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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Anna Hazare And Hero Worship In India

Prof. Surendra Rote,, KalimNews, 1 September 2011 : Precisely, the movement of Mr. Anna Hazare deserves appreciations by all sides. People of India, finally arose their minds that our country have some wrongs and we all the citizens of India should come together to fight against the evils of such wrongs like corruption.
Finally, the long struggle of people led by Ann Hazare settled down with the promise of government.
However, one thing was noticeable that how this anti corruption movement penetrated throughout the country to arise interest among people. Even the remotest area has also been aware about the movement of Anna. All the means and resources of dissemination of ideas were fully equipped and utilized during the Anna's fast at Ramleela ground in Delhi. The significance of movement was youth participated with their rigor and vigor to succeed the movement. Certainly, after the independence, it was the mega event in the history of free India that people come across the nation to resist against the anti-social element like corruption.
In this context, the present article will deal with the subject matter pertains to historical roots of corruption in India and peculiar approaches of people to worship their chosen hero as well as the mechanism of media to form the popular opinion about certain issues.
Historical roots of corruption in India
India has undergone the most deadly stage wherein each and every person maintained animosity among themselves which based on caste and its beliefs. There were castes which was privileged and underprivileged. In Chaturvarna (four four system) Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra have delineated their boundaries of functioning according to their socio-religious hierarchical status dictated by Brahmins. It was Brahmins who claimed their authority on Dharmashastras which exclaimed that no one but Brahmins can only covenant with Shastras. It was Brahmins who declared that they are Bhudevas (God on Earth) and no one can challenge their supremacy even if they are wrong. Apart from it, the education sector was also exclusively enjoyed and detained by Brahmins who also reject the claims of other castes over education. Education is a key to broaden the horizon of understanding of a person which also increase the capacity of a person to interpret and disclose the social phenomena according to will and intellect of a person. Except Brahmins, no other caste could have been write and interpret the things.
Consequently, rest of other castes was left out as ignorant, illiterate and miserable to interpret and understand the social phenomenon. It was a time where prejudices, caste customs and blind faith were most prevails in its worst form. In this social circumstance, Brahmins were alone, not because of his intellect but born out in Brahmin caste, detained the right of education. Resultantly, whenever the call came to perform socio-religious actions in ceremonies and anniversaries Brahmins charged heavily because there were no other alternatives to people also. At one way, it is acceptable to charge when a person delivered his service. But, it did not stop here. Brahmins exclusively enjoyed monopoly to provide such services while restricting others to enter the profession. It resulted into the concentration of power in hands of few who can manipulate the customers according to their own will. Brahmins charged for his every action in terms of performing rituals, reading and writing letters and books in the kings' service and in everyday ordinary life, too. There was no standard rate for charges while performing services to other castes.
Thus, it was in hands of Brahmin to increase or negotiate rate of monetary gains. It was in large proportion to practice such way of life. It was not only a practice but it was socialization which people had to undergo. Consequently, it became unchanged rule that ‘no service if no charge, at any cost'. At the naming of new born child person has to pay charge, at the time of new home entry person has to pay charge, at the time of performing marriage ceremony person has to pay charge, when someone die in family person has to pay money for performing final rituals, even when person want to read the letter person has to pay something. The charges may be in any form but it must at any cost. Consequently, people internalize such pattern of behavior that there are no services without paying or wooing. It has gone unchallenged as non-Brahmins had no voice to ask question. It was mentioned in religious texts like Shastras and Manusmriti. Such a way all powers were concentrated in the hands of Brahmins. They decided what kind of social system should be there. Brahmins completely monopolized the power of all resources.
Taking others (untouchables) property by Brahmins without their permission was also in practice on the grounds that Dharma Shastra does not allow untouchables to possess property. Such social atmosphere was perpetuated since centuries. ‘No charge No service' is a standard of modern age. But, no one can deny that it was exploitation to impose heavy charges as a burden whereby person undergo the debt and left no alternative to the person to take service or not or not pursue for such service. This pattern of behavior has done large impact upon the people who takes and gives services even in current stage also. The corruption has reached at its peak today. What is reason behind it? Why do people never think that it is malpractice? The reason is people never thought taking a bribe from other for his work or giving a bribe for fulfilling personal need is nothing wrong in it. People think that it is inherited from our descendants and we have to preserve it whatever transfer from our ancestors. Surprisingly, such treacherous attitude has gone at such level that people frequently offers gold, ornaments and money to the Gods to fulfill their personal need. Is it not a corruption? The genesis of corruption we found in Brahminism as propounded above.
