india frustrates

Anna Hazare Reactions: The Salaried vs The Rest

There have been various and different reactions to the Anna Hazare episode. The profile of those reacting is very predictable. I must say that the India experience is very different, if one has a job or is self-employed. When you have a job, the employer absorbs the harassment and extortion, the public system thrusts on the establishment and come what may, your monthly pay cheque is paid out. That is why, many who do not relate to the Anna Hazare fast are mostly in a job rather than self employed. Since the system does not touch them often they believe all is hunky dory.

When I had a job with a MNC until 2005, my encounters with the system were minimal. It was either the occasional traffic policeman or income tax authorities. The MNCs have made life comfortable for themselves and their employees by engaging the services of so-called “consultants”. The business model of these consultants is straight forward, for a fee, they will negotiate and facilitate government interaction. Most of the fees is paid out as bribes to government officials and the rest for themselves. Please note, corrupt government officials do not accept cheques, they only accept cash.

Lets us consider the situation one is self employed. On a daily basis, as you struggle to build a business, is when you experience the bite of the sharks. Depending on the business you have, officials from 10 to 30 different departments, will threaten the business with some kind of action for a frivolous violation the rules which only they know. The government never publishes the rules or ensure they have a subjective hook in the process. A greeting sent via sms on Diwali day by a businessman to his friends and fellow businessmen on Diwali day, honestly reflects how the state squeezes its own entrepreneurs.

The Diwali SMS greeting goes as, ” Daily Prayer :- O GOD, Give us Strength and Capacity to pay, Income Tax, VAT, Service Tax, Excise Duty, Octroi, TDS, ESI, FBT, Property Tax, Stamp Duty, Water Tax, Professional Tax, Road Tax, Educational Cess, Congestion Levy and many more. Besides don’t forget, Gunda Hafta, Bribes, Donations, Chanda, Beggars etc. We have some time and money left after that we will do some business… Cheers to the booming Indian Economy.”

The law in India is beneficial to those who control it or have the financial power to deal with it. For the Aam Aadmi that wants to make it in life it is very difficult. The struggle starts early morning to get enough water for the day, to educate one’s children and healthcare when someone in the family falls seriously sick.

The reactions to Anna Hazare have been very bipolar, some say this is the start of the movement, others say that he is blackmailing the government. I can assure you the latter belong to a category that sit in air-conditioned offices, get their pay checks deposited unconditionally at the end of the month. The former are the ones who are trying to run their business or make ends meet on a daily basis. For the latter to relate to the former is like kissing through glass.

For those who don’t get it, this movement is about a platform where civil society gets representation to give inputs, negotiate and formulate bills not hijack it. If you still don’t get it, leave your cushy job, get self-employed and try to make ends meet and then lets talk. An opportunity to kiss some real lips for sure.!

5 thoughts on “Anna Hazare Reactions: The Salaried vs The Rest”

  1. A nuanced piece. I liked it. Is it because I am one of those that you call: “self-employed”? 😉

    No, seriously, it was a nuanced piece.

  2. Here is a note which I sent out to my office colleagues after I attended the rally in Pune. Similar thoughts to yours, but variations are subtle

    I attended the first candle light march in Pune on 8th April, 2011 in support of the fight against corruption, initiated by Anna Hazare. The rally was well attended with serpentine queues numbering a few thousand. Two classes of Indian society seemed to be conspicuous by their absence. The economically elite probably kept away because corruption can be a useful tool for this class to maintain its supremacy. The lower economic strata was nowhere to be seen. They clearly seem mostly ignorant about any of this (for obvious reasons) and the fact that it is massive corruption which prevents their ascendency out of the quagmire they are currently trapped in. It was ironical to see amused pavement dwellers watching on near Shaniwar Wada, (the rally location) where the remaining, aspiring and mostly young middle class rally participants were vocal in venting their anger against the local politicians.

    The problem at hand, in my opinion, is far larger than the independence struggle of 1947. For one, this time we are fighting our own people. Secondly and more importantly, the independence struggle was inclusive of every section of society from rich to poor, every demographic category from women to children and young to old. If the fight against corruption has to succeed (which I sincerely hope it does), it needs to gain momentum across demography and larger sections of Indian society.

  3. Vinay

    the Indian independence movement was fought by a dedicated 1 lakh people only and they did not have the social media tools like twitter, facebook etc. the rich have already started throwing stones at this movement by calling it blackmail. yesterday in passing i was told it is the great democracy and institutions of India that allowed Anna to conduct his fast. what a favour!

    … Shrikant

  4. Still some people may consider the strike of Anna Hazare as a blackmail to the government. But Anna already responded that he is ready to blackmail the government in this corruption issue.

    Such vigorous nature is required by an individual to protest against the deep rooted corruption cancer in this country.

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