Anti-corruption protests in India
I, the people
An anti-graft crusader steamrolls ahapless government
Aug 27th 2011 | DELHI | from the print edition
SQUELCHING barefoot in the sludge atRamlila Maidan, a park in central Delhi, a middle-aged man praises the people’slove for his guru, Anna Hazare. His eyes shine with zeal and hunger. His legs have cramp from fasting, for over a week, beside his 74-year-old leader. Sowhat? We train our bodies to go without food for 30 days, he says. To loseflesh is to gain energy.
Mr Hazare, who has himself lost 6kg, isprone on a platform nearby, framed by a huge poster of Mahatma Gandhi, whosemethods he has adopted. A bank of television cameras and a devoted crowd, tensof thousands strong, watch him intently, day and night, cheering and chantingin a sea of mud. Groups of uniformed schoolboys march about, flourishing theIndian tricolour. Young men sport white Gandhi caps with “I am Anna” penned onthe sides.
Trade is brisk in Hazare rosettes,headbands, T-shirts, and badges. Five rupees (10 cents) gets three swipes ofpaint—saffron, white, green—on your cheek. Even police X-ray gates have“corruption-free India” scrawled on them. Dozens of cities have their ownmarches and protests. The country’s thicket of excitable cable-news networksreports on nothing else.