Where is my Mahatma? - Protests in Pune on 16.08.2011

For past 4-5 days I wondered about the Mahatma, a nation craving for his altruistic second innings and reality. I wasn't convinced. The reasons couldn't uphold my conscience. I wondered if this is the satyagraha I read about. I wondered about the direction. I pondered over the leadership. I couldn't reach a conclusion.

Around the same time, I was asked to be a part of a group, which was to work with 'India Against Corruption'. Broadly speaking, the idea was to work as a group and be a part of the protests in Pune. It was decided that we would take part in these protests as Indians and as Indians we will do our part for 12 hours - individual fasts, communicate with people, spread the word. As a group of 50 we communicated with more than 500 people (number could be more but I'm not sure) in the city in various areas. At the end of day we sat down for almost two hours to discuss what we thought & what we did. One of the responses was a clear winner for me; he said - I have never held high our national flag for such a long time. I was holding it & was talking to people about being Indian than yesterday. I felt Indian.

At the start of the day we were part of a rally that walked a few kilometres. We were shouting slogans. The best one was " बघताय काय? सामील व्हा (What you lookin' at? Join us!) ". Upon reaching Balgandharv Theatre/ Chowk, I realised that the situation is absolutely Indian - one is not certain of leadership. They kept on looking around..

Slowly but surely they seem to gather enthusiasm for the moment. After that the Tricolour never stopped riding the waves of enthusiasm.

I found out that that calling oneself Anna was part of motivation. An interesting idea - Anna Hazare is not a god like figure but just like us. Thus we must aspire to be like him as nation calls out to us

At the same time, I saw one of the most ridiculous messages. Not only it baffled me but it prompted one of the eminent flaws of this campaign - absence of clear thought process & more mob following than followers.

Come afternoon, police opted for a 'co-operative arrest operation'. Most of the supporters, followers, mob followers were 'arrested' by police. But lives of many didn't seem to stop. They continued as onlookers. Perhaps earning wages kicked the hell out of anti-corruption thought, maybe not.

As the word of arrests got out, more people gathered.
When a mob gathers, it usually scrambles the system or sends tremors through the system with their volume. This place was never 'over-crowded'. Although it can be claimed that a thousand people gathered there, they (we) failed to choke that square and the traffic. We/they never really pressurised the system.
The last of important people were taken in by police.

When I saw those who were arrested, I looked for aggression. I looked for intensity. But I saw happiness of youth similar to a saturday outing. I wondered if they really meant "Vande Mataram". Perhaps they meant every letter. Perhaps they didn't really understood what that term implies...

We Indians loiter around & we litter. I saw that, yet again. No one looked at it but everyone stepped on it. By keeping your streets/ footpaths clean, are you contributing to the idea of anti-corruption? Of course, we want our ministers to be non-corrupt. But we also want our citizens to be non-corrupt.

Whatever happened, our Tricolour was flying high. Not one rotten incident in the day. We held up our democracy. But we couldn't shake the system at micro level. We rooted for those 7 people in Delhi. We rooted for anti-corruption. We gathered. Some of us opted to fast. Some of us contributed... When I think about this, I see various inputs. In economics it stated that there are four factors of production - land, labour, capital & entrepreneur is the one who puts them all together. We missed our entrepreneur yesterday. We had many and yet we had none. Fasting will go on. Flag shall be raised high..
.. but where is my Mahatma?