Thursday, January 19, 2012

LADY Macduff and Anna HAZARE

The movement against “Corruption” and fight for a strong Lokpal bill often reminds me of Lady Macduff and her Son.  When he wrote Macbeth, William Shakespeare did not know about this movement or several other such movements, in various parts of the world over the years.  For those who have not read or seen the play “Macbeth”,  I recall the exchange between Lady Macduff and her Son.  It is in Act IV, Scene II, in Macduff’s castle in Fife, a part of Scotland.  Macduff has gone away to England to seek help to come back and fight Macbeth.  Macbeth has been assured by the three witches that “Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him”. Macbeth is secure in the feeling that this could never happen.  Just like Hiranyakashipu was safe until Narasimha appeared.

Lady Macduff, her Son and Ross enter the stage and there is some discussion about the events unfolding then, between Lady Macduff and Ross.  Lady Macduff says,  “When our actions do not, our fears make us traitors”.  Ross replies: “But cruel are the times when we are traitors, And we do not know ourselves”.   She bids farewell to her pretty cousin and exits.  The few lines exchanged between the lady and her son are worth recalling:

LM: Sirrah, Your father is dead. And what will you do now? How will you live?
Son: As birds do, mother.
LM: What, with worms and flies?
Son: With what I get, I mean; and so do they.
LM: How will you do for a father?
Son: Nay, How will you do for a husband?
LM: Why, I can buy me twenty at the market.
Son: Then you’ll buy'em to sell again.
LM: Thou speak’st with all they wit, and yet,  I’faith, with  wit enough for thee.
Son: Was my father a traitor, Mother?
LM: Ay, that he was.
Son: What is a traitor?
LM: Why, one that swears and lies.
Son: And be all traitors that do so.
LM : Everyone that does so is a traitor and must be hanged.
Son: And must they all be hanged that swear and lie.
LM: Everyone.
Son: Who must hang them?
LM: Why, the honest men.
Son: Then the liars and swearers are fools, for there are liars and swearers  enough to beat the honest men and hand them up.

At the end of the scene the Son is stabbed to death by Macbeth’s men and Lady Macbeth runs for her life. It is made known in the next scene that everyone of Macduff’s people – Wife, children, servants, all that could be found were brutally butchered.

Macduff’s  young son was wise enough to know that the traitors outnumbered the honest men and would hang them well before the honest move a step.  This applies equally to the corrupt.


Anna Hazare started the movement against corruption.  It naturally attracted wide support from the general public and within a short time became a mass movement.  A mass movement requires many volunteers and at least some middle level leaders to act as the link between the main protagonist and the masses as he cannot be seen everywhere.  Some noted personalities with some track record of social service and leading reformist movements at a much smaller scale joined the movement and became its public face.  Along with such people many shady characters also publicly expressed support to the movement.  Today everything is a source for marketing and making money.  Dozens of round the clock media channels need something to telecast and this movement gave them an excellent opportunity.  There was endless debate and every single person with some standing or sitting was invited to the media rooms for their reactions and opinions.  Marketing wizards seized the initiative and came up with “I am Anna Hazare” caps.  Umpteen forums for support of movement against corruption were launched.  Baba Ramdev episode gave its own twist and turns to the saga. What should have been a very serious and organised movement became mired in controversies and lost direction.

Every single political party declared their intention to fight corruption and support Lokpal Bill, but did their best to do just the opposite.  A government which was swept off its feet by the unprecedented public support promised everything.  Simultaneously a two pronged strategy was adapted to dilute the movement.  “Shoot the Messenger” was the first.  Old cases or issues of middle level leaders were reopened and given wide publicity.  Anna Hazare himself was attacked by some quarters.  Dissent was sown within Team Anna and fissures in the ambitious team ensured killing the movement from inside.   The second level attack was to bring in the question of supremacy of the Parliament.  Whether people are supreme or a Parliament which is the creation of these very people was superior, was endlessly debated.  The vital fact that the “Supreme Parliament” was not doing anything for decades which gave birth to this movement was successfully pushed to the background.  Promises of a strong Lokpal Bill enactment were made to Anna Hazare  and his breaking fast was ensured.  With the onset of winter the movement was certain to be frozen, which is what finally happened.  Shifting of fast scene from Delhi to Mumbai successfully ensured that the heat at the seat of power was withdrawn well before the onset of the cold weather.

Some people egged on Anna Hazare not to break fast and continue fast till the bill was enacted.  They were right; he was on fast and not them!  Quota and reservation in the composition of Lokpal was the final nail in the coffin for the movement. Every sensible person knows the fate of bills when these parameters are brought in.  With half the electorate in the country being women, we know the fate of “Women’s Reservation Bill”.  Lokpal bill was nothing more special to get special treatment. Bill was passed in Lok Sabha without statutory status.  What happened in the Rajya Sabha baffled everybody except the “Supreme Parliament”.

Gandhi led the "Freedom movement".  Then came the “Socialist movement” led by Ram Manohar Lohia and Acharya Narendra Dev.  We also had the “Nav Nirman Movement” led by Jaya Prakash Narayan and Acharya Krupalani.  All of them had many followers and one shudders to think what the followers later did and are doing to the country.  The “Supreme Parliament” even paid its debt to Jaya Prakash Narayan by passing a condolence resolution on his death, even before he actually died!  Citizens wonder about the fate of fight against corruption while the corrupt are relaxing and celebrating.  Will Narasimha appear at all?

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became a Mahatma not because he did not make any mistakes in his life, but because he had the courage of his convictions to own them and atone for them.  If the first stone is to be cast by those who have never sinned, then none can throw the first stone.  Leaders of the movement ought to show that courage and atone for the weaknesses they have, if any, and pursue the movement.  And be reasonable in their approach and also appear to be reasonable.  Or else any slightest deviation will provide an opportunity for the establishment to swallow the movement;  lock, stock and barrel. Past failures do not deter the determined; they only have lessons for posterity.


  1. True to the scene from Macbeth, the corrupt over power the honest. Good comparison.

  2. I especially liked the last takes a lot of guts to own up to your mistakes in public and sadly even Anna Hazare does not meet tbe mark in my view....though his effort at instigating the masses must be lauded even if it's more or less misguided... but that is what our country is...chaos and white noise