Intellectuals, artists support Hazare; raise questions too!

August 16th, 2011 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Chetan Bhagat New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) A small band of writers, painters and intellectuals has been throwing their might with social activist Anna Hazare’s fight against corruption - to lend the campaign more teeth and visibility and also question its shortcomings.

Barely a month before his death in June, artist M.F. Husain, the biggest name in the country’s contemporary art, drew a cartoon to express solidarity with Hazare. The Gandhian was arrested Tuesday, hours before he was to begin a fast-unto-death to demand a strong anti-corruption law, and sent to Tihar Jail for seven days.

Husain said the anti-corruption activist was leading “another revolution”. “I am thrilled that the younger generation has taken up the cause to crush corruption in India and I wish them great success,” Husain had said from Dubai.

The sentiment struck a chord in popular commercial fiction writer Chetan Bhagat, who has been speaking up for Hazare in public forums.

“To deny a place to protest is a mockery of the democratic system. I will continue to support him,” Bhagat said.

On Aug 15, celebrated Orissa-based sand sculptor Sudarshan Patnaik criticised the government’s stand on Hazare’s campaign, saying: “Corruption is like a cobweb in our democracy and we should throw it out”.

He dedicated a sand sculpture of the Indian tri-colour in Puri with Anna Hazare’s face etched on it and christened the sculpture Anna Hazare. Patnaik used nearly 10 tons of wet earth and sand and spent five hours crafting it.

Musician, writer and philosopher Thomas Easaw, the author of “Justice Theory and 10 Amendments” had composed a ditty in honour of Anna Hazare in April. The song was a paean to Hazare’s days of struggle, his tribulations and the corruption in the country.

However, the disillusioned musician later countered his own tribute with a song opposing Hazare, saying: “Hazare and his compatriots should not be allowed to hold the nation to ransom.”

Writer Arundhati Ray builds up her argument in the same skein. The writer, who visited Hazare in April when he launched his fight against corruption, later said: “Hazare’s movement did not have any particular call to change the system that is causing the corruption.”

“For me, the first thing that is going to stem the chain of corruption is to stop this crazy privatisation of public infrastructure and natural resources. Then, once you systematically correct this, corruption can be stopped considerably,” she said.

“Only then you can have the Lokpal bill,” Roy said.

Danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, another high-profile Anna Hazare supporter, is contemplating a change of heart after Anna Hazare praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s rural development campaign.

Musician Neelesh Misra believes in Hazare’s mission.

But several progressive intellectuals are not sure of Anna Hazare’s political affiliations.

“I personally went and saw that it was a heavily RSS organised initiative - it has become a bit simplistic. Corruption is a very complicated issue. A revolution is something different and there is mass revulsion against corruption. People are not clear about the issue,” artist-activist Ram Rahman of Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust told IANS.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

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