India: Anna Hazare Paving the Road to “Arab Spring”

The growing anti-corruption movement in India has led to one of the biggest challenges in decades for the Congress party.  Inspired by Anna Hazare, an activist for millions of Indians along the lines of Gandhi, the movement may lead to an “Arab Spring” within the borders of India. 

The anti-corruption movement, as the name implies, has chosen as its target the political and  financial structure of India.  For a long time, India has been run off corrupt bargains, bribes, and transferring finances across international borders.  With such unprecedented financial growth in the past decade, it seems to be an “effective” means of running the country.  Ironically, the movement being led by Hazare is mainly middle-class businessmen, on main source for economic corruption.  To to demean the rather hypocritical objectives of the movement, the entire population of India has survived off of “black money” from businessmen who have moved their cash across border to save themselves from a seemingly high tax rate in socialist India.  Almost everybody that has many any semblance of a purchase has taken one part of the payment in cash and evaded tax on it (this was the situation in Greece that led to the bubble burst).

Nevertheless, the anti-corruption movement has taken a specific aim at politicians, which is typical of a socialist country with a wide disparity in wealth.  With the global situation in rather desperate straits, the people of India that have been used to fleeing to the “greener grass” in other countries have come to realize that they must correct their own financial situation for the sake of their future. 

“Democracy means no voice, however small, must go unheard. The anti-corruption sentiment is not a whisper’s – it’s a scream.  Grave error to ignore it.” – Anand Mahindra, one of India’s leading businessman and managing director of conglomerate Mhindra Group

The Congress party has for the past year reeled back from mounting corruption scandals, mainly due to the allegations of millions of dollars in kickbacks from the sale of mobile phone licenses in what is emerging as India’s biggest graft.  The level of bribes and bargains, financial corruption in general, has been engrained in Indian society leaving it difficult for the reforms demanded by the activists to occur.  Similar to the spark in Bahrain, that initiated the “Arab Spring” throughout that region; student, lawyers, teachers, and business executives have taken to social networks to spread the message and vent their frustration at the corruption existing within the government.  The activists have demanded for a change to the old way, the creation of a Lokpal, an independent agency to regulate and oversee the allegations of corruption.  Although the structure of India is highly more democratic in comparison to the strict regimes of Qaddafi and al-Assad, with half the population poor and 1 in 5 hungry, there are causes for political unrest. 

“When people exhaust their capacity for tolerance, then you should take it that it is a beginning of some kind of revolution.  Now it has gone above people’s tolerance level.” – Anna Hazare, leader of anti-corruption movement

In conjunction, the problems emerging from India are apparent and multifaceted.  In a 2010 transparency poll, India came behind its rival China, well-known for its social suppression and political secrecy.  The polls also shows that corruption vied with the high cost in living as the number one voter issues.  What is also apparent in the anti-corruption protests it the limited influence of opposition parties, which have largely been sidelined in recent years.

So saying, the new generation of India, focussed on their own social structure rather than a mass exodus, has given up its traditional distaste for politics and is seeking ways to exert greater influence.   Citizens want to play a more participatory role in governance and this will bring in a sea of change in Indian politics.

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