Anna Hazare and the hazar hopes

I haven’t actively been a part of the Anna Hazare movement. It does have my full support but I have not been out there on the streets, waving a banner or whatever.

But I discovered today that one the messages making the rounds is actually genuine and figured I could do my part by forwarding the message.

The message: The Government has put condition to get 25 crore people to support JanLokpal bill. To give your support, call +91 22 62550789 (as given by Kiran Bedi) from your mobile. You call will disconnect after 1 ring and your number will be registered automatically. You will get an SMS confirming this.

Naturally, I was skeptical. Any Indian would be… we get tons of such spam messages, including ones that claim for every message you forward, 1 paise or some such amount will be credited to a cancer patient somewhere.

But someone reliable said this actually works. So I picked up the phone, made a call and the call actually disconnected after one ring and I immediately received a message from UR India stating “Thanks for registering your support. If you want to volunteer, please log onto http://www.indiaagainstcorruption.org or send an sms at +919212472681″

I was quite blown and immediately forwarded the message to many on my contact list.

A friend called me right away, asking how I could be so stupid as to forward such messages and spread more disorder. “Be sane! No government would do such a thing!” he said.

I don’t know about any such government. Infact, this was the same sentiment I had. But then this is the Indian government. We believe in the power of cellphone. Villages that do not have electricity have a television and cellphones.

But these are the facts: The phone number is a registered one. I got an SMS.

I don’t know if the government insisted on this. I do know that the campaign was started to get people to support the movement. 25 crore is a huge number. It should have some impact.

The campaign was also supposed to have ended over a month ago but the number is still active and people are still calling in. For a culture that seems to be hooked to cellphones, this is the most effective way of getting people involved – particularly, when it costs them nothing.

I don’t know if it will work. But I’m willing to try. Because I am tired of having to pay a bribe for every little thing – to get a certificate to buy a piece of land, to sell a piece of land, to get my vehicle insured, to get a license to ride the vehicle, to build a house, to clean my gutter, to ensure the safety of my neighbourhood and hell! to prove that I exist in some form of ID.

Perhaps bribery is entwined into our culture but this is one of those things like sati and child marriage that we can do without.

I don’t know if the price of booze will go down if we manage to get back all that cash stashed in the Swiss Banks. But there is a chance of a better life.

I don’t know how we will survive without bribery either… yes, I am aware that everyone someone has a property transaction, there is the white money – declared legally on paper and the black money – paid in cash and the total amount being the real value. If people were really taxed for all this amount, they probably would not be able to survive.

I don’t know what the issue with the taxation structure is in India. But it does seem to be that it is grossly unfair and the common man would not be able to lead a decent life with these inflated rates unless he stashed away some cash.

It isn’t supporting corruption to say this. A few thousand is bad, but it is no where comparable to those who earn millions and do not pay tax. And aren’t held accountable. The ones who take away the money we do pay as tax.

I guess I’m expecting a chain reaction… one part gets clean, eventually everyone will.

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