Team Anna / Team IAC: What Next???

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=pastissues2&BaseHref=TCRM%2F2011%2F10%2F29&ViewMode=GIF&PageLabel=16&EntityId=Ar01500&AppName=2

Team Anna needs the Media back on its side... as the above article argues, it would have made perfect sense for the Media to turn cheerleaders...  get them on your side! It is the information age, after all...


Dear Team India Against Corruption,

  • First and foremost, do not give up - not now. You are the first to have managed to successfully shake the white-collar workforce into joining the mainstream of the nation - that is your first and biggest achievement. Hitherto, no movement has been able to shake the middle and upper middle class, a fact which has potentially disastrous consequences both politically as well as for the overall social fabric of the nation. Team IAC has managed to crack through the edifice of indifference of this class. I personally know of a production manager in a good firm who had taken active part in the protests - with wife and 2 teenage kids. You have managed to shake the collective conscience of this class - these are the actual people who implement any policy, business transaction or service. If you have managed to touch a chord with them, then it is no small achievement. So, for that reason alone, dont give up. Not now.
  • The government was shaken not by Annaji, but by his - and by extension your - connect with the people, and the mass support you had. I personally do not think there is anything to worry about. No social movement can hope to sustain its momentum at the levels demonstrated by August. A study of the movement against the British fought by the Phenomenon of Mahatma Gandhi will make this clear - there were periods of intense activity followed by periods of studied calm. Adopt that strategy, for the people need time to recharge, to attend to their lives, to get on with the daily business of living. That they are willing, interested and able to take up the cause has been demonstrated beyond any modicum of doubt - just give them some breathing space. That will enable them to re-focus
  • Get your connect with the people re-instated. That is paramount. There have been unsavoury reports about your team in the media- dont over-react to them. Be calm, and place full facts before the people. Your target audience is the lower-middle, middle, and upper-middle classes of India: trust their intelligence.
  • Get the Media back on your side -at least a couple of the major publications. It is the information age: and you need the media on your side
  • Avoid getting into politics at all costs. Your target audience does not appreciate politicians,  and your political appeals will only serve to alienate your core followers. This you cannot afford. If you must, appeal against politicians as a group - avoid party-specific appeals. It would not be wrong to state that your target audience has abdicated and forgotten its civic duties in terms of voting, taking part in political events etc, and is in a general state of denial.  
  • You have already won the battle: the Lokpal bill did not pass muster. Not in its current form, anyway. That gives you 45 clear days before the next phase begins, which is plenty of time. If there is pressure of a similar nature on the parliament in February - March, then you can have some hope...
  • And last but not the least: the fact that your momentum wavered is due in some measure to perceived differences in your team, your "quarrels" etc. Get back to speaking in one voice. You were Media savvy earlier: now you need to be doubly so. Because now you are known entities, and are being dissected methodically, each statement analysed by media, government and people alike; each appearance studied to the point of distraction. 
  • Judging from comments on the internet, the people do not have a clear realisation as to how the lack of independence of the CBI makes the Lokpal an exercise in futility. The common refraint is that "sarkaar ne itnaa to kiyaa, kaafi hai yaar." You need to educate the people, so they clearly understand how the CBI / investigative agency point is critical for an effective Lokpal - for this, you have a top-notch police officer, eminent lawyers, IAS officers who need to appear in front of the public and explain how - clearly, without any ambiguity, the CBI's independence will make it a better functioning body. The government has frankly played a master-stroke in its maneuver. You need to counter this on a priority: Suggestion - the only one:
    • Appear in interviews in english, hindi news channels explaining this point
    • Interviews in local newspapers - Dainik Bhaskar, Jaagran, Lokmat etc
    • Extensive people contact
    • Answer allegations collectively, frankly
To summarise: Give it time / Re-connect with the people / Get Media support / Avoid political entanglements / Get back to speaking in one voice - avoid internal problems / stick to your core issue: corruption + lokpal. The last is the most critical - it would be best if all of the core group, and indeed all members of IAC avoided comments on any other issue

Please dont give up - India needs you, our society needs you. Keep up the good work, and dont worry about the mistakes. People have a short memory, a fact that has been proven many a time before...

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