army in 1978 and
started his campaign to transform Ralegaon Siddhi. All through the
next decade he worked hard for the villagers campaigning for things
like liquor prohibition, grain banks for the poor, better milk
production, creation of more schools (he sat on a fast for this),
against untouchability and for collective marriages. In 1991 he
started the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan. What was Arundhati doing
then? Oh wait, she hadn't written her first book yet.
Anna Hazare has led many movements against corrupt officials and
politicians. Powerful people. People who've maligned him, filed false
cases against him, and even sent him to jail. He has borne the worst
of what the powerful and the corrupt have to offer, unlike Arundhati
whose only achievement seems to be making radical statements. It's a
shame that someone like her should call a fighter like Anna a 'freshly
Arundhati, lie three caught
She is also giving a distorted version of the sequence of events that
unfolded during Anna's stay at the Tihar jail. She's saying that Anna
remained in Tihar as a 'honored guest'. If you are looking for honored
guests Arundhati look for Suresh Kalmadi, Kanimozhi, A Raja, Manu
Sharma, or Vikas Yadav, maybe even Afzal Guru. Anna isn't one of them.
Let me remind you that Anna Hazare was picked up from his residence by
the Delhi Police. He hadn't been on the streets murdering people with
a gun the night earlier. He was at Rajghat where he sat for an hour in
The police sent Anna to Tihar in 7 days judicial custody. To prevent
what? A non-violent protest against corruption in India. On 16th
August nearly 15,000 people of New Delhi and Mumbai courted arrest.
They went to JP Park, Azad Maidan, or whatever the venue was in their
city, asking the police to arrest them. They did not burn buses, break
glasses, or set fire to homes. I have a photograph of the special jail
at Chhatrasal Stadium for you here.
The government was counting on their belief that no one would come
ahead for Anna, and that they would be able to dispose him the way
they disposed Baba Ramdev. Unfortunately for them the people of India
had had enough. Anna was made an 'honored guest' in your words because
of all the people who were in the jail, and outside the jail for him.
Why didn't Anna come out? Because he was asked to (a) go home, (b)
leave town. When Anna Hazare asked whether he would be allowed to hold
an unconditional protest the Delhi police refused. Anna said that if
they release him he would lead the protest and they would have to
arrest him again, so it's better that he remain in jail until the
government agrees to let him protest.
Usually when a protest is organized, the people who run the protest
have enough time to make preparations. There has to be enough room,
and proper arrangements to make sure that the thousands collected are
managed properly and without harm. If Anna had gone to the protest
before the arrangements were made it could have resulted in utter
chaos that might have had serious repercussions for the people
gathered. Do you realize that Arundhati?
She also said that Anna's team whizzed in-and-out of prison and it is
a privilege that no one else has. Anna's team came out when the
individuals chose to be released, and when Anna refused to budge Kiran
Bedi and other team members were invited by the government to try and
negotiate with Anna. How does that compare to Kalmadi having a nice
tea-biscuit brunch with the Warden a few days ago? Or Manu Sharma
being surreptitiously paroled? Did you hear about them at all?
Arundhati, lie four caught.
Her next claim is that MCD worked hard to prepare the grounds. Is that
right? I will bet anybody that Arundhati didn't go to the grounds to
inspect the preparations, and she's talking out of her head again. I
went to the ground and saw the state it was in.
Here is a photograph for you Arundhati. Do you see the MCD here? Or do
you see young people who are rushing to clean the wet mud, trying
desperately but in union, to make the place better than a pigsty so
that the people could stand.
Even if they weren't, and even if MCD had sent all their workers to
prepare the grounds for Anna Hazare's protest, would there still be a
reason to complain? What MCD did there was its job. The Ramlila Ground
is supposed to be maintained by the MCD for massive gatherings. When
MCD doesn't do its job and the grounds is water-logged and mosquito
infested, it creates a serious health hazard for everyone who's there.
MCD prepares the grounds for all public protests too. It did the same
for Sonia Gandhi's rally just a few months ago. Arundhati, you want
the MCD to not do its job because this protest is not organized by a
Arundhati, lie five caught.
She's upset that the Lokpal has wide-ranging powers of investigation,
surveillance and prosecution, and then she uses her amazing writing
skills to suggest that Lokpal will practically have everything except
their 'own prisons'. I am on the verge of losing my breakfast!
