Anna’s Movement: the Worrisome Muddle yet, Hope survives.

Immediately after what came out as Anna’s decision to work for providing a political alternative to our nation, we heard that Anna and the members of his team faced perceptual differences in adopting operational protocol and effective strategy, though they share the common quest to restructure our polity free from corruptions. Discordant voices have been used to muddle the things about the ‘movement’. I do not intend to focus on their perceptual differences, but I think such differences are not unusual. We know the great patriot Jean-Joseph Mounier, who had drafted the cahiers (‘notebooks’) presented to King Louis XVI, and was the author of, the Tennis Court Oath, and had been a major light of the third estate in the States General of 1789 that led the French Revolution, had resigned from the Assembly in order to highlight his differences with others on some vital points. But he worked with great vigour in his own way to take the revolution move forward. We had seen how during our Struggle for Freedom, after the1906, the new creative spirit of high nationalism revealed itself in the sharp differences of ideas and actions of our great leaders: Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lajpat Rai became ‘extremists’, whereas Surendranath Banerjea, Pheroze Shah Mehta, and Gokhale turned ‘moderates’. We all know how Subhas Chandra Bose differed from Mahatma Gandhi on many points pertaining to the strategies to be adopted. Bose became the Congress President against Gandh’s wish, and later he left the post fed up with the maneuverings of inner clique.
It is the ‘public protest’ that leads to a ‘movement’; it is the ‘movement’ from which emanates a ‘revolution’. Often we have seen, at dawn or dusk, a host of birds on wings to the east, or the west. They seldom grumble so long they are on their right course. The finest example of the synergic and symbiotic operation of the lines of ‘thought’ and ‘action” is Krishna representing the former, and Arjuna, the latter. Krishna guided, and Arjuna acted: though there is no harm if Krishna and Arjuna both think and act. Differences are good to run a vibrant ‘movement’ as they cross-fertilize to equip it with vision and verve. Within the shared ambit and reach, diverse experiments in creating protocols of actions, or the structuring and re-structuring of polity would show practical prudence. A ‘movement’ has its inner creative logic in marching towards its goals. It can annex more and more spheres of operations if experience teaches that as the only prudent course.
Seeing as things are emerging these days, my hope falters at the fate of this crusade against corruption. But even in the moments of dismay, we can recall what Krishna had told Arjuna when he asked Krishna, in the battlefield of Kurukshetra: of what worth is the entire endeavour if it seems likely to turn futile in the end. A ‘movement’, or a ‘revolution’ is a march with a mission towards the future. We are scripting our deeds only in the passing moments of the living present. What the Lord said is valid for all times as this states the very existential truth:

पार्थ न एव इह न अमुत्र विनाशः तस्य विद्यते
न हि कल्याण कृत कः चित् दुर्गतिं तात गच्छति
( ‘O, Partha (Arjuna), neither in this life nor hereafter is there destruction for him; for never does any one who does good, dear friend, tread the path of woe.’ Chapter VI.40 )
(by Shiva Kant Jha : see



I felt that Anna and his team of activists realized that ‘politics’ could not be cast off to a quarantine zone in a ‘democracy’. We cannot consider ‘politics’ sinful as all our benefactors in public realm had played politics. Krishna was Himself a great politician whose politics illustrate the objectives for which polity exits. In effect, it involved the art of managing the public; and its objectives are thus stated by Aacharya Kautilya in his Arthasastra:.
प्रजासुखे सुखं राज्ञः प्रजानां च हिते हितम
नात्मप्रियं हितं राज्ञः प्रजानां तु प्रियं हितम
(‘In the happiness of the subjects lies the king’s happiness, in their welfare his welfare; what pleases himself the king shall not consider good.’)

