Social activist and anti graft crusader Anna Hazare has caught the
imagination of the nation and he and his team is a subject of
discussion at every nook and corner of the country. The common man
in India sympathizes with the cause that they are championing, but
some have reservations about the method being adopted to put
across the point to check corruption in the country.
Let us analyze the anti corruption fast of Anna Hazare in New
Delhi in August 2011. A careful study of the fast covering both
the pre planning and execution, clearly indicate the enormous
level of strategic planning that have gone into this public
While there maybe twenty thousand agitators sitting along with
Anna Hazare during the fast in Delhi, and maybe around fifty
thousand persons in different cities all over India, yet they
remain a miniscule figure when compared to the total population of
The hard fact is that the number of agitators who actually
participated in Anna Hazare’s fast could be less than 0.01 % of
the Indian population. People in the lower income group who are
the real sufferers due to corrupt conditions prevailing in the
country and who constitute around 30% of Indian population (more
than 300 million people) did not participated in Anna Hazare’s
agitation. Many people in the rural areas did not even know about
this fast taking place in New Delhi.
Nevertheless, the impression that was spread around the country
was that the whole country was behind Anna Hazare. The Government
of India was brought to its knees by the people’s power on the
streets. The protest method adopted in the colonial era, still
remains the most potent form of agitation even today. It also
serves a role model for groups and lobbies to launch a similar
agitation to get their demands accepted by the government.
The impression that is being created is something that needs to be
analyzed, because it has ominous portents for the future of
democracy and the development of our country.
The credit of “highly successful” fast of Anna Hazare in New Delhi
obviously goes to the skillful agitation managers or team Anna as
its being called.
The agitation managers had controlled the movement so tightly that
no negative campaign was able to make an impact during the time of
the protest. The coercive methods adopted by them may have been
disliked by lakhs of Indians, but they were “silenced” by the Anna
Hazare’s strategists making more noise and diverting attention.
This is the most conspicuous part of Anna Hazare’s fast in New
Delhi and it needs to be studied in detail because this could be a
right subject in the management schools and can be learned under
the topic agitation management, a lucrative enterprise in India.
In recent times, the agitators in India appear to have become
highly skilled and some of them seem to have turned professionals
as well. It’s not a emotional outburst that forms crowd but there
are certain methods and theories that needs to be applied for the
formation of the crowd.
So the crowd management is an interesting area of study, because
India is a democracy and power lies with the people and they need
to be mobilized in the streets round the year for different
reasons and different purposes. It has to be backed by sound
logistics and appropriate strategies in tune with the ground
realities. It’s a highly specialized job that needs to be studied
in all its seriousness.
This realization is soon dawning upon and the day may not be far
off, when the management schools in India will start a special
course on “agitation management”, teaching the students about
launching agitations in a scientific way. A money spinning
opportunity appears to be awaiting the B schools in the country.
What is striking is that many of the recent agitations all over
India have been “successful,” with the state and central
governments yielding to the threat and succumbing to the pressures
of the agitators. Consequently giving an impression that the
agitators are right and the method adopted is becoming a role
model to be replicated in all the future agitation in this
The growing trend now is that the agitators seem to be measuring
and testing as to what should be the ultimate intensity of
agitation to paralyse the administration and bring down the
government or any other agencies to their knees. A scientific
survey and right timing, well managed and well executed agitation
is sure to be successful.
Given their recent “successes”, many agitators seem to think that
whatever may be the cause, if they could organise ten thousand
agitators in one strategic place backed by money power and
skillful media management they can become successful.
In a country like India, organizing ten thousand agitators is a
cake walk. The social media has come as a bonus in the crowd
formation, money power and media support are the other
necessities. In such circumstances, the political parties and
agitating groups first organize the money power and media support
before venturing to bring the crowd on the streets to launch a
In the strategic planning of the agitation, they also take into
consideration the quality of the political leadership and their
lack of credibility which they exploit superbly working out the
timing of the the agitation and in framing their pamphlets and
The Anna Hazare’s fast in New Delhi fast had all such planning
done in a very meticulous manner. Every thing was in place, with
Sonia Gandhi out of the country and weakest Prime Minister at the
helm, they know that Tienanmen square cannot happen at Ramlila
grounds. So with remarkable planning they launched the agitation
sustained it for two weeks a time well thought out to make the
government relent and declare mission accomplished.
The example that is set by the Anna Hazare’s fast in New Delhi
fast has now its echo is the agitation against the Koodankulam
nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu. Although opinions are divided
on this issue, those against the nuclear power station had a field
day. With the government unable to decide how to handle the
protestors, this agitation is also considered to be “highly
The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in the Tirunelveli district of
Tamil Nadu is under construction since 2001 with Russian
assistance. No one opposed to it and in the wake of Indo-US
nuclear deal it was considered to be country’s asset in the
generation of nuclear power.
However the radiation leak in March 2011 at Japan's Fukushima
nuclear installation due to tsunami disaster, led to the
opposition of the construction of the power plant at Koodankulam.
Thousands of protesters and villagers living around the
Koodankulam nuclear plant blocked the highways and staged hunger
strikes, preventing further construction work demanding the
closure of the plant
A group of agitators by their skillful planning and methods have
been able to stall the entire progress of the massive power plant.
The central government has repeatedly given an assurance of the
safety of the nuclear power plant but the protestors remain
The Koodankulam agitators taking the cue from the successful
agitation management of team Anna are also managing this agitation
in the same way. They have managed the media well ensuring that
the media focus remain on them and their demands. Their methods
include even disrupting the meetings that would support the
Koodankulam power plant.
The agitation management theory propounded by team Anna has become
so successful that may political parties and agitating groups are
taking note of it. In Tamil Nadu, the agitators are getting
emboldened and one group is now demanding the closure of Kalpakam
nuclear power plant, believed to be having India’s nuclear assets.
Now the big question is how to bring such misguided people into
seeing the reasons? India is not Singapore or China where such
agitations would be put down with heavy hand mercilessly. India is
a democratic country and we all enjoy the right to protest.
The argumentative Indian the debating Indian is the trademark of
the citizens of India. There could be different opinions and view
points on every issue and in the traditions of the Indian
democracy all this has to be discussed and debated in the
Parliamentary forum of the country.
Parliament alone is the right forum to debate and discuss every
issue that concerns the citizens and the nation as whole. The
constitution has given us the rights to remove those in power if
majority of people dislike any action of the government but this
could be done only by due electoral process.
In such background, if this trend of a small group of people
skillfully organizing agitations by their money and muscle power
and media management are allowed to have a free run, it can
seriously retard the stability and progress of the country.
While we all are proud of the liberal Indian democratic
traditions, at the same time, we should realize that in the
interest of the nation, it is necessary to ensure that frequent
agitations and protests do not hamper the growth of the country.
By resorting to coercive agitations of colonial era, and at the
drop of a hat, using methods like so called satyagraha and fast
unto death, are highly counter productive. In fact such agitation
management is leading to ‘mobocracy’ and creating a condition of
unrest in the country. It’s undermining our democracy our liberal
values and all the good that goes into the making of wonder that
It is high time that we wake up to such realities and arrest this
trend gaining ground and doing more damage to the country.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org