Anna has caught world’s attention

Islamabad: Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare’s determination to have a strong Lokpal bill has caught the world’s attention, said a Pakistani daily.

An editorial in the News International said that Anna Hazare “has caught the attention not just of wrong-footed politicians, but of the rest of the world as well”.

The Gandhian has vowed to fast for a stronger anti-corruption bill. He was detained Aug 16 and taken to a prison, where he remained until Friday when he shifted to a sprawling ground. His fast entered the sixth day Sunday.

The editorial said: “Bribery in India is a way of life, and for the burgeoning middle-classes, newly affluent, it is an unconscionable burden. A backhander has to be paid to get a birth certificate, a death certificate and a marriage certificate…the list is endless.”

“It is a view of India the corrupt rather than ‘shining’ that the government is uncomfortable with, but probably even more uncomfortable with the reality of a challenge to it that does not appear to have any political motivation in a party sense, nor religious,” it said.

It went on to say that the demonstrations across India are by civil society groups – whose members are mostly middle class.

They are “clearly not from the poor underclass that numbers in the hundreds of millions. They are the BlackBerry owners who are computer literate. They use Twitter on their 3G phones and are educated professionals and upwardly mobile trades-people”.

“This is no social revolution such as that currently under way in the Arab world and the Indian government is under no threat – at least not yet.”

The editorial said that though Anna Hazare’s representatives were prepared to talk to the government, “there seems little sign that the rheumatic limbs of dynastic politics are able to dance in time with a new tune”.

It wrapped up, saying that there are close parallels between Pakistan and India in the context of corruption.

“It is no less endemic here than there, and our own ossified political system is as ripe for challenge and change as that across the border. The universality of corruption transcends religious and ethnic or cultural differences…

“The Anna affair is offering our own civil society groups a working paradigm that reads across state borders.” (IANS)