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This is in response to Human Chain @ IITB.

To know more about the Jan Lokpal Bill – Jan Lokpal: A brief summary

Disclaimer: The views expressed below do not necessarily state or reflect those of InsIghT, IIT Bombay. They are the personal views of the authors.


The cause might justify the means- Ishan Shrivastava

Today, I witnessed a display of varied human responses to a country wide agitation. Some wore accessories and shouted slogans, while some laughed off the mob mentality. Some took a vow to fast for the next few days, while some made Facebook communities to send free pizzas to the democracy-mocking individuals. Some questioned and embarrassed the others, while some didn’t let others voice their different opinions. Some found it cool; some thought they were heroes, and some were “freshmen”. And there were many many, many, many more.

A lot of opinions are mobilized around me in the campus, on the web and also on my wing’s urinal. I have read quite a bit about the current ‘revolution’ on the web and in the print media. I support the cause of a stronger Lokpal Bill; I think that the Government’s Bill is demeaningly weak, but let’s not have that debate right now. You can check out the relevant articles on the web.

A few days back, I asked the same question that a lot of people have been putting as their status message: ‘Do these people know the difference between the two Bills?’ ‘What is constitutional/ what’s not?’ ‘How many of those people on News Channels have said No to corruption where it was completely avoidable?’ and many, many, many more such questions.

Some people know the cause for which they are fighting. They need support for this national cause. But people are joining this human chain without a lot of information about the cause. The only fruitful thing that came out of the protest was that now more people will be aware and will spread the word. Unfortunately, most of these opinions will be biased and people may not be open to debate. Let me point out a very strange observation. When Mumbaikars protested against the Autowallahs, campus residents did not come on the roads. Then, how did this small group of individuals reach you and me? You might say that the political propaganda and the media attention are responsible for it. Possibly, true. But, we did not get out for Baba Ramdev, did we? Well, a group of honest individuals who have earned respect and have contributed to society  in their own ways are saying that ‘The nation is not well equipped to tackle corruption, and the Government Lokpal Bill is a broken crutch.’ When, this message comes across to the masses, the rage within people transforms into actions, some of which I witnessed today. A lot of people might not know the basic differences and the logic given by both sides. But, they are angry. Really angry! They believe in these individuals and are providing their support in whatever form they can. Few people being misinformed cannot be used by the opposition to say that everyone associated with the movement is naïve or irresponsible. There are many people who fully understand all the implications of Anna’s actions and yet stand up for him and his cause. Also, all those who are commenting that this should be done and that should be done, do one thing, you do it your way, we’ve all seen where that has gotten us over the last few decades. Let us protest our way once; never has the protest against corruption been bigger and this is how the government might just listen. And for Heaven’s sake, do not equate this with other protests and how people will resort to these means in the future and how the country will fail. Granted, Democracy is being mocked! It is quite sad, though. But, then again, nothing new! Democracy is mocked every election. If this can get results, I think the cause would have justified the means.

And yeah, keep feeding the sheep some knowledge about these bills. Enlighten all!


Are protests the way forward ? – Seshadri G.

Mass protests are often viewed as a movement by the people to a more liberal society, where age-old ideologies are replaced by progressive ones. For example, the recent protests in the Middle East, the protests for Civil Rights in America, or the many protests which took place during our freedom struggle. Anna Hazare’s recent protest is starkly different from these other protests. Most protests in society arise because the ruling party is deaf to the suffering and criticisms of its citizens, be it in Egypt, in America, or in India during Independence. In such cases, the voice of the people is only heard when the voice of the masses are heard; thus justifying popular uprisings and mass movements.

While the initial protest triggered by Anna Hazare was necessary for his voice against corruption to be heard, the present protest is unwarranted. The present protest which has sparked from the difference in opinion of Anna Hazare and the Government is one whose solution lies in intellectual debate and is not one for the streets. In a fully functioning democracy, it is the opinion expressed on the ballot paper which matters, and not that which is expressed in a rally. In a country where every citizen has a strong antipathy to corruption, any strike by Anna Hazare would be taken to heart many. However, it remains a fact that many don’t comprehend the details of what they are protesting, and why they should be doing so!

In IIT more so than anywhere else, the ideals behind a mass protest should mean much more. It would be far more enlightening to see the student population engage in an unbiased debate on the Lokpal, than to see a throng of people markedly against corruption, shouting in a mob. The ideals of a democracy are deeply rooted to the fundamental need of a citizenry to protest. However, one must understand that protests disrupt the lives of millions of people. As students of a premier technical university, it would be far more effective if we protested by talking sense rather than protest by chanting slogans.