I am an eternal cynic. Each time someone shouts from the roofs about wanting to bring in radical change and make a difference, I grow cold. Invariably such people have vested interests or conflicts that make believing in them so much more difficult, unless they prove themselves over and over again.
I remember writing this about Mr. Anna Hazare in August last year, “And then, when someone promises us a corruption-free nirvana-land, we jump on the bandwagon, unquestioning. As if a new law that brings or doesn’t bring the Prime Minister under its purview will change anything, while we continue to be who we are! But it’s nice to sometimes delude ourselves and hope that something thrust upon us will hopefully change us since we can’t or don’t want to make the effort to do so ourselves. Hence quick fixes and solutions aimed at “others” become popular and populist, when the problem really is within us! And a thousand Anna Hazares and Lokpal bills are not going to be able to fix that.”
I obviously got panned for this. Readers responded with all kinds of rubbish…including, “if you are not pro-Hazare, you are pro-corruption”. Then a couple of weeks later, there was more criticism when I questioned the big deal that was being made about his fasting, especially when seen in the context of the Jain festival “pajosan” where loads of people drink only water for 8 days or more, without too much trouble.
We all now know what has happened since last August with the so-called Hazare gang. The only thing worse than their irrelevance is the fact that the few good things that were being highlighted because of their movement have all fallen by the wayside. The Lokpal bill we will now get is the one that the Government and politicians will want to give us and all the goodwill and support that we gave the gang has been squandered away, without the slightest remorse…on top of that we have had to watch them consort with people like Mr. Ramdev.
And yet, even with all this rubbish, their messages at least have been upfront and not hidden under the veneer of “socially relevant entertainment”. S. Anand in a recent issue of Outlook, in the context of the episode on casteism in “Satyameva Jayate” says it so well. “The audience is fed “bourgeois moralism of the most pathological sort,” on a programme where “the only solution turns out to be nothing more than emotional catharsis”.”
I used 600 words last month to try to say the same thing, without quite getting the message across. And since my thrust was on the healthcare episode, I was seen to have a conflict of interest. Anand’s article shows how reality can be distorted and made to fit into the “truth” that the producers, research team and anchor want us to see and believe. And this is scarier than the Hazare-gang antics, given the reach of television and the initial gullibility of people.
The problem is that we want idols and heroes who we hope can deliver us from our sins and the sins of the rest of our countrymen. The true fact is that while such heroes do exist, those who actually work to make a difference do so silently these days, while keeping as low a profile as possible. If you know such people, put them on your pedestal, but without fanfare. As for the likes of all those mentioned in this piece who claim to make a difference…remember that clay feet dissolve and wash away…sooner or later.