Thursday, April 14, 2011

How to write a blog post criticizing Anna Hazare and the Jan Lok Pal Bill

Apparently many ardent and strident bloggers still want to write critical blog posts on the subject that had grabbed last week's headlines: Anna Hazare's fast and the Jan Lok Pal (JLP) Bill. It is necessary for them to do this, it seems, since their peers have already voiced their opposition on the subject, but they haven't done so yet. And tauba tauba ... they wouldn't want their silence to be construed as support for Hazare and the JLP! Heavens forbid!

If you're not one of those looking to write a critical article on this subject, you could skip reading the rest of this post. But if you are then here're some broad guidelines that are easy to follow and will help you write a really unique post on this subject.

First, express some trepidation around the possibility that what you are about to embark on i.e. criticizing Anna Hazare and the JLP, may be considered iconoclastic and perhaps even blasphemous by the public at large. This establishes you as an original thinker with a really off-beat perspective on things, who doesn't get shepherded into following mass movements. (Besides, it is so uncool for someone like you to be seen on the same side as Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar!) Of course, your regular readers know that in matters cerebral pertaining to a  cause célèbre such as this one, you always take the road less traveled. But remember that your post will be passed around among friends, and you will have several new readers who should eventually become part of your fan club. Hence necessary to establish you as both: maven and maverick.

Second, give a clean chit to Anna Hazare. Acknowledge the good work he's done and his spotless record. Provide a link to the Wikipedia page on Ralegaon Siddhi. Make it clear that you mean no disrespect to the man. If you are really bold, you may venture to suggest that Hazare played to the galleries and was enthusiastic about being part of the reality show that the movement became. But stay within reasonable limits. You don't want to outrage your audience, just to shock them into a new awakening with the epiphany of your revelations (which you will do in subsequent paragraphs).

Third, agree that corruption is a big problem in India today. Deride the venal panjandrums who have been indulging in jobbery, robbing the common citizen blind. Mention the 2G scam and the CWG scam, for sure, and any other scam that comes to mind (there are many of them).  Also make a note of the frustration and anger against graft that has been building up among the hoi polloi over the years, and endorse it as being fully justified. Depending on how bold you feel, you may consider suggesting that people get the government they deserve. If you must do that, then also acknowledge that such homilies are not very useful in crafting solutions. (It would help to remember that the reader is looking for some kind of solution from you, thinking, fallaciously, that if you are criticizing a particular solution then you must offer alternatives.) Strongly advocate the need for urgent action to bring probity to public life and to implement reforms aimed at clean governance at all levels.

Fourth, oppose Hazare's fast as a matter of principle. Call it coercive. Use the word blackmail, if needed, to emphasize your point. Quote, from Dr Ambedkar's speech, that priceless phrase -- "Grammar of Anarchy", and make it your own. (In fact, pwn it, if you know what I mean.) Assert that it is unconstitutional to use fasting and other satyagraha tactics to subvert the normal course of action undertaken by a government constituted by the elected representatives of the people of India.

Next, oppose the JLP Bill as a matter of principle. Call it draconian. Suggest that it paves the way for dictatorship. Identify specific items in the proposed draft JLP and take issue with them. Your duty as a responsible citizen ends here as far as the JLP is concerned. You don't need to suggest alternative language or replacement of egregious text with better verbiage. Since per se you don't believe that this Bill in any form is the solution (or even "a" solution since it doesn't address the real issues), you don't have to pass on your feedback to Hazare & Co., even though there's enough basis to support the belief that this Bill, in some shape or form, is going to be passed by Parliament within a year. Having correctly diagnosed the root cause of the problem as [insert your diagnosis here, followed by rationale] you'd rather focus your keen intellect on developing the "right" solution, than improve what you know to be a draconian Bill that will most likely see passage in a few months. As far as you're concerned, posting your thoughts on your blog is enough contribution. Your fan following will take forward the good work.

Then, call this whole agitation misguided (for above stated reasons) and self-righteous. Inform the reader that it is not enough to be virtuous -- one has to abide by the principles of democracy. Does this imply that Hazare is a morally upright guy, but since politics is the business of villains it should be left to them? No. What it means is that sanctity of democratic processes is paramount. Virtue needs to be patient and learn to work the system. It's a different thing that Vice is unfettered by any such mores and in fact freely abuses the very systems that it is supposed to uphold and protect, through its perversion of powers vested in it by the very people it is supposed to serve.

Further, oppose the constitution of the Committee that will work on drafting the Bill. Oppose it primarily because it doesn't include you or your aantel buddies that hang around your adda, or any other right-minded intellectual (i.e., someone who thinks like you), but instead includes people of questionable predilections and biases. On the other hand, you don't believe this Bill is a solution, anyway, so why would you want to get on this Committee to begin with?

Conclude your post by pointing out how this could well be yet another example of good intentions that can go very, very wrong. Express fervent hope as a concerned and responsible citizen, that this doesn't end up as a cure that's even worse than the disease.

These above are the basic points around which you can build your post. Depending on your individual taste, your own personal style, the tone/ tenor and degree of stridency of your blog, and on what, specifically, is biting your ass right now, feel free to go as heavy or as light as you like, on each of the points above. If you're really good at the craft of using language for atmospherics, then create the overall feel of a savant who sees beyond the obvious and shares deep insights into mundane matters with an audience that is dumb enough to follow you and swallow your nuggets of brilliance whole, without any mastication, much less rumination. Sit back and gloat over the re-tweets on twitter and the 'likes' on facebook that will invariably follow, and the encomiums of praise that will promptly flow in your comments box. Your good work for the day is done!

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