© Sanchayan Nath 2014

Source of Image1

Rochon & Mazmanian (1993) argue that the success of protest movements can be measured along three parameters –

a) success in policy change

b) “the  acceptance  of the  protesting  group  itself  as a  valid  representative  for  social  interests  that  are  newly  defined  as  legitimate”

c) change in social values – “By  changing  social  values,  movements  expand the range  of  ideas  about what  is  possible”

 

I use these three dimensions of movement success to conduct a simplistic perception-based-analysis of the Anna anti-corruption movement of 2013-14.

Critics can argue that I do not have sufficient data to validate my arguments. They may also argue that I may have missed out on a few other nuances. 

I agree. My endeavor here is merely exploratory.

 

The most visible benefits from the movement have been cornered by the BJP as is evident from their historical win during the Lok Sabha elections of last month.

While, the Anna movement did spawn out a political party in the form of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) – the electoral gains that accrued to this party were minimal. I do not want to go into a detailed analysis of why there is a mismatch between the huge expectations raised by the AAP and the immediate benefits that accrued to it.

 

What I want to do is answer three simple questions –

a) Did the Anna movement lead to policy change?

b) Did the movement legitimize the the role of the protestors?

c) Did the movement lead to a change in social values?

 

At a superficial level of analysis, the Anna movement did not lead to any policy change.  At the national level, the anti-corruption legislative action is in a stalemate. During its brief 49 day stint in the Delhi Assembly, the AAP wasn’t successful either.

The BJP as a political party is not considered to be a paragon of probity.  The newly elected BJP led government at the center, however, has formed a SIT for dealing with the black money problem.

 

In-spite of the apparent failure on the policy front, the Anna movement has legitimized the place of the AAP and its representatives as anti-corruption crusaders.  A large chunk of the population does support the party in this role – it may have won only about 1 to 2% of the popular vote during the elections – but, a large chunk of the Indian population does look up-to to it to perform some role as anti-corruption watchdogs.

 

Changes in social values take time. But, what the anti-corruption movement and the AAP has managed to do is create a flicker of hope in the minds of the Aam Junta – yes, there probably is some hope for India – maybe one day we will have political representatives who will take the larger interests of society into consideration.

 

I  believe that it is the responsibility of the AAP to take forward this hope to the next level.

 

Sources –

Rochon, T. R., & Mazmanian, D. A. (1993). Social movements and the policy process. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 75-87.

 

Source of Image –

1 – http://ts2.mm.bing.net/th?id=HN.608021190075089021&pid=15.1&H=225&W=160, accessed on the 4th of June, 2014.

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