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Difficult moment in the Jan Lokpal struggle. Arvind Kejriwal says that the government is responsible if something happens to Anna.

When a much needed movement goes wrong, my greatest service is to speak up.

It is a difficult moment. A small movement struck an unexpected chord in the country and became an inferno. It built momentum till it forced the government to recognize the people's need. It was powerful enough to reemerge like a phoenix after months of silence at the moment of need. It is a powerful movement. Those steering it hold a lot of power. It makes it important that all follow the path impeccably.

When a crowd this large comes together, all it knows is that it is a peaceful protest. But a satyagraha is more than that. It is a philosophy. It is insistence that what is right be done. That is what gives it power. If what is being asked for is not rightful, then the power is destructive. It is also weak, because people can't logically arrive at the same false solution.

The tremendous success of this movement was because what was being asked for is a genuine, burning need.

I have written at each stage of smaller successes or failures, that this will get a lot worse before it gets better. There are powerful sides. There are powerful motives, there is a lot of effort. Whether right or wrong is irrelevant. What "should" be is irrelevant. Ground reality is that this was never going to be a cakewalk. We knew it going in. Anna knew it going in. It was a choice we had, and we made it. We were proud of the heroes who chose to publicly suffer hunger as a manifestation and symbol of the suffering the group was expressing.

Now we are hitting the difficult parts, and our integrity is falling apart. We must keep our eyes on the path and not get incited by our fears and anger.

When people sat for a fast unto death, death was always on the table. Today, a man died. The "death" from "fast unto death" just became more real. We are into the rough time. But nothing else has changed. We are still on a non-violent protest, our volunteers fasting are still making tremendous personal sacrifice out of free will.

Today, Kejriwal said something that was untrue. He said it publicly. He said the government would be responsible if anything happened to Anna. I can understand that as the person managing the initiative, he is under tremendous pressure. As a leader, he had a man die today. Frustration, anger, grief could have caused these words and the same sentiments in the followers are making them echo widely.

This blog has dozens of posts I wrote in support of the movement. I am no opposer. But, I see us going down the path of untruth, and I must speak up. A person is responsible for their choices. Good or bad. No matter the consequences. You can't say, "Oh, if we get the Jan Lokpal, then Anna chose to fast, and if something happens to Anna, then the government made him fast". Without free will, there cannot be satyagraha. As such, no matter how difficult times get, it is important that we keep in mind that no matter what wrong we are protesting, no matter whether someone agreed to demands or not, no matter whether there is success or failure, our actions are our own.

History has shown us that when people lose sight of this fact, frustration and anger cause failure. Think Gandhi and Chauri-Chaura. If Gandhiji hadn't called off the Satyagraha, use of excessive force against protesters would be justified. That was his moment of truth. The movement had derailed, and he made a historical ethical call to call it off at its peak.

Today's statement takes us in that direction. We are at our peak, and in a moment of weakness, a target has been set up for public anger. This is very dangerous for the country. While I understand that it wasn't a good day to be talking with introspection for Kejriwal, I do hope that he sees the falsehood in that angry blame and withdraws the statement and brings attention back to the reality. We set out to protest peacefully, come what may. We set out to sacrifice come what may.

It is an insult to the sacrifice of someone to present it as something they were forced to do. It is false that anyone can be responsible for what someone else does. Government or not. Anna is responsible for his choices. Not Kiran Bedi or Kejriwal, nor the government. He made that choice. If we suffer its consequences, they are because we love him. Let us not abandon our pain from our feelings for him as anger at government. When he lies physically weak, he needs us to enact his strength. We must not fail him by turning our actions from assertion to blame. We must not fail him by not bothering to understand the philosophy of the Satyagraha, because anger was easier than caring and hurt.

It has been a long and difficult day. I hope that people rest at night as well as they can, and think calmly and wake up with the moral strength it takes to see that the unwavering belief of Anna's that led this movement to this point is still his, not government property.

My hope is that Team Anna has consistently shown humility enough to admit statements made in error after reflection. Kejriwal has been angry and said things he shouldn't before. There have been retractions of incorrect statements after facts were reflected on. Ego never forced Team Anna to remain stubborn about wrong words. I am hoping that this is one of them. I hope that at this crucial juncture and under pressure, he still demonstrates that skill only Team Anna has shown among public entities - to self-correct with dignity.

I could have simply turned sides and asked for the movement to be stopped. But I believe in it. I am not against the movement. I am not against Anna. I even have great admiration for Kejriwal. All I am saying is that this recent statement takes the Satya out of Satyagraha, and doing my duty as a supporter - sharing my ability to see for our collective well being.

What is a satyagraha without satya?

I believe that when the going gets tough, and seeing clearly becomes difficult, those who can must help others see so that we move forward with purpose and not fall off the track.

So, when I see our ethics derailing, I am digging in my heels, and speaking up.

I will not step out of the path of Satyagraha, even if I stand there alone.

