What was it while walking during Dandi March 2 in Bangalore?

As you know, Dandi March II walk was held in Bangalore on 26 March 2011 in support of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Over 400 people walked over a distance of 11 km under 4 hours. To my surprise, many people walked the full distance, completely overcoming the physical boundaries. After the march, I asked a few of them to detail how / what it was like while they walked? What did they feel? Anything which they wanted to share. I have got replies from a few of them and I am sharing them below.

Prasann Garg (walked full distance)
At least for me, It was first time experience of participating in any such event. And really felt the best way to start the weekend despite little pain in the legs. Honestly speaking, I was expecting little more younger people there considering the number of people from middle or above aged participated. When I heard about this Dandi March 2, like every other person, I also felt how it is going to help ? And once we finished it, it felt we achieved a lot. One thing is for sure, it was never to blame the government or bring down the government. We are well aware such things can’t happen. But it was a great way to show the awareness. At least we made our political leaders realize the mood and understanding of the common man. This is the best thing we could have ever achieved through this Dandi march.

I don’t remember, how many times I have used this Vande Matram and Bharat Mata ki Jai once I finished my schooling. Probably never. Probably we are loosing all these things. Feels like as if these thing are only for school children. We need to have more and more such events to keep it alive within us.

My favorite four colors, and they make for the best picture when put in this order

My favorite four colors, and they make for the best picture when put in this order

Sandeep Khurana (walked full distance)

I have been to many government offices including police stations. At almost all places I was asked bribe, either directly or indirectly. Corruption is quite deep rooted in our society. The biggest issue is that we as a society have learned to live with it. This should change. We are entitled to corruption free governance. When there was a call to be part of peaceful Dandi March in Bangalore in Saturday 26th march, 2011, I decided to participate. It was quite interesting to see a couple of foreigners there too. It was quite a spiritual experience for myself. While being in that march, I kept asking myself about what I expect to change in India and why and how my being here can help to bring about this change.

People like shop owners, passers by, small vendors etc were quite curious to see such peaceful march against corruption. Since they do suffer because of it, the pamphlets given to them by volunteers were keenly taken and immediately read. When evil thinks that it can go on forever then there comes a time when good has to rise and defeat it. It has been happening since the beginning and it will happen again.

Shashank Teotia (walked full distance)
Do we think one day the sky will open and the clouds will part to drop a messiah who will fix our problems? While we are Facebooking and retweeting, the corrupt cash registers are ringing and people are selling the country to the dogs and if we don’t sit up and do something as a group, there will be a day when some power hungry corrupt official will snuff us out. One by one. Do you think your blood will boil then?

I went to the Dandi March organised in Bangalore and there were at a point maximum 400 people in it. 400? I am not taking anything away from the fact that there were honest people out there in the sun, trying to make themselves heard but seriously.. 400 is not a number which will dent. And a dent is not enough. Do you want to join those 400 and make it 40000 or are you one of those who will just click on the *Like* button or perhaps *Share* and believe that it is contribution enough?

The choice, my dear friends, is ours and frankly, so is the consequence.

Maybe I was also a regular guy who had never participated in a rally before. Trust me, it may feel a little awkward at first, but when I cried Vande Mataram with 400 other Indians, it did something good to me. Just participate for that feeling. You will get addicted for life.

I have also asked other friends who walked to share their experiences with me. I will update this post as soon as I get those. If you want to share your experience, you can mail it me – sumit4all[at]gmail.com

Five reasons you should join the Dandi March II walk in your city

81 years after Gandhiji did the Dandi March to shake the British Empire, it’s happening again. Concerned citizens of India all over the world are marching in over 80 cities against corruption in India. Corruption has become the new colonialist in India. The politicians, bureaucrats and other officials are engaging in corruption without fear or shame. They have exploited the democratic system and the huge poverty in India to their advantage. It has become almost impossible to remove them from their offices, leave alone punish them or recover the money lost due to corruption. The demand and objective of this Dandi March 2 is to pressurize the Indian government into enacting the Jan Lokpal Bill‘ which has been advocated by noted social activists like Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, and others.

Walk together against corruption

Walk together against corruption

Dandi March 2 is happening all over the globe. Check out here and find out if it is happening in your city. If not, you can take the lead in organizing a small march in your own city. Remember, it is the collective intention of Indians marching in different cities that will help put pressure on the government to take action. Here are five reasons why you should join the Dandi March II walk happening in your city –

1. Enough is Enough
While you have been busy eating popcorn and watching that latest movie on television, our politicians have been eating our hard earned money we have paid as tax. They have sat in parliament, assemblies, offices and framed laws and made systems which make it easy for them to continue their brazen acts of corruption. They have neglected the complaints which few people have raised against them, and used the law, the police, and even the mafia to deter and scare such people. It is time that YOU wake up and demand accountability for YOUR money.

