Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why the 'movement' isn't picking up pace in 2012

The months of July and August 2011 were a good time to be alive in India. For a generation which had grown up listening to the tales of the struggle for Independence, and the movement in the 1970s, the Jan-Lokpal Bill movement was like a dream come true.

Lokpal is 'ombudsman', and the Bill to appoint such a body has been pending in the Parliament for more than fourty years. In December 2010 the issue came to forefront when a group of activists criticized the Government's draft, and made demand for a stronger, more responsible Lokpal body. They drafted an alternative version of the bill, and called it 'Jan-Lokpal' Bill. And what happened in the months of July, August and those following it was nothing short of a political drama. There were allegations and counter allegations, and fasts unto death, and meetings between the activists (christened as Team Anna by the media after the leader of the movement, Anna Hazare). But the most striking thing about the movement was the presence of people in the streets. People, belonging to virtually every part of the demographic descended on the streets across the country.

But despite the government's assurance, the Bill fell through, and the draft prepared by the government was still not to the liking of Team Anna. They renewed their fast-onto—death stance on 25th July 2012. But the momentum is simply not there and the entire movement seems to lack the public favour.

According to me, here are the top five reasons why:

1. Too many issues, too little time

Instead of narrowing down on 'Corruption', Team Anna tackled a variety of issues – first the anti-Congress stance, followed by the demand for resignation of corrupt ministers. Instead of being a movement that demanded a Lokpal Bill, it turned into a movement that demanded general reform. While a movement like that is admirable, it will be slow to progress and lack public appeal.

2. The 'wow' factor

While many celebrities endorsed the movement and there was considerable mudslinging in the political arena last year, this year's movement seems to be lacking that factor. Congress (which had turned into a headless chicken during the course of the movement the previous year) has maintained an almost dignified stance, refusing to comment with the flippancy apparent in the past.

3. Team Anna

The year has done much to show the crack (whether fabricated, or true) in Team Anna. The group consists of activists who have diverse ideologies and methods of functioning. To expect them to behave in a coherent manner is rather presumptuous, but one could at least expect some kind of consistency. The media has been steadily chipping away at the images of the individuals, leading to further disillusionment.

4. Scams that came out

The movement kick-started in the wake of scams of epic proportions. While making a considerable dent to the exchequer, they served as a wake up call for both, the public and the government. The top bosses were involved in all the scams and it signaled that there was something seriously wrong somewhere. 2012 did not provide any staggering scams or scandals, contributing to the lack of the general interest.

5. Media that stood by

If anyone upheld the movement last year, it was the media. However, as the year progressed, the media became severely critical – and unjustly so. If the movement is to succeed this year, we need a fiercely involved media. And after doing the rounds of the news channels right now, I some how doubt it. But being eternally optimistic, I hope the media and the people come out in the favour of Team Anna. 


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