16th August 2011 has been an eventful day so far. Anna Hazare was arrested while I was still sleeping. Last night, when I went to sleep I was still mulling over whether I should join the protest or not. Today morning when I was leaving for office, I had decided I will go to office and from there I will "see" whether I should go for the protest at Indira Park in Hyderabad. The "seeing" is a well known delaying and cancelling tactic we all use to not do something we should have done and absolve ourselves of not doing it.
Before leaving I decided to watch the news and found out that he had been arrested. Now the "seeing" had to be changed to "deciding" and then, maybe, "doing". I kick-started the scooty and decided to go to Indira Park and from there I will "see" what happens. I ended up staying at the protest for around 5 hours.
Scores have taken to the streets in major cities of the country demanding the release of their "beloved" Anna Hazare. To those who have whole heartedly pledged allegiance to Anna and to those who are sitting on the fence not sure (if what he is asking for and if the things he is asking for are right), it is important to know as much detail as possible about the clash between Jan Lokpal and Govt Lokpal (Jokepal as it is being termed).
To start with you can listed to this speech by Arvind Kejriwal at IIT Madras where he explains Team Anna's stand and many other questions like who gave them the right to represent civil society etc.,
[The video is hosted in 4 parts on Youtube]
Shoma Chaudhry's article in Tehelka also explains Team Anna's latest stand.
I hope once you read these you would actually be more informed about what the current stand-off is about.
Having read these, you can now see that what happened today is not necessarily about Jan Lokpal. It is about a citizen's right to protest peacefully and whether the government of the day would respect his right to do that. Now government apologists would again cite that the man in question refused to abide by 6 of the 22 conditions laid down by the Delhi Police. Conditions like the fast/protest should not last more than two and half days, no more than 5000 people should come and no more than 50 cars and 50 motorcycles should be there are roadblocks put only to sabotage the protests.
On a personal note, I am not adamant that only the Jan Lokpal be adopted but looking at the government's proposed bill makes you laugh (or cry depending on where in the frustration cycle you stand).
Please remember that with voting does not end your engagement with the polity and politics. We need to be citizens conscious of our duties and rights. Read more, not just about Anna, Arvind Kejriwal, The Bhushans and Kiran Bedi but also about the government's policies on various issues.
Lastly, there is absolutely no reason you should be bogged down by comments like "You voted the current government to power", "You get the kind of government you deserve". While these are true to an extent they should not bog you down. They should just remind you of the fact that being a responsible citizen does not end with voting.