Although the government conceded more of his demands on Friday, the substantive issues raised by social activist Anna Hazare seemed in acute danger of being rendered irrelevant. Hazare’s tent, pitched at Jantar Mantar, was turned into a celebrity circus. From yoga guru Ramdev to the assorted Bollywood celebrities, all manner of individuals joined to have their share of the media limelight.
In the din of protest and the near-festive atmosphere, the debate on questions such as the extent and spread of corruption in public life and measures to stem the rot were relegated to the background, if not drowned out.
Such events highlight the dangers inherent in “movements” to combat social and political problems. Mahatma Gandhi, the role model of the present protest, knew these dangers very well. Those who profess to follow him would do well to heed that.