2. Sheer volume of corruption
The 2G scam has rocked the telecom ministry in the Indian government, and even the Indian Prime Minister has taken a flak from the Supreme Court. The amount of Rs 1,76,000 crore which the exchequer lost due to the 2G scam is mind boggling. The Commonwealth Games last year became a game of corruption with the whole international media being witness to the ‘tamasha’ going on. This has brought India widespread negative publicity and shame all over the world. It’s time to reclaim OUR pride from these looters.

3. Gandhi’s dream

Corruption is everywhere

Corruption is everywhere

Gandhi did not only dream of an Independent India, but also an India free of poverty. He dreamt of an India of equal opportunities to one and all, and equal right to justice irrespective of one’s social standing. Now our politicians, bureaucrats and babus ask for and take bribes openly sitting in a room with Gandhi’s portrait hanging there. It’s time we realize why we call Gandhi the Father of the Nation, and what we all owe to him, our Independence. Go ask your grandparents what it was living in an India which was not free. Just as a child can never repay his parents for showering him/her with life, we can never repay our freedom fighters what they have given us, our Independence. It is time we demand OUR Independence from corruption.

4. We live in a democracy
In the last few months, we have seen public protests uprooting governments in Islamic dictatorship nations of Tunisia and Egypt. These were countries where such mass protests are not allowed by law, but they could not stop people to get out of their homes for change. In our country, we are bestowed with a system to register our protest with the government under law. We have a moral obligation to go out and demand what is rightfully ours. It is also our duty as model citizens to put brakes on this practice of corruption which is eating our country from the inside. It is time for CHANGE.

5. The Future
I have always believed that this world is something we have borrowed from our next generations and before going we have to return it back to them. We should ought to return it back better than we inherited it. This was the vision every great mind has been inspired for. Gandhi dreamt for a free India for us. He himself lived only a few months in a free India before being assassinated. Many freedom fighters didn’t even see an Independent India when they died. They died for us. They struggled for us. Similarly, it is the future of a corruption free India which we have to see. In our vision, in our dreams, for our children and grand children. We have to get inspired from the dream of our future generations living in a just society. It is time to STAND for that dream.

We Indians do for our children what no other country or society does. Our parents sacrificed a lot for this future of ours which they saw back then. We will do the same for our children. We don’t want them to ask us later that – Why did you not give me education? Why did you not give me values to stand in this world? Let them not ask us – Why did not YOU leave me a just and equal society to live in?

It is time to hear that question NOW. It is time to STAND UP. It is time to WALK for the FUTURE.

What is Jan Lokpal Bill?

Update on 18 Oct – I have tried to answer some commonly asked questions about this movement, and also written about what all it will take to become an Anna Hazare..

I thought it right to write a post describing what Jan Lokpal Bill is and why is it needed. To give a brief history, Lokpal Bill was first introduced in parliament in 1968. It has been brought in parliament on eight times on later occasions, but has never been passed by the parliament. It is a bill that is supposed to give powers to citizens to sue the people responsible for corruption. A similar kind of independent agency disappeared corruption from Hong Kong a few decades ago.

The government is again thinking of introducing a Lokpal Bill in parliament this year, and the National Advisory Council (NAC) chaired by Sonia Gandhi is considering it. But as it stands today, the bill is riddled with loopholes, defeating its very purpose. Social activists have remarked it to be a toothless bill and not at all acceptable. An alternative bill, the Jan Lokpal Bill has been drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal after series of consultations with public and social activists. This bill is supported by Kiran Bedi, Shanti Bhushan, Anna Hazare, etc.

The Dandi March 2 event and the subsequent ‘fast unto death’ by Anna Hazare from April 5 and Aug 16 were in support of this ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’. The activists have already sent the bill to the PM and all CMs but there has been no response. After the ‘fast unto death’ was announced by Anna Hazare, he was invited for talks by the PM, but the response was bad as the PM said the government has no time for corruption till May 13. This after the numerous corruption scams like the Commonwealth Games, Adarsh Society, 2G scam being uncovered in the past months.

