The great equaliser
Often the simplest is the toughest, I’ll take help from the oft-quoted phrase “Be the change you want to see”, by Mahatma Gandhi to present my case. I’ve heard this said so many times, that I didn’t even blink every time I would see it written or said anywhere.
Then, this Sunday, I acted out of character. Became a ‘doer’. Participated in a city event. Event – Flash Mob. Venue – Brigade road-Church street junction. As a journalist, when you are ‘covering’ an event, you cannot cross the line and participate or show support. Surely, you can through your [sensitive writing], which I have always tried to do (And I am proud of that). But, this Sunday, I was out there, happy to be told what to do, how to do and when to do. I went with the flow.
It was the first of the many events that will lead to the final Slutwalk this December. We were to freeze for five minutes depicting the many forms of ‘eve teasing’, its effects – so in pairs couples depicted – groping, touching, feeling and other violations that women, and sometimes even men, face in the city. It ended with us “un-freezing” to shout “NO MEANS NO!” hoping the crowd got the message - such behaviour is not acceptable.
Participation helps one understand the ground realities. The event was a success as from the beginning till the very end of those 5 minutes the crowds stood around us, so close – some passing snide comments, most wondering what was going on and many others who understood – just showing their support by stand there. But, if anyone had tried to record the behind the scene that led to the final event would have till the last half hour thought – we wouldn’t make it.
As a journalist, I have always been present to witness an event – be it a protest or a gathering of some kind, on Sunday, I realised the effort that goes into a success of any such event.
That very day I witnessed a contrast, while we waited for participants to tickle in, there was another group – students mostly from Manipur – who held a silent protest and rally. They were there to support Irom Sharmila – who has been on a fast for 11 years urging the Indian government to repeal the barbaric AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Power's Act). While the flash mob got coverage from a local TV channel, the silent protest went largely ‘uncovered’.
That’s the challenge, Sharmila’s been fasting and yet there isn’t enough pressure on the government to repeal the law. Yet, the silent protest went mostly uncovered. Online forums, like World Pulse, therefore, become the ‘great equaliser’ as they help ‘cover news’, allowing citizens to turn journalists using their cellphones to capture an image or a video. Upload images/videos or blog, build a platform for discussion. It gives an individual like me to report because I know here I can ‘report’ on issues that I feel are important.