Arvind Kejriwal’s Jharoo Brigade
Growing up in India, I found that the jharoo – broom made of grass – was ubiquitous in daily life. It was used in all homes, rich or poor, to restore order and beauty to the surroundings. Years have passed but the jharoo is still very much a part of daily Indian life, even being used in fancy resorts. In fact, it is even available in Indian stores in the US for those who still need their Indian broom! So it is fitting that the Aam Aadmi party has embraced this humble tool as a symbol to clean up the country.
A clean up is desperately needed. My beloved hometown of Delhi has taken such a bashing in the past year, reaching the nadir with the notorious title of ‘Rape Capital of India’. Things have spiraled out of control with security issues, bribes, corruption, traffic congestion, water and power scarcity. And then there was the stoic acceptance, the toleration of poor performance. I recall it was the most normal thing for the lights to go off in the middle of a family get-together. If you were affluent enough, your generator would kick in and lights would be restored with a momentary blink. If you were not, you could sit in darkness and the heat till the power was restored.
Now one hopes the jharoo fix will brush out all the cobwebs.
Arvind Kejriwal may be an IIT graduate but he’s totally comfortable wielding the jharoo to flush out corruption and ineptitude. As the Times of India wrote, ” One of the seven labors allotted to the Greek hero Hercules was the cleaning of the filthy Augean stables. Though even his staunchest supporters would hesitate to liken him to that legendary strongman, Arvind Kejriwal has taken upon himself an even more daunting clean-up job: that of ridding India of its chronic corruption. His Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has adopted the broom — the humble jharu of daily household use — as its official symbol.”
Arvind Kejriwal’s speech in the Assembly
AAP has started off on the right foot by being answerable to the people of Delhi. It was a thrill to see Kejriwal and his team take the common man’s limousine – the metro – for his swearing in ceremony as chief minister of Delhi which was held in the vast Ramlila grounds, open to one and all. There was no VIP seating, even his own family sat with the huddled masses. Kejriwal has touched a chord with his countrymen by not accepting a palatial governmental bungalow and by announcing the end of the ‘lal batti’ culture of privilege – all this would have been unimaginable a year ago.
More compassion, more empathy, more common sense – Delhi’s best days lie ahead.
Assembly Proceedings or Live Cricket Match?
The access to more water and power is a wonderful start, even while some may be cynical and label it as a populist move. (It might have been better for there to be some fee, a nominal fee, for people seem to value what they actually pay for.) I never thought I’d be excited about public toilets but I am – just think of the possibilities for thousands of people who’ve had little access to this most basic of necessities.
“The Aam Aadmi now has the confidence of the Delhi Assembly. 37 people voted in favor of the agenda of the common people. 32 opposed it,” said Kejriwal. “Our work for the people will continue. I have stated on record, in the house, that no form of corruption will be tolerated, regardless of who indulges in it. Our next priority is the passage of the strong Lokayukta bill for Delhi. Your support is crucial. Together we will make a difference.”
“Great show and for the first time lot of people are following an assembly proceeding similar to a live cricket match,” wrote a supporter on Facebook. Indeed, for the first time there is an excitement about political change, about the possibilities of each one’s voice being heard.
While we start every January hoping for a better year, 2014 seems the year when many idealistic dreams and wishes may actually pan out. To have heard Arvind Kejriwal’s speech in the house was to get a feeling of euphoria, of hope that things are finally moving in the right direction.
The Jharoo Brigade may actually inspire a nationwide movement and what’s to stop it going international? Think of all the governments in countries across the world which could really clean up their act by not dealing with politics as usual and for once thinking of the people they are meant to serve.
As we keep our fingers crossed for the success of the AAP movement, we might try the Jharoo Technique in our own lives too. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if each one of us could clear out, in our own lives, the ego, the lethargy, the compromises, the indifference to larger issues? Let’s pick up the jharoo!
Check out: Aam Aadmi Party