Anna Hazare has threatened to go on fast from 15 August in case his demands for the Lok Pal bill are not accepted. Who is Anna Hazare? He is a political activist who has started a crusade against corruption. An ex-army man Anna is certainly a man with a mission. But his repeated threats to go on fast to press his point of view is to say the least surprising. This I find a strange phenomena and perhaps relevant only in India. In all my travels abroad, I have not heard of a fast unto death to achieve a
Recently some one mentioned at the bar in the US club that fasting is an Indian tradition and hence relevant to India. But this individual perhaps did not understand that though fasting is an Indian tradition, yet the foremost exponent of the fast, MK Gandhi never resorted to a fast to win independence. He fasted on many issues, but I don't recollect reading that he fasted unto death to free India from British rule.
This is where Anna Haze and his followers must understand. Fasting is a good thing, but to use it as apolitical weaponis wrong. Perhaps Anna and his ilk must be made aware that the result of fast is dependent on the approach of the government in power. What if there is totalitarianism? Then there is every chance that a fast unto death will surely result in death. Perhaps Anna and his followers will not want that. It is good to remember that the fast as weapon had no effect on the Portuguese who ruled Goa for close to 4 centuries.
Thus frequent resort to this system of fast unto death must be done away with. The fast as a political weapon needs to be put aside and the second alternative to it, a mass disobedience movement staffed by the common man is the answer. Gandhi was adept at it and it did put some pressure on the British government.
Again such a movement is possible only in a democracy and any civil disobedience movement is bound to fail where the government is autocratic or a dictatorship.
Anna Hazare and his supporters must thus ponder over the fact whether a fast serves any purpose. Won't he be better of in organizing a mass movement against corruption? Something that Gandhi did with some success.