Now this is social networking in the real world. People from all across India and the world have joined hands with Anna Hazare, in his fast undo death against corruption. The distance notwithstanding, and in a clear contrast to Benedict Anderson’s concept of the nation as an imagined community, India has come together to celebrate something in additon to a Cricket World Cup win.
Following in the foot-steps of the Egyptians and Tunisians, Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare aka Anna Hazare, a 72 year old veteran activist, has put his faith in the power of the people and has dared to dream of collective action against corruption in the Indian political state of affairs. Anna began his hunger strike on Tuesday, and says he will not eat or drink till the government proves its commitment to fighting corruption with a powerful new law – the Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen’s Ombudsman Bill).
With the memory of Commonwealth Games, Wiki Leaks and 2G Spectrum scams fresh in people’s minds, it is easy to fall in line with Anna’s initiative. But what takes it a step further is the support it has generated on the social networking websites, like Twitter and Facebook. People are badging up (a new application on Facebook made much famous by 2011 cricket world cup), others are attending virtual marches in support of the campaign, yet others are posting informative and heartfelt opinions about their support to the campaign and their hatred for what corruption has done to the Indian society.
Social networking websites have seen many crusades in the past, like the “Pink Chaddi Campaign” of 2009 in response to notable incidences of violent conservative and right-wing activism against perceived violations of Indian culture, when a group of women were attacked by members of Sri Ram Sene at a Mangalore pub. The Meter Jam campaign was to protest against the autocracy of auto and taxi drivers who ply by their own rules and make up their own fares.
Social networking websites have always found a way to magnify voices of people, far away but feeling the same way. Many people from USA, UK, Australia have tweeted and joined the Facebook campaign that asks them to wear black on April 11 or fast on any day that Anna is fasting. It is not merely a show of uninformed support, but an issue like an anti-corruption bill has being reigning on everyone’s mind for a long time now. It was the need of the hour to take it up with such gusto, and people are doing all that they can to mobilize action. Social movements have transformed into social networking movements as well, showing that social media is not merely about random banter, photo sharing, or keeping in touch; it is about showing solidarity and making their voices heard. What is most important is to preserve the sanctity of any campaign and not let it deteriorate into another marketing sham.
In my opinion, it is imperative that social media links itself to social world and its reformative movements in order to prove its worth, and by promoting campaigns like Anna Hazare’s one, it is registering its name in nation’s history.
Between, this is one campaign that takes you way beyond “cool”.