There is just above two weeks remaining for the great lent to end. We have fasted, prayed, helped and grown spiritually. But have we really grown spiritually? Or are we fooling ourselves that we have? What really should lent and fasting lead to? Should it only lead to personal benefit or should it lead to a much larger social justice and equality in society? Anna Hazare has been fasting now for four days in Jantar Mantar in Delhi for more active involvement of civil society in the Jan Lokpal bill against corruption. Other people are joining the fast in many other parts of the country and they include people from all religions and walks of life in India.
The people who are joining the fast and more importantly joining Anna Hazare are children, women, people from the oppressed communities, and the middle class. In effect they are all people in India affected most by corruption. The UPA government in essence is not against such a bill but may be going safe on how much it should give to the people especially after the experience of the RTI bill which has been a big success and a weapon in the hands of the otherwise powerless Indian to hold the government accountable.
Anna Hazare is not asking for too much. How can a very important group for the bill which has to tackle corruption be constituted without any active participation of civil society? When the politicians themselves are under the scanner for scams and bribes how can they make this bill meaningful and who knows whether they won’t stall this bill for ever?
Different churches are also behind and are offering support for this movement as well. The media have been largely covering the unrest in various Arab countries including Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya. Huge protests by the people of these countries have led to great change. Egypt has been rid of its dictator Hosni Mubarak while Libya is fighting for change from Gadaffi. Little did we know that this unrest could reach India as well. Kashmir has always been a place where people protested against the government along with the North East but other states have been quiet. This fast by Anna Hazare has activated and brought alive the people of India in Jantar Mantar, different states in the North, South, East and West and even in the internet.
It would be appropriate at this point to take this fast very seriously. We are all thinking about the outcome of elections in different states and also preparing for passion week in various churches. This lent we could raise the bar a bit. We could make our fasting and make lent count for the millions in this country. As we congregate in different churches and places of worship we could bring about the feeling that we are fighting for something. This is not against one political party or a few individuals but against the very evil which resides in each and every one of us. This evil of corruption and nepotism should be rooted out of the country and also the church. But for that it should also be rooted out of each one of us.
This thus is a time when the whole country is observing lent. A great fast for a great thing. We are here going beyond religion, caste and social status. We are thus enacting the fast of Jesus to prepare him against the evil in society. If we have observed fasting and lent soberly till now, we have to observe fasting and lent with excitement and with the strength to protest. Thus it is indeed the time for being one with our brothers and sisters in India for the fight against corruption. If ever our lent needed to be counted, it is now.