- Global Voices - https://globalvoices.org -

India: Anti-Corruption Campaign Fires a Country's Imagination

Categories: South Asia, India, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Politics, Protest

In April this year Global Voices reported [1] how social media was being used in India to power civil society's push for a proposed anti-corruption bill (popularly known as the Jan Lokpal Bill [2]). There was, at the time, a lot of debate about the sustainability of the fledgling movement, which was being led from the front by a Gandhian social activist Sri Anna Hazare [3].

A lot has happened since then but what has been undeniable is that the anti-corruption movement [4], after having proved the nay-saying pundits wrong, has gradually managed to capture the imagination of a large section of the Indian public.

Anna Hazare addressing the people and media at Jantar Mantar, Delhi. Image by Sarika Gulati, copyright Demotix (08/04/2011). [5]

Anna Hazare addressing the people and media at Jantar Mantar, Delhi. Image by Sarika Gulati, copyright Demotix (08/04/2011).

Today, the movement is not only restricted to India but has also seen support from the non-resident Indian population [6]. It has also caught global attention (1 [7], 2 [8], 3 [9], 4 [10], 5 [11], 6 [11] etc.), bringing forth conversations and discussions/debates surrounding not only the issue of anti-corruption, but also about the entire movement and the intense political drama that has unfolded as a result of this current social movement – being touted by team Anna as the “second freedom struggle”. [12]

Given below are some of the key recent milestones of this social movement that has taken the country by storm (Sources: 1 [4], 2 [13]).

In the world of social media, the support for Anna Hazare's movement against corruption [19] continues to receive a huge amount of support – on Facebook, Twitter, online forums, blogs etc.  Supporters have even launched mobile apps for Android and Nokia phones – a first for a social movement in this country, which has prompted a guest author to write on Watblog.com [20]:

The transnational web community at Avaaz.org is running a campaign in support of the anti-corruption movement in India. They are seeking to rack up 250,000 signatures in an online petition [8] calling the Prime Minister to take active steps for freeing India from corruption.

On Facebook, a call to support Anna Hazare's fast for the Jan Lokpal Bill has garnered [22]over 52,000 supporters.  Tweets are abuzz with conversations about Anna and his fast. Here are a few examples:

@bipsluvurself [23] : Anna Hazare needs to be supported to kill the ‘Demon’ called ‘Corruption’ that is eating up our Country!

@mrunm07 [24] : We need millions of “Anna Hazare” to stop corruption in our country India.

@jhunjhunwala [25] : I can understand that many don't support Anna or his fast but its ridiculous to arrest someone because he goes on a hunger strike.RIDICULOUS

@PritishNandy: [26]Even those who may not agree with the Janlokpal movement should now stand up for Anna and the right to protest.

@pixelAdrop [27]: @thekiranbedi [28] Truly Inspiring! Long Live Anna Hazare.

@ash_r_danush [29]: i want my children to grow up in a corruption free INDIA..so would u! i support anna..vande maatharam..live life !

However, some tweeps continue to be sceptical about the momentum on social media and it's impact on the ground.

@lathasunadh [30]: Anna hazare powerful on fb and twitter screams headline. Showing fb-twitter support is nothing. It only means pple chose a click of a button

Watch this space for more round-ups of the actions and conversations surrounding India's unprecedented civic protest against corruption. In the next post in the series, we will explore more conversations about why some of the netizens are supporting the movement and also what arguments a section of citizens are putting forward as to why they remain unconvinced about the Jan Lokpal Bill, Anna and his methods.