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Can Indians take to violent Revolution against the government accused of unprecedented corruption and black money?

Updated on June 25, 2011

That seems to be the most unlikely scenario. Historically, Indians have participated in peaceful revolutions in the most organized fashion. They have expressed discontent in various other forms such as hunger strike, sits-in, dharana, boycott, civil disobedience and several other ways but there has never been any instance of armed rebellion except in 1857 when most part of the nation rose up against the British Imperealism. However, even in that instance most of the armed fighting was carried on by the discontented militia of the Indian British army and not the civilians. Besides, there have been tribal skirmishes. On the whole, the Indian civilian population has never taken to violent fighting against a regime.

Baba Ramdev Agitation

The question assumes importance in the wake of agitation against corrupt government in India currently undertaken by Baba Ramdev, the yoga guru and Anna Hazare, the civil disobedience leader. While the agitation undertaken by Baba Ramdev was brought to an abrupt halt after the local police disrupted their organized campaign, Anna Hazare appears to be a tough nut to crack with considerable experience behind in undertaking campaigns against injustices and corruption, in the past. Both, Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare have a common agenda – to bring back hundreds of billions of dollars of Indian black money stashed away off-shores and to legislate tough laws against corruption.

Anna Hazare

The government on its part, despite having been accused of multiple scams in recent times with cases proceeding against several of their key ministers and bureaucrats, appears reluctant against proactively committing to formulate tough laws against corruption citing practical difficulties. The people, however, are convinced that the present regime is itself knee-deep into corruption with little incentive to act against their key members. Moreover, it is also claimed that the members of the Congress having been in power for well over six decades since independencce have been the major beneficiaries of the black economy. Therefore, more than any one else, some of the well known members of the Congress party are likely to be exposed with the disclosure of the list of persons whose wealth is stashed away in tax-free havens abroad. Not only all their ill-gotten wealth could likely be declared national asset but the party itself will in all probability forefeit their chance to rule in future by virtue of their huge unpopularity.

What could be the likely scenario if the government persists with intransigence? The civil society is unlikely to stand up in armed rebellion like in the recent middle-east events largely because the Indian polity is based on democracy where people have the right to express their discontent. However, considering that the popular discontent continues to rise with huge civilian population all over the nation which is not an impossible proposition, what might be the possible approaches adopted by the government? Any attempt by the government to quell mob through use of force is likely to prove counter-productive. They are unlikely to impose emergency going by their past experience when the party was swept away clean at the hustings.

The best course might possibly be for the like minded parties on the issue of corruption to come together and pass a no confidence motion against the government so that a smooth transition of government may take place before the next general election which is still four years away. However, even this alternative is not without sordid implications for this very government managed to win no confidence against itself in the past with the use of money power to purchase legislators. So, in the eventuality of the government escaping the no confidence motion, corruption will be the highly acclaimed instrument to survive and flourish that this government will never like to part with.

Therefore, we are back to the question will Indian Civil Society rise up in an armed uprising against a corrupt regime? Short of armed uprising, there are already signs of a massive civilian uprising largely of non-violent nature. The context this time is the second freedom struggle, as the notion is already being propagated by the leaders. The first was against the British Raj and the second one is against the corrupt internal regime. Once the motif and symbol are identified as in the present case, in popular imagination, rallying the necessary support becomes easy


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