A journey to Democratic India – Ramleela Maidan

Sirf Hungama Khada Karna Mera Maksad nahin, Meri Koshish hai ki ye Soorat badalni chaiye – Kavi Dushyant Kumar

The anguish was building up whole week watching the events unfold on the TV. It was time to join the people fighting on our behalf in the fight against corruption.

20 August 2011

Using bus and metro, I reached Ramleela Maidan in the afternoon. Media vans were stationed outside streaming the news. Hawkers were selling Anna caps and painting tricolor on your faces for a fees. Inside, there were thousands of people around the stage. Sitting peacefully, they were patiently listening to the various social activists making speeches. The crowd was very different from what you would expect at rallies. Families, professionals, students, homemakers and farmers, they were all there. Anna was on the stage, watching the proceedings.  Volunteers were distributing water packets, biscuits, sandwiches and collecting the trash. These were people like you and me, expressing solidarity in the fight against corruption.

To the right of the stage, there were counters set up for water,  medical aid, information, donations, merchandise and various organizations  supporting the cause. To the left, media platform with lots of cameras. “Anna ki Rasoi” served the hungry on the other end of the ground. The ground was still not ready with slush covering almost half of it.

Activist Sanjay Singh made a wonderful speech and told us 90% of people in Amethi-Raebareli wanted Jan Lokpal in a referendum. Students from JNU sang Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s revolutionary anthem “Sab taj uchhale jayenge, sab takht giraye jayenge”. At 6 PM, Arvind Kejriwal , Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi fielded questions in the press conference and clarified the differences between JanLokpal and govt.’s version of the bill.  The radiant face and the thundering voice  spoke of their commitment to the cause. The crowd kept chanting “Vande Mataram”,” Bharat Mata ki Jai”,” Inqalab Jindabad” throughout. There was visible anger in the people about the state of things and how the govt. treated Anna’s request for a peaceful protest. So many flags waving and people singing patriotic songs. Never in my life have I seen so many Tirangas in one place. Mahatma’s favourite bhajans “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram”  and “Allah Tero naam” was sung in the evening prayers.  A maulvi sahib named the movement “Jihad-e-Anna”. Kumar Viswas managed  the stage very well, entertaining the crowds with his shayari. His song “Honthon par Ganga ho, Haathon mein Tiranga ho” encouraged the people. Nitin’s Lokpal anthem was a huge hit.

There is a big difference in what you see on the ground and on TV. Most of the people you see on TV are actually on the sidelines, gathered only around cameras waiting for the anchors to ask for a sound-bite. The really serious people just sat there, pledging their support in silence.

I had a chance to talk to many people about what brought them to the place. In one voice, they expressed their unhappiness with the all-pervading corruption in Indian society and the ever rising prices. Everyone thought Anna and others were making an honest attempt at solving the problem and it was the duty of every Indian to support them. Some pics from the day. The pics are from my cell camera so please excuse the quality.



 

I left the ground at 9 PM, to come back the next day.

21 August 2011

It was a Sunday and I used the public transport to reach Ramleela Maidan. In the morning, Arvind Kejriwal had given a call for a rally so everyone was preparing for it. Around 4:30 PM, Kiran Bedi asked people to start moving towards India gate. Crossing Ranjeet Singh Flyover and KG Marg, we reached India gate. It appeared as if the whole Delhi was there. The rally started at 5 PM and by my own estimates, there were 50,000 people. Shouting slogans, we all started moving towards Ramleela Maidan using the same route. Here are some pics from the rally.

TV cameras were lined up along the route with anchors trying to get some comments as usual. Soon we reached our destination and were welcomed by the supporters present there. The crowd was swelling every minute and by evening, the ground was full. I sat there listening to the speakers. Some pics from Maidan:

 

 It was a great joy interacting with people present there and listening to their views. In this pic, I am with two Civil services aspirants, Mr. Pawan Pande and his friend. Pawan had written a wonderful patriotic song about the movement and sang it at my request.

At 7 PM, Anna addressed the people and this made the crowd very happy. There was much shouting of “Inqalab Jindabad” all around. After some Bhajans, I left the place at 9 PM. On my way back, the metro and the buses were full of youngsters shouting slogans against corruption. The environment in Delhi was definitely charged.

27 August 2011

It was turning out to be a long wait. People were protesting outside politician’s houses urging them to support the Jan Lokpal bill. There was talk of civil disobedience. The parliament was in session on Saturday and the result was expected soon.

The crowd at Ramleela Maidan was impatient. The mood changed between hope and despair frequently throughout the day. Nobody wanted to sit and listen anymore. There was constant movement and the discipline was lost. The composition of the crowd was also different now. There were many more farmers and people from other states to support the movement. I spent large part of the day with the ex-servicemen at their counter. Also had the opportunity to spend half an hour inside the information/donation counter and meet the volunteers. Majority of volunteers were college students working long hours to run everything smoothly. In this pic, I am with Mr. Madhukar from Karnataka, an Ex-serviceman.

