Chinese Press after Hazare’s Hunger Strike: Indian Society “stable”, not “turning”

China Radio International‘s (中国国际广播电台, CRI) Chinese Service1) reports that Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare (安纳·哈扎雷, in Chinese characters) has ended his hunger strike against corruption.

India’s leading anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare ended his hunger strike on Sunday morning in New Delhi, after 288 hours, announcing that the government accepted his team’s three key principles. This website’s [CRI’s website] contacted CRI’s correspondent in New Delhi, Wang Chao (王超), who explains Hazare’s campaign.

Reporter: Shortly after 10:00 am on August 28, Hazare ended his hunger strike. After 288 hours without food, he drank a small cup of coconut water with some honey, thus officially ending his hunger strike. With tsunami-like cheers from tens of thousands of his supporters, Hazare said that the government had finally accepted his three big principles concerning corruption, and this was the victory of the entire people. But he also emphasized that this was not the end, and that he was ending his hunger strike only temporarily. There was more work for him and the people ahead, such as improvements of India’s electoral system.

It should be said that Hazare ending his hunger strike was the result of concessions mutually made by India’s political forces. The [federal] government led by Manmohan Singh had faced unprecedented pressure, and a refusal to make concessions could have led to a deterioration in the course of events. At the same time, as the government showed good faith, opposition parties, including left-wing parties and prominent members of society, gradually persuaded the campaigner to end his hunger strike, to avoid a deadlock.
应该说,哈扎雷结束绝食是印度政坛各方势力互相妥协的结果。在绝食进行到第10天左右的时候,辛格领导的政府面临空前的压力,如果再不做出让步,事件有可 能会朝着恶化的方向发展。同时,在政府不断释放出善意的前提下,所有支持哈扎雷的反对党和左翼政党以及一些知名的社会人士也纷纷劝说哈扎雷尽快结束绝食抗 议,以防止事件进入僵局。

On August 27, after a day of heated debate, the Indian parliament’s upper and lower house  took a vote and accepted the Hazare team’s three key principles to fight corruption, including the establishment of a “citizen charter”, broadening of anti-corruption monitoring, the inclusion of more low-level official into the monitoring, and the establishment of independent supervisory bodies both centrally and locally, etc.. Prime minister Manmohan Singh immediately informed Hazare about the outcome of the debate, and asked him to end his hunger strike right away. Hazare immediately agreed and delivered on his prominence in the morning of August 28 by ending his hunger strike.

Moderator: How, in your view, will things develop from here?

Reporter: As far as I can see, although the government has accepted the three big principles, the parliament’s standing committee still has to review the [parliament’s] resolution, waiting for final suggestions. The parliament’s work is very slow; and every segment will have to be go through repeated debate [this refers to parliamentary readings – JR], and can be adjourned every so often. Therefore, this victory in parliament, I guess, is still a long way from the final passage of an anti-corruption bill. Also, from my daily observations, even if the anti-corruption bill is passed smoothly, and Hazare’s concepts are all implemented, will this spell the cure for Indian corruption, down to the roots? I think there is no definite answer yet. There has been corruption in India for a long time. It can be found in every corner of Indian society, and simply passing a tough bill won’t solve the problem. So, all things considered, there is still a long way to go from Hazare’s victory to a real end to corruption. But at least, people have made headway again in the anti-corruption efforts, and see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Moderator: What does the Hazare phenomenon mean for Indian society? Does it spell social participation? Or is it a turning point in Indian society?

Reporter: One should say that Hazare’s victory represents a new model. The participation of the people and discussion will gain more momentum. Justice minister Shri Salman Khushid said that social groups2) will play an ever more important role in the process of legislation, and in the land requisitions and food safety bills ahead, the people will have the right to express their own views. These are in fact two bills I’m watching closely, no matter if land requisition or food safety issues, there are no small complaints within Indian society, and there are a lot of things the people want to say. How will these views be conveyed? How will the voices within society influence the government’s fnal decisions? These questions are worth continuous observation. As for what some Western media said, that Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign could lead to a new turning point in Indian societal change, I believe that from my daily observation and exchanges with Indian officials, scholars, and ordinary people, that Hazare’s movement has had an improving effect, as the structure of Indian society has proven relatively stable, and the phrasing of a turning point lacks supporting evidence.
记者:应该说哈扎雷的这次胜利在印度又塑造了一个新的楷模,民间团体的参政议政现象将会得到进一步提升。在哈扎雷的这次胜利之后,印度司法部长萨尔 曼就表示说,社会团体将会在未来的立法过程中扮演更加重要的作用,在接下来的有关土地征用和食品安全等法案的制定过程中,民众们有权利表达他们自己的观 点。实际上这也是我个人非常关注的两个法案,无论是对于土地征用问题还是食品安全问题,目前印度社会都有着不小的抱怨,民众有许多话要说。这些观点将会被 怎样的传达?民间的声音将如何影响政府最终的决定?这些问题都值得进一步的观察。
而关于此前部分西方媒体所说的哈扎雷的反腐运动可能会导致印度社会变革新拐点的出现,应该说从我日常的观察以及和印度官员、学者以及普 通百姓交流的情况来看,哈扎雷的运动起到的是一个改良的效果,印度社会本身的架构体系相对来说还是比较稳定的,拐点一说缺乏足够的论据支撑。

Moderator: Last question, beyond this issue – hunger strikes are apparently very popular in India. How can one know that it’s a genuine hunger strike? We know that you have been to the scene of Hazare’s hunger strike, how do you feel about it?


