Notes From/ About A ‘Revolution’

April 11, 2011 at 9:15 PMApr (Activism, Cinema, Friends, Letter, Media, Music, Musings, Slice Of Life)

I said, “I express my solidaity with Anna Hazare. But it makes me uncomfortable to notice that the 10 year fast of Irom Sharmila doesn’t get the same kind of support and attention.” Anand replied, “This is the Jessica Lal crowd.” That said it all.

Not to say that justice for Jessica Lal is not important. It is. But it is sad that there is no such mass support and demand for ‘Justice for Manorama’ and ‘Justice for Priyanka Bhotmange’. But when it is for Jessica Lal, it wakes up the entire middle class. Similarly there was something ‘middle-class’ about the support that Anna Hazare got for the movement against corrpution. Corruption, is the preoccupation and an enemy, in daily conversations, of the middle-class. So a campaign and movement against corruption automatically gains immense support from the middle-class. Yes, justice for Jessica Lal was also important and fight against corruption is also important.

I feel that when the fight is against politicians we happily extended our support and show solidarity. Because the enemies are the politicians. But when the enemy is the state, we would not even let the matter register in our minds. Because there is identification of the self with the state. So what is called as national interest becomes more important, however absurd it is and however inhumane it is to our fellow humans and fellow countrymen. So, obviously there is no mass support for Irom or Binayak Sen but there is a ‘revolutionary’ support for Anna Hazare.

Because it is important and becuase it has attracted majority of the middle class, our media- which according to me is a national shame- went on to portray the Anna Hazare fast as a revolution. By the body language of the tv anchors, by the force of their language and by the time alloted to the coverage of the Anna Hazare fast, it did appear like a revolution. As Manu Joesph points out, in his article i the open magazine, there was a lot of media friendly performances and spectacle in the fast, which was giving a lot of ‘visuals’ for the television media. But the media, to the best of my knowledge, did not go to analyse the Janlokpal bill nor tell us what was the difference between Anna and Aruna Roy. The slightly unudemocratic nature of the selction of Ombudsmen was not highlighted nor questioned by the mainstream media. Thanks to the article and analyses by Shuddhabrat Sentgupto in Kafila website which showed this to us.

All the media kept doing was give the middle-class people a feeling that there was some revolution was happening of which they were also a part by sending sms and giving missed calls. Giving missed calls? Yes. This happned when i was having tea with a couple of friends discussing the candle light march that was to take place that evening. Another friend comes to me and asks me to note a number. I asked whose number was it. He asked me to note the number and give a missed call to that particular number. When asked what the matter was, he said: If you give a missed call your protest against corruption and your support for Anna Hazare will be registered. My jaws dropped. Missed call protest was something which i had never heard of or thought of in my wildest nightmares. But may be as a friend argued it becomes important at times to show our strength in numbers. But what the missed call protest reflected to me was a lack of imagination in the protest and in the movement.

The candle light march that evening was highly energetic, i must say. It was organized by the students of a University town. I did go for the march with a few friends. There was anger, there was enery and there was strength in the march. But it appeared to me that the march was more like a reaction and not an action. Sorry, for i am a born cynic and skeptic. Yes, it was more like a reaction and not an action. As i marched i went on making connections between the middle-class nature of the movement the involvement of the youngsters who by now are charged up in a patriotic mood because of the world cup victory and the kind of hollowness and lack of imagination in the protest which is more of a reaction and not an action.

Seeing the students hold the plucards and crying slogans i was reminded of a smiliar mood in the air of the same town few years ago, when i had seen many students- getting trained to be doctors- preapring posters against reservation. Once the images of those days flashed before my eyes, i asked myself if the same crown would join together if anyone called for a candlelight march demanding for reservation? I knew the answer. One of our impoatant poets Meena Kandasamy had rightly asked the question on the day Anna Hazare was to start his fast. Would Anna fast for the equalitry of dalits and will the people of this nation support him for that adn would the media give similar coverage, had asked Meena. Responding to Meena i had mailed her a report from The Hindu on 71 adviasis starting a hunger strike in a jail in Orissa on the day Anna Hazare was to start his fast. Why dint the media speak about the hunger strike of 71 adivasis?

This flow of thoughts stopped me from signing the letter to the President, which was read out once the march had reached the quadrangle of the college. As the students who participated in the march were signing the letter, the music player started functioning. The song from the film Yuva was being played. I was expecting the songs of Rang De Basanthi to follow because the film Rang De Basanthi would have suited the reaction like protest. But RDB songs was not played as a boy came running and announced, “The bill has been passed.” There was screaming and shouting to celebrate the so called victory without asking “How could the bill get passed?” It appeared like a farce.

Farce was not just the solidarity march in other parts of the nation. But the performance at jantar mantar itself was a farce, with people like Baba Ramdev coming into the pciture. And not to forget to mention the bollywood stars. If the solidarity march played Yuva songs the main spot of action- Jantar Mantar- played songs from Lagaan (as shown in the news channels). Was there a lack of songs of protest and movement songs that one had to play the songs from films which by themselves are quite regressive in nature? And why were people like Baba ramdev encouraged? Not to say they have no right to protest or participate but Anna Hazare should have given some thought to the politics of identification, i believe. But sad, he not only encouraged people like Baba Ramdev and also praised more sickening people like Narendra Modi, once the so called victory was achieved. Anna, dont you realise that in the will to fight against one evil, you are taking the support and thus strengthening bigger evils?

The last nail on the coffin for the already disllusioned people about this movement was the breaking of the fast with Pepsi-Nimbooz!!! As i saw the footage of this on youtube i was reminded of what a friend told me the previous evening. My friend told me that she had overheard people talking in her office about a PR agency being hired for this anti corruption campaign/ movement. There were all reasons to believe it. But i did not want to believe as easily as clapping my hands. I asked my friend to collect more information and let me. But looking at the entire performance of this movement, i think i know what i will get to hear from my friend.

As the images of Pepsi-Nimbooz, Baba Ramdev’s presence, Modi being appreciated all flashed before my eyes one of the slogans that the students in the University town cried echoes in my ears- “Anna nahi yeh aandhi hai. Desh ka doosra Gandhi hai.” There was a poverty of imagination, lack of understanding, historical knowledge and memory in the slogan.

There is energy of the youth, there is fighting of corruption, there is revolution- reaction more than action, there is media, there is also a sense of victory. “How does it feel?”- an imaginary tv reporter asks me. I say, “it feels like walking out of a movie theater after watching yet another Rang De Basanthi.”

1 Comment

  1. chetana Teerthahalli said,


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