Monday, August 22, 2011

Why Ms. Arundhati Roy cannot be Anna Hazare even if she wanted to

I was a fan of Ms. Roy many years ago. The 'In which Annie gives it those ones' days. Then 'God of small things' happened and my enthusiasm dropped a bit. And then I read many more of her works and heard her and now today when I saw her piece in a leading newspaper titled 'I'd rather not be Anna', I cannot say I am anymore. Not because of any particular reason except the fact that I don't understand her or her writing anymore. Her language is powerful and persuasive, but I cannot see what she is leading at.

I don't think she can be Anna even if she wants to. How can she? Her writing, her life, her talk everything is far removed from Anna's. She comes from the privileged class unlike Anna Hazare who comes from the poor classes, much closer to the poorest of the poor she keeps talking about. She made her fame writing books for a western audience, he from working in his village and making a small difference that has become a big difference. She is highly educated (Lovedale, School of Planning and Architecture), good looking and pampered by the media (Prannoy Roy is her cousin). He is not educated, not good looking (by her standards definitely) and demands media attention through his acts. She is highly articulate, has plenty of resources at her disposal. He is limited by his rustic clarity, by his Gandhian beliefs and has almost no belongings of his own and lives simply. She is a thinker, a perspective pusher. He is a simplistic doer, who believes the only way to make a change is to get down to it and start doing it even if it means taking the system on directly. She keeps making statements that are YOU versus US. He believes that what he is doing is for the betterment of the country, for the sake of transparency, accountability. She has an agenda that is not clear - yet. He has an agenda that is clear. She is a known face to everyone. No one knows Anna Hazare and it is only in this round that people have started finding out who he is (much thanks to the Congress again who poked at him and his past). She is a Booker prize awardee. He is a Padma Bhushan awardee. She has shied away from taking public positions. He has been fighting criminals, powerful politicians all his life for his audacity to question them. She had a fully privileged, protected and pampered civilian life. He has served time in the army, in war time. There is nothing in common. How can she even think of being him?

To me there are those who create their world by their acts. The RTI and several other initiatives that Anna Hazare has taken in the past (its amazing how one man with no fancy degrees can do so much in this country through peaceful means) are now reality and are making the system more accountable. He has lived a life he has believed in, done his bit for the country he believes in. He has his ways, his beliefs, but there cannot be any doubt on what he has done, what he has put up on the board against his name. Any amount of opinion passing from the confines of a room (as I am doing now) cannot be a patch on real work like that.

Then there are those who merely specialise in tearing down what is already there. There are many in this category and it is growing. And they get equal footage on television because they create the drama. They have no solutions. No clear agenda. All they have is problems, conspiracy theories, allegations. How the government is failing, how the corporate sector is looting, how we are becoming a police state, how NGOs are getting grants. More importantly, how their demands are bigger and better and far more important - and if nothing is done the country will go down the drain.

If you have solutions Ms. Roy please put them out. List them. Start doing something about them. If it is empowerment, world peace, do it. Get the government to hear you. Get the laws made. Educate the poorest of the poor. Throw out corporates. Whatever it is, please do something. Create. It is in creating that you will earn more respect than for your opinions, for deriding an old man and his ways, his alleged links with the RSS (is that a crime even if true?), by his quoting of Gandhi (out of context was it not Ms. Roy), by deriding an NGO that got grants (is it a crime?).

The space in the newspaper where you gave your opinion would have been better utilised if you had given your solutions instead of merely trying to pull down an old man doing his bit so resentfully, so vehemently. You are not a columnist trying to gain more readership by shooting down people in the news, by taking the other than popular stand as most columnists do. If you had come with your agenda, a superior one, instead of merely painting a hopeless situation, that would have been fitting of your intelligence. Unfortunately you chose to use all your energies to try and make him seem like a power mongering, RSS sympathising, MNS sympathising, Modi sympathising, US funded conspirator who is misleading the public which was totally uncalled for.

You see Ms. Roy, I don't think Mr. Hazare would ever do that if you started a movement in something you believed in. But then he might not want to be Ms. Roy would he? He has several other things to do in the twilight years of his life. Also, I somehow suspect, you cannot be Anna Hazare. Even if you wanted to be. If you did try however, you could start doing something for things you believe in. And making a real difference that someone with your phenomenal reach, power and intelligence can.


Diwakar said...

Fantastic piece, Hari. You summed up a lot of pent up feelings with the right set of words.

Dr. Ranjani said...

Good one Hari! Way to go.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Diwakar.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Ranjani.