“Madam, jhanda le lo madam.”
Here I am, at an Official Anna Hazare campaign. The campaign looks like a party. There are some men wearing Nehru caps, holding the tricolor and eating ice cream. A boy with adolescent facial hair suddenly dodged forward with a thin paint brush- he wants to paint the tricolor on my face. Beggar women come up to me with tiny flags. There is utter chaos and traffic in Connaught Place, the hooliganism of this “peaceful” protest is scary.
Last year, almost whenever I asked a D.U. student about Anna, The answer was almost always like sarcasm-filled rhetoric.
“So, being a young student, what are your thoughts about Anna Hazare and his cause?”
“Ummm… I think It’s.. great.. we need to get rid of corruption… and um, I think its going to awaken a new spirit among all Indians..”
Why was there so much fuss about “Anna”? Last year, Anna wouldn’t eat, not until the “hand” of the Congress agreed to feed him. Young, hot blooded students can thrive on anarchy- give them that, and they will fill the streets with protests,
The truth is, “Anna Hazare” is not just one man. The man who was once fasting unto death is Kisan Baburao Hazare. Anna Hazare, is the group of students looking for opportunities to organize Mass Bunks in colleges, Anna Hazare is the stampede at Connaught Place, Anna Hazare are all those kids who liked the “I am Anna” page on Facebook but had no real knowledge about the Lokpal Bill, Anna Hazare are those kids also, who wrote anti-government messages as their status posts on Facebook. What is “Anna” but a small word contained within the walls of the University of Delhi, classroom discussions, and sprawled across Facebook?
Women , middle school students, old men, as they held their long , white candlesticks and roamed the streets of the city, doing what actually was a very confused, very feeble form of protest. Right behind the protesting mob, walked ill-clad slum children, skins burnt to a deep chocolate brown colour by the merciless Indian summer, a few discoloured tufts of hair on their heads, rolling bicycle tires by smacking them with sticks, singing “Anna! Anna!” as they skipped along.
There was an Anna in every college canteen – in the form of loud, chaotic group discussions and fiery debates. There was an Anna in every excuse for bunking classes. There was an Anna in every classroom, in the flurry of hands being raised to ask questions, in every teacher being bombarded with the typical questions starting with the words “when will the government…”, in every answer, starting with the words “the government needs to…” or “the government should…”
These boys on the roads of Connaught Place, screaming slogans about Anna Hazare, and bothering most ladies with questions like “Are you Anna?” – This doesn’t really look like a step towards mitigating corruption. Roads blocked, traffic stagnating due to protests and “peace” marches- There could have been a pregnant woman, or a severely ill person in one of the cars lined up, waiting for the roads to clear- How is this in any way correct?
Targeting the government, local newspapers poking fun at the Prime Minister, capturing unflattering Images of politicians, all the madness of the time when the media couldn’t see anything beyond Hazare- is this the kind of behaviour that should be set before the already-confused youth of today?
Gradually, Anna Hazare faded away from printed pages, classroom debates slowly diminished, all the agitations, outbursts, fizzled out- peace was restored in all the worlds I belonged to. The metaphorical Anna had decayed. A new, normal day in the college cafeteria- just as I sit down to take a sip from my relaxing cup of coffee- I hear some new, non-Delhiite fresher student ask “Oye , what was the deal with this whole Anna thing? Phir se chaalu ho gaya uska?”