Tag Archives: India Against Corruption

The (Ir)resistible Rise of Arvind Kejriwal – Enter The ‘Outsider’

The tide is clearly turning. You know this when former critics and lampooners start talking of him as a ‘game changer’; you know this when weather-cocks turn away from the corridors of power where once they had been ensconced. You know this when rats start deserting the sinking ship.

Suddenly, everybody is talking favourably about the man from the ‘outside’ who is refusing to respect any of the established protocols of protest and politics. More startling perhaps, is the fact that in the past two days we have had senior journalists and political analysts suddenly telling us that they had known all along that there was a ‘post 1980 contract’, a secret code of silence, that never would the dynasty be attacked – indeed never would any apsiring dynasty be attacked. Everybody knew, says Dipankar Gupta in the Times of India, that the issue came up one and a half years ago – and we all do know that. Robert Vadra’s doings had already  been known. A senior BJP leader is even reported to have told a senior journalist that his party had indeed been in possession of the very same documents that Arvind Kejriwal brandished at his press conference. But, this leader went to say, “after an intense discussion, the leadership decided not to rake up the issue in Parliament even after submitting a motion in each House asking for a discussion.” Everybody knew – the parties, their leaders, the media persons, political analysts. And yet, nobody spoke out. All of them colluded, in other words, in suppressing the issue. Politicians kept silent for an understandable reason – aspiring dynasties that they are, after all. But the others? Mediapersons? Any guesses?

As someone who has been trying to understand Indian politics over the decades, I have often wondered at what I have referred to as the ‘implosion of the political’ – that is to say, the destruction of politics in the formal political domain. What is called a noora kushti in Hindustani, had come to mark our parliamentary-political grammar. Farcical walk-outs after equally farcical fire-spouting rhetorical speeches in parliament, and a happy bonhomie away from the glare of the media – that was what our politics had been reduced to.

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Against Corruption = Against Politics: Partha Chatterjee


Shuddhabrata Sengupta has done a great service by opening up the question of corruption which lies at the heart of the Anna Hazare movement but which has been, surprisingly, accepted quite uncritically as a universally known and universally condemned evil. It is actually quite puzzling how this effect has been achieved. It is a question which, I think, touches the core of the populist mobilization brought about by the Anna Hazare movement.

Think of it. Who are the beneficiaries of corruption? The entire middle class in India (lower, upper, aspirant lower to upper, whatever category one wants to use) seems to think that it is the victim of corruption. “It touches the lives of everybody”, as Nivedita Menon said in her recent piece in Kafila. But then who are the engineers, the accountants, the babus in the offices, the touts who surround the courts and the hospitals and the railway ticket counters? Aren’t they our uncles and nephews and sisters-in-law? The corrupt people of India are blood relations of those who are flocking Ramlila Maidan. But, needless to say, no one you meet there will accept that.

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Hazare, Khwahishein Aisi: Desiring a new politics, after Anna Hazare and beyond corruption

Hazare, khwahishein aisi, ke har khwahish pe dam nikle
bahut nikle armaan, lekin, phir bhi kam nikle

Hazare, so many desires, that every desire takes our breath away
so many hopes, and yet so few

(with due apologies, for liberties taken, to Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, sometime poet and native of Delhi)

On the ninth of april, this year,  I wrote a posting on Kafila titled – ‘At the Risk of Heresy : Why I am not Celebrating with Anna Hazare Tonight‘. A little more than four months later, I have to say I have not yet found reasons to celebrate. But I am not in mourning either. What follows is my attempt to think this through, in all its contradictory character. For once, I am not even trying to be consistent. If my argument occasionally faces two directions at once, it is probably because I feel the needs to be double faced in order to understand a double-faced moment. When all the talk is only of the need for honesty, one might want to stake a claim to being double-faced, if only for the sake of breaking the moral monotony.

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We should be there: The Left and the Anna moment

My head has been in a whirl the past few days with a single question – how do we on ‘the Left’ manage so unerringly to be exactly where ‘the people’ are not, time after time?

At this moment I don’t mean the organized Left, for the Left parties  have been cautious about criticizing  the current upsurge; they strongly defended the right to democratic protest when Anna Hazare and his colleagues were arrested, and now have launched a Third Front initiative on the issue of corruption and the Lokpal Bill; the students’ front of CPI (ML), AISA, has been organizing militantly on the issue for a very long time now, and is very much part of the campaign.

I mean the few hundreds who form my own community, the people with whom I have organized protests and run campaigns and sat on dharna and drafted petitions;  struggled against communal violence and sexual harassment,  for queer freedom and workers’ rights, against the nuclear bomb and nuclear energy, in support of reservations and against the moves in our universities to hold up appointments to reserved posts. Many of these people I know personally, some are among my closest friends, and many more I know as part of the broad Left/secular non-party tendency in the country’s politics, where I feel most at home.

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