Anna, Media And The ‘Movement’

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

It seems Anna is a man of surprise though those who have read him carefully understand his politics. To say that he was not performing a political act was wrong. An eminent social scientist and supporter of ‘social justice’ have great word for the ‘movement’ which has been declared ‘disbanded’ by the leader of their Khap. Now, the question is when you really build up a movement, it should actually be in the hands of people which means even if Anna is not there the movement should go on. But those who want to build up movement by building up a brand know better that without the brand they are nowhere. Branding is the latest weapon of the media to create and defame individuals and make and unmake them as leaders. However, fortunately, media’s notoriety is exposed in this and fortunately except for the middle classes who are already communalized and castiests, these branding will not influence anyone else. The reason is simple and may be the media should also understand that. A space in so called national media makes us visible to the world and there is very little doubt about it but for views people still subscribe to their own media, whether small pamphlets, social media or small newsletters and magazines.

If one has to see media’s role in trying to create brand Anna and allow his team member larger than life space in the media then a few questions must be raised on the ethical grounds and press council must censor them. It was visible how media rode on the piggy back of Anna and Anna on media and hence when there was a conflict the team Anna members targeted media for not showing it truly. It look media has not learnt its lessons from the past when they tried to do so. Media forgot that it has a duty to Parliament also and it cannot allow all the institutions to be discredited. India was not Egypt and if we say Egyptian situation today, there is anarchy and nothing and that is what the West have always wanted. It wants to create chaos and anarchy in the name of democracy. If it has a similar agenda to work on India then one should not be surprised with the tones of contempt emerging in the ‘movement’.

The social scientist who is gaga over this ‘movement’ did not give a thought whether Anna and his team could have carried out their ‘movement’ in the absence of the overhyped media coverage. And he did not feel how the team members were abusing the political class. Even a newcomer of politics understands that the Supremacy of the Parliament has to be restored and that laws can not be made and unmade at the Jantar Mantar. Anna suffers from his khap Panchayat syndrome at Ralegan Siddhi which has never seen any elections. Any one Anna ‘anoint’ is the head. His ‘chelas’ do not allow democratic elections; they beat up youths who drink and his words are dictatorial in the village. India as a nation cannot be turned into a Ralegan Siddhi with the tainted vision of Anna Hazare. The power of democracy is that we all get disappointed and it throws up alternative itself.

All of a sudden, an ordinary TV anchor was made on TV challenging the political class and the way they speak as if except for them all others are corrupted. None asked them whether all of them left their lucrative media and civil services assignment for doing nothing or were they earning. The danger of the Anna movement was its attempt to denigrate democratic institutions and giving an alternative which would have taken India into a fascist track. It legitimized the Sangh Parivar and fact is that it was closely working with them as Digvijay Singh always maintained.

In the past one year, media made brand of team Anna members over other civil society members. So, everyone got the opportunity and now each one of them can start their own NGOs, funders are there to fund them. Money will never be lacking even if they make a political party but they know it will not come that easily as the aim of the movement was to help the BJP. That is why when team Anna decided to form its political party; it was the BJP which was angry. So, Anna has stopped short of it now and disbanded the team. There will be a lot of pulls and pressure and as Advani has already conceded that BJP does not stand a chance of getting its prime minister elected. In all the conditions, Congress will remain the most powerful party in 2014 even if there is a non-Congress non BJ Prime Minister as the party will support a non BJP prime minister to control the levers of power. But these questions are hypothetical and every party will work to get into the election mode and win it.

It is strange and shocking how Anna was compared with JP and ‘intellectuals’ wrote articles related to that and how JP was also mocked at when he fought against Indira Gandhi. The bankruptcy of these ‘intellectuals’ is that they ignore JP was a very permanent political leader of his time and organized political parties together to fight against Indira Gandhi. Yes, JP was charged with support from CIA and there are many people who stand by that argument even today. But my question is different. Why team Anna never took name of VP Singh who took the fight against corruption to a logical conclusion. Why so much of love for JP who ultimately strengthened RSS and legitimized it. In our political arena, it was VP Singh who talked of corruption at higher level and started a campaign against it. Big Industrial Houses were asked to make payment but as per media they were ‘harassed’ as if it is very easy to do so. Team Anna’s flirtation with business and industries was well known and therefore they would not have liked any one talking about corruption of big business houses who are evading tax in millions and thus hurting our national interest.

