Friday, September 9, 2011


Having spent 36 years in Orissa, any mention of Ratha Yatra at once brings to mind the early part of July, heat and high humidity and over 5 lakh devotees on the Badadanda (the great path) braving it all to have a glimpse of Lord Jagannaths’s Ratha or the chariot. It is faith and devotion in its purest form.

But today’s piece about Rath Yatra of another type- yesterday’s announcement of the veteran leader Shri Lal Krishan Advani that he is going to take out another Rath Yatra - this time to focus on the problem of corruption facing the country. Remember he is a vetern of Rath Yatras? The Sarathi (driver) of Shri Advani’s Rath (which really is a bus) must be getting ready to get the vehicle serviced and preparing for a long journey on the road.

First of all why not keep this ‘Yatra’ clearly distinct from Lord Jagannath’s Ratha Yatra and not christen it as “Rath Yatra” but call it something like, say Yatra against Corruption?

As is known, Shri Anna Hazare has already announced that he would be taking out a march or Yatra against corruption in the country. May be the two leaders would consult each other so that they are not doing ‘Yatras’ in the same area. One doesnt know at this stage if Anna’s Yatra would be from North to South of the country and the Advani Yatra from West to East or the other way round.

It is not unlikely that taking a cue from their leader, the MPs and MLAs belonging to Shri Advani’s party would take out such Anti-Corruption Yatras in their respective constituencies. And the ruling political party (which seems to be having very good prospects of becoming the future Opposition Party) MPs and MLAs too would be under pressure to take out such Yatras against corruption in their respective constituencies.

Likewise the NGOs would not be left far behind and they would also take out their Yatras. The Left Parties would surely launch their Yatras too but may term those as ‘Marches by the Workers and the Peasants’. Schools would vie with each other to take out such Yatras. The rating agencies would have a whale of a time coming out with facts figures and future projections of various yatras and deciding whose was the biggest.

Imagine what? There would be hundreds of Yatras against corruption crisscrossing the country at the same time. Would this not adversely impact the economic and academic activities in the country and push important social issues to the background, one might ask. “Dont you think we care too?” someone would roar in to explain, “after all we are doing this for eradicating corruption and speeding up development.” What can one say to this except giving a silent look of utter amazement at the explanation.

I remember when I was young there used to be a popular digestive called the “Rambaan Choorun” which was supposed to be the cure for all diseases. Perhaps there are some people who feel that taking out “Yatras’ is the sure shot remedy for all the ills facing the country.

If nothing else, we may at least end up in the Guiness Book of World Records as being the country which has had maximum number of Yatras in a year. Some smart researcher may do a Ph.D. on the "The Paradigm shift of strategies and the Socio-political impact of Yatras agains corruption in India"... ...

Should one not appeal to both Shri Advani and Shri Anna Hazare to take care of their health and not to overstrain themselves by taking such long avoidable journeys.

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