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Taking a Stand Against Corruption

Gauri Mundkur

Anna HazareAs with many developing nations, India is a country that seems to be getting in its own way and hurting any real growth that a country rich in human and intellectual capital can achieve. Just a few weeks ago, I tweeted about how I was rethinking being a patriotic expat because of an article I read about the high cost of doing business in India caused by corruption on many levels. The article detailed the investigation of charges by Canadian businessman against a politician over a major corruption racket over highway construction contracts. As someone who hails from India, I continue to be saddened by the lack of accountability that those who perpetuate and participate in corrupt practices enjoy.

However, recent events–specifically Anna Hazare's Anti Corruption Hunger Strike have changed my mind–it is uplifting to see that Indians are fighting not only for their country, but for themselves.

Anna Hazare, a social activist is being hailed as the modern day Mahatma Gandhi through his planned hunger strike against corruption which has been fueled by growing anger among the youth and middle class in India.

Everyone who lives or has lived in India knows that anything from getting a license of any kind to getting into university to getting a government contract requires greasing the right persons palms with some moolah. Growing up in India, it was often a part of our daily lives and was part of a vicious cycle that many people didn't know how to break.

According to an excerpt from a Financial Times article by James Lamont:

"As one Delhi-based businessman explained, the middle class are working harder and yet finding their goals - such as education or buying a house - further out of reach. The idea that politicians, bureaucrats and oligarch-like business leaders are plundering a growing national cake is increasingly intolerable to India's "squeezed middle", touching a nerve in a country whose economy is much changed over the past 20 years, but whose vote bank politics remain stuck in the past."

Anna Hazare was arrested before the strike could even begin to block his message - a move which only caused a chain reaction of events which led to wider support for his movement. Thousands of people took to the streets to demand he be released from jail in a move of solidarity that in my opinion India has not seen for a long time.

It is uplifting to see that a once seemingly indifferent middle class has been a key part of organizing and attending the rallies and the strike. Unsurprisingly, it is through the use of social media that Indians around the world have gathered to protest the rampant corruption that is getting in the way of the country's progress.

It will certainly be interesting to see how these events will impact the country in the near future. One can only hope that the efforts of Anna Hazare and his supporters will promote severe prosecution of corrupt officials and businessman.  Many people are still unsure whether the hunger strike and rallies will have a desired effect overall; however it is a step in the right direction by people who care about their country and their future.

Taking a stand against corruption in a country which has so much promise to continue growing as an economic power is not only heroic but incredibly patriotic.

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