In the afternoon, Kamal Kishore, an IT professional from Mohali, was called on stage. He was one of the 23 people on fast with Anna. The fast had taken its toll on his health and emotional state, however the spirit was still strong. He roared on the stage and requested all IT professionals to come out in support of the movement. He was crying by the end of his speech. It made everyone emotional.

Around 7 PM, Mr. Shanti Bhushan made the announcement that the resolution for a strong Lokpal bill was passed in the parliament and Anna would break his fast on Sunday morning as the Sun had already set. The Maidan erupted in joy and people congratulated each other. At 9 PM, The whole team came on stage and Anna addressed the people. He thanked the people for their support and cautioned that the job was only half done. Happy and satisfied, I left the Maidan.

Did I see the emergence of a new India? A new political order on the horizon? Middle class asserting itself? Angst against corruption, nepotism and dynastic politics? Frustration at fewer opportunities ? Difficult to say, really. However, I did see the people reclaim the Democratic India. Hope we have many more such movements and make our country a better place to live.

 

 

15 Comments

  • Rajeshwari says:

    Hi Tarun! Nothing personal…but isn’t there a democratic provision for ‘Vote of Trust’ against a ruling Government. There are so many issues to be settled….Kashmir, China Border, Nuclear Policy, Qualification/disqualif. for MPs, MLA’s…would they all be resolved this way…if 80% of your MPs are corrupt..what assures you they would vote honestly for anti corruption bill? Are there no ‘Democratic’ means left to people? Is Anna going to fast every time a Bill is to be passed in Parliament. If ‘Fasting’ is the solution why do we vote at all?

    • Tarun says:

      Rajeshwari,

      To me, the greatest achievement of this movement was that we will not need a movement to solve every problem. The so called representatives were jolted into action by awakened people and this will be reason enough to change many things in future without us resorting to fast/dharnas.

  • Vishal Rathod says:

    But Voting is also not the solution …………………

    UPA or NDA corruption will prevail………..

    Anyway Tarun, Congrats on posting this beautiful post and on attending and getting part of the great
    movement…………

    Jai Hind………………….

    • Rajeshwari says:

      Hi Vishal, voting would be a solution only if the ‘right’ people come forward and participate in Elections. When people like Anna would be the contestants then voting would definitely be the solution. Anna cannot go fasting forever, but if he and people like him form a government then a permanent ‘change for better’ is possible. What is the use of stirring up the nation when the Bill has ultimately to be passed (which I seriously doubt) by those corrupt politicians?

      • Team Anna does not want be servants of the country . They and we as citizens are the rulers . Servants are these politicians . But they thought they are rulers and that is the reason for this movement. Jan Lokapal Department will keep check on their work now………….

    • Tarun says:

      Thanks Vishal.

      Jai Hind.

  • Ravi Misra says:

    Hello Tarun,

    Its terrific to see that the entire youth of India went for a revolution, especially the middle class mass which does not even go out to cast their vote.

    However, as per my observation, we need to inflate our voice and start working towards ensuring proper governance. How is the question that needs to be answeredwhether casting votes, selecting correct candidates, ensuring change in the process and procedure of election.that can be debated?

    Anyway this triumph was for the common middle class people who in fact have come out of their cocoon now

  • Anil Misra says:

    I would much rather have Ghumakkar as Travel blog. Nandan, do let us know if the character of the site is undergoing change.

  • Nandan says:

    It is not.

    The editorial team was sitting on this story for a long time and seeing the enthusiasm of Tarun, we went ahead and published it, good faith as an alibi.

    Ghumakkar as a platform remains apolitical travel experience site.

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Tarun,

    thanks for this detailed account…

    agree…. the article is well placed for a space on Ghumakkar.

    Auro.

  • Nandan says:

    I got to read this now. I missed the action since I was not in the country though facebook was abuzz.

    My flight was on saturday early morning and there was a plan of short peace candle march at about 7 PM on Friday. I had more than 2 hours so with a lot of excitement, I went doing with my wife and 6 year old daughter, only to find that it was drizzling. We waited patiently and then started the march in some time. What seemed like a 30 minute 100 people candle march, got converted into a 500 people 2 hour march :-). The only thing which I could personally see as a great achievement was the participation of all-and-sundry. All of us have been to protests and most of them had one kind of folks (either students or a particular caste or whatever) , this one had ALL.

    I read your post as a piece of travel but I look at more like an exception and there is always a room for exceptions :-)

    Thank you Tarun for being there for three days and for taking us there through this commentary. In my heart, I am more close to what Rajeshwari is saying with delays in passing the bill including sabotage, a change of PM and what not but trust me, I genuinely felt that this movement was special. :-)

    Back to Ghumakkari now.

    • Tarun Talwar says:

      Thanks Nandan. In my opinion, the movement has given all of us confidence that we can bring about change and make a difference. Agreed that the road ahead is not easy but it should not stop us from trying.

      “Kaun kehta hai ki aasman mein chhed nahin ho sakta, ek patthar to tabiyat se uchhalo yaaro”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.