Jesus was Himself a great politician (see Chapter 20 of my Memoir, On the Loom of Time). Guru Gobind Singh was an astute politician, and he worked to promote good cause in the political realm praying to his Lord ‘subh karman te kabhu na taron’ ( never to indifferent in duty in good cause). Gandhi was an astute politician the story of which is an integral part of our Struggle for Freedom. My father and my uncle had worked for our country’s political change. To Aristotle, the word ‘politics’ meant the ‘affairs of the art of governing and the organization and the operation of governments’. Its referents were ‘citizens’, ‘civil’ ‘civic’ and the affairs of the State. ‘Politics’ becomes dirty when corrupt persons play dirty games which are made to pass for ‘politics’. Anna’s initial decision to exclude the so-called politicians from his dais was an initial jerk reaction. But he carried his idealism in doing so to the point of imprudence. When some movement to achieve a noble public cause is carried on, every Indian citizen can participate in the endeavour. Please read again the story of Bindumati in Chapter 25 p. 405 of my Memoir, On the Loom of Time . Even one carrying on the ancient profession had helped Emperor Ashok in working for public cause where even the Emperor found himself nonplussed. Satyagraha works, but not always. The poet ‘Dinkar’ suggestively said:
परन्तु वश चलता नहीं सदैवपतित समूह की कुवृतियों के सामने ( satyagraha does not work amidst those with sinister traits).

(by Shiva Kant Jha : see

Anna’a Movement: Exploring Anna’s Line of Thought

Anna’s Movement is for a strong, comprehensive, and effective Jan Lok Pal Bill aiming to set up an effective mechanism to eradicate corruption from public life.
Deeper reflections bring to mind two ideas of the greatest importance:
It is quite likely that the anti-corruption movement would, for pragmatic reasons, annex more and more areas of our social, economic and political life. It can be reasonably considered that only a broad-spectrum approach can provide the right remedy. For doing that, we shall have to wade through the shark-infested waters about which I would say something in Chapter 29.
We are free to gather ideas from all realms in order to pursue our agenda. We believe in what the great Rigveda said: ‘Let Noble Thoughts come to us from all sides’. But here I am limiting myself to Anna’s ideas which I find no different from Gandhi’s, and also in tune with our cultural tradition. I am summarising a few points which, I wish, you carry in your mind when you think about the various steps and measures involved in our nation’s political restructuring.
(1) The structure of our polity should be so designed as to make our villages the grass-root matrix of our economy, and the effective units in our democratic organization. Gandhi had told us in course of our Struggle for Freedom:
“Independence must begin at the bottom. Thus, village will be a Republic or panchayat having full powers. It follows, therefore, that every village has to be self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs even to the extent of defending itself against the whole world.” ( Harijan 1-7- ’47)
This vision was expressed by our Constitution in: its Article 40says —
“The State shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.”
(2). Anna has, through his precepts and practice, worked against the hedonist consumerism surging up in our times. His life and ideas bring to our mind what Mahatma Gandhi kept on emphasizing, and what he expressed with excellent pithiness and resonance, in Young India of 5 February 1925:
“India is essentially karmabhumi (land of duty) in contradistinction to bhogobhumi (land of enjoyment).”

(3). Gandhi and Anna expounded the ideas which I would describe compendiously as our ‘constitutional socialism’ about which I have written in brief in Chapter 21 of this Memoir. These thoughts had been expressed by Gandhi with greater precision and emphasis: to quote from Gandhi —
“I suggest that we are thieves in a way. If I take anything that I do not need for my own immediate use and keep it, I thieve it from somebody else. It is the fundamental law of Nature, without exception, that Nature produces enough for our wants from day to day; and if only everybody took enough for himself and nothing more, there would be no pauperism in this world, there would be no man dying of starvation.”( Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi p. 384).
These ideas are pithily stated in the various Articles of our Constitution, but they are most assertively stated in the Directive Principles of State Policy which prescribe the normative principles for our government’s actions.
(4). Anna treads on the Gandhian path in emphasizing the ideas of Swadeshi, Gandhi had said:
“European civilization is no doubt suited for the Europeans but it will mean ruin for India, if we endeavour to copy it. This is not to say that we may not adopt and assimilate whatever may be good and capable of assimilation by us as it does not also mean that even the Europeans will not have to part with whatever evil might have crept into it. ” ( Young India, 30-4-’31)

(5) Like Gandhi, Anna emphasized on the importance of Charitrya (or ‘Chharitrya’ as Anna pronounces the word with Marathi accent), generally translated into English as ‘character’ though its comprehensiveness and moral vision are not captured by that word of English language.

