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Did you hop on the wagon?

Supporting a cause just because everyone else does may make you seem cool. But will it make you wiser? I’m not too sure, writes Sonal Kalra.

sex and relationships Updated: Apr 10, 2011 01:11 IST
Sonal Kalra

I was going to write this week about the things women should never, ever say to the men in their lives. But as I sat down to do that, a colleague passed by and asked if I needed a great photo of Anna Hazare that she’d found, for my column. ‘But I’m not writing on Anna Hazare’, I said and she gave me an incredulous look, as if I’ve done something worse than 2G scam on my organisation by drawing a salary and not sticking to ‘the topic’ everyone has been writing about — even those who are not writers! "Of course you should write about corruption, your column will stick out like a sore thumb at this point if you don’t," she said.

I got worried. I’m not prepared to take the risk of sounding ignorant about the ‘pulse’ of the readers, so ‘what not to say to men’ can wait. But the problem is, I don’t have anything to say about the Hazare revolution that hasn’t already been said. The point I do want to discuss, however, is about this cause-frenzy that I noticed these past few days. And while some hate mail is sure to come my way for being a cynic, I would request anyone who even remotely feels the way I do, to write back and reassure me that I’ve not lost it.

To set the record straight, I have nothing but admiration for the man who took up a totally worthy cause in a totally non-violent way. I have as much disdain about corruption as anyone else in this country, though it’s also true that I’m as guilty of turning a blind eye to it over the years as
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
everyone else is. Through the years, we’ve only turned up our noses at corruption in every walk of life, while at the same time, trying to get away by bribing or influencing a cop when stopped for a traffic challan, because it seems like the most valid thing to do. So, for such a country to come together and denounce corruption, at least in words, is also no mean achievement.

However, I feel strangely overwhelmed by this sudden frenzy that enveloped the entire issue. A day before, everyone’s status on Facebook/Twitter was about India’s world cup victory… a day later, everyone’s statuses, including mine, changed to the Hazare issue, with an equal fervour. Some, in fact, didn’t even bother to modify their SMSs — about patriotism and how we stand united — and did the neat job of replacing ‘Dhoni and his men’ with ‘Anna Hazare’. It seemed as if the nation desperately wanted to cling on to the ‘high’ of unity and patriotism we all had experienced at the Indian victory and the issue of corruption fitted in seamlessly into the slot. Suddenly, film stars too followed up with tweets on Hazare that, thanks to a cascading effect on their lakhs of followers, Anna was ruling the online trend charts in no time. Amid the mela of people gathered, TV channels started live shows from Jantar Mantar and celebrities — from lesser-known starlets to high-profiled fashion designers to even celeb look-alikes, made their way there.

I have no issues with celebrities taking up the cause, everyone has an equal right to voice their concern about corruption. But what worries me is that with everyone hopping onto the bandwagon a la the film Peepli Live, how many bothered to understand the nitty-gritty of the issue? A lot of us are equating Anna Hazare’s demands being met, to a magical end of corruption in India. I doubt if those circulating congratulatory messages about Lokpal bill have stopped to think that even if it comes into force, it’ll be a law like hundred others that already exist, and that corruption will end only when we’ll all decide to never bribe at the cost of sacrificing our convenience. I’m not sure if all those who’ve put up Facebook and Twitter statuses have taken that vow yet. I’m not even sure if they’ve thought about it yet.

Sonal Kalra feels Anna Hazare has given us a new slogan, but we should raise it not because we have the chorus, but when we have the conviction.

Mail your comments at sonal.kalra@hindustantimes.com.

Follow Sonal Kalra at twitter.com/sonalkalra