Love or sex?



I was amused to see Team Anna draw flak this week from two leaders quite on the opposite sides of the spectrum: Sonia Gandhi and Nitish Kumar. While Sonia, whose speech was read out in absentia at a rally in Uttarakhand, seemed quite impatient with the frequent noises being made by the team members, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was simply – and justifiably – peeved at the tendency of the team members to think only they are right and everybody else who has his or her own mind is corrupt.

Quite frankly, they are all acting holier than thou when they have nothing to be holy about. If Anna was not already indicted by the Justice PB Samant Commission for indulging in corruption – albeit of a mere Rs two lakh to celebrate his birthday in his village – through his Hind Swaraj Trust which is funded by the government (and Anna has admitted to the fraud, too), I do not see what leg both Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal have to stand on any more.

It is easy to dismiss all the allegations as a witch-hunt by the government but the point is not quite that. Rather, if you are raising fingers at others be sure some are not pointed at you as well. And I believe very few of the core committee so far among the prominent members can come out clean in this respect.

Even if this were a witch-hunt, it is not as though the government has manufactured scams against them – the ammunition was there to begin with, offered by the activists themselves. All that the government perhaps did was fit it to a gun and press the trigger.

I am simply amazed by the capacity of Team Anna to give character certificates to themselves. With Bedi, particularly, it is like that famous dialogue out of a recent Bollywood film: tumhara ishq ishq aur hamara ishq sex (your love is for love and my love is just for sex)?

So she thought it was okay to be corrupt when you return the money after being caught. Did DMK MP Kanimozhi, now undergoing trial in the 2G scam, not do exactly the same? So why is she still in jail while Bedi continues to be out in fresh air – and Bedi could be more culpable given that she has been a high-ranking police officer who dealt with such cases throughout her life and knew the law well enough. Her conduct really has been more shameful than Kanimozhi’s who, at least, never thought she was better than the rest of us in all the universe.

But I am greatly satisfied that what I said several weeks ago – and for which I received more brickbats than bouquets – is finally being substantiated by the testimony of others close to Anna Hazare.

Raju Parulekar, a journalist of repute who I have known for some years now, was Anna’s official blogger and has perhaps done the maximum damage to Team Anna by simply speaking the truth. But then wasn’t the team attempting to give the impression that Parulekar was overstepping his brief while blogging in Anna’s name and got the social activist to endorse that indictment?

Parulekar says that Anna said of Kejriwal: jab zaroorat ho toh gadhe ko bhi baap banana padta hai (you have to make a father out of an ass when you have to). I was pleasantly surprised that Anna had worked it out for himself. For, as much as I know of the social worker, usually it is others who make up his mind for him.

But, then, I believe Kejriwal, Bedi and the others might have been having similar thoughts about Anna, given his simple-mindedness. Which is why you found them manipulating him throughout the agitation both in April and August; you didn’t find any of Anna’s old associates around him at the time because either Team Anna had kept them strictly away lest they catch on or these old friends had themselves quit the scene because, as one of them told me only last week, “It is a tough call dealing with Anna. He is simply inconsistent, takes awfully long to get things right and you can never be sure he will not change his mind and let you down just when you have stuck your neck out for him.”

That I believe is precisely what happened with Parulekar but then he had enough intelligence to match Team Anna’s and did not hesitate to speak the truth. And I believe he could have sounded the death knell for Team Anna.

Sure, the anti-corruption movement has caught the people’s imagination and all of us wish to see an end to corruption. But like my good friend, Dr Sharit Bhowmik, Dean of the School of Labour and Management Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences had told me, very tellingly, then, “It is all about your corruption versus my corruption. The policeman waved a flag at Anna’s rally because he was disgusted with the rationing officer who demanded Rs 100 for issuing him with a card. The income tax officer made tracks to the protest site because he was mad at that very cop who demanded Rs 100 from him for jumping lanes at a traffic signal, even though he had just ripped off a film star for evading taxes. And the builders took the cake – all that they meant by supporting Anna was that they should be allowed to grab land from tribals without having to bribe the clerks at Mantralaya (the secretariat).”

So, as even my rather unworldly aunt commented, “Toh kis ki kameez zyaada safed hai?” (whose shirt is whiter?) Or, rather, who is the fairest of them all?

Even I could not have put it better.

