The nitty-gritty of politics rarely appeals to me. I find myself observing the changing scenarios with a detachment that borders on indifference, which often makes me quite ashamed of myself.
Throughout the excitement and agitation of Anna Hazare's movement for the Jan Lokpal Bill, I was, as usual, perched firmly on the fence, knowing fully well that corruption in everyday life is a huge problem, and yet not at all sure what the movement would achieve. I still don't have the answers, but I am definitely better informed now, having just read Ashutosh's book: Anna- Thirteen Days That Awakened India. Ashutosh has been a distinguished Hindi journalist for several years now, both in the print media and in television. The opening chapter grips your attention with the excitement of the chase. Anna is supposed to have been discharged from Medanta Hospital, and it is not known whether he is heading for the airport or not. This is is April last year. Over the next few chapters, Ashutosh describes in detail the events leading up to Anna Hazare's fast in August. He also gives a personal perspective of major events that occurred in previous decades, which have greatly affected the Indian political scene, such as Jayaprakash Narayan's call for total revolution, Indira Gandhi's imposition of the Emergency , and the demolition of the Babri Masjid, many of which occurred when he was a youngster.
This is not a hagiography, but a dispassionate account of a series of events. The author freely gives his opinions on what he feels were the errors made at different times both by Anna and his team, and by various ministers and officials dealing with the fast. What is most fascinating are the accounts of different people who joined Anna's movement, people from all walks of life, age groups and socio-economic groups. Corruption affects all of us today, in varying degrees, sometimes with devastating consequences. (The recent film 'Paan Singh Tomar' shows how a national, record holding sportsman becomes a dacoit because his property is usurped by his cousin, and how both the local administration and the police refuse to help him regain what is rightfully his).
Let me add an excerpt from the blurb:
.......Ashutosh weaves together the story of the thirteen days that changed India. He had a ringside view of the developemts, stationed as he was at the Ramlila Grounds in New Delhi, the venue of the fast, and had intimate access to the two warring parties: the UPA government at the centre and Team Anna. Evoking the Jayaprakash Narayan movement and Gandhi'd satyagraha, Ashutosh mines the history of India's post independence politics to understand the phenomenon that is Anna Hazare.
I feel very proud to say that Ashutosh is a part of my family.
Anna 13 days that awakened India, by Ashutosh.
Publisher: Harper Collins.
Price: Rs 199