India’s August Kranti 2.0
Indians cannot ignore social media in future andolans (campaigns) and anshans (fasts).
- September 2011
- By TRI Editors
Anti-corruption campaign awakens India’s middle class … Anna Hazare captures the imagination of an entire nation ... Anna fires the imagination of angry India … These were some of the headlines hitting the newspapers and magazines in the country in the week ensuing the arrest of Anna Hazare, the 74-year old crusader against corruption from Ralegaon Siddhi village of Maharashtra, by the Delhi Police on August 16 in an effort to quell his campaign for the Jan Lokpal (people’s ombudsman) Bill.
Ever since Delhi has been under siege. There have been massive protests in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and several other parts of the country. Over a million people have participated in the protests at the campaign sites since August 16 and it continues as this article goes in print. It is not that this movement was the first with such a large participation. The farmers’ agitations in the late 1980s saw around half a million people participating in the agitation. The Sampoorna Kraanti (total revolution) movement of Jaya Prakash Narayan in 1975 saw people participation in 100,000. What is significant about this agitation is that it has been held in the world of digital and social media. It shows how to leverage the power of the new social media to do something that really matters and how to succeed. According to Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, authors of The Dragonfly Effect, power of social media for social good can be harnessed by blending the theory underlying social change and the applications of social media that comprises the four wings of focus, grab attention, engage, and take action (as described in their book through the Dragonfly Effect Model.).
HATCHING THE GOAL
“The social media platform today is very powerful and is important for every activity. It is a thing without which none can move forward or spread information effectively,” says Shivendra Chauhan, deputy editor, Times Internet Limited (TIL) at Navbharat Times, who has been the brainchild behind the social media activities of Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption campaign. He works closely with Arvind Kejriwal, a core member of Anna Hazare’s team. He has been instrumental in creating a massive following of people and building the India Against Corruption brand. He and his team own the Facebook page, also called, “India Against Corruption” (www.facebook.com/indiacor) and the Twitter hash tag #janlokpal (www.twitter.com/janlokpal), both of which have 81,000 and 462,000 followers worldwide, respectively.
“During the era of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, they had their own newspapers which became their voices and mobilized the people of India. But we cannot afford to do that, hence we have leveraged a very effective media – the social media and some other technologies such as e-mails and SMSes,” he says.
The roots of the movement against corruption were sowed during the Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2010 itself, as Chauhan with a few other people moved ahead from writing blogs on the Internet to creating a Facebook page called the “Commonwealth Jhel”. This page was aimed at highlighting the corruption prevailing within the organizing committee of CWG and expose the people involved.
After their October efforts, Chauhan met Arvind Kejriwal through Kapil Mishra, who was also an activist fighting against corruption in India, and is also author of the book It’s Common versus Wealth. A team of around 10-12 members had prepared an informal petition to push the government to present a strong Lokpal Bill in the winter session of the Parliament. It was around this time that they seriously started working on the anti-corruption movement and rallies. The term “India Against Corruption” was coined by Arvind Kejriwal, and the logo, which the social media pages now sport, was conceptualized by Chauhan who was sure that creating a brand entity would help spread the word over the social media in a grander way.
Credit: Sanjay Raghav