By Shravya Gotur:
A couple of weeks back I was watching ‘Real Heroes’ aired on CNN-IBN and was really moved by Binalakshmi Nepram’s acceptance speech focussed on the draconian Armed Force Special Powers Act (AFSPA). In a way then, Anna Hazare’s movement has turned out to be more than just an anti-corruption crusade; It has brought to our attention other citizens who have challenged the status-quo. One of them was Swamy Nigamananda who lost his life after fasting for more than 100 days protesting against the illegal mining that was polluting river Ganga. The other, Irom Chanu Sharmila who has been fasting for fulfillment of her demand of repealing the repressive AFSPA for the past 11 years!! Baffling? Absolutely.. but what is equally shocking is that most of us were hearing about her for the first time!
This really made me wonder… Why is the ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’ with all the right reasons not such a popular personality? The answer for sure must be lack of proper media attention or worse; that the media is uninterested if not dismissive about the North Eastern States. But again… Why?
I guess it is the sad media prejudice and its division of states and issues as being ‘more’ or ‘less’ important which is directly proportional to the viewership. Perhaps, in this, politicians and media guys are not very different. The former cater to the ‘vote banks’ and latter to the ‘viewership bank’.
So is the media totally to be blamed?
Two days ago, I read Rajdeep Sardesai’s article where he interestingly says that “Anti- Corruption” is an easy-to-market brand. That really caught my attention. I think this really calls in for a change in Ms Sharmila’s strategy. It is important for her to not be a prisoner of her own conscience and also not simply wait for destiny to show its way. This is in no way trying to trivialize her effort but a need to get practical and have a proper plan of action is necessary so that in the end her purpose is served. The fact of the matter is that right now she only has sympathy on her side which is necessarily not ‘useful’ support. Perhaps the first thing she really needs to do is break her fast! This would not just get the national media cracking but would also amount to considerable international media attention with headlines rolling as ‘The world’s longest hunger-striker ends her fast’.
The next necessary step is to come out of Manipur and reach out to the TV cameras and engage in talks with the civil society and try to build up a team for herself. This done, she should sensitize Youngistan as the fact is, we do not feel the pinch as to what people from her region are going through. So it is important that she make us realise that ‘Ignorance is NOT bliss’ and a huge plus point is that the majority of the educated youth is supple-minded and believe in a pan-Indian outlook and we are not interested in dividing ourselves as North, South or North Eastern Indians.
That might even make us promote her cause through Social Networking sites.
Still, having said this – she might not really have a broad based support with people coming out on streets to suppost her with a feeling of ‘history about to be made’ but her point would definitely be taken and more-importantly would generate a tremendous amount of awareness and awaken the society that is otherwise dormant to a part of our own nation.
However, it is plain sad to see how all of us have ignored such heroes, and the North-east India.
Given the frankness and seriousness of her cause maybe it is really time for her to make some noise.