The Zero Rupee Note - Stop Corruption

The Zero Rupee Note - Stop Corruption

The present system to fight corruption in India can be described in some points as below –

  1. The Anti Corruption Branch and CBI comes under the government. Despite having evidence, it is very difficult to convict people as they have to take permission from the same bosses, against whom the case has to be investigated.
  2. No corrupt officer is dismissed from the job because Central Vigilance Commission, which is supposed to dismiss corrupt officers, is only an advisory body. Whenever it advises government to dismiss any senior corrupt officer, its advice is never implemented.
  3. No action is taken against corrupt judges because permission is required from the Chief Justice of India to even register an FIR against corrupt judges
  4. The functioning of CBI and vigilance departments is secret and hence it promotes corruption.
  5. Weak and corrupt people are appointed as heads of these institutions by the government.
  6. Citizens face harassment in government offices. Sometimes they are forced to pay bribes. One can only complaint to senior officers. No action is taken on complaints because senior officers also get their cut.
  7. Nothing in law to recover ill gotten wealth. A corrupt person can come out of jail and enjoy that money.
  8. Small punishment for corruption- Punishment for corruption is minimum 6 months and maximum 7 years.

As you can see, in the present system, there is no deterrent for any public official to engage in an act of corruption. Some of the salient features of the Jan Lokpal Bill are –

  1. An institution called LOKPAL in the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up. These institutions will completely independent of the governments, just like the Supreme Court and the Election Commission. No minister can influence their investigations.
  2. Investigation in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt officer, or politician goes to jail in two years max.
  3. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.
  4. If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month’s time.
  5. Election of Lokpal officials – What if government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won’t be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.
  6. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.
  7. What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.
  8. The punishment would be minimum 5 years and maximum of life imprisonment.

Please read my two poems “Fast with Anna” and “Messenger of Hope” and join in this fight against corruption. We must remember Anna and others on fast are fighting for US and OUR India

What is Dandi March 2?

Dandi March II

Dandi March II

For all those who can recall their history lessons in school, Dandi March was a 24 day, 240 mile (390 km) march to produce salt without paying the tax. It is also known as Salt Satyagraha, led by Gandhi from his Sabarmati Ashram to the sea coast near Dandi. Dandi March was a very important part of the Indian Independence Movement. It was a non-violent protest against the British monopoly of salt in India, and it triggered the Civil Disobedience Movement later. It was done from 12 March to April 6, 1930.

Now, 81 years have passed as I write this today on 11 March 2011. We have been independent for over 63 years now, and economically independent for 20 years (since the 1991 economic reforms). But we are still not free socially. We are still not the India that Gandhiji dreamt of. An India without poverty and hunger, an India where everybody has equal opportunity to lead the kind of lives they want. We are still not free from corruption, which is one of the most menacing problems India faces in the 21st century. The Adarsh Society scam, Commonwealth Games scam and the 2G scam have rocked the nation in the recent months, causing the loss of over 60 billion dollars.

Dandi March 2 is a march organized by a group of NRIs living in the United States of America inspired by the original march by Gandhiji. It is a 240 mile walk in the US against corruption in India from 12 March to 26 March 2011. Starting at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, San Diego, California March 12, “Dandi March II” goes through Los Angeles and ends March 26 at Gandhi Statue, San Francisco. The dates coincide with the dates Gandhi did his historic march in 1930. Every major city in US, 10 cities in India and 8 other countries are organizing support events on 26 March to extend their support for the full 240 mile walk in US. The agenda is to push the government to enact Jan Lokpal Bill which is drafted to free India from the clutches of corruption by social activists like Kiran Bedi, Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, etc.

The 240 mile Dandi March was done in 1930

The 240 mile Dandi March was done in 1930

The support events on 26 March are being organized in cities like Bangalore, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kakinada, Kolkata, Nagpur, Mumbai, Varanasi and Ahmedabad. In the US, Indians are walking in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, New Jersey, Washington DC and Seattle, apart from the main march from San Diego to San Francisco. Internationally, support marches are happening in London, Singapore, Finland, Germany, etc. More information about the event can be found at http://www.dandimarch2.org. The route details for the full march can be found here and all the event details for different cities can be found here.

The facebook page for the march is http://www.facebook.com/DandiMarch2?sk=info where you can find all the important information about the march. The Bangalore support march on 26 March can be seen at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=194657080556635 Accept the event invite to do your bit for a corruption free India. We are walking around 15 kms in Bangalore, join us for 1km, 2km, 5km or whatever is comfortable to you.

Dandi March 2 has already gathered the attention of media and some media coverage links are below –