Monday, August 22, 2011

Gwalior & Anna Hazare

 Amitabh Mitra is a Medical Doctor in a busy hospital in East London, South Africa. 
 A widely published poet in the web and print, Amitabh has been hailed as one of the most popular South African poet writing in English today by the Skyline Literary Review, New York.
Amitabh, now settled in South Africa, uses his experience of social interaction and cultural impact from countries like India, Bhutan and Zimbabwe where he worked under varying conditions, in his art and poetry.

For more information
For Amitabh Mitra's blog
 Here's his view about Gwalior & Anna Hazare

It’s not about twenty eight thousand supporters reaching the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi today. It’s also not about storming the Bastille at Gwalior, the palace ruling the politics of popular thinking. It’s also not about the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Sitting at distant shores, I wonder what could have happened in my town of Gwalior on a certain day. Gwalior is not a city, its in fact a mind that remains strangely complacent to tide and turbulence.  Stranger people have been elected and far more stranger people have contested from this parliamentary seat. Rude summers and likely arrogance have been the face of political organisations ruling this district. Land mafia tightens the noose of an average ambition of the middle class dreaming to stay in a six hundred square foot of built enclosure.

That was really a long time back. A certain Municipal Commissioner approached a group of doctors which included me and gave us a place from where can practice medicine at the most nominal rent that one can ever think. It seems to me now a most unlikely event when an officer of the public sector approached us merely to help. He could have given to any trader but he didn’t do so. This definitely remained an exception.

The public sector services at Gwalior have stayed at the lowest low. The corruption indices irrespective of political governments have reached a zenith when it remains unfashionable not to be corrupt. It’s a face that grins at you and dares you to stop. A surname of Kushwaha and Bhadoria is far more effective in calling the shots in Gwalior than Tamilian or a Bengali surname. Anand Sharmaji made it quite clear to me many years back.

I am a product of the seventies ideology. There was neither Chetan Bhagat nor even Anna Hazare. A certain writer named Ayn Rand stormed into our capabilities by urging us to think again. She talked about the mind and the power of reasoning. But then reasoning remained locked within most Indian minds and more probably among a certain section of the people of Gwalior. Locked within themselves and hating every other car with a red beacon, artificial buccinator smiles and pronated hands, they finally came out of their homes on the twentieth august 2011.  Doctors including prominent specialists demonstrated at Phool bagh in support of Anna Hazare. Unfortunately the same doctors and even the local branch of Indian Medical Association never bothered to lift a finger in support of Dr. Binayak Sen when he was imprisoned on false charges. The Middle Class in Gwalior have understood and came out in groups, displaying their emotions at City Centre and Maharaj Bada.

Wikipedia defines, Anger as an automatic response to ill treatment. It is the way a person indicates he or she will not tolerate certain types of behaviour. It is a feedback mechanism in which an unpleasant stimulus is met with an unpleasant response.

So is this the middle/lower class response to years of torture. Is this a response to their failed objectives or just tiredness to giving constant bribes. I really won’t be able to answer. I believe that it’s the combination of all. How many Padma Award Winners from Gwalior even murmured a dissent?  Unbelievingly none.

I think the political equations at Gwalior would change. There would be fewer mercy beggars joining the chortle of laughter of wannabe politicians. Who knows Gwalior might even become a beautiful place to stay.

Anna Hazare has given us an unchained thought far removed from political spheres. It’s for us to accept it or not. I remember Lewis Carroll saying, "One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others."

The storming of the Bastille never took place. The people of Gwalior are in too much awe to anything remotely connected to the former royalty. Somewhere instead their conscience could not be kept bottled up. The people’s mandate has already been given. Crossing faiths and ideologies, class and caste, an inspiring message is being given; strident are people’s voices finally against corruption. The average thanedaar, municipal employee, telephone and electricity department workers at Gwalior and the clerk  in charge of transfers of  Assistant Surgeons in the health department at Bhopal , all of them who have been demanding bribes just to let people continue with a middle class life style have shuddered to a final stop. The baksheesh and the licence raj which we received as a part of a heritage pack from the colonial rulers are seeing their curtains being drawn down.

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