Citizens' Issues
Anna Hazare in police custody, begins hunger protest for a strong Lokpal

Gandhian says “second freedom struggle” has begun, calls on people not to allow anti-corruption agitation to die. Team Anna says detention a “return of emergency”. Political parties condemn arrest as anti-democratic

New Delhi: Anna Hazare, who was picked up by police from a residence in east Delhi's Mayur Vihar area this morning, began his scheduled hunger protest for a strong Lokpal, within hours of being taken into police custody.

According to members of Mr Hazare's team, the Gandhian leader was on fast at a police facility in north Delhi where he was taken this morning. "He is on fast. He is not even taking water," a spokesperson for Team Anna said.

The 73-year-old Gandhian was detained at about 7.30am, apparently for threatening to go ahead with his planned hunger protest at the Jayprakash Narain Park venue, defying prohibitory orders. His close associates Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Shanti Bhushan were also detained.

Yesterday, Mr Hazare announced that he would begin an indefinite fast from Tuesday to demand the withdrawal of the "weak" Lokpal Bill and the adoption of a strong legislation to fight corruption.

Describing his detention by police as the beginning of the "second freedom struggle", Mr Hazare called on people to participate in a "jail bharo" agitation. "My dear countrymen, a second freedom struggle has begun and now I have also been arrested. But will this movement be stopped by my arrest. No, not at all. Don't let it happen," Mr Hazare said in a pre-recorded message.

The detentions have been condemned by various political parties as an attack on the democratic rights of citizens. Spontaneous protests were reported from Pune, Jaipur and parts of Kerala and even from Mr Hazare's hometown of Ahmednagar.

"This is a return of emergency without official proclamation. What crime did Anna commit? Unless we unite, we will be imposed by a defective Lokpal which protects corruption. We now need solutions not statements of intentions," Kiran Bedi, one of the key associates of Mr Hazare, told the Press Trust of India.

In parliament, the Bharatiya Janata Party gave notice in the Rajya Sabha for the suspension of Question Hour to discuss the issue, while the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day after an uproar over Mr Hazare's detention.

"I think it is a very sad day for Indian democracy. You cannot take away the right to protest and the right to dissent... this we have never seen earlier. This is completely unprecedented," said Arun Jaitley, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

Senior Bhartiya Janata Party leader LK Advani said he was not surprised at the detention of Mr Hazare and he charged the government with looking for scapegoats and stopping peaceful protests instead of fighting corruption.

"I am not surprised at this development. This is the direction in which this government is moving. Instead of dealing with the problem of corruption and owning responsibility it is trying to find scapegoats and stopping peaceful protests," Mr Advani told the Press Trust of India.

Condemning the police action, senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat termed it as an "attack" on democratic rights of the people. "We condemn the arrest of Mr Hazare and his team and the ban on their hunger protest. We consider it as an attack on the democratic rights of citizens," she said.

Home secretary RK Singh said Mr Hazare was detained because he had said that he intended to defy prohibitory orders and sit on fast at JP Park, in central Delhi. Delhi Police has not granted permission for the protest saying the protestors would be allowed to undertake the agitation only if they abide by a list of 22 conditions.

Mr Hazare's aides Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal were detained outside Rajghat. Lawyer Shanti Bhushan was also picked up. "We will move the Supreme Court," Prashant Bhushan, lawyer and close associate of Mr Hazare, told the Press Trust of India.

Describing the police action as "totally undemocratic", the lawyer said the action showed that the government has no regard for fundamental rights of the citizens. "The time has come to rise up against this government. We appeal to people to protest against the government peacefully," Mr Bhushan said.

Noted theatre personality and ad man Alyque Padamsee said on twitter, "I think it's a mistake on the government's part to stop Anna. It's not British Raj, it's ridiculous to arrest him."