Reporter: In India, if Hazare goes on a hunger strike and is nationally watched, or if a student is dissatisfied with the examination system, they may resort to a hunger strike. I have previously been at a loss about how to know if people on a hunger strike are really going without food. That was until last year when a friend from  Jawaharlal Nehru University told me that several students who couldn’t graduate under the system in place were protesting with a hunger strike. I went there to see what was happening. After they had declared their hunger strike, the government sent doctors who would regularly check their health, take blood samples, and if the students had secretly taken food, it would have been discovered very quickly.

During Hazare’s nationwide protest movement, I have been to the scenes in New Delhi and Mumbai, and among the protesters, two feelings seemed to be prevalent. There were those who were dissatisfied with official corruption, but without seeing real political demands and goals very clearly. They were happily in the streets, waving banners, shouting slogans and marching forward, like on a big party. My second impression was that younger and middle-income people were the main force in the protests, as corruption is palpable everywhere in their daily lives. A student gave me an example. One of his undergraduate fellow students wanted to go to France in a students exchange program, but after half a year, his passport still hadn’t been issued. If this was to go on, his exchange project could have been cancelled, and he therefore bribed the department in charge to obtain his passport. If a students exchange has to be resolved by bribe, bribery certainly has a big effect on these peoples’ lives. They perfectly understood Hazare’s demands, and this was a great opportunity. You can say that it is exactly these kinds of forces within society which helped Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign to gain victory.





1) CRI broadcasts (and probably their website, too) mainly target audiences abroad – overseas students, and overseas Chinese people in general – (many of the subscribers to CRI’s Standard Chinese educational program, Kongzi Xuetang, appear to be children of overseas Chinese families). Some hundred other websites, from Phoenix TV (Hong Kong) to Anhui Daily (安徽日报, Anhui province) have put the interview online since it first appeared on CRI Online at 6:11 am local time.

2) I’m not sure what would be the best translation for 社会团体 – “social groups” is just my workaround. Your suggestions for better translation would be welcome.



» Hazare rests after Fast, BBC, August 29, 2011
» India, Philippines, Vietnam, August 20, 2011
» Tell Us Who You Bribed, June 13, 2011


16 Responses to “Chinese Press after Hazare’s Hunger Strike: Indian Society “stable”, not “turning””

  1. Oh my. How much do you charge for translating from Chinese to English? If you’re based in China, I think I’d be very happy to work with you.

    The Chinese text should be a translation of the English original. In the Chinese context, “社会” is used as opposed to the government, its instrumentalities, agencies and even state owned companies. In short, everything that is not related to government it “social”. I consulted all my English dictionaries and they don’t give such distinction. Maybe, “civil groups” is a better choice.


  2. How much do you charge for translating from Chinese to English?
    Ha! Nothing at all, when it comes to this blog. But then, I took a two-days break from blogging after this translation, as I definitely hadn’t kept to my time budget on Monday. In everyday l life, I rarely do translations.

    I think the issue with 社会 is similar to the one you discussed on your blog some time ago. Jun Jie, a blogger from southwestern Germany, does translations, and he’s struggling to find a German translation for social, in the context of web 2.0. Then again, he’s not struggling hard enough to look at the intent of everyone as the price per word translated apparently isn’t high enough.

    Geez. If that’s how translation works these days, I guess I’ll have to learn Russian to read those novels in their original language.


  3. It’s actually several years back when I discussed 社会. To my amazement, lots of Chinese people cannot distinguish between “country” and “state” and about as many don’t know 社会 means, i.e. they haven’t formed mental relationships between 社会 and the thing the writer or speaker opposes 社会 to.


  4. Here is a post (of mine) you might find interesting, it’s language-related, again:


  5. Yes, I read your post yesterday night, and got the clue that mian would refer to the penal code, rather than to fiscal policies and tax exempts. But I have no idea what 放你一马 means. Can you explain?


  6. Well, actually, Mian applies to almost everything related to responsibility, legal, financial, or moral. It means “exempt from responsibility”. The journalist with the People’s Daily doesn’t seem to understand that, if the standing committee of NPC writes the income tax threshold into law, it means the taxpayers automatically don’t have the responsibility to pay income tax if their monthly income is below that threshold. If there is no responsibility in the first place, mian is not the right word because it only applies to existing responsibility.

    If some Chinese guy tells you that he will 放你一马 this time, he means he will make things easy on you though you have done something that warrants punishment from him. It can also be a warning against other wrong things you might want to do. Next time you do wrong, he won’t make things easy on you, if he chooses to do so.


  7. … if he chooses not to do so.


  8. Literally, it means that the guy (who guards a city gate) will let your horse (and you) pass (through the gate, for example). This expression should date to ancient time when horses were a main form of traffic and transportation.


  9. That’s my personal and logic understanding. I’ve found no clue online.


  10. Some online commenters suggested a few years ago that fàng nǐ yī mǎ would stem from the Battle of the Red Cliff story within 三国演义 – Guan Yu releases Cao Cao. Given your bookshelf, you will know the story (it should be chapter 25). To me, it’s new, of course. And “fang ni yi ma” seems to sound too casual to be the original wording.
    Can you verify?


  11. The online comment that got me there was on baidu zhidao.


  12. I found that comment, too. But it cannot convince me. If someone can fang ni yi ma, they are in a position of authority, they can choose to let your horse pass or not “every time”. Guan Yu wouldn’t have a second chance of almost catching Cao Cao.

    Off to help my father in law find a new cellphone to buy. Will check the chapter later.


  13. It turned out to be in chapter 50. Guan Yu only ordered “四散摆开” (roughly, disperse and re-assemble) to his soldiers to make way for Cao Cao and his soldiers to pass.


  14. Thanks for reading the chapter up, Huolong! I leant my copy of 三国演义 to someone else a few months ago (can’t really read the old novels anyway), and will take a look myself, too, once I have it back. Meantime, I guess I’ll add 放你一马 to my phrasebook later today.



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