|Coimbatore took to the anti-corruption drive with zest. The city witnessed a series of protests, hunger strikes and rallies in which the young and the old participated.
As Anna Hazare began the protest against corruption on August 16th, it was with the same fervor that 5th Pillar, in Coimbatore, supported the cause. Vijay Anand, President of the 5th Pillar began his fast along with Rajkumar Velu at the office premises.
As the momentum geared up, it was but inevitable to shift the venue of the fast to a more centrally located G.D. Naidu hall on Avinashi Road. People started visiting, showcasing their support and volunteering to campaign for the ongoing movement. One such supporter was Kesavan, who decided to join the fast. Another member Prakash too joined the group. It was these four people who were on fast for all the 12 days, showing their grit and determination for the success of the cause.
The country was witnessing a mass awakening, People were coming out on the streets for a common cause, and Coimbatore was no exception. Thousands and thousands of students, women, children and old people gathered at CODISSIA trade complex. They took a 9 km walk from SITRA to VOC Park, demonstrating their strength, lighting candles with the hope that the light at the end of the tunnel was not far away.
In the days to come, team Anna comprising of Kiran Bedi, Aravind Kejriwal, Prashanth Bushan and others waited with bated breath for the agitation to bear fruit. And so did the whole country and everyone at Coimbatore.
The agitation began with the draft of the Lokpal in 1968. It was passed in the fourth Lok sabha in 1969 but never got through the Rajya Sabha.
In 1977, under the Janata party coalition Shanthi Bhushan, who was then the law minister of India, again formulated a comprehensive Lokpal Bill covering all aspects of governance and government, including the centre and the states. After 1968, there were 9 versions of the Bill, in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008. None of them were passed by the government.
The Lokpal bill drafted in 2010 led to major difference of opinion cropping up between the government and the activists.
In 2011, a committee with five members from the government and five from civil society were chosen to draft a new bill. The panel failed to arrive at a compromise.
Later, the government tabeled its version of the bill in parliament. Hazare was agitating for the activists’ version, the Jan Lokpal Bill to be tabled in parliament.
Victory, especially when it comes after a long, hard struggle can taste very sweet. The fact that Anna Hazare led the movement against corruption has forced the parliament to agree to all the key elements like creating Lokayuktas in the states, including the lower bureaucracy under the Lokpal’s purview and a citizen’s charter for government departments providing public service. This is significant and can potentially mark a turning point in the manner in which democracy is practiced in India in the years ahead.
Felicitating Anna Hazare’s movement and its resounding success, there was a meeting held by the 5th pillar on 28th August at the CODISSIA grounds. Nature was at its best too, swaying and making a windy evening of celebration.
The celebration was marked with Sounds of Isha, the members of the Isha Yoga Foundation, staging a Kalaripayatu and a collection of patriotic songs. This was followed by a congratulatory message by Sathguru Jaggi Vasudev delivered by Swami Nisarga.
The felicitation address was given by several noted social activists of the city including Mr. Ravindran of RAAC. (Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore).
A signature campaign on the Rs. 50 note which was mounted on a van was kicked off by Vijay Anand and joined by all the members of the audience.
The highlight of the event was the songs rendered by Mrs. Bhanumathi Kalyanasundaram who has penned the lyrics of songs against corruption.
The grand finale of the event witnessed Vijay Anand, co founder of 5th pillar, pledge to rule out corruptive practices. According to him the need of the hour is to understand that the success achieved by Anna Hazare is only the beginning of a long journey ahead.