The upwardly mobile rural poor must be represented in Anna Hazare’s movement too

The movement against corruption deserves a lot more support than it is getting so far. Because, the truth is that the target for other countries to "control" India will be the wealth of agricultural production and potential thereof which rests in the hands of the upwardly mobile rural poor. Who seem to be terribly unrepresented in the movement so far 

You don't have to go too far from the bright lights and shiny malls of South Delhi to find out what the rural poor and people from the agricultural heartlands are doing or thinking about the Anna Hazare and India Against Corruption movement. But you do have to take time out, let go the bonds of metal and glass, and if you cannot go "upcountry", then at least walk through the lanes of what are called "urban villages" or "lal dora settlements", within Delhi.

There are a few such habitats, their main streets have become commercial hotspots where everything can be purchased at prices way below what is charged in the main markets nearby, and where the bylanes provide dormitory shanty town accommodation for the people who keep South and New Delhi alive and ticking.

Delhi does not have the benefit of a Dharavi-type urban "slum" of massive size in the middle of the city, so the toiling masses, mostly recently removed from their rural settings, largely live in these invisible enclaves, scattered within the "posh" areas nearby.
 
For example, Kotla Mubarakpur village, located between Defence Colony and South Ex-I (NDSE Part I); Sadiq Nagar village, located between Ansal Plaza, South Ex-2, Andrews Ganj and Lajpat Nagar-4; ZamrudPur village, located between Greater Kailash, Kailash and Lady Sri Ram College.

Each one of these "rural urban villages" is less than 500-1,000 metres away from the "happening" markets of South Ex, Defence Colony, GK, Ansal Plaza and Lajpat Nagar, and lie within a square of about 3 km by 3 km within some of the costliest real estate in India. There are a few more around, like Shahpur Jat, Hauz Khas Village and Bhogal/Nizamuddin, which have similar attributes, but they've also become important for other reasons. Almost all of them appear to go back in history a few centuries, if not more, with ample archeological evidence.

It is important to provide these geographical  and other details, because there is a generation of young people growing up in South Delhi who have never been there, inside their bylanes. Likewise, there is a generation of people living in those villages who do not come to the "posh" areas unless it is for reasons of working there. And not unsurprisingly, there is a generation of media people who are from the first group-that reflects in their reportage too.

So, when I went on a cycle tour of these three urban villages earlier today, what did I see?

Sure, it was raining, so there was the usual overflowing gutters, mud, slush and more on the roads, and chaos. But, I also saw what nobody else seems to have picked up so far: crowds of people standing outside television shops, watching the Anna Hazare movement unfold in front of their eyes, just like they would if there was a cricket match on. Only difference being, the cricket running commentary as well as scores in the case of cricket would also be carried on radio, while in this case, radio simply pretended that the whole movement did not exist.

It was even more interesting in the case of Doordarshan (DD). Barring a very short mention about Anna Hazare's release, nothing else, back to the usual. Same on All India Radio (AIR), almost violently different from the cable and satellite channels.
 
Now, for a moment, imagine that you and I are in the real poor rural areas of India, where disposable incomes are still very low, and satellite and cable TV have minimal penetration, if at all. The only option, then, are the LPT (low power transmitters) for Doordarshan in the tea shop nearby, and All India Radio. Why is this so important?
 
Look closely at the crowds thronging the Ramlila Maidan venue (which I have visited a few times already) and the other venues all over the country. As pointed out previously, the composition is largely middle class and urban or semi-urban-the rural poor who make up the numbers are simply not present. At the same time, despite the best efforts of DD and AIR, it is not as though they are not aware of what's going on. So where are they, our rural poor?

To get an answer I spoke with some of the people watching television on the streets of Sadiq Nagar and then subsequently at Kotla Mubarakpur. Anecdotal, sure, but valid all the same, and then re-confirmed this with a friend who is an authority on rural banking realities. Here is what emerged.

