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National Issues/ Economy/ Politics

The beginning of an Uprising – India Against Corruption !!

In deciding to float the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Arvind Kejriwal went against his own stated convictions. When Mr. Kejriwal teamed up with Anna Hazare in April 2011, he did so believing that the movement they had fostered was potent enough to shake up the establishment. For a brief moment, this did look possible. As the crowds swelled at Jantar Mantar, the venue of Anna’s many fasts, the United Progressive Alliance government caved in and agreed to form a joint committee with Team Anna to examine the Jan Lokpal Bill. The legislation was at the centre of the movement’s fight against corruption. (Excerpt from: ‘Brilliant campaign, audacious debut’ The Hindu, Dec 9,2013)

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India Against Corruption (IAC) is a term that was used, along with Team Anna, to describe a movement that sought to mobilise the masses in support of their demands for a less corrupt society in India. It was headed mostly by middle-class professionals and lawyers and was particularly prominent during the anti-corruption protests of 2011 and 2012, the central point of which was debate concerning the introduction of a ‘Jan Lokpal’ bill.

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Although nominally apolitical, IAC at that time had Hindu nationalist leanings. It spawned the breakaway Aam Aadmi Party and Jantantra Morcha ; the present group of people who refer to themselves as IAC are no longer promoting the Lokpal agenda and have turned instead to efforts relating to Right to Information.

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In 2011, the mostly middle-class organisers of IAC determined to launch a campaign to mobilise the masses in support of a demand that they hoped would help to bring about a corruption-free India. Their proposal was for ‘the creation of a Lokpal (Ombudsman)’ who had powers to arrest and charge government officials who were accused of corruption.

They approached Baba Ramdev, a populist yogi with millions of supporters among the middle-classes of small-town India, to be the figurehead for this campaign. His connections to the right-wing Sangh Parivar threatened to damage the credibility of what was nominally an apolitical movement and he was soon replaced by Anna Hazare, a veteran social reformer with a history of undertaking fasts in support of his causes. Anna Hazare, too, brought a large support base with him, comprising mostly middle-class people from urban areas and idealistic youths. The urban sophistication of Anna Hazare, compared to Baba Ramdev’s rusticity, attracted high-profile support for the campaign from Bollywood stars, the internet-savvy and mainstream English-language news media but Anna Hazare, too, struggled to disassociate himself from Hindutva symbolism and this meant that support from non-Hindus was less forthcoming.

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Those at the head of IAC became known as ‘Team Anna’. In late 2012, there was a split in the IAC movement caused by differences of opinion among the central figures regarding its lack of practical success and how much this might have been due to its unwillingness to be directly engaged in the political system. An IAC survey had suggested that direct involvement in politics was preferable, leading to Arvind Kejriwal and some others splitting to form the ‘Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’ in order to cause ‘change’ from within the system.

Anna Hazare rejected the survey findings. Anna Hazare had announced that he was disbanding Team Anna in August 2012, around the time that the divisions were coming to a head. In November 2012, after the split, he said that he was forming a new Team Anna, that it would retain the label of ‘India Against Corruption’ and that its members were discussing other societal issues that they might address.

(Source: Wikipedia, Photo courtesy: Aaj Tak)

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About Raman Ramamurthy

I am a Management consultant, an avid reader, play Lawn tennis in my leisure time and love Music. Presently, I am settled in India along with my wife and my son.

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