NOTE: I have used the word
OPPONENT = Govt and their opposition (Since we do not value the support of any political party or politician)
1) Education about the Movement: This is my observation – some of us who support this movement don’t really know how our demands have changed with the time and circumstances. We need a visual, simple to understand, chronological record of events. I am sure we can find skills that can do this amongst our supporters around the country.
2) Educate the vote-bank: We must have imagined some politician say this, “I can’t care about you and this movement, if it fails to move my vote bank away from me”. And I think some politician must have had the nerve to say this out loud by now. But we should remember to thank him for reminding us what really matters to our opponents. Understanding the people on the other end is an essential clue to how we can win this war against corruption.
3) Education about Civil Disobedience and Non-violence: We are lucky to be here in this moment in world history. I don’t know of a time in world history where so many people from different countries, of different cultures have employed Civil Disobedience in their own ways to demand or bring about change in their own communities ( country/states/city/villages,etc ), big and small (Arab Spring, Budrus ). We have living examples to observe and learn, evaluate, tweak and implement. Brainstorm on new ways and methods. We have to re-educate and constantly remind ourselves of what Non-Violence and Civil Disobedience is and literally practice it. I have heard that in the Black Civil Rights led by Martin Luther King, people would get together to enact how they would have to react non-violently in preparation for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. You would be nudged, pushed, shoved to the back of the bus, but you should resist the need to react violently and refused to stay in the back of the bus. This might sound drastic, but these values have to be repeated so many times to be engrained in our psyche. Almost like a sermon.
Re-evaluation/Review: Let us look back in to the past few months, pick a date from which we think the movement had gathered significant momentum. Systematically review and objectively re-evaluate all the events, our conduct, our demands, the consequences and the counter offers. If we have lost steam/sense of direction, we have made a major fundamental mistake somewhere in this orchestration. We did not lack in intent. We did not lack in enthusiasm. We did not fail in drawing attention. It is possible we lacked in our assessment of our opponent’s (Govt and their opposition) next possible moves. If we have got someone to compare the proposed bill to a “noose around our necks” in full view of the media, we definitely did a whole lot of things right. But, knowing where we could have done better can help us in really doing better as we move ahead – irrespective of what direction we decide to move in.
It will not be a bad idea to spend some effort to consult people like Arun Gandhi (http://gandhiinstitute.org/) - I recently heard his interview on an American Radio Show and when questioned about what he thought of the movement here. I felt his answers would perhaps give us a few pointers to finding out what the flaws were. We could benefit from an outsider’s view to this – don’t know who these people could be - Mark Rudd(may be), if they are willing to observe this movement as a case study. [In the hope, the future generations will not just have events to study from but a scientific analysis of these different cases of non-violent protests. It will not just encourage Non-Violent means of protests but also create ambassadors. ]
Strategy: In doing the last two, we would have gained clarity and a heightened awareness that would help us chart out strategies, fully taking advantage of cards we are dealt with, the time and the needs of our opponents at the time. We have to brainstorm and explore other means of garnering attention and newer forms Non-Violent Civil Disobedience. We have to look beyond candle light marches and fasts. Think of innovative means. The other thing I feel we should do, is run separate and distinct strategies in parallel. There is another big odd against this movement – the complacent Indian attitude – there has to be a number of initiatives that should focus on attempting to change it, without seeming very obvious.
Collaborate: It is a good idea to have collaborative projects with other local causes. Come up with innovative ideas – it gets both causes attention and both can benefit from the synergy.
Mathematics: The war against corruption is one of numbers. There are people for corruption, then there are the ones against it and then there are the people who can’t take a side or don’t wish to take a side for whatever reasons. We apart from focussing on the immediate need to ensure the bill in its current form is not passed, have to also have smaller focus groups/think-tanks that will channelize efforts in educating people to take a side – we don’t tell them which side to take, but instead make them understand why this is their business.
Then the other mathematical aspect of this war, is that this problem is so huge that we find it difficult to simplify its understanding to the level that the less-fortunate, uneducated, disconnected people would be able to understand it. Break it down to the level that the people who add up to make the vote-bank will understand why this should matter to them. Best done diagrammatically. I have an idea in my head, but I need the help of a cartoonist or an artist to help translate it into paper.
Common conduct and Value system: The movement had to suffer a few setbacks because of a lack of common code of conduct. There should be a common agreed understanding of the values we stand for. Remember, the very stand against corruption, though we are focussing on how money is siphoned off from the system and people are swindled, is actually one that is rooted in our values and ethics. If we can’t set that right in us, how will we be able to confidently stand up against such evil.
Flat Leadership: This is so important, that I would have mentioned it first. This is how I felt seeing the growth of this movement – proud, hopeful, confident, enthusiastic. But there was this one feeling that I am still not able to put to rest. If it isn’t for Anna, if isn’t for Arvind... if it isn’t for XYZ... this movement will lose steam and cease to exist. Meaning that this movement will breath, literally, as long as these people breath. This is a failure in the making. Along with reminding people that this issue is closer to their home that they think it is, we should also embed a sense of ownership in them. We all share the same idea, but we have got together to collaborate and co-operate towards a common goal. I am as responsible for making this work as much as you are. Just as I may learn a few things from you, so will you from me. What we need are not a flock of sheep that obediently follow a shepherd, but a colony of ants with their own individual skills coming together to become a single minded strong being.