# In rural Bihar, especially North Bihar, for example, the success stories on growing maize as well as fish are much more than what the out-of-date numbers would reveal. But just a few parameters, like seed replacement, as well as repayment of loans taken, for example, tells you what is going on. Add NREGA to this, where is the time for Anna, and how is he relevant in a state where corruption has come rocketing down and which has not seen a single farmer suicide for debt reasons over the last few years? This is in a scenario where land reforms have led to fragmented small land holdings.
 
# In rural Kerala, which is mainly the mountain parts, the ground reality is the opposite-huge estates and plantations escaped the land reforms that swept other parts of India for particular crops like rubber, cashew and some others. Now, rural labour that has picked up best practices from other parts of the country, and has some money as well as staying power, is making moves towards these huge tracts, taking smaller parcels on sub-lease or profit-share, and going through some amazing agriculture models for high-value crops being grown quietly within the plantations.

# I was supposed to head into the mountains of Kumaon over the weekend, but had to cancel the trip due to heavy floods that caused massive dislocation of road and rail routes, as well as damage to life, limb and property. Elsewhere in the country, too, floods seem to be doing more this year than they normally do. This is being reported on DD and AIR, along with relief measures, but seems to be largely absent from the private "news" channels.

# FM radio channels, of course, do not reach the rural poor at all in most cases. But even where they do, it appears as though the prohibition on them talking about news now extends even to providing updates on traffic jams due to the processions being taken out in support of Anna Hazare. It is often forgotten how the urban poor, who may have  a mobile phone, but not much access to cable and satellite television, invariably have a small radio built into the said mobile phone.

To sum up, the update from an ear on the ground here is that the Anna Hazare/India Against Corruption movement, if it at all claims to owe any allegiance to Gandhiji, needs to take some rapid steps to go to the rural poor. And very soon. Which, in the excitement of being blinded by the bright arc and halogen lights of television, does not seem to be happening.
 
What is happening, however, is that a certain element of squabbling between some other organisations that are trying to get involved, seems to be creating not just static and churn, but also reducing the effectiveness. This, along with the visible presence of some people who can best be called "opportunistic carpet-baggers", is not going un-noticed.

This movement deserves a lot more support, from across all segments, than it is getting so far. Blindly. Because, otherwise, the country continues to get sold down the river.

And that is the real threat, the huge uncontrollable monster which emerges from not being able to control corruption, when those who do not have the interests of the nation, realise that they can continue to buy their way through. Matters are way beyond street level corruption now and the emerging rural agricultural strength of the country must be brought into the equation. Food prices globally are rising faster than energy prices, and while it is easy to talk about "development" of India being put to risk because of this movement, the truth is that the target for other countries to "control" India will be the wealth of agricultural production and potential thereof which rests in the hands of the upwardly mobile rural poor.
 
Who, as was said before, seem to be terribly unrepresented in Anna Hazare's movement.

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COMMENTS

A Banerjee

7 years ago

A very good study inter alia on a total disconnect between the "happening" or "the arrived India" and the rural India as well as the rural hamlets within the Indian Metros (like Delhi, as is the representative case in this article). For the large masses of the Indian citizens living in the inaccessible corners of India, like for instance in the Sunderbuns in Bengal, or the most undeveloped villages without roads, water connections, toilets, transport/communication facilities, health care even on a minimum scale, schools, etc., this current movement organised and compered inter alia by three Magsaysay awardees has just no relevance as they are destined to live and die in total apathy of the "arrived India" of the metros, the TRP-conscious media, the public school-IIM-IIT-educated high-value human products and of the bribe-'eating' officials of all levels. Even those living in Delhi but within the ghettos surrounded by the rich and powerful do not find much relevance of all this furore over Lokpal since everyday they must pay to the authorities (whether in uniform or not, whether in vehicles with blinking red-blue lights or in posh cars driven and owned by the petty MCD officials, to name a few) to be able to see the next morning's sun! One does not become the Cab Sec or the Union Home Sec or the CP of Delhi (or any metro) or even join the IAS if you must even bother about how these nameless masses of humans live and, in fact, they don't even care. Their eyes are riveted on post retirement slots (preferably abroad) or the successive pay commissions or the sojourns abroad at govt. coat in the name of foreign tours, etc. The mundane and petty issues of the dying hungry people cannot really be bothered about by the people at such high levels who do not even know-nor are required to so know-the prices of the essential commodities like food! All that is for the commoners. And, with corruption unabated, they do not even care for the anti-corruption machinery, whether CBI (which is under their thumbs) or CAG or Lok/Jan Lok Pal or whatever authority the Parliament creates finally. As long as the politicians ready to eat out of their hands are around, this class of corrupt class shall remain, indestructible as they are. One Dalit leader has called the Anna Hazare led agitation an upper caste manifestation of its rights. It would be better and truer to categorise this instead an upper "CLASS" movement to protect their property rights which the majority of the citizens are deprived/dispossessed of.
Congrats to the writer for contributing this excellently thought provoking piece.

