New Delhi: The intense public engagement with Anna Hazare’s campaign against corruption along with the attendant saturation media coverage is having an unintended side effect. Academic institutions across the country are seeing rising interest in the issue as a research subject.
The Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indore has included corruption as a new elective.
“The response from students as well as corporate executives coming for short-term courses is very enthusiastic,” said Siddhartha Rastogi, professor of economics at IIM Indore.
The Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA) and the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) in Delhi are all seeing proposals from students who want to focus on the issue as part of their course work.
By the end of September, IIM Indore’s Rastogi said he will modify the elective and “include the Anna Hazare movement in the context of the Lokpal”.
“This is kind of history in the making and we need to incorporate it,” he said. “In future, this will be a great research subject.”
IIM Indore’s students have also conducted a survey across six IIMs on graft, the Lokpal Bill and the government’s response.
Of the nearly 600 respondents, 81% didn’t like the government version of the Lokpal Bill as opposed to 5% who supported it. At least 61% backed the Jan Lokpal Bill, while 17% opposed it. The others had not read the Bill.
At Delhi University’s FMS, students took part in a 3-hour session on Tuesday to discuss Brand Anna.
“Anna was projected as a new product in the market and (the discussion was about) how he managed to dent the image of existing market players like the Congress party,” said Anubhav Kanodia, a second-year student at FMS.
Corruption is like a wound and “Anna is working like a balm, hence, he and his movement interests all”, said Harsh V. Verma, a professor at FMS.
“We don’t want to stop here. We will write papers, do deeper research and come out with a case study,” Verma added. “From my point of view, Anna is a successful brand.”
Transparency International (TI), an organization that seeks to fight corruption, said there has been a rise in interest among researchers.
“The number of students approaching us for internship on corruption has doubled in 2011 from last year,” said Anupama Jha, executive director at TI. “Many of them are law students.”
Swati Attavar, an undergraduate Indian student at Cambridge University in the UK, said she was interested on a dissertation on corruption and that was why she approached TI. “Among Indian students in our university, this a subject of huge debate,” said Attavar, currently on a break in Bangalore. “I think soon people will take it up as an academic debate.”
“Youngsters do realize that corruption is a big issue and they are at a loss to find a role model. They found Anna as a model and are following him and his ideas even though many of them don’t understand the nitty-gritty of the subject,” Jha added.
Santosh Kumar Patra, a professor at MICA, said students at the institute have shown an increased interest in academic discourse on the subject, besides participating in anti-corruption rallies. No papers have emerged from this yet.