Where is Anna now? The saga of pseudo-heroes in India

Anna Hazare during 2011 anti-corruption movement

Anna Hazare during 2011 anti-corruption movement

In April 2011, the people of India rejoiced to the ecstasy of winning the world cup after 28 years. It was like the last thing they wanted but, another surprise was on the cards for all of us. A little known Gandhian, Anna Hazare, initiated his fight against corruption which restored faith in the Indian masses that had accepted corruption as an irreplaceable part of the mechanism. In four days, Anna Hazare’s hunger strike had amplified his image and he became ‘The Anna’. This was due to the remarkable coverage by the mainstream media that his hunger strike received.

‘The Anna’ had become Gandhi# 2. He was the most honest, most genuine and most talked about person in India during those few months. His fast came to an end when the UPA government accepted his demands and promised to set up a committee to fulfill them. Every person in India was convinced that ‘corruption’ is the most important issue that has to be addressed with immediate attention. Narendra Modi though, was not on the scene while this mass movement was going on. ‘The Anna’ and his close associate Arvind Kejriwal accused the government for betraying them and their movement.

Come 2012, the most important issue in India had changed. Not even a year into a massive and the ‘most important movement in India’, ‘The Anna’ was gone. The headlines didn’t feature his name, the prime time shows didn’t have his bytes and magazines didn’t have cover stories about his movement. The slogan ‘Satta se paisa aur paise se Satta’ had disappeared, all in thin air. The coverage of what possibly could have been the greatest movement in India had minimized. All the ecstasy and hope was gone, then came our ‘Aam Aadmi’ to reignite faith… just like ‘The Anna’ did.

2012 was dominated by Arvind Kejriwal, the Aam Aadmi. The play remained the same but, the characters just changed. ‘The Anna’ was replaced by ‘The Aam Aadmi’- now the most honest man in India. The media made sure that we, the people believed that if ‘The Aam Aadmi’ came to power- he will eradicate all our problems in a matter of moments. Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi party won the Delhi elections (technically) and rode on this success only due to the media and its relentless coverage of ‘The Aam Aadmi’. Just like ‘The Anna’, ‘The Aam Aadmi’ too vanished.

The roles shifted again and ‘The Aam Aadmi’ was kicked out by ‘Ab ki baar Modi Sarkaar’. The ecstatic media coverage again led to the ‘heroic victory’ of another replacement- Narendra Modi. Every time a new ‘hero’ arrives, we believe this is the change we wanted- the media influences us to believe in that manner. But, the pattern remains the same and the change remains constant- zero. Considering the impact Anna Hazare had in those four days in April 2011, isn’t it fair to believe that 3 years would have been more than enough to eradicate corruption from this country? But, where is Anna now?

This pattern of rolling substitutions of contemporary and temporary heroes has to be observed in a bigger picture. Neither did the Jan Lokpal bill come into effect nor did the Aam Aadmi triumph. The fact is that ‘aspiring to a change never brings that change’. The media is guilty is hijacking our sentiments and using our assertiveness in worshiping these men. The ‘Modi air’ will settle now or later, then another man with the prefix ‘The’ will emerge, just to waste our energy and will to change the system we are living in.

In a wider perspective, can’t it be assumed that the people, who emerge with life size images in the media, are created by the media and subsequently are disappeared by the media? Isn’t it fair to assume that ‘we’ love heroes and the media makes the best out of it? We question some happenings in the system and believe that a branded person like The Anna or The Aam Aadmi will force an answer from the administration. We make them our heroes and lend our precious support to them, but what fruit have we ever bore from it?

The media will change the poster boy and will make us believe that the question we were asking is no longer relevant. Changing the ink of your pen doesn’t change the question to answer. It’s high time to realize that the media which serializes people with the prefix ‘The’, itself has its own prefix- ‘Paid’. Hasn’t it appeared as a fact, right since independence, that no branded hero will save or change the nation? It has always been ‘We’- the people and not ‘He’- the people. Today we ask- ‘Where is Anna now?’, but the major question is- ‘Why do we need an Anna?’

We- the people are more than sufficient to bring the change that ‘we’ feel ‘we’ want. It is important though to stop chasing people having names with the prefix ‘The’. The only thing we need to hammer on is to keep asking the question and not leaving it until it is addressed and answered.

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