Can we become a Hazare or a Gandhi? That would solve much more than corruption

We have seen a tremendous response to the peaceful protests triggered by Anna Hazare’s indefinite fast. People from all over the country, and even Indians living abroad, have shown their support for Anna Hazare and Jan Lokpal Bill by peacefully assembling and holding protest marches. He has united India across religions, caste, language or any other divisive factor. It is heartening to see India united for something other than cricket.

The number of people who have protested have been humungous by any standards. In Delhi and Mumbai each, more than a lakh people marched on 21 Aug 2011. Even in Bangalore, I have been hearing news of around 25000 or more people assembling daily. Similar stories are coming from other cities too, even smaller ones. While I don’t doubt that Anna has immensely resonated with the masses and given hope to millions of frustrated Indians, I also feel that going to a protest site is a very ‘easy and convenient‘ way of showing one’s support to Anna. A real test of commitment to Anna and his Gandhian methods of protest would be if we inculcate many of his preachings in our daily life.

Anna’s protest has been based on Gandhian principles of fasting and satyagraha. He has advocated the right of citizens to protest peacefully. He has asked people to pray for the ministers and the government. Gandhi ji also used fasting as a tool for punishing oneself so as to melt the hearts of your opponent and win him over to your side. But a big question to ask is, “Can the common man live by these principles?”


Can we truly live by Gandhian principles?

Can we truly live by Gandhian principles?

Gandhi’s whole philosophy is based on truth. In our everyday lives this would translate to questions like these

  • Can we live our lives truthfully and honestly, at home and at work, in public and in private, with friends and with family?
  • Can we pledge to follow the rules of the law and live like ideal citizens? Can we wear helmets every time we go out on a two-wheeler and can we not jump signals even if the roads are empty? (In the current movement, I have seen people on two-wheelers carrying the tricolor but without a helmet..)


Gandhian methods of satyagraha and living a simple life resonates from the principle of sacrifice as a means to purify the opponent. In real life, this principle would translate to questions like –

  • Can we pledge to not give any bribe to a cop, babu or a politician?
  • Are we ready to suffer delays and other harassments which might occur when we refuse to pay bribes?
  • Are we ready to sacrifice our personal comfort for the greater goal of a just society?
  • Can we persist making these sacrifices and suffering even while others around us might not be doing so?

Love the Opponent

According to Gandhi, non-violence doesn’t only mean such in action, it is also meant in thoughts and words. To understand this, we need to ask ourselves questions like –

  • Can we truly remove the thoughts of hatred from our minds for those who have been unfair to us?
  • Can we love everyone alike, even our opponents, and demonstrate it in thought, word and deed?
  • Can we hate the sin and not the sinner, and stand up against the sin but continue to love and forgive the sinner?
Hazare, Gandhi and the Tiranga Waving Kids - Perfect Pic

Hazare, Gandhi and the Tiranga Waving Kids - A Perfect Pic

Equality and No Discrimination

The whole of Gandhi’s life and Anna Hazare’s work in Maharashtra has emphasized on the removal of untouchability and discrimination on basis of caste, language and social factors. The people of Ralegan Sidhi (Anna’s village) call it as a family and not as a village.

  • Can we treat our fellow citizens as brothers and sisters and part of the same family?
  • Can we look beyond our caste, language, economic status and love and treat each other alike?
  • Are we ready to practice what Gandhi said, that we are all children of the same God, and any kind of discrimination would be reprehensible to Him?

What I am trying to say that while it is very easy and convenient to show and voice our support in Anna Hazare in a rally, it would be very demanding and challenging to practice what Anna is following in his daily life. We might have to suffer some short term difficulties and make some sacrifices, but we all know in our hearts that the long term benefits of such a life are always good and more fulfilling. And leave alone corruption, we would remove all or most of the ills that plague our society if we live by the principles by which Anna, and other Gandhi followers live by.

There is a famous Chinese proverb which I think has a very deep meaning which says – “Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one.” Can we answer YES to the questions I have listed above? Please leave your views and responses as comments below.. If there are any other questions you might want to add to the list, add them as comments too 🙂

Five Lessons from the movie “Chak De India”

Sports can often highlight the need for values like teamwork, honesty, transparency similar to the way these values are needed in life. Sports can end up uniting an otherwise divided crowd cheering for a team. The joy and pride when thousands of people celebrate together, click photographs of the national tricolor flying high after a sports victory is indescribable. Chak De India was one such movie which depicts the values it takes to build a match-winning team and what it takes to achieve something which at one point didn’t seem possible. I will list down five lessons from Chak De India, which are very relevant in the Indian context.

1. We are Indians first
We have to see ourselves as Indians first, above any affiliations with state, caste, language, religion, etc. When we seek to achieve something for India and from a national sense, our affiliations with caste, state, etc will only create divisions and barriers which will hinder our objective. If we have to keep our focus on the goal, we have to remove all other distractions from our mind.

