A group of 20 youngsters enter Delhi Metro, shouting 'Vande
Mataram' and urging commuters to sing along. As their voices begin
to fade, a middle-aged woman announces, "They don't know a thing
about Lokpal, corruption has brought them together." This
statement, addressed to nobody in particular, pretty much sums up
what the movement is all about.
It's not the Lokpal bill, it's not a 74-year-old man on fast who
has turned into an unlikely national hero, it's the issue of
corruption that has brought the young together on a single
platform. A platform where they can dispose of their rage and
disgust over graft, a platform which fulfils their romantic
notions of patriotism and, more importantly, a platform that gives
them a sense of purpose and achievement.
It's a notion that India can get rid of an ill that has seeped
into every corner of society and has slowly become a way of life.
Ask any youngster sporting the 'I am Anna' cap what brings him to
Ramlila ground -- the epicentre of what is naively being called
the 'second freedom struggle' -- and his first reaction would
invariably be corruption. Probe a bit deeper and he'd tell you how
his father had to pay Rs.200,000 for his admission in an
engineering college or some such obnoxious sum to procure a
Ask him if he's never paid bribe, and his tricoloured cheeks
colour up a little more. The blush is an admission of guilt. A
guilt which is just that, not shame.
"But I don't pay bribe out of my own will. I pay when I am forced
to. If there's a bill that checks the demand, no one would like to
bribe," says 23-year-old Pawan, a marketing executive.
He's visiting Ramlila ground with two colleagues. All three left
early from work to witness "history in the making".
"I'm here to see the spirit of the nation. Everyone is talking
about this. This is the place to be, I wanted to be part of the
movement and not just a spectator watching the happenings from the
margins," says Manish, 25, a resident of west Delhi.
Many like Manish believe it's the "Rang De Basanti" moment for
India where the least they can do is pledge their support to the
"Something will surely happen. This huge support, so many people
coming together, the youth has awakened...all this would scare the
government to do something," says 22-year-old Parth with a
contemplative look on his face.
Parth, a graduate, helps his father with his export business. "I
come here for two-three hours every day in the evening. I can't
completely skip work, but I'm trying to do my little bit."
Adds Ankita Arya, a jewellery designer: "I surely believe in the
movement, but I can't stop working. I come only when I can afford
to, not at the cost of my work."
The reference to Lokpal bill, the reason which made Hazare go on a
fast, is, however, made by only a few.
"The Lokpal bill will clean India of corruption. Once the bill is
passed, there will be no problem in society," says Nikhil Yadav,
with an air of extreme confidence.
Ask him how and he takes a moment to adjust his glasses and clean
his throat before saying, "All I know is it will lead to formation
of a body that can probe anybody. I have not gone into
details...but I am sure it will get rid of corruption."
His friend who's making a video of the crowd for a college project
intervenes. "I know there's a lot of cynicism over this movement.
But my argument is, let something happen. At least it's better
than sitting and not doing anything."
Adds Dhruv Aggarwal, a businessman: "Earlier, the middle class was
accused of not doing anything and just cribbing. And now when
people are realising their potential and voicing their opinion,
some people are calling it a sham. Even if the civil society's
version of Lokpal is flawed, at least it will bring down 10
percent of corruption. Even that is a step forward."
can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)