The unnecessary controversy over Anna Hazare’s spotless army record

RTI activist Subhas Agrawal is surprised that details of his query about Anna’s service with the army was sought to be misused by a ruling party spokesperson

The latest attempt by an embarrassed UPA government, to contain the protests that continue to build up in the movement for a strong anti-corruption law, has backfired. A Congress party spokesperson had challenged Anna Hazare's right to lead the fight against graft, citing alleged corruption charges against him, and claimed that Anna had refused to come clean on his army record, as was asked for in a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

However, the reply that the RTI applicant received shows that Anna's army record is honourable and there is nothing more than what the 74-year-old Gandhian has claimed publicly.

Subhas Agrawal, the RTI activist who filed the query, is surprised over the episode. First, he is unable to understand how his correspondence with the Central Principal Information Officer (CPIO) was leaked out to Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari. Second, the RTI application for which he received the reply was not filed by him.

"I have not received a reply to a query I filed on 13th April, in which I had asked six questions about Anna Hazare's army record and the qualifications required for recruitment of army drivers and cooks," said Mr Agrawal. "Instead, I received a reply to a 20th June query, which was not filed by me.

However, that application had eleven questions, on the same topics, and the reply to some of those questions shows that Anna Hazare had an unblemished career at the army and had won some medals before he was honourably discharged."

Kisan Baburao Hazare (who is today popularly addressed as Anna Hazare), as the Deputy Commandant & Appellate Authority ASC Centre (South), said in his reply to the 20th June query, that he joined the army as a sepoy in 1963, and was honourably discharged in 1983 on completion of his service. He received five medals, and did not suffer any punishment during his service period.

"I don't know who filed this query, but the reply was directed to me. May be it was a mistake on the department's part," said Mr Agrawal. To his original query, the CPIO had replied on 27th May that since the information sought pertains to a third party (Hazare), the CPIO had written to Mr Hazare to seek his permission for revealing his service details.  

"But what surprised me more was that the CPIO's letter, that Mr Tiwari referred to in the 14th August press conference, was addressed to me in response to a petition, and I have no idea how he got hold of it." Since he hasn't received a reply for his 13th April query, Mr Agrawal has gone for an appeal.

In his appeal, Mr Agrawal has said, "I was shocked and surprised that the CPIO's said letter dated 21 May 2011 was referred to by a spokesperson of the ruling party in the Union Government in a press conference telecast by news channels, in a bid to defame Shri Kisan Baburao Hazare. I appeal that an enquiry may kindly be made as to how the said correspondence was leaked to a third party (ruling party spokesperson) without inviting objections from me, as is usually done by many public authorities including even the Central Information Commission."

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COMMENTS

J.K JAIN

7 years ago

anna Hazare sahab is doing right thing. he is fighting against corruption. corruption is spreading in the entire govt officers and buroctrats in general and in police Department in particular all over india. i fully support the agitation of shri anna hazare.

P M Ravindran

7 years ago

The dates are confusing...! SC Aggarwal's application of 13 Apr- no reply received or replied on 27 May that Anna's concurrence is required! Then there is the CPIO's letter of 21 May, referred to by Tiwari, which is not accounted for. Lastly there is the letter by the CPIO in response to somebody else's application of 20 Jun but routed to Aggarwal!

