One thing that is always interesting is the way political parties start looking for conspiracy theories when all options run out. After trying to find many ways to dissuade Anna Hazare, a spokesman for the Congress gave a statement yesterday that they were probing where the movement was getting its support from. The US? How come there were so many SMSs and stuff going around the place? Who was behind this campaign? For years it was Pakistan. Now it is the US. Or the opposition. "How is it possible that the people of India support anything like this. They are incapable of doing anything for their own good" - seems to be the premise that he is basing his argument on.
My friend, dear spokesman, there are plenty of people in India who own mobile phones. All of them, or most of them, know how to send SMSs. Most of these are also the people who have suffered from payments towards corruption out of their meagre earnings. Most of these try to make two ends meet, or are always in debt. This should cover over 90% of the population - maybe upwards of 95%. It is the sudden, unexplained affluence of some of the 5% that chokes the life out of these other 95% who keep paying more and more for basic necessities, bad governance while the 5% seems to be skimming the cream off the top easily without any accountability.
While the 95% is struggling with price hikes, pollution, health bills, bad infrastruture, rising costs, taxes in various forms that we don't even understand them anymore including credit cards use which is also debt - the other 5% is always in the news with their unexplained hundreds of crores, their luxury cars, their nexus with politicians, their illegitimate deals that are not being allowed to be investigated, their land grabbing stories, their misuse of power stories, their tax evasion stories, their palatial houses (I hope someone just makes a compilation of pictures of some of the houses these people live in with their valuations and sources of income), their shameless methods of clinging to power to protect themselves and their own.
Most Chief Ministers are in the red or were - Maharashtra (Chavan for the Aadarsh scam), Andhra (Jagan under the scanner), Karnataka (Yeddyyurappa indicted by the Lok Ayukta), Delhi (Sheila Dixit)...and the list goes on and on and includes many politicians who are already in the dock. Most businessman are in the news for the wrong reasons. All scams are now in the tune of thousands of crores, lakhs of crores, sums that are so big that most of the population cannot even conceive it. One the other hand a few hundred rupee increase in domestic items like fuel, electricity and gas, can strangle most middle class households.
Typically bribes are paid everywhere. From birth - getting admitted to a government hospital which may include bribes, getting operated properly, getting a birth certificate, buying a plot of land, getting permission to build a house, getting loans, to get their salaries (especially in the government), to get certificates, medical fitness tests, driving licenses, starting a business, getting a job, getting promotions and transfers, getting phone, gas connections (in the earlier days), getting passports, moving files in government offices, getting due payments from government offices, getting police assistance even if one is the victim (possibly more if one is the victim), escaping traffic challans, escaping police action preventively (most illegal stuff from petty crimes to murder goes on with the tacit approval of the police), for government contracts, for inside information, for votes from the electorate, for votes in the parliament, for illegal mining, for illegal construction, for awards, for pensions, for getting favorable verdicts, for favorable newspaper reports, for policy changes, for college admissions, for death certificates, for releasing bodies from the mortuary, for reducing tax burden by negotiating with tax men from various tax departments - income, sales, service, property etc etc. These are some I can think of off hand. If you are a businessman then you can add political parties, religious parties, mafia, extremists, local politicians, slum lords and the like to the above list.
All of the above are not done voluntarily by the one who is paying the bribe. They are forced to pay by the people in authority who think that it is their right to recover the money since they have paid for their jobs. What was the odd such incident is now the norm. The bribe takers now demand their share else you can run around their offices for ever. The poor and the illiterate have no go and pay up because they see no other way out and every extra moment costs them more. And they are already in debt.
Most Indians have been subjected to some or most of the above forms of bribery. The one who has not been, I would love to meet and find out what kind of a protected existence he has had that he has not met reality yet. I assume at a minimum each Indian has paid a bribe of Rs. 1000 (really low estimates) in their life. Assuming a billion people that is 1000 billion rupees. The real figures are far more surely.
"Anna is alone. He has no organization. Then how did this movement start and grow? Who are these people spreading the word on internet and telephones; the way video message was recorded prior to arrest. The US had never spoken about any movement in India. This is the first time that it did. We show the path of democracy to others, what was the need for the US to say it. This has created suspicion."
Why Mr. Spokesman, does the US or any other source need to support or send SMSs to support Anna Hazare? Do you think the people of India need more reason to support this movement? Do you really think they can be pushed further without any reaction? What does it take for you to see what the people want? Who they are?
The people out there supporting Anna are real people, Mr. Spokesman, people who have left their families, jobs, work behind - who have all sacrificed something, paid for their travel to get to the venue. Not people who are paid to attend rallies. It must have been too long since you might have seen real people at rallies - no wonder you don't recognise them. They, Mr. Spokesman, are the people of this country.