“Want to commit sedition against the government?” “Join Dandi March-II.” “A Mahatma announces a fast-unto-death.” These were some of the clarion calls that organisers of the protest against corruption led by Anna Hazare were making online. And people from all classes responded in massive numbers. Possibly fed up with the scale of the CWG and 2G scams and exasperated by the petty and mundane corruption they encounter daily.
Anna Hazare and Jantar Mantar were among the top 10 global trending topics on Twitter on April 7 afternoon. “Earthquake named Anna Hazare lashes on corrupted Indian Politicians, epicenter India, it measures 1.22 Billion Richter Hearts,” said one. A disengaged youngster tweeted: “OK, enough of ignorance...time to read up on Anna Hazare.” On the ‘India Against Corruption’ page on Facebook, people from across the country left posts either announcing their local programme to support Hazare or asking for advice to organise one. Leaflets urged people to give a missed call on a Mumbai landline expressing support. With 6,00,000 missed calls, the organisers were urging more to call in to take that number to over 25 lakh.
Sunil Abraham, executive director of the Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society, said the organisers of this social media campaign had adopted a “funnel approach”, in which they get people involved gradually. “Clicking on the ‘Like’ function on Facebook to making a call—they are increasing the action, incrementally getting people to become proper activists from being armchair slacktivists.”