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The great equaliser

Students at a silent protest to support Irom Sharmila, Bangalore, September25,2011

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.

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Comments

Stella Paul's picture

Well said

Very well said! The real reports are often lost -sometimes deliberately pushed over, other times murdered on the editor's table. And you indeed can bring them all here. The stories that I have been reading for past few weeks are an absolute proof that you will be joined by hundreds others.
*btw, I was getting worried, thinking that you might miss the deadline for the posting. Phew! What a relief!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

VC's picture

I almost did

Well, if you see closely its posted on Sept 27th,I am seriously hoping it 'qualifies' .. I did get late, but was waiting to post after the event, so, you see ...

I loved your post, btw, I'm heading there to say so there :)

Vaishalli Chandra

“I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Adepeju's picture

Hey VC, Good to hear first

Hey VC, Good to hear first hand information on the slutwalk due to your participation. Keep rising dear friend. Cheers.

Noriah Ismail's picture

Wonderful job and coverage!

YES-Through this World Pulse network you can make these voices heard worldwide

Keep making the actions that do make change and that encourage your nation to press for the

future you want to live.

Noriah Ismail

kati.mayfield's picture

Dear Vaishalli, Your

Dear Vaishalli,

Your discussion of the contrast of the coverage that both events got that day is really intriguing. You are totally right that World Pulse gives space for both of the events to be covered and considered, and even compared. Now what we need to do is make sure that more people are getting the news being transmitted through World Pulse!

I am happy to be reading,

-Kati

*resolved this year to think twice and to smile twice before doing anything*

RosemaryC's picture

Sharmila

Dear Vaishalli: Thanks for sharing the story of Sharmila. I hadn't heard about her before, but what determination, to fast for such a long time. I found a story about her at http://www.merinews.com/article/irom-sharmilas-fast-to-complete-a-decade...
I can see that she is a very courageous woman but I don't know the context of what led her to fast. Maybe that is a topic for another blog post?
Kind regards,
Rosemary

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