We all know that Article 51A of our Constitution prescribes the Fundamental Duties of ‘every citizen’. It requires every citizen to ‘abide by’ the ideals of our Constitution; it mandates every citizen ‘to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom’; ‘to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so’; ‘to promote harmony and common brotherhood amongst all the people of India…’; ‘to value and preserve the rich heritage of our culture’; ‘to protect natural environment…’ ; ‘to develop scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform’, ‘to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective excellence’….. We have several cases decided by our Supreme Court which say that the duties prescribed for citizens, be taken into consideration even by our courts. Whilst framing norms for restructuring our polity, and the systems of governance, we must take into these duties. What is the duty for the citizens is also the duty cast on the State, and all its organs.

(iv). Charitra (Character ?)

At school, I had read in the Free India Reader Book IV, Mahatma Gandhi’s short essay on ‘What the Students can do’. He had stressed that without good character a man always falls, and a system that he builds up always collapses. Anna is perfectly right in holding that our country can grow under conditions of social justice and airplay only if we succeed in establishing a corruption-free, and accountable polity, in fact, the entire system of governance. But it is not likely to happen if ‘character’ is lost.
I think it is worthwhile to consider what Anna means by ‘character’, and how it differs from the concepts, like “character,” “duty,” “will,” “hard work”, and “thrift” about which we read in the Victorian literature. We all have found good ideas stated by Samuel Smiles in Self-Help (1859). To the Victorians, ‘character’ provided traits which helped them to acquire more power and amass great wealth for the Victorian upper crust, and to evolve institutions and norms to protect and promote such gains. The general run of the fortunate Victorians considered it their ‘duty’ to build up an acquisitive society which never had the qualms of conscience at the abysmal inequality, inequity, and social injustice. The Victorian ‘will’, ‘earnestness’, ‘hard work’ were at work to promote an unjust society in which the corrupt power elite ruled, and suffering masses sobbed unnoticed and ignored. You may read H.G. Wells’s Tono-Bungay (1909) in which “English society is seen as a large country house, with the lower classes concealed below stairs in the servants’ quarters, while the upper classes enjoy life in the elegant drawing-rooms.” In the novel The Man of Property (1906), John Galsworthy portrays the Victorian upper middle class, “whom he saw as reducing everything to property values, including life itself….The story is centered on two pieces of ‘property’: a country house Soames is building for himself; and his wife Irene, whom he is losing to another man.” The political and economic leaders of the Victorian era entertained the ill-informed notions about certainties and assumptions (which we find also being shared by the fundamentalists of the present-day economic liberalism). I would conclude my reflections on the Victorian culture with certain words from The Encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. 29, at p. 81): “Many Victorians were as eager to read about crime as to read the Bible.”


(by Shiva Kant Jha)
[Reference is to his Autobiographical Memoir, On the Loom of Time : see www,

