Sunday, May 1, 2011

In Anna Hazare, a rare glimpse of pre-freedom India (and on nonviolents vs. a revolutionaries)

I wasn't aware of Anna Hazare's efforts until many days had passed since his movement began. I wasn't reading newspapers and I wasn't watching the news much, so I was practically unaware that there's a nationwide movement going on against corruption, spearheaded by Hazare. But after an uncle gave me a summary of what Lokpal Bill is who Anna Hazare is and what he's doing, I got interested [I'm so tired of bribing Municipal Corporation clerks and officers just so that they quickly sign property documents that I desperately wish this disease leaves this country].

I returned to home that day, launched YouTube, and watched a couple of videos of Anna Hazare [as opposed to about Anna Hazare] put up by Aaj Tak, NDTV, Star News and others.


I felt, observed and realized two important things:
  1. Non-violence vs. revolution: Since my school days, I've criticized freedom fighters who used non-violence [Gandhi, Nehru, et al.]. I've praised revolutionaries who resorted to violent means to scare and oust foreign bodies [Azad, et al.], and I've mocked at Indians who accepted the suffering of lathi-charge at the hands of the sadistic British men. However, when I watched Anna Hazare spew sharp words at the corrupt ministers and politicians of this nation, I felt the impact of those words right in my head. I, someone who had long believed that only bombs and swords could've contributed meaningfully to India's independence, felt the power of an old man's fearless tongue. The videos of Anna Hazare that I watched have fundamentally altered my views about the efficacy of non-violent methods of opposition. I don't see myself criticizing non-violence anymore. Which brings me to the second point.
  2. A (rare) glimpse of pre-independence India: I keenly watch those low-resolution photos and videos depicting lectures by Gandhi or Subhas Chandra Bose in pre-independent India [the 30s and 40s]. It's such a good feeling watching India's freedom struggle [as opposed to reading about it in textbooks]. Of course, those freedom fighters don't exist anymore, and the small repository of photos and videos that exist is the only way to experience India's struggle for independence. However, when I watched Anna Hazare roar and spit at the corrupt top of this country, I saw in him a rare glimpse of pre-independent India. I likened his feelings to those of Senapati in the legendary 1996 movie Hindustani. Hazare, a former soldier, also sees the present day India as a nation that might have got freedom from the British, but is being gagged by its own people. I saw in him that same unadulterated altruism and patriotism that we're told existed in our freedom fighters. And in this context, I think he's one of those rare people still alive who genuinely love Bharat [as opposed to the iPod and McDonald's generation], and are ready to fearlessly sacrifice even their own life for the sake of their motherland.

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