Sep 232011


The extended drama that took place at the Ram Lila grounds is over. The main protagonists – the Government & Team Anna,  have both gone home to regroup and renew. Team Anna is using its newly gained status as media darling to make more demands. The Government is lurching into more crisis. But the key issue remains that of the Jan Lok Pal Bill and should it be passed and in what shape or form

The debate on the ‘Civil Society’ movement as well as the Jan Lok Pal Bill is work in progress. It is the first time since L.K.Advani spearheaded the Ayodhya campaign – also ‘civil society’ – have people been so keenly involved in having such publicly expressed opinions and positions. It was impossible to be neutral. Naturally, anything in the real world resonates, and is amplified, in the virtual world.

On a platform like twitter, people argued for and against the Anna Movement logically, emotively, abusively, rationally and irrationally, in 140 characters. The debate was no holds barred. 140 characters were wisely used – to spar, and to cut, to debate, to converse, and to link to other sources that backed your view. Battle lines were clearly drawn. There were new alliances. Old ‘friends’ broke up. Most conversations revolved around the events unfolding at the Ram Lila Grounds. But, it wasn’t as simple as Pro Anna or anti Anna. The debate on-line was multi layered.

On the  For Anna side were:

The India Against Corruption members. Articulate and balanced, they logically presented their side of the story. The gave you figures, and their interpretation of those figures, to tell you about the extent of corruption. They remained flexible on the IAC version of the Jan Lok Pal bill saying it could be debated in Parliament – even though the people on the ground, at that time, were inflexible.

The Rightwing BJP supporter – who wholeheartedly supported this movement because they believed that the UPA government in general, and the Congress party in particular, had it coming to them. They believed this to be the moment when the tide turns against the Congress in favour of the BJP. Many had invested time and energy supporting the movement. Most of them felt let down when Mr.Kejriwal said that the movement will not share the platform with the BJP or any other communal organisation.

The Something is Being Done Brigade – The view, here, was simple. There is something wrong with the Indian system. Something needs to be done to put this right. Someone (Team Anna) is doing something, and therefore unless you have something else in mind, you should not oppose this something. If this sounds confusing, it was.


The Anti Politician Lot – these were those who believed that all politicians were ‘chor’ who had looted the country for the last sixty years, and you need strong laws to keep them under control.


The Abusers –   These were people who would abuse people in the choicest terms for being ‘anti Indian” and ‘pro corruption’. They would begin by engaging and then by heaping vitriol, and finally by extremely violent personal abuse. Most of these, lovingly called “Annatards” by the rest of us, were blocked.


On the  Anti Anna side were:


The Constitutionalists –  The Constitution of India is supreme. Parliament is the body that is responsible for legislation. The Government of India should not give into protest fasts because they will set a bad precedent with every group with claims fasting to achieve their objective.

The Reformists –  India is corrupt because there are too many rules and laws. Cut these down and bring in Reforms 2.0. Liberalise the economy. Cut down red tape and corruption will automatically decrease.

The Anti Jan Lok Pal Bill brigade – These were people who were all right with the fast and the overall aims of the movement – highlighting corruption, but were against the Jan Lok Pal bill in its current state and form. They believed the Bill stamped on Federalism, created a bureaucracy that was unwieldy and worked on the principle that someone was guilty until proven innocent.

Rightwing BJP Supporters – this included many who believed that the BJP is going to walk into a trap designed to muddy the waters, and divert attention from existing issues.

The Congress Supporters – These were few, but they were there. Their argument was that the Government is cutting down on corruption. They asked have you ever seen so many political and corporate bigwigs in prison. The Government is doing its best, this is a RSS conspiracy to sabotage this Government.

The Dalit Voices – the Dalit voices organised on-line to oppose this bill. They believed that a bill like this would be the first step to bring in anti reservation measures and the reduction of rights of Dalits.

The Change from Within Brigade – the view that corruption wont die with an Act. We as individuals must refuse to pay bribes.

And finally there were those who took the middle path – let all bills be discussed and the Act that emerges will be stronger and more effective for the people of India.

do drop a line if there are more …