In the Preface to the English Dictionary (1755), Dr. Samuel Johnson said: ‘ what is obvious is not always known, and what is known is not always present.’ The dictum stands illustrated best by the fact that certain wise words, which our M.P.s and the government functionaries read every day they visit Parliament House, go wholly unnoticed. I have told you about the inscription on the arch at Gate No. 3 of the North Block of the Central Secretariat: I mean the enlightening words of Charles Caleb Colton (see p. 311). The inscriptions are invitation to those who see them to read and reflect on their wisdom; and to act in that light. I would quote some shlokas inscribed at several places in the Parliament House.
The most crucial verse is inscribed in golden letters on the dome near lift no. 1. It is from Mahabharata:
न सा सभा यत्र न सन्ति वृध्दा:, वृध्दा न ते ये न वदन्ति धर्मम्।
धर्म स नो यत्र न सत्यमस्ति , सत्यं न तत् यत् छलमभ्युपैति॥
[ An assembly does not exist if wise persons are not in it. In the context of the shloka. the word वृध्दा (briddha) means ‘the wise and learned’. Sanskrit literature contemplates three types of ‘briddha ‘vayobriddha (old in age), gyanabriddha ( mature in wisdom and experience ), and aagamabridddha (acquisition of knowledge ). But one cannot be considered ‘wise’ unless he promotes righteousness., and there can be no ‘righteousness’ unless it accords with ‘truth’. And ‘truth’ does not exist where ‘deceit’ is present.]
Some other shlokas, expressing profound wisdom, are quoted here for the information all those who ‘have no time to stand and stare’ so that they get the gems of wisdom scattered on the slabs of our Parliament’s sprawling architecture.
सभा वा न प्रवेष्टव्या, वक्तव्यं वा समंजसम्।
अब्रुवन, बिब्रुवन वापि नरो भवति किल्मिषी॥
‘This saying of Manusmruti offers clear guidance to the behaviour of the Parliamentarians.’
[ This is an instruction to those in the House who believe keeping their mouth shut when their duty is to speak for public cause. When the shloka requires the members to speak, it requires them say only what is right and true. Those who violate these norms are sinners.]
सर्वदा स्यान्नृप: प्राज्ञ:, स्वमते न कदाचन।
सभ्याधिकारिप्रकृति-सभासत्सुमते स्थित:।
‘This verse has been inscribed on the dome near the lift no. 4. The Padma Purana calls it: सर्वलोकसुखप्रदम; and the Shankhya Darshan calls it the putsuit for ‘general weal’ (अत्यन्तलोकहितम् सत्यम् )]
[ This shloka is an instruction to the ruler. He must ‘ always be wise and intelligent’. ‘Wisdom’ is evidenced by his sense of propriety, proportionality, discrimination, fairness, and dedication. He should listen to what others in the House say before he decides. . He is to act for the weal of all.
‘These words are inscribed inside the Lok Sabha Chamber, overlooking the Speaker’s Chair.’
[It suggests the idea that we all exist to keep on responding, in accordance with dharma (righteousness), to the challenges that the changing circumstances pose for response (see Chapter 19 of this Memoir).
We believe that our Constitution expects all the organs of the State to discharge their constitutionally and legally prescribed duties (कर्तव्य kartavya ). You would recall that at page 267 of this Memoir, I have written: “Dharma, as Medhatithi says, means kartavya which is generally translated as ‘duties’. We know Deguit’s view that ‘duty’ is the basic force at work in the social matrix involving the factors of solidarity and interdependence. ‘Duty’ is an individual’s perception of what is right in a given situation, and what is required to be done for the weal of self and for the welfare of all others.’ I wish all the Members of Parliament reflect on the shokas which teach us the grammar of duties. I recall the words of Harold Pinter, the 2005 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature:
“that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all.”
I recall, while delivering my concluding address before the Hon’ble Delni High Court in the Indo-Mauritius Tax Treaty Case, I quoted Lord Nelson’s electric signal to his fleet at the battle of Trafalgar; “England expects that every man will do his duty”; and then I, THE Petitioner, added: ” India expects that every citizen will his duty.”
I have mentioned in Chapter 28 how Article 51A of our Constitution prescribes the fundamental duties of ‘every citizen’. Article 84 prescribes that none can ever be a member of Parliament unless he is ‘a citizen of India’. Hence, it is clear that all the duties, which Article 51A casts on ordinary citizens, are the duties prescribed for the members of Parliament,


[From the draft to become Chapter 29 of the Second Edition of my Autobiographical Memoir, On the Loom of Time ( see www,]

I had begun this Chapter with the words of Lord Krishna:
uddhared atmana’tmanam Na’tmanam avasadayet
atmai ’va hy atmano bandhuratmai’va ripur atmanah.
(We are our own friends, we are our own foes.)
I would underscore this idea quoting from the Holy Quran that they thought it appropriate to inscribe on the arc-shaped outer-lobby of our Lok Sabha: Arabic quotation
‘इ_नलाहो ला यूगय यरो मा _बकौ _मनह_ता युगय यरो वा _बन _तसे हुम

