Anna and his so called Taliban

There are a lot of people comparing Anna with the Taliban, and I think it is a product of our education system, where theory is taught as a separate thing from life. People aren’t used to seeing ideas in action. The higher educated, the worse it gets. Anyway, here are some arguments and what I think of them.

anna come on, a modern taliban who flog people for drinking, whats the difference between approach of anna hazare and taliban??

flogging people is non violent? news? flogging them with hands tied , and mostly “bahi” used to do it by him self, woah

for your information talibans controll drugs and sexual harassment in same manner, at that time ” o my god its brutality”

be on topic mam, difference between anna and taliban? power hungry he is and he used his power in shape of brutality

etc… by Munnazir

To begin with, I think it is ridiculous to compare Anna Hazare with the Taliban because he is authoritarian. He isn’t running an illegal government, making terrorist attacks, enslaving women, imposing religion, beheading people at will, etc. I mean, the differences are so many, that I think the only similarity is Anna Hazare’s punishment for drinking and a dubious similarity in massive popular support. Possibly the strength of this protest could be seen as challenging government authority.

The debate continued with some people engaging with me on the subject of Democracy, liberty, and personal freedoms. Here are some quotes from primary_red

Because, ma’am, a basic understanding of the concept of liberty that seems to elude Anna supporters leads them to this position

Which is why I’mm a teetotaler. But, drinking is legal in India & Anna can go to hell if he thinks he can impose his views on anyone

The interesting things at this point are that the Janlokpal movement has no agenda on alcohol or alcoholism. Nor is this something Anna is imposing on the country. In our country, the government just increased the minimum age for drinking by seven years. If you marry before 25, you can’t drink at your wedding. This is democratic. But Anna getting majority support in the village to ban drinking is not. Do you think the government took a vote on raising the drinking age, and do you know if they would have got the votes to pull it off if they did? Gujarat can be a dry state and it is democratic, but Ralegaon Siddhi can’t. The double standards are enough to make your head spin. Ralegaon Siddhi is a real village surrounded by real India. If you measure it by some textbook ideals based on your beliefs about “best”, it is unrealistic to say the least.

We have smoking banned in public places – even outdoor public places, where there is no known risk from passive smoking in an open area. In the process, smokers must smoke indoors and expose their families to concentrated passive smoke which is greater risk? And what does this achieve? Can this be enforced? All it does is provide periodic bribing opportunities to cops. How many people do you know got arrested for smoking on the street out of how many people you know smoke? What is this joke of a law? But it is there. It is passed. I makes criminals out of a significant percentage of the population. This is not authoritarian?

Fact is, India is authoritarian by heritage. We were ruled by kings, our attitudes, culture, beliefs, everything comes from a belief in hierarchies. Be it touching the feet of elders or telling your kids to not go out to play. Is it liberal? No. So what do we do? Do we create solutions in the reality we have, or create solutions for an ideal democracy that doesn’t exist?

Sorry, ma’am. Inexplicably, you are very comfortable with sacrificing freedoms of others. You are free to abstain. Leave us alone

Also by primary_red

I have written about my experiences with what I call passive alcoholism – where my husband was an alcoholic. It is worth a read to grasp one point. While drinking is personal freedom, an alcoholic abuser is a social menace. Personal freedom doesn’t include the freedom to let kids starve or beat up wives. I see absolutely nothing wrong with a social intervention to prevent or punish alcoholics for abusing their families. In fact, I think it is an important and much needed step on domestic abuse.

A village panchayat is the government of the village and arbitrates as it sees fit in the running of the village. While I am no fan of seeing people beaten, how do you punish a drunk? Reasoning doesn’t work with them, they have no money you can fine them and anyway, it will be the family who suffers for money not the drunk, there are no jails and it is a fairly common problem. I don’t agree with people being beaten, but I can see how it can look like a workable solution for village folks.

It is quite astonishing that people read about the transformation of Ralegan Siddhi and this is what they find important. Protecting the rights of abusers.

No one seems to wonder why the village is protesting with such dedication in support of this person. It the village and its panchayat is in support of a certain action, is it illegal? Is it even authoritarian if the followers are in agreement? Anyone has any records of dissent from that village and how severe it was, if at all it was present?

I don’t support punishment for smoking or drinking, most definitely not physical punishment, but I fail to see why I should not take a good idea from a person because his other idea is bad. My liberal beliefs allow an authoritarian his beliefs as long as those lives he touches are not harmed by them. I don’t believe in this new brand of extremist liberalism I see these days. This kind of finding one quality and calling it the defining trait of a person is actually extremism. The process of seeing in absolutes. If a person ate pork in America, he should never get a visa to a Muslim country kind of thinking.

The liberals with their purist views based on their books fail to see that ideas in action are a mix of thousands of things happening at the same time. They are dynamic and you can’t pick out one idea and make it the sole factor of a choice. This is where intellect needs humility to keep observing the world and keep learning.

It is also a matter of whether we use or discard ideas for their origin, or their value. Whatever the origin, a good idea works and vice versa. It is authoritarian to decree authoritarian behavior as automatically unacceptable, if that makes sense.