Indefinite fasts are the flavour of the season, but guess who the latest subscribers to it are. PTI reported on Sunday that a group of khap panchayat leaders, troubled by a Supreme Court observation that labelled khaps barbaric and illegal, had decided to go on an indefinite protest fast during the monsoon session of Parliament.
The provenance of fasting as a political exercise has increased of late—no one after Gandhi has had as much success in its use as Anna Hazare. If the khap leaders have derived inspiration from the latter’s campaign, then they are in good company. The informal courts of north India and the movement against corruption by an unlikely Gandhian both suffer from a similar belief in extrajudicial means.
The institutional corrosion in India is certainly a pressing concern. But the solution to it is not to erect—or tolerate, in the case of khaps—alternative systems of suspect virtue.