Eighty seven. That was the position of the world's largest democracy in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranking for 178 countries in 2010 with a meagre CPI of 3.3 out of a maximum of 10. Not even a pass mark though we have many a hard-hitting extremist who boasts of this too — we are indeed better than our ‘frequently referred to' neighbour ranked way back at 143. While developments in science and technology project India as the ‘world's fastest emerging Superpower,' the truth of the hour is that corruption is taking its heavy toll on the country and is spreading wide. So who is responsible for the mess? Mr. X blames the system. Mrs. Y blames politicians and ‘Respectable' Mr. Z points the finger at the bureaucrats. Is it?

But the real culprits are the same people who constitute this democracy — including you, me, Mr. X, Mrs. Y and umpteen others. While we relax with a bowl of popcorn in front of the television set, watch the hoopla that the news channels show about Anna Hazare and his satyagraha and pass comments in his support, we often forget that the Gandhian out there risking his life for the country is just a start. One Anna Hazare cannot save India from the clutches of corruption. Thousands of supporters calling “Jai Hazare” cannot heal this country crippled by corruption. Remember it was not just when Gandhiji discarded his foreign clothes that the swadeshi freedom movement gained momentum; it was only when each and every Indian started wearing khadi were the ‘foreigners' alarmed.

This is my appeal to each and every Indian out there supporting Mr. Hazare — do you want his vision to be fulfilled? Do you sincerely pray that the efforts of the 73-year old Gandhian should not go in vain? Then this is the time. Next time when you pass on a ‘Gandhi' with a Rs.100 tag on it under the table in a government office, ask yourself, Am I being corrupt? When you and your lawyer put out a plan to show a lesser than true value for your land to evade taxes — ask yourself, wasn't it me who supported Hazareji? When you grease the palms of a policeman in a rush hour to reach your office in time, ask yourself, wasn't it me who shouted slogans for a corruption-free India?

It is when you, me, Mr. X and Mrs. Y realise this and start our ‘Mission' that the efforts of crusaders like Anna Hazare will reap fruits. It is only then that the anti-corruption movement will gain strength and momentum. Corruption starts not with the Prime Minister or the judiciary. It starts from the aam aadmi and it is his/her responsibility to root it out.

My question is — do you have the willpower to say “No. I will fight it in court” when you are demanded money near traffic lights? Do you have the mindset to say “No, I do not need it” when you are asked to pay the official for a water connection to your new house. Are you ready to smile and walk away from an office when an upturned palm reaches you for currency notes?

If your answer is ‘yes', then Annaji, your efforts will not be futile. A new India is on the rise!!!

(The writer's email id is aravindmenonk@gmail.com)

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