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By Mohan Shenoy

        It is unfortunate that the style of protest that Gandhiji adopted to drive away the British from India is now being followed by similar protesters to bring pressure on the government of Indian Republic. These protesters are not driving away any foreign invaders but weakening their own national government. They want changes brought about in the manner in which people lodge protests against the government policies.


The government has always been worried that the protests undertaken by the popular leaders might escalate into large scale and wide spread law and order situation in the country.

        The protesters have a reason to protest but taking up the 'Fast Unto Death' road is not a good method. What they want done for their own country could be done through normal routes available in a democracy like India.

        The normal road would be to hold a demonstration and a rally in which their causes are explained and a road-map is presented for the people to support and sponsor. If their cause is a good one and their approach to the problem is feasible then more and more people would join the peaceful protest. The government would take their suggestions seriously and try to solve the problems as best as they can. There are many avenues by which people in a democracy can bring their causes to the attention of the government and bring about a change that they seek.

        The road of 'Fast unto Death' can lead to unnecessary law and order problems because the causes that the protesters are seeking to solve and the solutions that the protesters are advising could be unacceptable to a large section of the public.
By Mohan Shenoy
        The kind of protest that Anna Hazaare had adopted was like threatening to commit suicide. This is equally bad like the Bandh protest many people take up as politicians. The form of protest adopted by the Jat community in which the rail and road lines are blocked is also detrimental to peace in the region.

        There is a need for the Supreme Court to take up this issue and ban highly dangerous forms of protests in the country. The Supreme Court can issue an order to stop protesters like Anna Hazaare from committing suicide and thereby prevent disruption of life in the country. Anna Hazaare had taken up a wrong path to put forward his view regarding the Lok Pal Bill. He is not for democracy even though he says that he wants to heal the nation of its ailment in the form of corruption.

        I am for democracy. I am against forcing the government to do things in a non-democratic way; and not precipitate matters. We have a Constitution and under the Constitution there is the parliament. Only the parliament can pass laws. Protesters are trying to get things done in a non-democratic way bypassing the parliament. For changes in the Constitution one has to go through the normal procedures. I am opposed to this kind of forcing the Prime Minister to act. All Indians are responsible for corruption. If corruption has to be eliminated then people themselves have to stop giving bribes. Officers have to refuse to accept bribes. By bringing in LokPal law corruption can not be eliminated unless the people in every walk of life are determined to eliminate corruption.

        The LokPal demand has been there since the 1960s. The best way to write this law has been difficult for the lawmakers. A politician is only a label for an activist. A Lok Pal is not a god and might himself indulge in corruption. An honest person can turn out to be a corrupt person once he is given the position of a Lok Pal. A politician today will change his label and become a LokPal and the corruption will continue just like today. The Joint panel formed is going to get a Lok Pal bill written. If it to become law the parliament has to pass it in both the houses.

        Anna Hazaare's followers have claimed victory. Victory in what? Has corruption disappeared? Anna Hazaare and his followers are fooling the public saying that their fight is against corruption. Actually their fight is to force the government form a panel to write the Lok Pal Bill. Lok Pal bill is not going to eliminate corruption but only form another office to control corruption among the top officials and ministers.
By Mohan Shenoy
        "Burning the draft government Lokpal bill in front of parliament and issuing threats of a fast unto death smacks of intolerance and resorting to pressure tactics. Also it is likely that owing to the manner in which the Hazaare team is proceeding, Anna's initial victory may end in dismal defeat," said a prominent lawyer.

        "The referendum in Mumbai fell short of being one for want of an option. The questions related to a Bill such as the Lok Pal Bill can not be answered by a Yes or No. Also a referendum conducted by a Constitutional authority alone may be accepted by the Parliament, which alone can oblige Hazare with a Bill he dreams about. The Hazare Movement has already lost its fangs and paws to 'eat into the vitals of the body politic'. Hazaare has declared that will accept a Lok Pal Bill that has all the provisions he and his fizzy civil society have recommended, nothing less. He can not see the MPs face to face because he dislikes all politicians. He can not assume the powers of the Parliament simply by dying through starving himself.

        As regards the appointment of a Lokpal it is assumed that the appointee will be of an unimpeachable integrity. To call someone a person of unimpeachable integrity is equal to calling a pocket knife an harmless instrument. There is no such person in the world as anyone of unimpeachable integrity. The Congress government had showed exemplary wisdom in tackling the situation created by Anna Hazaare and by Baba Ramdev. This is the perfect way to handle protests by the citizens of the country.

        But the government is equally soft on the Maoists whose protests are also legitimate. Fast unto death leads to indirect lawlessness while the Maoist violence leads to direct violence. Maoists are also citizens but their form of protest can not be taken lightly.

        Anna Hazaare was arrested for threatening to break the restrictions imposed upon him in undertaking the fast. The government did the right thing. Any one in Manmohan Singh's seat would have done the same thing to prevent lawlessness.

        The television channels and the majority of the newspapers have blown the actual sizes of the crowds of supporters and of the degree of their solidarity to Anna's movement out of proportion.

       The Opposition is taking advantage of the situation to garner support from even normally hostile parties to condemn the government's handling of an unprecedented challenge in a troubled world.
By Mohan Shenoy
        It is foolish for any Indian political party to call for a Bandh in their own country ruled by their own government. Even if the ruling party is following a different policy, the total shut-down forced on Indian citizens is to say the least a foolish move. It only puts the entire nation and its millions of citizens in jeopardy.

        A protest such as the Bandh is called for only in situations that are affecting national security. Under the foreign rule before Independence a Bandh was justified to protest against the colonial government.A Bandh causes untold misery to the ordinary citizens and represents a self-inflicted injury to the Nation. Because of the fear of unruly mobs which manage to target shops and establishments that do not go along with the call for shut-down, the citizens refrain from venturing to open shop, travel, or visit a cinema hall. The people stay at home out of this fear and not because they support the shut-down.
By Mohan Shenoy
        An indefinite fast by the leaders of the political parties is more apt for protesting than inflicting hunger on the citizens most of whom depend on day-to-day earnings for their living.

        I strongly oppose calling for a shut-down by the political parties to display anger over the policies of the government, regardless of which party calls for the shut-down and which party is ruling the Nation.

        I hope better sense will prevail in this matter in the future. We have to think over the means of protest  and adopt only those methods which will not make the condition worse for ourselves. Thank you.