From the poor and downtrodden slum dwellers to the uber social business class residents in Antillas, the rant is one and the same, “System Kharab hein yaar!” To mend the ‘Kharab’ system, post reform India has witnessed a flurry of activists drumming up support to further their cause promising a land flowing with milk and honey. But most of these movements have lost steam in the course of time or have been restricted to certain pockets in the country. Of late most hyped 'India Against Corruption' movement did have the right combo in principle to change the system in Indian context but it turned out to be a pathetic flop in its execution. For the youth bubbling with energy and are intellectually armed, socially oriented and have passion and conviction to make a change, the principles used in the movement shines forth as the ultimate reference point.
Here are the salient features of this well planned and meticulously thought out movement which fell from grace in the sight of the people because somewhere down the line even the people realised that the 'Purpose' had been deviated from. The knowledge of this is helpful in bringing about a change in the Indian ‘Kharab’ system.
Exploit the Context
To launch a movement the prevailing mood in the society plays a decisive role. The IAC movement took off from the 2G launch pad acquiring a 4G speed. Witnessing the country being plundered mercilessly by corrupt politicians and the memories of Arab spring still fresh, the people craved for an outlet to express their anger against the corrupt system. At this juncture ‘India Against Corruption’ pitched in as the outlet to channel peoples hatred against the government.
The Mascot and Tagline
For any brand or mega event, a mascot or the brand ambassador symbolically represents and magnetically attracts people with their mass appeal. Even though India Against Corruption was the mastermind of a few renowned, the movement fizzled off rather quickly. The Gandhi topi became a ‘style quotient’ and Satyagraha venues became a popular hangout location for the virtually obsessed city bred generation. For the villagers it was a nostalgic moment in revisiting the ways of the man who knew them better than any other Indian leader. The tagline ‘I am Anna’ also became an instant hit.
Rural and Urban Connect
India Against Corruption adopted an inclusive advertising strategy that included pasting posters in the brick walls in villages to posting information in virtual walls in facebook. For the cost conscious Indians, the idea of a ‘missed call’ to extend support was a ‘What an Idea Sirji’ move that struck the chord among the masses quickly. Shrewdly botched up corruption figures coupled with shrewdly prepared one liners and messages posted in blogs, twitter and facbeook along with SMS hoaxes led the people out from the comforts of vituality to the streets of reality.
The Men Behind
The people running the show under India Against Corruption banner were stalwarts in their field of activity. Very quickly they were successful in creating a division between politicians and civil society. The IPS, IIM, Lawyer tags associated with the key leaders and the ‘aam admi’ tag attached created a halo to pull people together. Thus they virtually declared themselves as the spokespersons of civil society proclaiming the mandate of 1.2 billion people.
The Sun Set
So why did this plan fail when in principle all the above mentioned factors provide the best frame work to change the ‘Kharab’ system.
The cause for failure of the Civil Society movement, is not the fundamental principles which it propagated but the mode and application.
The men behind the movement were overambitious at the sight of thousands taking to the streets. The strong basics of the movement remained but they erred in the later build up. Even though the people gave thumbs up initially when the leaders of the moment started taking elected representatives head on and started ridiculing, the wanton targeting of few leaders triggered the landslide. India Against Corruption may have dreamed of a mass uprising like Jasmine revolution of sorts but the corruption issue apart, they failed to understand the strength of the proven grand old Indian democratic system. Also, the invisible partners demanding their share of credit, the controversies surrounding the top leaders and the irresponsible statements played a crucial role in weakening the movement.
Let’s be the Change
Before dreaming of high profile acts like bringing government to the toes, the change makers should start with little things to change the ‘Kharab system.’ For the system to change, that attitude of the people has to change. Change doesn’t happen overnight. The dream of transforming the India with a movement that only calls for more trouble is foolishness. The change has to happen at the roots, only an organic growth will bring about a credible change. For anyone dreaming to change the ‘Kharab system,’ The principles of Civil Society movement has to be adopted from the root level, beginning with organizing like minded people, effectively using the online medium, being a contrasting presence at place of work and the like to bring about lasting change.
The change makers need not hit the streets with massive uprisings. It’s the little drops of water that make the mighty ocean. For example, a responsible and consistent blogging initiative would turn out to be a little drop that would act as a catalyst in creating the mighty ocean of change. Let our aim be high and actions grounded and realistic!
It is essential to understand that stray movements hold the people’s attention and can possibly even attract them in this fast paced Information Technology driven world but what we need to understand is the fact that in any country, there is nothing better than to work concomitantly with the Government rather than against it. The Government is comprised of the Elected Representative of the People.
Why can’t we place some more trust in the MPs we selected?
- Jeff Shawn
@jeffshawn on Twitter
The Writer is a Student of Philosophy and writes for the popular site Mutiny.in