Apart from the confusion over the dates, there is another question that begs answer: Had the CPIO taken Anna concurrence before replying to the application of 20 Jun?

nagesh kini

7 years ago

This is a case of the right use of the RTI to ascertain facts. At least it has tailed the canard of Anna's army career.
Long live RTI activism.

SUSU

7 years ago

PLEASE LOOK INTO BACKGROUND AND ACTIVITIES OF M TIWARI"S FATHER AND HIS PA IN 1983. GOD FORGIVE HIM BECAUSE HE WAS TOO SMALL TO KNOW HIS OWN HISTORY. IF HIS FATHER COULD NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ACTIONS OF HIS PA THEN WHY CHANGE OF PARAMETERS FOR ANNA .

SACHIN RAJPUT

7 years ago

ANNA HAJARE AAP DESH KI JAAN HAI.....
JAI HIND,JAI BHARAT,VANDE MANTARAM HUM SUD EK HAI.

RAJPUT SACHIN
MANGALWAR PETH MIRAJ.
416410.

san

7 years ago

Can kongresh or Manish tiwari so called the spokesman, dare to enquiry of other 150 criminal holding on the Parliment office, As per Manish tiwari if some one is any issue with their carrier they can't do or justify for the public life, so as per him all the sitting MP from all the party should not able to be a public figure they should not able to sit on Parliment because they are not currupt but they are more down then the currupt nature like currupt,dishonest,criminal record,name the crime they are.. so A open letter to manish tiwar,pl. file RTI for all the MPs.

P Giri Durga Siva Prasad

7 years ago

The spokespersons have access to all kind of information, they peep into all the records they want because the systems are loose. When the janlokpal bill is passed they cannot continue it, if continued then he will have to sit for some time in jail and rest of his life at home. Now our first effort is to bring the janlokpal bill drafted by Annaji and Team into effect

Rakesh Kumar

7 years ago

Anna sir, carry on your strike, I will with you

skjha

7 years ago

not a wise thinking by rulling party.

NS Choudhary

7 years ago

KHISIYANI BILLI KHAMBA NOCHEY.

Will Maneesh Tiwary also look into the record of his colleauges with same zeal? We hate everyone who even tries to raise a finger on the past of Shri Anna Hajare.
Only .....thu....thu...//

pradip shah

7 years ago

must be send to every emidia for top most publicity.every one in India should have excess to this news.Manish Tiwari must be exposed.

Day 5 of the Second Freedom Struggle for the Jan Lokpal Bill

Thousands of people continue to come out in respose to Anna Hazare's call for a strong anti-corruption law. Here are some voices from the movement



Post on Facebook: 02261550789 call this no. and support anti-corruption ... (there are no calling charges)

Kiran Bedi, Team Anna (on Twitter): Our PM defends his stand on lokpal by reading a speech. Anna needs no paper. Why?



Shabhana Azmi, actress (on Twitter): People are feeling that they matter which is great, but for real change to occur it needs sustained involvement which is in short supply.

Rahul Bajaj, industrialist and member of the Rajya Sabha (to CNN-IBN): First, the arrest of Anna Hazare and Team Anna is very unfortunate. Second, what I find is that on the one side, there is the government and on the other side, there is the civil society, lots of people are on the civil society side and for understandable reasons, the opposition is supporting them too.



In Lucknow, doctors write out anti-graft message
(11:38)
Lucknow, Aug 20 (IANS) Doctors in the Uttar Pradesh state capital are expressing solidarity with social activist Anna Hazare in a novel way - they are printing pro-Anna messages on their prescriptions and diagnostic reports.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairman, Biocon (on Twitter): The government is committing political harakiri-as they say, if you are in a hole, stop digging! Prime minister can say what he wants, but he has lost credibility with people. Effective execution has always been the bane of our well intended policies. PM's words are of no avail-he has unfortunately lost credibility-his statement is a case of too little too late.

