Aug 30 2011

What’s Behind India’s Anti-Corruption Movement?

Feature Stories | Published 30 Aug 2011, 9:56 am | Comments Off on What’s Behind India’s Anti-Corruption Movement? -

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Mass demonstrations activating huge portions of India’s usually apathetic middle class, have rocked the world’s largest democracy. At the heart of the protests is an unassuming man by the name of Anna Hazare who has used hunger strikes and civil disobedience in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi to call attention to government corruption. India’s vast informal underground economy relies on routine bribes for services. Mr. Hazare wants to eliminate that system through the passage of a bill that would create an independent agency to investigate and prosecute corruption in government. To help pass this bill, a number of activists including Hazare created an organization called India Against Corruption (IAC), which organized mass rallies across India earlier in the year, followed by a hunger strike by Anna Hazare in April. This August, the activist began his second hunger strike of the year. But the government’s decision to imprison him set off a wave of popular unrest starting in Mumbai, and spreading to the rest of India. After twelve days, Hazare ended his fast on August 28th and is currently being hospitalized. The Congress Party controlled government has faced stiff criticism for its handling of the whole affair, with the BJP opposition party benefiting politically, even though Hazare himself has remained politically neutral. The BJP is known for its right wing, Hindu fundamentalist policies. While the media has made frequent comparisons between Anna Hazare and Mahatma Gandhi, his tactics have generated some debate among India’s political leadership, with writer Arundhati Roy criticizing him, and long-time anti-dam activist Medha Patkar defending him.

GUEST: Mitu Sengupta, Professor of Politics, Ryerson University, Toronto, and Director for the Centre for Development and Human Rights (CDHR), New Delhi.

Read Mitu Sengupta’s article here: http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/08/29/anna-hazare-and-the-idea-of-gandhi/print

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