Fight against corruption: A letter to my fellow Indians

My dear fellow countrymen,

Congratulations on two victories – the world cup and the anti-corruption movement headed by Anna Hazare. Now that the media brouhaha on both is over, would you care to talk some real issue and take some real steps?

It was heartwarming to see thousands of you taking to the streets. Activists and affected people who have been screaming louder for decades were surprised with your sudden interest. They were happy, but also felt cheated by your ephemeral interest. Personally too, while I respect your sentiments, I have to warn you against your own mindset – the one that believes that doing this will root out corruption from this massive nation. To lay it honestly, this thought is naïve. It is as naïve as practicing an unhealthy lifestyle and when you get sick believing that popping a pill will cure you.

The current anti-corruption agitation is nothing but that pill that will not, I repeat, that will not weed out corruption or the nation’s illnesses. You have just popped a pill and it will take care of the symptoms, not the malady. Because the malady is too deep for a simplistic cure like this. At worst, the entire power structure of this nation needs to be kept under the ICU of people’s democracy to even attempt a cure of its many ailments. Let me elaborate just a few.

I live in the city of Mumbai, purportedly one of the world’s richest municipalities, yet it has roads and public amenities to match the worst. Yes, you know about that, but have you done anything about it. Even for this, you might want to take a leaf from Anna Hazare’s work in his village in Ralegan Siddhi, where every road has signage’s where the name, address and number of the builder and the amount allocated and spent is put up. One simple way to root out civic corruption would be this. Wouldn’t such a signage be an interesting departure to the pointless, vain and congratulatory hoarding of politicians. Would you now, high on the success of the Anna Hazare fast, take this up?

Or would you take up the cases of the thousands of mill workers in Mumbai, whose daughters have been forced to go to prostitution, whose sons have turned criminals, all while the owners of the mills, sell the mill lands for thousands of crores and don’t even care give a few small percentage to those who have suffered for three decades.

Or to the thousands who live on the streets without amenities, whom you ignore on a daily basis. Or the 65% Mumbaikars who live in decrepit and unhygienic slums and yet whose land is under attack by land sharks. You consider those living in slums to be pest, not realizing that on an average one a day of these slum dwelling pests die to clean your sewage so that your health is not eaten away by real pests. You owe your life to them. Would you now care to give a little back by taking up their cause?

Or would you care to understand how your favourite topic corruption, is eating away this nation, brick by brick. Of how 34% are chronically malnutritioned, of how these people have zero carbon footprint because they don’t often get one meal a day. Would you care to hear me when I tell you that your very own India has the world’s largest number, concentration and deaths of malnutritioned children and adults globally, a kind of proportion that is seen only during famines or floods. Of how 8 Indian states have more poor than 26 poorest African nations.

Or would you cry foul that while so many children are dying, there are thousands in the central part of India, that are being armed both by the state and Maoists to fight each other. Do you even know that while you call Africa uncivilized because you see on films and on TV that they arm kids, India has perhaps more number of children with guns than anywhere in the world.

Or would you want to know another face of corruption, where those thousands across the nation who have been fighting corruption for decades before you even got it into your consciousness that this cancer can be fought, are being branded naxals, Maoists, terrorists etc. and put to prison, tortured or killed there or in fake encounters. Or of how the same govt. you were agitating against talks of them to be against development, when all they ask for is for equitable development?

Or would you now care to join the agitation for the release of a much awarded doctor Binayak Sen who has been put behind bars for being a Maoist and waging war against the state. Well, I have news for you. He has been waging war against the state and I have caught his confession for this ‘anti-national’ activity and it is up on YouTube. You can watch this 7 part video, beginning here: to know the extent of his anti national activity. Would you now care to express solidarity with him, like you did to Anna Hazare, or cry for justice to be delivered to literally thousands and thousands of low profile people – common men and women, hesitant activists and rebels and RTI activists – who are facing a fate worse than Binayak Sen in this nation’s jails while your corrupt bureaucrats wine and dine despite embezzling you of lakhs of crores. Getting justice for them is a much greater fight against corruption than standing with Anna Hazare.

Or after the disaster in Fukushima, would you stand shoulder to shoulder with the struggling villagers in Jaitapur, who are protesting a mad move by the government to set up the world’s largest nuclear reactor, an action bordering on insanity. To know why I think so, watch this man on YouTube (all three parts) and see if this coupled with what you have seen in Fukushima does not worry you about the health of the nation and the extent of corruption here.

Or would you care to speak out against your own corruptions, no matter how small, of casteism, religious hatred, regionalism and say enough is enough.

Please switch off your TV for 15 minutes a day, and take that time to talk to the maid at your place, to the rickshaw and taxi driver who slog their asses off only for you to ban them with your ‘meter-jam’ campaign without understanding why they do what they do.

Talk to the child who irritates you by touching you while begging for alms. Talk to the peon in your office and find out how he lives and what his problems are.

If you do this little task, you would have done much more than create a revolution that you wanted with Anna Hazare. Because true revolution is never external, it’s internal. It’s when you see, understand and perhaps change, will corruption and the ills that beset this nation be taken care of. Holding a candlelight march is good. But now that you have had your kick, please try and do more. Your country needs you.

Please remember a childhood proverb, that power corrupts, no matter who holds it. It’s like the ring in Lord of The Ring. It corrupts the purest souls. The solution is when you and I constantly question authority and rebel against them when need be as an active participant not a spectator to a sporting event. You want revolution in the nation? Well let me tell you that you and I are the revolution. And the course of corruption and health of this nation will be determined by what you will do now, what you will stand for. And now that you have stood up, do look around and smell the stink. And if you do, please take a shovel and clean whatever little you can. That will be the true revolution.

Yesterday a god of cinema died somewhere in New York. This director’s name was Sydney Lumet. I would remind you of a line from his film Network where people scream, “I am mad as hell and I am not gonna take it anymore.”

Would you care to scream that now? Would you at least look around to see what’s truly going on, because I am sure if you did, you will indeed scream your voice-boxes out with madness.

Hoping for madness from you,

Satyen K. Bordoloi

10 April, 2011

(Satyen Bordoloi is a guest writer with Canary Trap. You can read his blog at 0-9 – A-Z)

3 thoughts on “Fight against corruption: A letter to my fellow Indians

  1. Jan Lokpal Bill certainly is not an all pervading panacea- but one of many required. A moral coercion, as led by Anna Hazare, was much needed to give our leaders and smooth running political system a jolt.

  2. Most of the communities in India (such as Bengali), are succumbed in ‘Culture of Poverty'(a theory introduced by an American anthropologist Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody is at all ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-administrative system, weak mother language, continuous absorption of common space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold. Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent, caring society, fearless & dignified living. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative behaviour (values) to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately co-parenting of those children those are born out of ignorance, real poverty. All of us are being driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom (from vicious cycle of ‘poverty’) in their own life/attitude, involve themselves in ‘Production of Space’(Henri Lefebvre), at least initiate a movement by heart, decent & dedicated Politics will definitely come up.
    – Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, 16/4, Girish Banerjee Lane, Howrah-711101, India.

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