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  • Bappam

    you have no leg to stand on as far as corruption is concerned. the media is one of the most corrupt arms of Indian society. You guys carry on as if the Radia tapes episode never happened. In this electronic age, even if you try to kill a story, it never goes away. I can listen to the Radia tapes anytime I want to remind myself what frauds you all are. you just want the status quo to carry on as it is so you can keep talking about vote banks, voting percentages, caste configuration, Modi versus Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati as a Dalit champion etc. Maybe this is what you find fascinating but Indian politics is changing fast and governance issues are becoming paramount. As far as keriwal and kiran bedi are concerned, you really must be kidding. both belonged to two arms of government – the IRS and IPS were you can become multimillionaires with no questions asked. i know this for a fact because i come from a family of bureaucrats and i have seen the amount of wealth that IRS and IPS officers generate over a short period with no accountability. Neither kejriwal nor Bedi took advantage of this opportunity to enrich themselves through their service. The fact that you are equating political-bureaucratic corruption with a traffic constable’s petty corruption and kiran bedi travel bills tells me that you are wilfully trying to fool your readers. yes scale does matter when we are discussing corruption. when IRS and IPS officers take bribes it damages governance which is what is what is holding India back. the main reason they are taking bribes is that they are funneling that money to their political masters to get lucrative postings. Even your corporate paymasters are realizing that you cannot have a corrupt governance structure and keep claiming at Davos that you are a rising power.

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  • Anonymous

    Now the question is “Is Sujata Anandan Corrupt?”.

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  • Anonymous

    Sunita,
    Finally you have realised that Rahul is all show, no substance but people in India suffer from lack of common sense. They never think or analyze because most of them are uneducated or semi-educated unable to understand diplomacy that these politicos indulge in while dealing with Aam Admi.

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  • Abu Ahmed

    Casteism in India is spread and well-entrenched like TB – it will never be eradicated. What Congress has done is to exploit it in its fight against other Hindu parties. For any Hindu, what difference would it make if the Congress or the BJP or the BSP or the SP wins the election – apart from caste loyalties and personal gain? The BJP roots for the Banias, the SP for the OBCs and the BSP for the Dalits. Its only the Congress which can represent all Hindus – and the minorities – despite its myriad short-comings and soft Hindutva outlook. Only Mayawati could launch a very serious challenge to the Congress at the national level in the 2014 polls.

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  • Mizohican Kima

    Whoooahhhh!!!!! Vir Sanghvi, I have been a loooooong time follower of your articles, both at HT blog and your site, agreeing to some of your opinions and disagreeing to some. But I never knew you went out once with a Mizo girl! :)

    The issues you have mentioned, trust me, are quite controversial. I have been trolled and abused online many times only for merely pointing out that Mizoram was bombed by the IAF which many Indians refused to believe and branded me a terrorist for saying that. I have blogged and written quite a lot of articles about Mizoram and the North East but to no avail. But a person of your reputation writing about this is HUGE for me and my fellow Mizos, so thank you sir :)

    You wanna see racial abuses? Check out the comments on my blog whenever I write things related to the North East. I don’t know why there is so much anger and hatred against people from the North East from so many fellow Indians. I won’t be surprised if there are racial abuses at this article too, but like I said before, it means a lot to us that you wrote about it. Cheers, sir.

    - Kima (A Mizo)

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    AshishC Reply:

    Dear Kima,
    if it is any consolation, I was once dining at an eatery in Khan Market witha friend from Hong Kong (a Chinese) on a visit to Delhi. We were being served by a waiter who was obviously from North East. The moment my friend saw him, his eyes lit up; he beckoned him close and broke into Cantonese. The waiter’s face was quite a sight :)
    This anecdote apart, I applaud you for speaking out about the shameful behaviour of our fellow Indians. Someday, hopefully, we will grow up.

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  • Sid sridhar

    Well said vir Sanghvi. I am a Canadian of Indian origin. There was a time in the Seventies, when Indians were not easily accepted and we had to try to pretend we were from Singapore or South Africa. The same happened to people from China, who pretended to be Japanese!The new successful India/China has changed all this. Inside India too, globalization is taking place and it is wonderful to see people from Manipur working in Chennai! India is changing fast and is coming to terms with its growth story. The buzz word is ‘inclusive growth’ and this will include people of the Northeast. Internet will make sure that Tamils visit beautiful parts of Shillong etal and the people there will not be able to stop it. Wake up India! You are being followed by other nations as a role model!!

