As a kid, whenever I sat down to do my homework, it felt like I was doing someone a big favor. The only thing I ever got in return was for all the trouble was “no punishment”. Now what kind of an incentive is “no punishment”? I knew right away, that life isn’t fair but luckily I found a way around.
I realized saying things like “I won’t eat till I get a new pencil box to complete my math homework” or “I won’t eat unless you let me watch TV for half an hour” usually gets good returns. And it worked for the first few times. When I was eight years old, I started a similar hunger strike but my Mom shot back saying “Fine, sleep hungry and get punished at school tomorrow!” That was the moment I was convinced that "not-eating" is not a good strategy to get things done in the adult world! Clearly, I am not cut out for Indian politics!
Notes on Anna
Unlike a lot of young people in India, I did not get all worked up about my support for Anna Hazare’s successful fast-unto-death. By the time I found time to do some research and pick a side, it was all over...
I am absolutely convinced about Anna Hazare’s good intentions but a little disillusioned with the solutions he proposed. Let’s not delve into details. I can't help but notice that hunger strikes still remain the most potent weapon in Indian politics. It is probably the most important legacy of Gandhi after the hundreds of M.G Roads with potholes and tons of black money with his face printed on it!
|A professional hunger-striker?|
Why are hunger strikes considered to be peaceful? Isn’t it an insanely passive aggressive thing to do? You are threatening to kill yourself for heaven’s sake! By what stretch of imagination is threatening to kill a person peaceful? I agree it is better than threatening to kill other people but that makes it only “relatively peaceful” or put it in a better way “peaceful only when quoted out of context!” Why do we omit the relative part of it?
Although Anna’s fast was ‘Gandhian’ in every sense of the term and not even a window pane was broken as a consequence of his fast, it is not the case for most of the hunger strikes that happen. For most politicians it is just a wonderful way to get a lot of attention, re-energize their bases and pump some enthusiasm into their party workers and basically kick some political ass!
Hunger Strikes as a Choreographed Media Event
Hunger strikes (especially when politicians do it) are always accompanied by enforced bandhs. Enforced bandhs as we all know makes traffic worse. Plus, there is always a chance for sporadic violence and ‘stuff’ burning activities where stuff begins with an effigy and ends with a fresh fleet of Volvo buses! If you play it safe and stay at home, you have to live with the News anchors on TV going frenzy and blazing live visuals of ugly-looking politicians sitting under a tree and not eating while better looking Bollywood celebs voice their support to the cause!
We see at least one major league politician go on a hunger strike every two or three months. Isn’t it vaguely suspicious that politicians never die in one of these fast-unto-deaths? Isn’t there enough evidence to suggest that not eating will lead to death? I decided to do some research on hunger strikes and I have some interesting results.
An Illustrated History of Hunger Strikes
Given that hundreds of people have got themselves into fasts-unto-death and that not all of them are successful, one wonders why the over all number of deaths is surprisingly low at four!
Why are politicians not dying of hunger?
Whenever a politician goes on a fast – his colleagues and the media are instantly worried about his health. Just after a couple of days, the docs shift him to a hospital and “force” feed him intravenously. Now that’s cheating isn’t it?
The whole point of a fast is to degenerate the body slowly by denying all nutrition. By injecting glucose water (with all the essential proteins and vitamins) into the bloodstream, they’re not denying nutrition to the body. They’re just cutting out the middleman (i.e. the digestive system) from the nutrition cycle! Technically it’s just dieting!
You see, fasting is a relatively simple game. There is only one rule: “Do not eat!” but with the saline bottles and the injections, it has been reduced to “You may eat but not with your hands!” making it very easy to pull off political stunts with choreographed media coverage which sometimes may involve the channels flashing the hunger-striker’s blood pressure and blood glucose levels live on TV!
P.S: I have written most of this post way back in December and have been waiting for someone to go on an indefinite hunger-strike. What can I say, I am like that!