I understand its original Quranic text runs thus:


GREED IS NEVER SATISFIED: Let the knowledge mature into wisdom

The learned neoliberal experts working for high international finance tell us to wait, and wait, and wait till great wealth accumulates with ‘the substantial people’, a little of which can trickle down to the common people someday. I have often wondered: will these billionaires be ever satisfied with their billions, or trillions? My study and reflection tell us: they will never be satisfied with their treasures. Centuries back, our ancestors had wisely observed in the Sri Harivamsa Purana ( the ‘Harivamsha Parva’ Chapt. 30):

न जातु कामः कामानामुपभोगेन शाम्यति, हविषा कृष्णवर्त्मेव भूय एवाभिवर्धते
यत् पृथिव्यां व्रीहियवं हिरण्यं पशवः स्त्रियः, नालमेकस्य तत सर्वमिति पश्यन्न मुह्यति
[ Not all the wealth, not all the women can ever satisfy the lusty urge of a single man. Hence the right thing is to control thy desires as they have no end. The desires increase more and more when enjoyed with lust and attachment. They increase as do the flames of fire when ghee is poured on it. When desires wax untrammeled, how can one have peace? ]
Greed is never satisfied, it feeds on itself, it deludes men to never-never land where cascading desires are without ends. This is the humanity’s tragic trait that Alfred Russel Wallace, a British naturalist and biologist (as eminent as Charles Darwin, and his close friend), had noted with great concern: his perception is well known as the Wallace Syndrome (see Chapter 20 pp. 266-267).

The greed-driven ‘capitalism’ leads to the worldview that fosters “a “philosophy of futility” and “lack of purpose in life,” that promotes voyeurism, hedonism and consumerism bereft of all ethical and moral considerations. The portrait of that world, and the plight of ‘democracy’ in that sort of world, have been drawn up by Noam Chomsky in his various books some of which I have referred in Chapter 24 of my Memoir. The carpet-bombing of the greed-driven capitalism has produced a worldview that can never produce a great work of art or literature. Intellectual development would suffer because the moral and ethical faculties of humanity would shrink, the sense of empathy and the faculty of the esemplastic power, would decline, and the human brain would tend to develop only in those areas which can supply things needed by ‘market’. Under such a worldview, family, and social solidarity, would also suffer. People would be driven to think that children and relations, culture and countries, the Constitution and the Gita, are all commodities on the counters for trade governed by the present-day multilateral trade regime. By advancing on such a thought process for long, the humans would themselves get commodified. Even sense and sensibility of people would become polluted, and the strong propaganda, engineered by the hirelings and harlots, would rip people off all their finer virtues which are the ‘human-specifics’ of the Homo sapiens: inherent goodness, imagination, social inter-dependence and solidarity, moral vision and aesthetic sensibility. And if we tread on this dreaded path for long, the world would be driven to commit suicide, unless before that, our collective death-wish leads us to destruction that the greed-driven capitalism is sure to produce. We can read the sub-text of our times: the world is creating conditions for wars and destruction more devastating than what humanity has yet seen. I fear, when such sad moments overtake us, we would see a new set of dramatis personae enacting a morbid melodrama in our world. In the past, the imperialists had brought devastations on the suffering souls world over with the help of the big corporations. In the times to come, I apprehend, we would witness the big corporations, or the mega corporate consortia, waging wars using governments as the willing instruments for their ends, with the rest of humanity either willing participants in the crimes against the world, or as mere hapless onlookers counting the advancing footfalls of collective Doom. I am not painting a picture of dread, or doom. Chomsky expresses his worrisome apprehensions in his Hegemony and Survival (at p.139) thus:
“Deluged by such propaganda from infancy, people may then accept their meaningless and subordinate lives and forget ridiculous ideas about managing their own affairs. They may abandon their fate to corporate managers and the PR industry and, in the political realm, to the self-described “intelligent minorities” who serve and administer power.”