Rajeev Sardesai
(on Twitter): Also meet our citizens against corruption as part of CNN-IBN's bribe bandh campaign. 9.30 pm tonight.

Harsh Mariwala, chairman, Marico Industries, and also chairman of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (to Business Standard): Anna Hazare is a symbol. The fight is a bigger one on corruption. When you lose faith in the entire system, it becomes difficult for the common man to have confidence in the political establishment. But a Lokpal Bill alone cannot solve all the problems. There has to be a much bigger overhaul of all discretionary powers.

Amitabh Bachchan
(on Twitter): No one wants corruption in society and governance. To protest peacefully our constitutional right. The law of the land must prevail!

Narayana Murthy, who retires from Infosys on Saturday, said in an interview to the Hindustan Times.

Q: There are two drafts for the Lokpal Bill, one by Anna Hazare and the other by the government. Which one do you support?
A: I think, given the fact that we have an extraordinary person as a prime minister and Mr Anna Hazare is another extraordinary person, I do believe that it would be possible for these two extraordinary people to come to a conclusion that will enhance the enthusiasm and optimism of the country in solving the form of poverty, so I am quite optimistic.

Anupam Kher,
actor: The MOST important thing in our lives is what we are doing NOW. This anti-corruption movement has also brought a great sense of pride of being an INDIAN in us. Look at that sea of flags. JAI HO.

Vijay Mallya, promoter, Kingfisher group (on Twitter): Let's not be bogged down with scams by a few. Let's hold our heads high and focus on the numerous reasons we have to be proud independent Indians.



Jan Lokpal Bill Anthem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=de_wiiTKUu0


Chetan Bhagat: What is lost is people's faith in Parliament. That needs to be restored. Slamming Anna won't do it.

Priyanka Chopra, actress (on Twitter): The kurukshetra of the war against corruption shifts to Ramlila Maidan! God and India is with YOU, Anna!

Source: IANS

Telugu film industry extends support to Hazare

Telugu film industry members on Friday took out a rally and observed a day-long fast demanding that the Jan Lokpal bill by Team Anna be tabled in parliament.

Actors, producers, directors, writers, artists and workers from various units of the industry joined hands to express their solidarity with Hazare, who is leading the fight against corruption. The film personalities took out a peace rally from the office of the Andhra Pradesh Film Chamber of Commerce in Film Nagar to express their support for Hazare and his team.

Eminent filmmaker and former union minister Dasari Narayana Rao, actor couple Jeevitha and Rajasekhar, actor Mohan Babu and others participated. Some participants had black ribbons tied across their mouths, others carried placards.

"We support Anna Hazare and his aides fighting against corruption. There is no alternative to a comprehensive Jan Lokpal Bill," said actress Jeevitha. She demanded every politician, including the prime minister, must be brought under the purview of the Lokpal.

"We are in a situation where nobody is above board. The public perception is that 80% to 90% politicians are corrupt and hence there is every need to make all politicians accountable," she said.

@atulkasbekar (on Twitter): U may not agree wt Anna's ideology or his methods. That's fine. BUT U CANNOT TAKE AWAY HIS RIGHT TO PEACEFUL PROTEST! #isupportAnnaHazare.

@LON3WOLF (on Twitter): On 15th Aug, we got our independence and on 16th Aug the Indian Government took it away x-( #isupportannahazare.

Shah Rukh Khan supports anti-corruption stir


PTI: Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan has supported the anti-corruption movement launched by Anna Hazare, but says every aspect of the cause should be looked at seriously.

"I think we all support the cause. I think there should be no corruption in the country. I think this whole aspect is becoming so large and so big and there are so many aspects of it that we need to look at it seriously, quietly, step-backedly. We just can't keep saying we support anti-corruption," said Khan.

Khan, 45, said a legislation to curb corruption should be implemented after holding discussions with all concerned.

"All of us want to support anti-corruption. It's the worst kind of stigma that one can have for the country. But this wonderful cause has so many aspects too it... I think as an intelligent section of society, we have to think about the implementation of it. What are the constitutional aspects of it? What are the parliamentarian processes of the same? What is the practicality of the same, how is it going to happen.