Arundhati, one would expect someone who questions the Indian legal
system so openly to have better knowledge about it. The police has the
powers of (a) investigation, (b) surveillance, and (c) prosecution. So
does the CBI. How are Lokpal's power different? The only thing that
Anna is asking for is that the Lokpal be a specialized body against
corruption and that it must not need to seek permission from anybody
to prosecute a corrupt office holder. Our present system puts severe
restrictions on the investigative bodies. That's why a CBI under the
prime minister could not file a charge-sheet against A Raja, but when
the supreme court took over the investigations A Raja was brought to
Arundhati, I know that you knowingly did not make the point that the
powers of Lokpal are limited to investigation, collection of evidence
and prosecution. The Lokpal can bring a case to the court, and the
judge will then decide on the basis of the presented evidence whether
the person is guilty. How is that radically dangerous?
Arundhati, lie six caught.
It's really amazing to see how Arundhati Roy can go to ridiculous
lengths to fill the reader's mind with garbage against Janlokpal. If
you didn't know about her problems with the Indian government, you
could easily imagine she has been paid by it to write the article.
She's actually suggesting that the hawkers who pay the beat constable
to set up their stalls might have to pay the 'lokpal representative'.
Lokpal representative? Now she can frame those words and hang them on
the Red fort for all to see and it still wouldn't become true. The
Lokpal is not a policing body. They can't go and collect 'hafta' from
When land-owner's land is grabbed illegally and a mall is built there,
or when a poor person's store is unjustly removed, or when the beat
constables or MCD representatives, or other government agency
officials unjustly seek bribes from the people, that is corruption.
The Lokpal is built to take care of that.
According to the provisions of the Janlokpal Bill, a citizen can make
a complaint against an office holder, and the lokpal will investigate
the complaint. If it is found true action will be taken. Lokpal is not
going to send beat lokpallers to collect hafta from the poor. That's
downright ridiculous and only a fancy imagination could have conceived
Arundhati, lie seven caught.
She also says that the choreography, and aggressive nationalism seems
to be like that of anti-reservation. It's a clear attempt to draw the
dalits away from the fight against corruption. And how inappropriate
an attempt it is! It is the deprived, the dalits, who have to the bear
the worst of corruption. The rich and the influential are filled with
upper caste people who can actually use the present system to their
advantage because they have money power, influence, and contacts.
The dalits don't have the same advantages, that's why when all other
things being equal, it is the dalit who stands to lose when they
compete with the upper caste. All due to corruption!
Now coming to the choreography. What sort of vague word is that?
'Choreography', what are we supposed to understand from it? If she's
talking about the slogans, we've already dealt with that. What else
could she be talking about?
The anti-reservation protest was fraught with street violence and
self-immolations. The people who opposed reservations closed down
schools, colleges and offices, burnt buses, had violent clashes with
the law, and burnt themselves to death. That hasn't happened in Anna's
movement. This movement is perfectly peaceful and organized. Even when
people are on a march, they stop at the red lights and crossings to
let the traffic pass before continuing. What the hell is Arundhati
trying to imply with her 'Choreography' then?
Arundhati, lie eight caught.
The next bit is very cruel. She craftily tries to separate Irom
Sharmila, Bastar, Jaitapur, from the fast and implies by extension
that Anna Hazare does not oppose Posco, or the farmer deaths in
Maharashtra, or any of the other myriad problems that our country is
battling right now. This couldn't be furthest from truth.
Unlike Arundhati, Anna Hazare has recognized that too many of the
problems that our country is facing are a direct result of corruption.
That's why a Madhu Koda is able to earn thousands of crores in graft
money directly depriving the adivasis. That's why Yeduyarappa is able
to give illegal miners a free hand. That's why Bastar and Irom, and
Niyamgiri exist. Because of corruption.
If our framework made the responsible people accountable, it would
create a huge difference in all of these issues. Imagine a bastar free
of poachers, miners and land grabbers, a Maharashtra village where the
government's benefits schemes are truly implemented. Forget all the
other instances, just imagine what Manrega can really do for the
people if it is implemented honestly.
You've also claimed that Anna doesn't care about the farmers in
Maharashtra, or in other places, even though he has spent his entire
demonstratively in fighting for the poor and deprived villagers and
farmers. Maybe you didn't hear about this because you were too busy
hobnobbing with India haters.
Arundhati, I believe that fighting corruption is fighting on behalf of
all the people you've named, and not against them. If you believe
otherwise, give me your reasons.
Arundhati, lie nine caught.
The next slander is of course the ultimate weapon that anyone can hurl
at Anna. That he supports Raj Thackarey or Narendra Modi's alleged
wrongdoings. This is a joke, specially in sight of the fact that many
of the hardliners aligned with the BJP, the hindu-brigade, and
Narendra Modi are up with cudgles against Anna Hazare. They're making
the claim that Anna Hazare is an agent of Congress, propped up by
Congress to facilitate the crowning of Rahul Gandhi.
