The Abuse of Fasting (27/8/12)

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Kapil’s Khichadi
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The Abuse of Fasting

Fasting has long been used by many social reformers as a tool to bring together the masses. Used correctly, and by the right person/s, it can make a significant impact in galvanising a social idea into a practical reality. It forces an issue to the top of the national agenda. I am however disturbed with how this noble tradition is increasingly being abused by people who should know better. This week’s Kapil’s Khichadi will certainly upset a lot of people – and I say to them, rightly so.

I am a great admirer and supporter of Shri Kisan Baburao Hazare, aka Anna Hazare who has brought the issue of government and corporate corruption to a head. In so doing, in the early stages of the campaign, he legitimately went on a fast to raise the issue and bring society together. That was a tremendous effort and I am sure we all applaud Anna ji for the ‘Gandhian’ like social action he had embarked on.

Alongside Anna ji we also have Swami Ramdev ji who also embarked on a similar fast to challenge the rampant corruption in Government, and in society. His fast ended in shambles when within a short period of time, the ‘yoga’ master was unable to control his body which appeared to be failing. This damaged him immensely at the time.

This pantomime of both Anna ji and Swami ji of constantly threatening to fast to death has now reached a pinnacle of laughter. Their credibility with the masses that make up greater Bharat has also diminished. They have in effect denigrated fasting to a laughing matter since everyone now knows they will not take it to the Nth degree. I say to both these camps – please grow up and have some respect for the act of fasting to bring about social reform. If you are serious, then take it to its natural end and make the point in a manner that history can record for evermore. Otherwise please stop this utter nonsense that has now been seen by the people as a contemptible act designed to mislead the masses. In some people’s opinion it’s not too different to the politicians who so often mislead by being economical with the truth.

Swami ji has also threatened to disclose the details of those in power that have offshore accounts. I was told by an insider that they have dossiers of this evidence, yet after more than 12 months of shouting and screaming, not one piece of evidence showing verifiable details of any leading politician with an offshore account has come to light. So I say to Swami ji, when do you propose to come true and show us the evidence? Since if the evidence is ‘pukka’, you have the means to sort out a major element of this corruption in one single stroke. By making constant threats and not delivering you are now in serious danger where you will begin to lose the confidence and support of the masses. Please do not be enticed by your loyal supporters who no doubt will continue to fill up ‘Jantar Mantar’ or ‘Ram Leela Maidan’ at your beck and call. You have to take the whole country with you to affect massive social change, and that is an entirely different matter.

Team Anna recently announced that they will come into the political arena and put their case to the people of Bharat. I say to them, go for it. If you have the belief that your platform for social reform is correct, and you believe that the masses are with you – then surely you must put that to the test via the electoral system. In my view when it comes to the crunch, the voting public will fall behind their party of choice of yesteryears. And whilst Team Anna will make an impact, it will not be anywhere close to making a major political statement, let alone taking power in Delhi.

So what should Team Anna and Swami ji do? They might need to find intelligent ways in which to influence the sitting Government or, they will need to find an opposition party with whom they can work constructively. I don’t see them doing enough to secure either of these objectives. In fact as I write this column it seems Team Anna has now embarked in alienating itself from the BJP also, a policy that is likely to bring about splits in their own ranks. This is now a dangerous time for both these camps. They have stirred the masses, they have brought the issue of corruption to the forefront and they have the moral and ethical right on their side. I fear that with so much gained in such a short time, that both these camps are increasingly looking short of strategic ideas to take their campaigns forward without destroying what they have achieved thus far.

We are all very supportive. However, what these two camps do next will determine whether such support continues. And I urge them, stop abusing the threat of a ‘fast’, it has now become a broken record.

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