(NOTE: 1. Read the entire thing before outraging and shouting abuses. 2. This is not an outright pro/anti post, just trying to drill down the facts of what is going on. 3. I am not a supporter of any party and no one asked me to write this.)
All over India, people are outraging against an apparent “dictatorial government” and “evil politicians” for their corruption and high handed ways of draining the country of billions of Rupees of public money. There have been millions of articles poured out all over the Internet about the Jan Lokpal bill, Anna Hazare, the Government and so on. This one is not supposed to add fire to that debate. This post is about the demographics of Anna’s supporters which is the Indian Middle Class. But first I let me declare my stand:
Corrupt politicians and bureaucrats need to be controlled, their assets seized and they should be put in jail. And it is reasonable to think that they in power will not make laws that will stop their own corruption, and a mass movement may be required to let the government know what we want. That is all fine. Why I am against the Janlokpal or the Government’s Lokpal is that absolute power should not be concentrated anywhere, especially so in the hands of someone who is not accountable to anyone, reports to none and can lord over anyone who they want to. And the calls of “Revolution”, “Second freedom struggle”, “Corruption will be abolished” through the Lokpal bill and associated war cries are irritating, senseless and ridiculous.
It has been made out that there are millions out there coming out in support for Anna, but the real truth is a bit far off. It is the middle and upper middle class, the biggest “beneficiaries and drivers” of corruption who are coming out in droves to support Anna and the movement, backed by the institution that has benefited the most by it’s rise – The Media. The real casualties of corruption, the poor, nameless, faceless, homeless, dalits, tribals, have no say in anything that would benefit them the most. We see far more jeans and t-shirts in the throng than we do dhoties.
Yes, they are the same newly empowered children of shining India. Typically they are like me and you: Have migrated to the big city from another state, have regular day jobs and Facebook accounts, live on loans and EMIs, drive 1 liter cars, roam around in malls but shop at local roadside vendors or Big Bazaar, dream of buying an apartment in the suburbs or IT corridors and whose parents are either government servants/teachers/small business people or ex-NRIs. A distinguishing feature of every Indian person and the middle class especially is that they have an inflated opinion of themselves: Think they are upper middle class, while actually they are just at the lower end of the regular middle class, which leads them to think that they are “superior” to the people who do regular things and are regular like you know, all the above mentioned. They also find it “cool” to protest on the internet while being sanctimoniously hypocritical about their own misdeeds.
They also have another distinguishing feature: They abhore and absolutely despise politics and anything related to politics. They do not want to be associated with anyone who do things even close to politics, like, Voting. During the last LS elections, all hill stations, beach side stations and other such tourist destinations were overbooked as people started heading out of an extended holiday weekend due to elections. A guy who owns a resort near my place in Kerala said that there were people calling in from far away Delhi and Chandigarh asking for bookings that he had to put up a recorded caller tune saying that rooms are full and booking is closed!
Thanks to 24 hour news channels, the Internet and being well read and traveled, the middle class is intensely aware of national issues but only to skim their surface . They know about the 2G spectrum scam and 1.76 Lakh Crore is missing somehow but not about it’s further intricacies. And they don’t want to know. So the conclusion is that A.Raja and the remaining politicians somehow siphoned off this amount from somewhere and put it in their Swiss bank accounts. No one outrages about Balwa or Maran or anyone else. It is always the politicians who are evil and not the supporting corporates or bureaucrats. They do not know where their vote is, why they should vote and who their MP or MLA is. Also, they are naive, gullible and easily led by false promises and have an amazing sense of entitlement, believing that is is them who build up this nation. They just want their rights without doing even their most basic of duties.
People around the world are facing bullets to get a right to vote. In India, non-voters want non-elected people to make laws.
— Nitin Pai (@acorn) August 19, 2011
Yes, politics is “dirty” and there is a general consensus that whoever comes into power will be equally corrupt as well. And all this hoopla of electing people and asking them to make laws do not work any more they feel. But it still does, as the recent elections in 5 states with heavy poll percentages showed: CPM was kicked out of it’s bastion of 34 years, DMK was sent to political oblivion and a carefully balanced majority made the Kerala government a performing one! But people living in cities do not buy all this. They are creatures of higher being, and cannot be troubled by elections and stuff. As Manu Joseph mentions in his article “A Dictator for India’s Bourgeoisie” for the New York times here:
For decades, many educated Indians have resented the fact that they are governed by low-grade people voted into office by drivers and maids and illiterate farmers.
And hence, without understanding the intricacies or impact of subverting the freedom we enjoy today by restricting powers of the representative model of Parliamentary Democracy, they took to the streets fed up of corrupted bureaucrats and politicians, without acknowledging the fact that they, and/or their parents are/were equally corrupt and are the ones who allowed this malaise to grow into the phenomenal levels that it is today. And having got a chance to “do something” against them evil politicians and rulers, we jump into the fray, no wonder not knowing what the entire thing amounts to. Also, show general outrage to the ruling party and/or opposition, show faces on TV, be in with the cool crowd etc… Add to that our general nature of denial, justification and self-righteous chants of “It is not me, it is everyone else”, the picture is complete.
As I had said in my previous post “Levels of Corruption“, all Indians, all of us are corrupt. Politicians and bureaucrats are just manifestations that the higher a person goes, the size of corruption just gets bigger. We can give examples to try and justify why we are not actually “corrupt” per se, but it is just a matter of convenience etc., but it is still corruption.
“It was just that one time”
“I needed to get things done in a hurry”
“I jumped the signal because I was late for the interview”
“I have back pain so can’t stand. That is why I bribed the TTE for a berth”
“I pulled the chain on the train because it was night and the next stop is too far”
“I committed that crime by mistake, it will not happen again”
If we are pointed out that we might be mistaken, we fly into a rage and outrage, since we know it all! How can they know better than us? Anyone who speaks against your idol whom you support for some reason shall not be tolerated, he/she should be shot at sight! The level of rant depends upon our culture and upbringing. It can be like this also, a rant from a “Gandhian” follower of Anna Hazare.
For more about the middle class phenomenon, read this Firstpost article here.
As long as we do not accept the fact that the most corrupt are ourselves, and if a Lokpal comes around everything will be wiped away, I disagree. Sure, a law like that might mend something, but the real problem will end only if we stop being corrupt ourselves, and follow laws. Simple rules like forming queues and driving on the correct lane.
And a last shot: To all the people shouting against corruption: If you have cut corners on land purchase by registering your property as undervalued, go and pay the difference to the government. That will do a lot more good than shouting slogans. Kids, go ask your parents. Mostly, you have reached where you are only because of massive corruption, including seat buying and property sales.