The communists have no love for Hazare, the right wingers have no love
for Hazare, and the Congress has no love for Hazare. My God! He must
be awesomely right!
Answering your gripe, Anna Hazare has said it publicly multiple times
that he is against any oppressive actions targeted against any
community and that he supports a system that gives equal rights to all
citizens irrespective of their religion.
And if you think you were succeeding in your nefarious scheme to
distance the muslims from the movement, you've failed. Muslims as a
community have lent their support to Anna Hazare in a massive way.
Many Imams and Maulavis have made public statements, and the
Dar-ul-Uloom, which is the biggest body of Muslims in India has said
that it is the duty of every Muslim and citizen of India to support
Anna Hazare. If they are wrong, then you must know something that they
don't. Care to share?
You've also brought the 'Youth for equality' into this. So what if
Anna's movement is supported by the Youth for Equality? It is also
supported by the All India Youth Federation. Let me show you a pic of
AIYF activists who marched against corruption for Anna. Lest you've
forgotten the AIYF is the youth wing of the Communist Party of India.
Do you realize that when it comes to this fight against corruption
Anna does not choose who supports him. He gratefully accepts their
support. Of course he doesn't give them anything in return except a
law that's strongly against corruption.
That's why the Gyan Das Akhara of Ayodhya, and Hashim Ansari, the
famous anti-temple litigator have jointly expressed support for Anna
Hazare. Do you have the courage to rise above your own pettiness?
Arundhati, lie ten caught.
You are also very misinformed, or maybe you choose to present wrong
information to the people. You have said that 'Kabir' is an NGO run by
Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia. Actually Arvind Kejriwal does not
run Kabir. He is an executive member because Manish Sisodia is an old
associate from Parivartan, but he does not manage it, or intervene in
it. It is managed by Manish Sisodia. Arvind Kejriwal's foundation is
the PCRF. They have received no donation from Ford. Their balance
sheets are available on their website for public inspection. Have a
look at all the money this foundation has.
Arvind started this foundation with 14 lakhs, the money he got with
his Magsaysay Award. He used it for public cause and to support RTI in
The PCRF maintains complete accounts for the present anti-corruption
movement too. Details of all incoming donations are available on the
website of India Against Corruption, and expenses are detailed too.
You should have a look at that.
The amount Kabir has received as donation from Ford is $200,00 and not
$400,000 as you claimed. This is verifyable form the website of the
ford foundation (http://www.fordfoundation.org/grants/search). You
could have done well to note that this donation has nothing to do with
the present movement, but you did not. I will do this for you here.
This donation was made in 2011 to Kabir to promote the use of RTI in
India, and not to support the India against corruption movement.
Arundhati, lie eleven caught.
You say next that the present bill fails to bring the corporates and
the NGOs against the ambit of Lokpal. Does our present legal system
allow that? Does our present legal system allow surveillance of the
functioning of privately funded NGOs or corporate bodies in the same
manner that it allows the surveillance of government organisations?
The legal experts have said no, and this is the reason according to
the team that they are not proposing this at the present time.
What you've forgotten is the fact that it is the government system
that's the worst offender when it comes to corruption, because it
allows its misuse by the private sector resulting in the problems
you've mentioned. There are already checks and systems to prevent and
prosecute the wrong-doings of the private sector, but they are
compromised because the investigative bodies are in the graft, or
their masters are.
If we can make this start by creating a law that forces the government
systems to work properly it will undoubtedly lead to better handling
of the private sector too. Can you imagine the telecom companies
benefiting from 2G the way they did if they didn't have A Raja working
for them? Or the various private companies making huge profits from
CWG tenders if Kalmadi and Sheila Dikshit didn't back them so
Anna's team has given the commitment to keep fighting, to further the
cause, and take fresh measures to rid the people of corruption once
the Janlokpal bill is in place. By making the Janlokpal bill an excuse
to talk about all the different malaise we have you are attempting to
short-circuit the anti-corruption drive itself. How is fighting
government corruption any less holier than fighting corruption in
Arundhati, lie twelve caught.
The only sense you are making is in the last paragraph when you say
that Anna's movement is the result of the failure of the legislature
which is filled with criminals and millionaire politicians who have
ceased to represent their people. You know, that's exactly the point
that Anna Hazare has been making. Our MPs are totally living in denial
of the people's needs and aspirations. They believe that 9% growth of
GDP is an achievement worth having 11% food inflation for. It is their
corrupt mindset and disconnect which must be challenged, and that's
exactly what Anna is doing when he mobilizes people in such a massive
manner against corruption. The fact is, we should all be thankful to
Anna Hazare for reminding the MPs that a democracy is not just made up
of the parliament, but also of the people.