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Agree. Also I studied in a Regional Engg College (now NITs) where we had a large number of students from the North-East and they were all universally loved. I guess the more people get to know each other the more the barriers fall. And the converse is also true

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  • Fact

    A good article from Vir Singhvi. No pseudo secularism and Modi bashing too. Keep it up and we might accept you post Radia.

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  • Ramesh

    We all are different, speak different languages, look different, profess different religions, dress differently, have different food habits and we are all proud of our cultures. This is what makes India fascinating!

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  • Mizohican Kima

    Thanx for your replies Ashish, Ramesh, Raj, anon and Globe. I read them over the weekend but couldn’t reply from my phone. I have been brought up outside Mizoram from 3rd standard, so I know very well this is not the mentality and opinion shared by every Indian. I have a lot of non-Mizo friends from this side of India and cherish them. But there are also certain people who will always behave ignorant and obnoxious online, after all, it is the internet. That may still take time to change, but in the real world, I have indeed seen a lot of changes as I have been in mainland India almost my entire life, and articles like this by a prominent columnist really speed up the process :) Cheers to you all :)

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  • Theyounghindu

    Dears, neither Assam nor Mizoram will never get separated from India, for the same reason that Tamil Nadu, Andhra or Kerala didnt get separated. Looking different or speaking a different language doesnt prevent India from giving you people up, thats the idea of India, the idea of democracy, secularism and diversity.I am sorry, ur dreams will remain in the pipe forever. Love India and all indians. Jai Hind

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    Vanlalfaka Reply:

    No true Mizo loves to be Indian. They would be happy to die than be called Indian. Except for some worthless sycophants of course…

    You are just an RSS.

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    Vanlalfaka Reply:

    No true Mizo loves to be Indian. They would be happy to die than be called Indian. Except for some worthless sycophants of course…

    You are just an RSS.

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  • Vanlalfaka

    Division leads to weakness, for people of the same race. The case is entirely different for northeastern states. We belong to (an) entirely different race(s).

    India will not fall due to separation of northeastern states. And then these states will have a chance to struggle for survival in their own right.

    The idea of Mizoram (or for that matter, Nagaland etc.) being in India forever is the stupidest thing in the world.

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  • Vanlalfaka

    Division leads to weakness, for people of the same race. The case is entirely different for northeastern states. We belong to (an) entirely different race(s).

    India will not fall due to separation of northeastern states. And then these states will have a chance to struggle for survival in their own right.

    The idea of Mizoram (or for that matter, Nagaland etc.) being in India forever is the stupidest thing in the world.

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  • ZHB

    I’m a late comer into the conversation and I enjoyed reading the comments. What struck me most was how gracious and polite the comments of the ‘wicked mainlanders’ were. Thank you. I am from the North-East and in the ten years that I spent in Delhi, I did receive a good share of racist taunts but I also made a great many friends who cared more about the jokes I told than about my ethnicity. This is one of the reasons why I’ll never pass a sweeping judgement on a people or a city. It’s also a pity that the many acts of great kindness that take place in Delhi go unreported. And we in the NE aren’t that innocent or spotless either. People coming from outside the region are often treated in a boorish manner; in the worst case, with undisguised disdain, and like in many parts of India white skin is respected and an African will be referred to as a negro. Well, as long as India has this colourful variety living together there will be problems but we have to find ways to live amicably together, and I believe this civilised and thoughtful discussion that’s carrying on is a good beginning…

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  • gupta

    see we people has lost our culture ,moral values and respect. today everything in life is money.I am from uttar predesh the most corrupt state in india. I feel now indians has lost the feeling of respect. I have been many countries in world and seen how much respect they give to each other but i feel shame when i see how they treat north east people and i know north east people are very honest ,hard working .My two friends are married to the girls from Shilong and they are living a very happy life.The governemt has to take some action to maintain equality in country but the governement is busy in looting money .So now we have to be very cautious in our own land as there is no law and order in country. Ask all the north east people to unite where ever you stay and help each others. thanks.N.Gupta

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  • Buni Kon

    I should say one of the best article.I feel proud to be an Indian, but the mainland people are treating us like we are foreigners. As you have said, sometimes we the people from North East also constantly felt that it would be better to be a part of greater China than to be a part of India because of all these constant nagging and hopefully, we could have stayed in peace with those Chinese who are having similar structure with us. But, the best thing would be, if we can live independently and, of course free from racism, discrimination, etc.

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