MUMBAI, India – Several hundred people gathered in the Azad Maidan
sports ground in South Mumbai Sunday, marking the 63rd anniversary
of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination by peacefully protesting the
corruption plaguing the nation.
An umbrella group, “India Against Corruption,” organized the
gathering in synchronization with pan-nation protests.
Lawyer Y.P. Singh, who has worked with the Central Bureau of
Investigation for five years, explained to the crowd how the corrupt
escape unscathed. Pointing toward a scam in Mumbai which snowballed
into a national issue, he said, “Big players have escaped.”
However, Krishnaraj Rao, a journalist and a campaigner for the Right
to Information Act, is taking the agenda of the umbrella group “with
a fist of salt.”
Rao, who is also a publisher and designer, said there are already
enough laws to rein in corruption. Implementation of those laws
should be the concern, he said.
But he agreed that gatherings like these are really helpful.
“A country cannot run with corruption,” said an outraged Shalaka
Thakur, a 19-year-old economics student.
She said she wants radical changes to happen but she is against
“Violence will destroy the fragments of our democracy,” Thakur said.
Rao said he doubts the possibility of India witnessing turmoil like
the Arab world.
“I see a change happening at the grass roots,” Rao said. “India is
like a large ship turning by a few degrees, but the change in
direction is big.”
Jaunti Sanmukhani and
Shalaka Thakur at the
Mumbai anti-corruption protests.
Photo by Pushkal Shivam
Combating corruption “is not about going and lecturing,” said Anaka
Kaundinya, a 20-year- old student at Government Law College. It is
about “coming out in big numbers and more activism.”
Kaundinya said that from a very impressionable age, mannerisms are
bred in the Indian society which make some susceptible to
On the other hand, Thakur said, “Our approach has suddenly turned to
materialistic. Aspiration is breeding corruption.”
The activists are specifically targeting the Lokpal (ombudsman) bill
proposed by a government besieged by ugly scams, dubbing it
Signging a protest banner
“At 19 and 20 my friends are excessively cynical,” Thakur said.
The measure’s anti-corruption mechanism, first proposed in 1968, is
modeled on the institution of the ombudsman in Scandinavian
However, the government’s proposed version doesn’t allow for the
Lokpal to act on his own or to act on any complaint made by the
public. Experts have pointed out several flaws in the proposed
legislation which would allow corrupt politicians and bureaucrats to
escape with impunity.
The umbrella group seeks to persuade the government to adopt an
alternative bill drafted by prominent citizens and activists of the
nation which closes all the loopholes.
The activists have declared March 31 as the deadline for the
government to accept their “Citizen’s Bill.” Following that, they
plan to organize more vigorous protests across the nation.
One answer to the rampant corruption in India, said Jaunty
Sanmukhani, 19, is to “educate people at young age.”
“Don’t underestimate the youth,” said Thakur.
Y.P. Singh addressing the crowd