29 Mar 2011

Shivaji Chowk, Vashi

Lok Pal Bill Vs Jan Lok Pal Bill.

Anna Hazare was in Vashi last evening to garner support for the Lok Pal Bill (download the text here). Not the draft that’s going to be tabled in the Parliament (again) soon but the one put together by a group of people brought together by the India Against Corruption campaign called “Jan” Lok Pal Bill (download the “Jan” version here).

The reason, Jan Lok Pal is supposed to give bite to the Right To Information revolution that’s detecting ‘scams’ on a regular basis but the one being tabled in the Parliament is a watered down version (according to Anna Hazare and RTI activists), designed to blunt its power. Our power.

Now it’s us versus the corrupt politicians and babus. And unlike the Arab Street, we don’t have to brave bullets, all they have to do is support a frail old man with a strong spine.

His campaign slogan is as simple as the man. He says Nirbhay Bano (Become Brave).

Chiller bribe givers like me and you can now be brave behind this man in Gandhi clothes.

On April 5th, Anna Hazare will go on a fast, once again. People can join the fast in various cities across India, in support. With the stubbornness he has inherited from Gandhi, he once prevented the government from diluting the RTI Act. This year, he hopes that our bark against corruption using RTI will be followed up with a nice clean bite.

He says that the Jan Lok Pal that his group has drafted will pack the punch. For example, we will have an independent Jan Lok Ayukta (those from Karanatka will know what a Lok Ayukta can do if the post had the power to bring culprits to book) on the lines of the EC.

Anna Hazare's Vashi speech was house-full. Screens were installed outside the hall for the crowd to watch his speech. Inside, many of the people in the audience were seen broadcasting the speech to friends using mobile phones.

This is how we use technology to mobilise people, not just through Facebook or Twitter. That's also the reason why the Government of India often suspends or restricts mobile phone usage in case of trouble. In fact, Anna Hazare was talking about how under their proposed Jan Lok Pal Bill, we can use sms to get information from Government Departments. Babujis: Put your ears on silent mode, and you will hear vibration and shivers run down their spines. (OK. I added that last line for sfx)

Strange mix - Saffron, Khakhi and Whites.
Anna Hazare is the figurehead. But he is supported by men who wear a different set of colours. There's Baba Ramdev, Sri Ravi Shankar, Kiran Bedi, Archibishop Vincent Concessao, and Swami Agnivesh.

In the audience, were followers and fans of the above holy men and surprisingly, representation from a couple of political parties - workers from the MNS and some Communist union.

This led to a bout of friendly slogan exchange between the different groups before Anna Hazare came on stage. Vande Mataram from the yoga brigade, Shivaji Maharaj slogans and Inquilab Zindabad from the reds. Then they came together to shout against corruption.

Anna Hazare's speech started with his self-introduction. The story of his life and struggles to prove his own credentials even though people present had come just because they knew his story. This was followed by a well-rehearsed lesson on democracy and why we should protect our hard-earned rights. Only then did he speak about his fight for RTI and the Jan Lok Pal Bill and why he plans to take a Gandhian-style Fast in Delhi on April 5th.

By then he had convinced people to contribute a few rupees for the cause and to buy the Lok Pal and Jan Lok Pal Bills that were being sold outside the venue.

And finally everyone stood still when a woman sang the National Anthem. There's no denying it - we were really moved.

Jan Lok Pal Bill drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and present Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (activist)

On the side:
Meanwhile in America, Their Open Records Law is in the news: Historian William Cronon Vs The Republican Party.


Curry Spice said...

one of the reasons Obama's campaign was much successful than McCAin's was his constant use of SMS, live mobile feeds of speeches. It was like a ripple effect. Im really impressed here. So are you fasting?

Slogan Murugan aka M S Gopal said...

Technology is just a tool. I hope people will start talking about the issue.

And No. I'm not fasting. But I will try to go click pictures there.

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