I have stayed away from the Anna Hazare story mostly because I have had mixed feelings about it and because it's not really been high on my list of interesting topics. However I have to say that I am bamboozled by those who call Hazare's fast-unto-death "undemocratic" and say that he is "blackmailing" the government. Blackmail is when you force someone to do something against their will and threaten to harm them if they don't accede. Hazare is threatening to harm himself, so I don't see how it is blackmail. Now sure, people can call it blackmail because he is indirectly trying to harm the government by encouraging people to come out on the street in throngs. But how can he be held responsible for what the people do and do not decide to do based on his protests?
In fact, the way I see it, it is precisely in a free democracy that everyone has a right to openly demand whatever he or she wants out in the street. And they also have a right to kill themselves if they think their demands are not met. And equally importantly, the government has every right to refuse their demands. The government has absolutely no obligation to give in to Hazare's demands until there is a formal majority that seeks it from them through a democratic process. If they cave in to Hazare's protests it's really their problem, not his.
Plus of course, I personally think that a little "blackmail" is pretty mild treatment for the kind of power-bloated politicians steeped in corruption that seem to define India's polity. But that's a different matter. First and foremost, I don't see how it's blackmail, and I don't see why the government has to give in to Hazare's demands. The way I see it, Hazara's protests are a sign of a healthy democracy at work and I for one feel quite satisfied.
Labels: indian politics