Walking in Gandhi’s footsteps in the fight against corruption
When they were just a few years old, they marched with Gandhi against the laws of an oppressing regime. This weekend a few of the veterans from the 1930 salt march took to the streets again. They were protesting against the democratic government for which they had once fought. The latest nationwide battle is against corruption.
This weekend’s protest has been dubbed the second Dandi march. During the original Dandi March in March 1930, only men were allowed to walk with Gandhi. But this time, all of Mumbai was invited to protest against corruption.
**Season of scams**
Hundreds of Mumbaikers came out to protest the endless stream of stories of official corruption. India’s media has labeled the past 18 months as India’s season of scams, with some of the country’s biggest frauds coming to light. There was the misappropriation of money in the commonwealth games, then the news of government ministers getting rich from the 2G telephone frequencies allocation.
Organizer of the Dandi March, Ruben Mascarenhas says that Indian people take these scams personally. *”On a daily basis, people face extortion. When you get your passport registered you need to pay a fee. When you have to legalize your rent agreement they ask for an extra fee. When you refuse, you are made to wait for day for your documents.”*
Mascarenhas is part of the India Against Corruption movement, which is lobbying the government to create an independent commission to address corruption. Recent news of corruption charges being filed against the supreme court of justice in Sikkim, make establishing such a body all the more relevant.
**Walking with Gandhi**
When Navneet Patel was just four years of age his freedom fighter father took him along on Gandhi’s march. Patel later became involved with the youth section of freedom fighters, which landed him in jail on several occasions. Now 84, Patel is still critical of Indian society.
*”I don’t think we have reached all our goals which we were fighting for together with Gandhi,”* he says. *”We have improved, but there is still a lot lacking today. Money makes people corrupt. The reason we are here today is to fight corruption which is the biggest problem we are facing at the time.”*
The march wound through the posh Mumbai suburb of Bandra, which is nothing like the orginal route Gandhi walked. But in his memory, Navneet Patel can still see the ghost of the Mahatma leading the people toward a better India.
*With contributions of Chhavi Sachdev, freelance journalist and Kainaz Amaria photojournalist. Both are based in Mumbai.*