We must be aware about the fact that our superstructure, polity and administration stands on social system. There would be no hopes from superstructure if social values and norms are improper and immoral in society. Today, India is undergoing the evils of corruption which is nothing but the impact of social structure built up on caste system. Indeed, it is appreciable that we are taking more and more measurement to prevent anti social elements. However, it would be no use if it left remark on paper merely and not in practice. It is prevalent that God provide his service to his followers free of cost. How one can prevent the person to not offer any monetary or metallic favor to God? How one can sure that such person will not carry his behavior (offering money) in social and public life? As well as, corruption in India is not at limited sections it has also engulfed private sectors like big business houses, builders, corporate sector and media. Therefore, it would be perilous to overlook the non-government sector, too. It has to come under the Anti-corruption Bill.
Media and Hero worship in India
Hero creates saga by his extra ordinary deeds. When Anna entered at the national scene abruptly situation ended into the saga as he comes and he win. He got followers across the county ranging from school children, college goers to senior citizens. Since Independence of India, it was seldom in history to compare Anna's movement as it has got immediate popularity. Media played a crucial role in Anna's movement. It was media who realized the people that it is not only Anna's movement but it is movement of everyone. And, it got its expected result. Youth in large proportion step down on the street with flags, slogans and wore Gandhi Topi(an indigenous cap) labeled ‘I am Anna Hazare'. Surprisingly, media even capture these groups protesting against corruption. This was quite unnatural phenomenon. Hero creates history. According to Dr. Ambedkar, ‘history is a biography of heroes (great men)'. Strangely, while overview the Anna's movement, we discover one more truth that media also creates hero. Now, it is media who decide who will be hero. During Anna's campaign, media had given 98 to 99% coverage to Anna's movement for telecasting news. Probably, all news channel displayed new portray of India with the slogan, ‘India is Anna and Anna is India'. It is not first time that media frenzied while tackling the issue. It was a time when media made Sachin Tendulkar God of cricket. Fortunately, media has not declared Sachin Tendulkar is final reincarnation of god. While projecting individual, media should not forget that no man however he may great cannot greater than his nation. It is unappreciable such tendency of media to equals a man with nation. There are number of social movements in India who fights against the tyranny and oppression of caste evils. There are questions of Dalit and Adivasi women. There are number of villages which still observe untouchability. The leaders of marginalized people and problems of marginalized never get prime place in the list of media. However, once again it uncovers the face of media while judging issues of marginal sections (Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes) of society. The nature of journalism in India rightly pointed out by Dr. Ambedkar as,
‘Journalism in India was once a profession. It has now become a trade. It has no more moral function than the manufacture of soap. It does not regard itself as the responsible adviser of the public. To give the news uncoloured by any motive, to present a certain view of public policy which it believes to be for the good of the community, to correct and chastise without fear all those, no matter how high, who have chosen a wrong or a barren path, is not regarded by journalism in India its first or foremost duty. To accept a hero and worship him has become its principal duty. Under it, news gives place to sensation, reasoned opinion to unreasoning passion, and appeal to the minds of responsible people to appeal to the emotions of the irresponsible' (Ambedkar: Gandhi, Ranade and Jinnah).
Perhaps, Anna's movement has many good facets but the way media responded towards issue blurred minds of responsible people, too. The concentration of power in single hand could be disastrous. India has history of idolatry, idolatry in religion (Baba, Fakirs) and idolatry in politics (politicians) which goes unchallenged. Such attitude gives scope for anarchy. Anarchy may create many issues like non cooperation to government, harassing the emotions of public, diverting attention to many crucial social issues, adamant on settlement. In this context, it is necessary again to be reminiscent the word of Dr. Ambedkar as he warned nation about hero worshipping as,
‘Hero-worship in the sense of expressing our unbounded admiration in one thing. To obey the hero is a totally different kind of hero-worship. There is nothing wrong in the former while the latter is no doubt a most pernicious thing. The former is only man's respect for everything which is noble and of which the great man is only an embodiment. The latter is the villain's fealty to his lord. The former is consistent with respect, but the latter is a sign of debasement. The former does not take away one's intelligence to think and independence to act. The latter one's make a perfect fool. The former involves no disaster to the State. The latter is the source of positive danger to it. (Ambedkar: Gandhi, Ranade and Jinnah).
(Surendra Gopinath Rote is Assistant Professor of Department of Sociology in Siddharth College of Arts Sci. & Com.
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