The River of Fire


The diminutive old man, calm and unflustered, with a blissful smile always on his lips, looked in complete peace with himself and all that was going on around him. Simply attired in a white dhoti and kurta, sometimes sitting, sometimes reposing, at times addressing in an amiable tone the huge crowd of followers that had gathered to support his cause, at other times speaking to members of the press and electronic media with the same calmness and affability of tone but with words that bespoke of an unwavering resolve, the Mahatma of modern India has embarked upon on yet another mission of social reform.

Just when all seemed to be lost, and the nation seemed to be plunging inexorably to depths of no return, a small spark ignited a fire to dispel the gloom to some extent, and the hearts of millions are filled with hope once again. The forces of darkness, however, look to be in no mood to relinquish their grip on the reins, and the path to freedom from their clutches is yet a difficult task, although it looks no longer as impossible as it did a month ago. The seemingly impregnable fortress of corruption has been buffeted by an unexpected wave of public rage, led ably by the man who carries the hopes of a billion Indians on his unselfish shoulders; a man so reminiscent of the great Mahatma, in the honesty of his intent, and in the resoluteness of his purpose, that he inspires every citizen with an overflowing sense of patriotism for the country and unites the diverse peoples across the land to stand united against an enemy that had hitherto seemed invincible. Yes, Anna Hazare personifies all that, and more, to every well-meaning Indian in this day and age, when the country is being mercilessly bled dry by a section of unscrupulous individuals, and it is around him that the country must rally, if we are to gain ascendancy over the scourge of corruption.

Notwithstanding Anna’s victory in the initial round, having gained access for the members of civil society into the drafting committee for the momentous Lokpal Bill, the road to Utopia promises to be long and hard, what with the demons of the dark prepared to fight it out till the end. Anna will undoubtedly have to brave it through storm, hail and fire on his journey across this river of fire, because the forces of corruption, who have had it so easy thus far, filling their own coffers at the expense of the blood and sweat of the common people, will put him to test at every step of the way. As he so aptly puts it, this is India’s “second struggle for independence”, and it will be gained only with perseverance, devotion and courage.

We, the citizens of this great country, have always been a nation of fence sitters, waiting for the rot to propagate to our very thresholds before we decide to bare our sabers. We are wont to endure and suffer in silence, and the enormously latent power of the laity, is rarely, if ever, seen to express itself. Anna Hazare’s words are the words of the millions of Indians who have been at the wrong end of the corrupt practices of our leaders, bureaucrats, traders, middlemen and the lot. The chorus of protest across the country that Anna’s words and actions has inspired, cannot be allowed to subside, rather, the pitch needs to be raised to a level that would deafen the ears of the corrupt, and would re-assert the power of the people in our nation. The River of Fire will have to be crossed at any cost, and it is the patriotic duty of every citizen to support Anna’s crusade every step of the way, and help him get us to the other side, in spite of the many encounters with foxes, dragons and vampires that this journey would necessarily entail. Anna has sounded the clarion call. Now it is for us to shoulder the ram, and storm the ramparts of the fortress of evil with all our strength. It is now, or never.

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