Mahindra: Not rising to the challenge

An ad trying to communicate corporate philosophy has to cover a broad spectrum—but it still needs to work its way back to what the company does. This commercial does not manage that

The Mahindra group has a new corporate positioning. And it's called 'Rise'. The core idea is this: Most of us do nothing to change things around us, and we wait for someone else to take action. And when that someone rises to the occasion, it sparks a chain reaction of actions from others. Something akin to what Anna Hazare is doing on the issue of corruption. Though for political reasons the Mahindras will never acknowledge that Anna could have been an inspiration behind this concept.

The commercial is produced well. It features people from different walks of life, all of them frozen in their respective acts. Sportsmen, school children, factory workers, musicians, etc. Everybody seems to be waiting for something to happen. Suddenly, one sprightly little school girl makes the first move. She rises from her bench and half-dances on it. (By the way, I was once evicted from the classroom for doing the same). And this triggers a call to action for everyone else. As they too rise and do their thing. The boxer gets on with his boxing. The musicians continue playing. And so on. The message: "There are those who accept things as they are… and those who rise to change."

It sounds like a good corporate ideology. That of rising to a challenge and inspiring others. But I am afraid, only in theory. Because it's too generic. The problem with this concept is that any organisation can make this claim, it is not unique to Mahindra. And this important point does not seem to have occurred to the makers of this ad. As a result, at no point does the ad tell us anything about the group. Now, I realise a corporate philosophy has to be a broad spectrum, umbrella thought, but it still needs to work its way back to what the company does. For example, Tata Steel's 'We also make steel.'   

Over to the creative. While the commercial is made slickly and with great deal of finesse, the storyboard is boring and leaves you cold. So, okay, all these people are doing their number, but that has no engagement value for the viewer. One is left isolated from the goings on. Also, the ad is packed with clichés. Sportsmen, musicians, school kids… how many times have we seen them before? And a little girl sparking action… it can't get more cliché ridden.   

Bottom-line: The positioning is much too generic. The creative is lacklustre. And no amount of pretty packaging can save a poor product. The Mahindra guys need to rise again. And do it better this time.




5 years ago

I think it is a stunningly beautiful, intensely moving and brilliantly original ad. Too long, though - and a bit busy.

SC stays release of Hassan Ali on bail

The court passed the order on a petition filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) challenging the high court order granting bail to MR Khan, who has been accused in various money laundering cases

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today stayed the release of Pune-based stud farm owner Hassan Ali Khan, accused in money laundering cases, on bail which was granted by the Bombay High Court last week, reports PTI.

A three-judge bench headed by justice Altamas Kabir said the effect of the Bombay High Court's order granting bail to him shall not be operational till Thursday.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) challenging the high court order granting bail to MR Khan, who has been accused in various money laundering cases.

"Let the matter be listed on Thursday. In the meantime, order of Bombay High Court of 12th August on bail shall not be given effect to," the bench said.

"The documents reveal that Hassan Ali Khan has huge funds in his accounts to the extent of $800 million with a bank outside India," the ED contended.

The agency, in its petition, alleged that various transactions led by Mr Khan through his foreign bank accounts reveal his association with international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.

"The documents point to deep linkage between Mr Khan and Mr Khashoggi," the agency further said while pressing for stay on Bombay High Court's order granting bail to Khan.

The high court had granted bail to Mr Khan on 12th August after observing that the agency had failed to show the wealth amassed by him was proceeds of crime.

"There are no ingredients of proceeds of crime in the case made out by the Enforcement Directorate against the applicant. He deserves to be released on bail," the high court had said.

The ED had said that Mr Khan and his arrested accomplice Kashinath Tapuriah had deep links with bank officials in the US, Switzerland, Singapore, UAE and other countries.

It had alleged that Mr Khan has links with Mr Khashoggi, and in 2003, $300 million was apparently received by him from the arms dealer from weapon sales.

It had also said the accused had created a complex maze of structures and transactions to hide the true source of funds and frustrate the investigations.


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