Yes, not even once this argument came for discussion in TV shows because of the hatred and disrespect by the caste Hindus for the man and hence his actions were virtually disregarded. During emergency the opposition leaders used to say the government has a dirty trick department but now it is not government alone but media too has become expert in these dirty tricks. Whenever they spoke to Anna, they spoke as if they were speaking some ‘great’ ‘enlightened’ man of so many ideas. What is the idea that Anna has about India? Just Vande Mataram and Bharat maata kee jai and why media was creating so much hype in it. It reflected clearly how Team Anna has communalized the movement very cleverly and who were their target. These Vande Mataram shouts were the same people who in 1990’s Ram Janmbhumi Babari Masjid movement shouted loudly Jai Shree Ram. We know the dirty role of media that time how they twisted the facts. How the media that time, and it was the dominance of vernacular Hindi media which turned Hindu media reported about that movement. Lal Krishna Advani claimed that was the biggest movement after ‘Quit India’ movement of 1942. That time, the Sangh Parivar and other lunatics of Hindtuva abused VP Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ram Vilas Pawan and Sharad Yadav in the filthiest language. Media was happy to write anything for them including threat to kill them, lynch them. They were called ‘dogs’ and what not and our media dutifully doing all this. During anti Mandal agitation, the same nasty media did not have time to show the voices of people in support of the Mandal Commission Recommendations and all the time we were hearing the ‘injustice’ done to ‘poor’ Upper castes.

The coverage to Anna’s movement was in similar lines. The media know well that it would be difficult to change things without Parliament where the caste monopoly has collapsed. Hence, they have joined hands with all those forces who are anti social justice and projecting everything for the sake of ‘people’. Media’s hidden agenda in promoting such ‘fast food’ movement will never succeed. Anna’s has never had a vision beyond Ralegan Siddhi and the capitalist media tried to create a brand of him but hopefully they will learn soon that such branding will not help his party to win elections in India. It is time; media do a serious introspection of its reporting. One hope that social scientists will now do an analysis of how much disproportionate media hype was given to Anna which he never deserved. Thousands of activists have been working at the grassroots and in civil society and we all fail to get a single line in newspaper and how media has imposed new ‘contractors’ of our ‘morality’. Those who record in the civil society movement is nowhere but thank for such Macdonald culture with spices of Bharat Mata Kee Jai and Vande Mataram, media tried to legitimize a purely fascist coming together of different interest groups in the name of genuine national concern. Yes, people are tired of corruption and at different level. We all need to fight for it and need institutional mechanism. Above that, we need our cultural overhauling too which corrupted morally and casteist in nature. A fight against corruption cannot be a five star club of elite retired bureaucrats, lawyers, and generals who all were part of system and used it well for their benefits too. Fight against corruption need to be inclusive with those who the biggest victim of corruption in our villages and cities and its horizon need to be broadened to bring the issues of cultural policing, social justice in it.

A movement against corruption cannot be in isolation without talking of legitimate rights of tribal over their resources, rights of Dalits and minorities and the corrupt practices of international and national corporations. It will raise the issue of the victim of Bhopal Gas Tragedy who are fighting against Union Carbide and other such corporations who used their clout and power to run away from India. No social movement in India will succeed if it is not inclusive and without being completely secular in nature. India cannot allow the hidden fascist agenda of the communal forces in the name of fight against corruption and also there cannot be one group which can claim hegemony over all the movements across the country. A continent of over one billion people cannot depend on one ‘Mahatma’ to rid it of corruption as it will have to engage different social movements and various ethnic groups in their legitimate fight against corruption to take it to the logical conclusion. Apart from that the definition of corruption need to be widened in the social movements and put the issues of social evils, untouchability and caste violation in it. A movement need not to be built up to change laws, which we have so many, but to make a mass awakening against social evils. India is in dire need of a social movement against such evils so that we can proudly claim to be a nation without hidden apartheid in the form of untouchability, which is the biggest corruption in society.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at twitter : freetohumanity skype : vbrawat Facebook : Vidya Bhushan Rawat



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