Sunday, August 21, 2011

Anti-corruption protests throughout india

Hello to all, sorry for the long absence ... a bout of bronchitis and travel both contributed, along with lots of turbulence all around. The world economy continues in a mess, silly US political debate and economic policies ensure a double dip recession, European tension threatens the existence of the Euro, and I'm convinced that some weird anti=matter cloud has enveloped Bangalore and caused irrationality to rule (even more than usual). For example, Yeddy says that he is joining the Anna anti-corruption fight. Huh? One of the most corrupt chief ministers saying he is going to the join the swelling anti-corruption movement.

Anyway, for those of you not in India, you need some background. And this is perhaps an amazing positive thing -- India this weekend is a country with protests and marches all over the country supporting an old man (Anna Hazare) on a hunger strike, fighting corruption. He is effectively invoking Gandhi in image and style, and I think these are the largest protests nationwide since Independence. NDTV, a leading Indian television channel, I think provides some of the best coverage, at least images. TimesNow provides more too.

Today is 6th day of his hunger strike, and the government is boxed in but doesn't want to give in. While many can correctly note that most of the protesters are middle or upper middle class in an attempt to downplay the scale or importance of the protests, that doesn't mean that it isn't relevant. However, within the Indian political discourse, this is like the kiss of death. The poor are courted for their votes -- since there are SO many of the time -- while the rich have access to influence policy, but the middle class -- which is growing rapidly as a result of booming growth, but generally criticized for apathy, and now lashing out in anger -- generally have been ignored. Indian representative democracy seems to forget people in between elections.

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