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Success of a Campaign

February 25, 2009

Over at Nanopolitan, Abi criticises (once, twice) the Mint over an editorial. Read both the posts to get the context of this one.

I have no comment to offer on the original campaign or the Mint editorial. However, I have a minor quibble with Abi’s “business case”:

By any yardstick, getting 50,000+ people to support a movement in less than 10 days is an amazing feat. That the Pink Chaddi campaign used its ideas, people, technology and resources so well to beat back — using chaddis as their non-violent weapon — a bunch of violent street thugs is a huge achievement. A clear victory for peaceful protest. For innovative thinking. For the mobilizing ability of those who put this campaign together. For women. And also for men who are not Muthalik, SRS goons or their supporters.

Mint cannot even bring itself to recognize this achievement. It calls it, grudgingly, “a victory of sorts.” Why? [Nanopolitan]

Because getting more than 50k Facebook users to join an on-line group is really, really far from “success” in any meaningful way. Calling it a “victory of sorts” is rather generous, if you ask me.

Joining an on-line group or signing an on-line petition is a zero-cost way of registering one’s “protest”. In fact, sending lightweight parcels is also a very low-cost method (which is probably why the campaign used this strategy to brilliant effect – hats off to them for that).

I would have loved to see how many people would turn up for, say, a “Rally to Protest against Gender Inequality” in Bangalore, especially from outside the city (because once again, showing up at such a rally is rather low cost for many Bangaloreans). Not many, I guess.

Since this is a rant, I can’t help adding here that this is pretty much the curse of our generation – this obsession with taking the easier way, walking the well-trodden path, following the herd etc. Loads of people are willing to write frothing, angry critiques of Mahatma Gandhi on Orkut, Facebook and on E-mails. Not one of them is willing to fight for his/her ideals to the extent Gandhi fought for his own, and led millions of others to join him. I wonder when, why and how this change happened in the Indian milieu.

It is noteworthy that the Obama campaign got a lot of American youth to get out and undertake high-cost ventures, and that gives me hope for Indian youth as well. This is one instance in which I wouldn’t mind Indians copying the West at all.

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