Friday, August 26, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Tribal leaders too call Anna group's solution as anti-democratic

Tribal leaders too call Anna group's solution as anti-democratic
Nitin Sethi, TNN | Aug 26, 2011, 03.55AM IST

NEW DELHI: After some Muslim and Dalit groups criticized Team Anna's
tactics and agenda, some prominent individuals concerned with tribal
issues too have warned that Ramlila Maidan is seeking an
anti-democratic solution to corruption - looking for superior leaders
at the Centre instead of arguing for greater grassroot democracy.

Largely advocating more decentralization and greater control of people
over governance rather than creating institutions or laws that
centralise powers, some of them collectively wrote online recently,
"To try to fight corruption without fighting for true people's power
over the economy and society is impossible." But the unease within the
groups working on tribal groups, largely of a Left hue was evident
when they signed off the statement in their personal capacity. It was
endorsed by Shankar Gopalakrishnan of the Campaign for Survival and
Dignity - the grouping of mass-based organizations that fought for the
Forest Rights Act -- besides others like Biju Mathew of the Mining
Zone People's Solidarity Group and C R Bijoy, another activist
fighting for tribal rights.

The statement was later endorsed by sociologist Nandini Sundar, who
came to prominence with her case against Sulwa Judum in the Supreme

"The Jan Lokpal being sought may address some types of corruption, or
it may not do so; but it is not intended to give people any greater
control over the state. It is projected as effective not because it
will be democratic, but because it will be powerful, because it will
stand `above' democracy and politics itself," they warned.

This has been a rising criticism of Anna Hazare's 'movement' - holding
agency on behalf of a majority - which by implication reduces the
relevance of grievances of those marginalised by lack of numbers or
economic strength. The case of Irom Sharmila in Manipur or of those
protesting against dams in northeastern states have been cited several
times. While displacement of people in the Narmada valley could find
popular support at one point of time, similar concerns from the
northeastern states have largely been ignored in the rest of the
country with the absolute numbers of displaced in comparison failing
to evoke sympathy. Being the traditional blind spot of India, of
course, has not helped.

Warning that the Team Anna movement was attempting to replace a
battered system with a 'good leader' instead of a more democratic
system, the signatories to the statement warned, "This raises the
question of whether those participating are being asked to fight to
build people's power, or whether they are fighting to increase the
power of the good leader.

"This movement not only does not weaken the state; implicitly, through
the message it sends, it builds people's support for making the state
and its leadership more powerful," they have written on a website that
has hosted several spirited statements in favour and critical of the
anti-graft movement.

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