"Unless we do that, we just keep talking about it, we just keep doing agitations. We should think how to take the best out of it so that it does not die out. That's the second step," he said.

Captain CY Gopinath, aviation entrepreneur (to CNN-IBN): All of us must come forward and give ourselves a better institution, including the business people. Though I may benefit sometimes because I am in a position to bribe and get things done, I think society will not last with corruption… I have compromised sometimes, unfortunately, which we should not. Corporate bigwigs should have come voluntarily. They have not been speaking openly and clearly.



Indian-Americans come out in support of Anna Hazare

WASHINGTON (PTI) Coming out in support of Anna Hazare, Indian-Americans have appealed to the Indian government to take serious steps to curb the menace of corruption in the country.

"We NRIs want to remove corruption out of India. We support Anna Hazare's efforts to eradicate the corruption, pass Lokpal Bill and declare black money as national assets," said Dnyanoba Kendre, a yoga teacher from Pennsylvania.

Of all the protests in India in recent times, this is the most legitimate and at the grass root-level, that can change the fate of the country, said Rangarajan, a student from the University of Maryland.

Another student, Umang Agarawal, said they are emailing Supreme Court en mass directly to take suo moto action and save the nation.

"More than Indians fighting against corruption, it seems government is fighting against people who are fighting against corruption. This is going to be one of the watershed moments of Indian history," said Vibhash Jha, a PhD student at the University of Maryland.

Indian-Americans in and from around Washington held a demonstration in front of the Indian embassy. Similar events in support of Hazare have been reported from various parts of the country.

A large number of Indian-Americans held a similar protest demonstration outside the Indian Consulate in Houston.

"We NRIs in Houston feel connected to the movement in India and are expressing support in several forms like Facebook, Twitter, Google, websites, in addition to our presence at local gatherings around apartments, club houses, public parks and other community places," said Raghava R Solipuram.

Shocked and saddened by the arrest of Hazare and his supporters, Non-Resident Indians for Secular and Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI) said Indian-Americans support the demand of Team Anna to bring everyone under the Jan Lokpal Bill.

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COMMENTS

Harwinder Singh

7 years ago

Main Sarkar ko massage dena chahta hun ki voh Yuva shakti ka dhiraj na dekhe aur apna samay barbad na kare athwa Sarkar ko iski keemat chukani par sakti hai.

" VANDE MATRAM"
"INQLAB ZINDABAD"

Anup

7 years ago

anna Hajare Aap BSNL PVT lauber bare mai socho jo har roj Rs.50 mar hare hai amravati, paratwada, Daryapur, Morshi, And Chandur Bazar

Rajesh kumar gupta

7 years ago

The govt. trend to divert Anna's movement through demanding public opinion and last date has been fixed after expiry of time limit of Anna 's movement.In my opinion evaluation of both the Draft of Bill shall be placed over all media for voting by the public before 30 to help govt for modification in it's draft for final approval of both the houses of parliament.

Samshdeep Singh

7 years ago

Respected Shree Anna jee, Jai Hind.I and my whole family are against corruption. So we all supports to your strike against corrupt ministers to pass the Strong Jan Lokpal Bill.

"VANDE MATARAM"

"INQULAB ZINDABAD"

Harwinder Singh

7 years ago

Respected Shree Anna jee we fully support you because we are against corruption.

kinjal patel

7 years ago

jai Anna.Go Anna go.Love to Anna dada.

I AM WITH U,INDIA IS WITH U.

VIPIN NANDKISHORE SABOO

7 years ago

Anna is asking the heart of the politicians and as soon as they deliver they will die. So instead of asking he should try to take it forcibly

Rahul

7 years ago

i WOULD LIKE TO GIVE MY HANDS ON SUPPORT FOR HAZARE STRIKE . IF THIS IS BEING PASSED OU THEN INDIA WOULD BECOME ONE OF THE MOST RICHEST COUNTRY AND THE POVERTY LINE WOULD DECREASE.
I GIVE MY HANDS ON SUPPORT ON THIS

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