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Tale of two struggles
Once upon a time some patriotic Indians took up the struggle to end British Rule in India. Most of young India or about 70 percent of Indians know very little or absolutely nothing about this struggle. To historians, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was the start of this struggle.

The details of this long and difficult struggle cannot be covered in a few pages. Suffice it to say that there were many greater leaders and many visions of what India should become and how the struggle for independence was to be sustained till the goals were reached. In this article I will only touch on a few aspects.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first leader to demand "Swaraj" or self rule. In 1905 he said that "Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it". The British promptly put him in Jail. Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915 and started "Satyagrah" or civil disobedience to force the British to grant independence. Initial demands were for dominion status. But in 1928, Congress adopted the demand for "Purna Swaraj" or full independence. The struggle for independence led by Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress Party continued till 1947 when we finally became free from British rule.

Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and the Congress party, and millions of known and unknown freedom fighters gave us independence. Pandit Nehru and the Congress party also introduced corruption, nepotism and crony capitalism which made "swaraj" irrelevant for the common man.

Nehru's policies of boosting higher education and industrialization saw a huge growth in the privileged classes. The "license raj" restricted industrialization to a few politically connected business houses, created monopolies and led to exploitation of the poor.

Aam Admi had to wait another 17 years before Lal Bahadur Shastri recognized them with his slogan "Jai Jawan, Jai Kissan". Indira Gandhi kept the focus on the Aam Admi with her slogan "Garibi Hatao", 20 Point Program for rural development, nationalization of banks and foreign companies who refused to have 50 percent Indian shareholders.

After Mrs Gandhi, the common people were again pushed to the background and corruption, nepotism and crony capitalism filled the pockets of the political class and government servants (the Khas admi or privileged class) and the business class and the rich (the Amir Admi or the rich). The rule of the privileged, by the privileged and for the privileged and the rule of the rich, by the rich and for the rich has prevailed ever since and is practiced by all political parties.

Then from nowhere emerged an agitation led by Anna Hazare and the Civil Society called India Against Corruption in 2011. It demanded the Parliament to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by Anna Hazare's team and launched an agitation in Delhi. The Congress government did its best to break up the movement, but failed.

They then manoeuvred the simpleton Anna Hazare by promising to pass the bill. But the struggle by the Aam Admi to eliminate corruption, nepotism and crony capitalism was taken up by Anna Hazare's erstwhile lieutenant Arvind Kejriwal who floated the Aam Admi Party. The party made its first electoral foray in 2013 in the Delhi state elections and surprised all by winning 28 seats. The Aam Admi Party today carries the flag for all Indians who are against corruption.

I would like to share some interesting parallels between India's struggle to free itself from British rule and the Aam Admi's struggle to free itself from corruption and rule of the privileged, by the privileged and for the privileged.

Leadership

India's struggle for freedom from British Rule was led in its final stages by Mahatma Gandhi, a simple man with no political or pecuniary ambitions. India?s struggle against corruption, nepotism and crony capitalism was led by Anna Hazare, a simple man with no political or pecuniary ambitions.

The political struggle for freedom from British Rule was led by Gandhi's trusted lieutenant Pandit Nehru. The political struggle from corruption, nepotism and crony capitalism is led by Hazare's trusted lieutenant Arvind Kejriwal.

Gandhi advised Nehru to disband the Congress Party after independence. Nehru refused. Hazare advised Kejriwal not to join politics. He refused.

Opposition to the Struggle

India's struggle for freedom from British Rule had to defeat the opposition from the princely states and other privileged classes (the Westernized Oriental Gentlemen) and the British. Aam Admi's struggle for freedom from corruption, nepotism and crony capitalism is opposed by almost all Indian political leaders, government servants, traders, business houses and multinational companies.

Reasons for Success

India's struggle for freedom from British Rule succeeded partly because of its leaders but mainly because of the millions of known and unknown freedom fighters who smilingly gave their all for the cause. Aam Admi's struggle for freedom from corruption, nepotism and crony capitalism will succeed if their leaders are determined to selflessly continue the struggle and if the people of India display the same commitment to freedom and are willing to make the same kind of sacrifices which our forefathers made to gain "Swaraj'.

Conclusion

My friends and countrymen! Lend me your ears. You stand at the crossroads of history. What you do will make the difference between a democracy that is of the privileged, by the privileged and for the privileged or a democracy that is of the people, by the people and for the people.

Aam Admi Party may not win majority in this election. But every seat it wins will put the corrupt and the privileged on the defensive and reduces corruption, nepotism and crony capitalism. Every seat it wins will make it difficult for the privileged to make the Aam Admi their unwilling "Das" (servant) or "Dasi" (maid servant).

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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