India Against Corruption
India Against Corruption (IAC) is an anti-corruption movement in India which was particularly prominent during the anti-corruption protests of 2011 and 2012, the central point of which was debate concerning the introduction of a Jan Lokpal bill. During that time it sought to mobilise the masses in support of their demands for a less corrupt society in India. Divisions amongst key members of the IAC's core committee eventually led to a split within the movement. Arvind Kejriwal left to form the Aam Aadmi Party, while Anna Hazare left to form Jantantra Morcha.
The IAC popular protest movement began in a year when there were also major protests about corruption in countries such as Russia (sometimes called the Snow Revolution) and the US (Occupy Wall Street). Alison Brysk, an American political science professor, notes that the Arab Spring protests that began in late 2010 were "initially sparked by corruption - not regime change". Brysk believes that "Regardless of limited policy outcomes, each of these citizenship movements succeeded in communicating a political critique of social problems that had been seen previously as a consequence of tradition, abusive individuals, self-correcting markets, or bad luck. They were all movements that relied heavily on symbolism."
The official position of figureheads in the IAC movement was that it had no formal organisation beyond a 24-member core committee. In 2011, the mostly middle-class organisers of IAC determined to launch a campaign to mobilise the masses in support of a demand that they hoped would help to bring about a corruption-free India. Their proposal was for the creation of a Lokpal (ombudsman) who would have powers to arrest and charge government officials accused of corruption. They approached Ramdev, a populist yogi with millions of supporters among the middle-classes of small-town India, to be the figurehead for this campaign. His connections to the right-wing Sangh Parivar threatened to damage the credibility of what was nominally an apolitical movement. He was soon replaced by Anna Hazare, a veteran social reformer with a history of undertaking fasts in support of his causes. Hazare, too, brought a large support base with him, described by Meera Nanda as being largely "from urban middle-classes and idealistic youth". The urban sophistication of Hazare, compared to Ramdev's rusticity, attracted high-profile support for the campaign from Bollywood stars, the internet-savvy, and mainstream English-language news media. He, too, struggled to disassociate himself from Hindutva symbolism: hence, support from non-Hindus was less forthcoming.
Mahendra Prasad Singh, another professor of political science and a former Director of the Indian Council for Social Science Research, sees some similarity between the Hazare-led IAC campaign and campaigns of the 1970s for which Jayaprakash Narayan was the figurehead. The significant difference, he says, is that rather than using "conventional means of political mobilisation, [it has] mainly thrived on the private electronic and social media, supplemented by mass congregation in cities".
Historian and commentator Ramachandra Guha has questioned the image that has been presented of IAC and of Hazare. Acknowledging that Hazare had previously been successful in campaigns for infrastructure reforms at the local level in his native Maharashtra and that the IAC campaign of 2011 had an impact, Guha doubts the claims that the 2011 and 2012 protests overwhelmingly engaged the masses. He notes that liberals were concerned with a perceived anti-democratic rhetoric while socially oppressed communities, such as the dalits and Other Backward Classes, were worried that the "savarna" led movement would undermine the gains they have made through legislative reforms, such as those resulting from the Mandal Commission. He considers that the attention given to the protest by 24-hour news channels and internet resources has masked the realities, such as that popular participation at the Jantar Mantar and Ramlila Maidan protests in Delhi was a fraction of that evidenced in Kolkata in 1998 when 400,000 marched in an anti-nuclear movement. IAC and Hazare in particular piggy-backed on and gained from discontent surrounding some coincident corruption scandals involving the government. These scandals, such as the 2G spectrum scam, were high-profile examples of the corruption that is claimed to be endemic in Indian society at all levels but Guha believes the IAC solution — the Lokpal — was a "simplistic" reaction.
In 2012, the IAC began to splinter. Hazare's followers became known as Team Anna. By late 2012, the split had deepened, caused by differences of opinion among the central figures regarding the IAC's lack of practical success and how much this might have been due to its unwillingness to be directly engaged in the political system. An IAC survey had suggested that direct involvement in politics was preferable, leading to Arvind Kejriwal and some others splitting to form the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in order to cause change from within the system. Hazare rejected the survey findings.
Hazare had announced that he was disbanding Team Anna in August 2012, around the time that the divisions were coming to a head. In November 2012, after the split, he said that he was forming a new Team Anna, that it would retain the label of India Against Corruption and that its members were discussing other societal issues that they might address.
The new Team Anna, sometimes referred to as Team Anna 2.0, was preparing to tour the country from 30 January 2013, coinciding with the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. When that day came, Hazare announced that he had formed Jantantra Morcha, a campaigning group that included the previously-named members of Team Anna 2.0 and which he considered to be a replacement for IAC but with a broader agenda.
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