 

In the digital age where Megabyte is the new dynamite and power of ideas and connectivity cannot be ignored, this is an experiment in the Lab of thoughts - Ink lab.

Set in the sociopolitical scenario when India is fighting against corruption and a successful mass movement has already build up all across the nation, this 65 min. guerilla film on the issue of Corruption explores how the power of idea and thoughts of a common man shape up the destiny of the whole nation.

On 8th April 1929, it was bomb explosion in the Central Assembly that was used by freedom fighters ‘to make the deaf hear’, today, after more than 80 years , on same date, millions of citizens with a common dream of a better India have proved as explosive and have shaken the empire in a Gandhian way. Central to both the revolutions is the strong idea and belief to bring about positive change in the lives of common man, however both violence of Bhagat Singh and Non-violence of Gandhi have remained misunderstood by many. The film tries to make a point that mere silence is not peace..and nor does..’Long live revolution’ mean constant unrest.

The protagonist of the film is a young PhD student, a rational thinker who believes in experiments and is not bound by any political ideology. Being inquisitive and experimental in nature, he keeps on exploring various ways of bringing about change, weather it is joining social group or student political party…but to his disappointment he could not connect well with any of these groups with stagnant mindsets. Inspired by the martyar Shaheed Bhagat Singh, he also makes and tests homemade bombs for himself to satisfy his curiosity. This man, who has some plans for April, has gone missing ..may be to explore his way further. What is his way to bring about change? Explosives..or Ideas??? Or Explosive Ideas?? Was he a danger to society…or may be he was one among the thousands of Citizens..who came ahead to support the fight against corruption..this 8th April. The man guided by peace and love is on his way to discovery..a rebellion that has arisen from within.

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It is well presented. Two old men, calling for freedom for their respective lands through protests against the occupying powers. Both with names starting with G and ending with I. Both having a big role in the struggle for freedom. It is a big fat lie. It is an insult to India's Satyagraha movement to accept this without objection. I haven't seen many people bring this up, and I think it needs said.

Let me begin with saying that I am biased. I think Geelani is one of the most evil people to exploit Kashmir in its history since 1947. Gandhi had his faults, but he never called for something he himself wouldn't do. Gandhi and his close associates stood at ground zero with protesters, not issued calendars. Gandhi had his faults - who doesn't, but using the success and recognition of the Satyagraha movement to legitimize organized rioting is an insult to India and a gross misguidance of Kashmir, which isn't going to help the moral fabric of the state whether in India or free or in Pakistan.

Some points that come to mind:

  • Gandhi didn't have an agenda to free India from the British and hand it over to another country. This can't be called a freedom struggle. Particularly when the country itself has a far worse human rights record and thinks nothing of killing Kashmiris as a part of their strategic depth.
  • Gandhi did not have hoodlums 'enforcing' his protests.
  • Gandhi had protested Hindu-Muslim riots, and empathized with the pain of both, not led the persecutor.
  • Gandhi did not excuse violence as a part of the non-violent movement. The entire nationwide non-cooperation movement was called off at the peak of its success when ONE incident at Chauri Chaura resulted in clashes between the police and the protesters and three protesters died. Geelani, what's your score? If hot blood was resulting in stone pelting and deatths, what did you do to prevent those innocents from dying? To ensure that the morality of your movement was beyond reproach?
  • Most importantly, Gandhi was a protester himself - out there on the street, courting lathis, courting arrests, risking his life like any other Satyagrahi. When was the last time Geelani stood defiantly asking for his rights along with his people?
  • Gandhi did not expect the British to see to the safety of the protesters. Six decades later, Geelani still reacts with expectation of not evil from people whom he declares evil.
  • Gandhi was of the people. There was no threat in contradicting him. He lived their life, ate their food, suffered their suffering. Did Geelani go hungry this winter because he was busy protesting in the summer?

It is sad today that India's activists who claim to stand for the rights of the people apparently only stand for the rights of people already vocal against the state. It is sad that they legitimize this kind of corruption of not just India's image (which is comparitively minor) but the spirit defining one of the worlds most successful and ethical resistances that inspired movements around the world.

As long as Geelani sits at home and declares days of protest in full awareness that the protesters will face bullets, he is nothing more than your garden variety gangster manipulating local events for fun and profit. A leader assumes responsibility for the well being of his people, not sets them up for situations likely to risk their lives.

Yes, the soldiers have done many wrongs. Yes, India has been unable to find a political resolution so far. Yes, India is guilty of neglect. Yes Kashmir is suffering. This doesn't total up to a butcher who sets Kashmiris up for more suffering to be their hero.

When dead bodies are advertisements, there is some organization also profiting from the results of that advertisement. I doubt if it is the person who died, or the others lined up to become advertisements.

And no, I'm not a Congress supporter. The congress of today is irrelevant to Gandhis satyagraha movement.

No, I'm not a Gandhian with a pen either. I'm only looking at the leadership of one successful mass movement.

I AM a fan of the concept of Satyagraha, which is what I am defending.