2. Discipline
Discipline is like the spinal column which holds the whole body together. Discipline has to be a component of one’s daily lives in the discharge of one’s duties. It is required at the personal level, then at the level of society and institutions. Discipline is something which unites a country or society. It means waking up on time, not breaking the traffic rules while going to office, treating others with respect and care, and using your words wisely.

There is a lot to learn from Chak De India

There is a lot to learn from Chak De India

3. Play our role
All of us have an individual role to play according to our merits. We might have a larger objective and vision as part of a country, society or team but we will have a very specific role to play for which we are best suited. It is important we focus our total undivided energy in fulfilling this role enthusiastically while keeping the larger picture in mind. If everybody does their own task as it is supposed to be done, all our dreams for our nation will be easily achieved.

4. National Interest over Personal Interest
We have to put the interest of the nation above our personal interests in order to achieve results over a longer period of time. We will have to overcome our ego and personal biases if we have to achieve something for the nation. We have a limited time on earth, but the nation will outlive us, and we have to see that our actions fulfill this vision even after we are gone.

5. Short Term vs Long Term
It is very important to see how our actions are important in the long term too. We might have to take some steps, which don’t look so fruitful in the short term but are valuable in the long term. In other words, we will have to make some short term sacrifices for long term glory. Long term values like patience, loyalty, trust, credibility and honesty are very important in this regard.

Family vs Society

We, as Indians, place great importance on our family and the value system a family carries. The kind of sacrifices our parents have made for us, and the struggles we go through for the well being of the family are unheard of in the West and forms a big part of the contemporary Indian society. However, we care much less about our community, society and others in general. In the West, we see a mutual respect for each other and proactive attitude towards problems in the society. In this post, I am going to speculate on these seemingly different approaches and what could be the approach the Indian of the future should follow to ensure the best future for himself and his country.

We belong to a culture where deep rooted family values are an integral part. Parents consider it their duty to take care of their children until they stand on their own feet. After that too, there is a strong bond between parents and children. Children too consider their duty to take care of their parents in old age. This ensures a strong emotional bond and support structure for the whole family to lend on each other during difficult times or hardships and to share the happiness and celebrations during good times. The way an Indian family comes together during a wedding or on festivals is a sight in itself. Brothers and sisters share a bond which is based on trust and respect. Elder brother is treated as a father figure and there is a huge connect between brothers and sisters symbolized beautifully by festivals like Raksha Bandhan. Marriage is held to be a sacred union, and it is expected to last over seven births. I can proudly say I am part of such a country and this is the heritage I have inherited.

A typical Indian family

A typical Indian family

However, when it comes to society, we have a totally indifferent attitude. We keep our homes clean and tidy but throw the garbage on the roads everywhere we go. We litter in public spaces as per our convenience (I have seen people litter on the road right outside public toilets.) We don’t care to follow rules of the land, whether they are traffic rules or any other. We take pride in breaking rules and getting away by paying bribes. We do not realize the cost to society when we put our personal interest ahead of the interest of society. And we don’t realize that we can’t be happy and prosperous unless we live in a happy and prosperous society.

Apathy in addressing common problems is another issue. We turn a blind eye towards most of the problems plaguing our society. We behave as if they don’t exist. Or even if we care, very little of us actually do something about it. Our attitude is “It is not our job“. One reason for this could be that we have been ruled by foreigners for a very long time. And we think that public or societal issues are the responsibility of the government or the ruler and not of the citizens. Maybe we are not used to making decisions on our own. We always have somebody else to take the decisions for us. Currently, this role is of the government, and unfortunately, due to corruption and inefficiency, not much decision making happens there. Our tragedy is that we don’t make these decisions, neither do we stand up and make the government accountable for that they are responsible for.

Mutual respect towards another human being is an integral part of western culture. We have created so many divisions in society and we treat each other very differently. We look down upon people based on their caste, state, or worse, on the type of work they do. People doing physical work like laborers, plumbers, etc share equal respect in the western society but we treat them shabbily. I think that irrespective of their importance, people should be held accountable for what they do. Be it a plumber or a politician, he should be accountable for what he does. A plumber does not have the right to not do his work because people don’t treat him well, nor does a politician should abandon his duties because nobody can touch him. This works both ways.

My point here is that the root of our problems lie in a lack of duty towards the society. In other words, when we place the larger good over our personal good and act accordingly, we will make significant progress. After all, our values related to our families are something the whole world envy us for. If we take the same values and apply to our lives outside of home, we can do wonders, for ourselves and for others too. After all, a good and prosperous society will benefit us only in the end. Mahatama Gandhi said that “Be the change we wish to see in the world“, and I also remember one of the earliest lessons from my parents – “Treat others as you would like others to treat you“. Let us become responsible citizens and make our cities and our country a great place to live in.

We have to extend our value system towards our family and spread it out in the society. We are all good people, for we take care of our families that we should be proud of. The whole world looks up to us for our family value system. The Indian joint family have mesmerized the west for a long time. Let us take a step forward and also turn into good citizens. Citizens who know their responsibilities towards the society, towards the problems that we face, towards the rule of the land and towards fellow human beings. I will end up with this quote from Winston Churchill – “Responsibility is the price of greatness.”