The terror of 26/11 enraged everyone, turning critics of spectators. For a week after the attacks, Mumbai saw human chains, protest rallies, candlelight vigils, and anti-politician slogans. While the cynical thought such misdirected reaction wouldn’t last long, there were some who didn’t let the angst die down. Several citizens’ groups have been born, spurring the politically-disillusioned elite into action too. From buying bullet-proof vests for the Mumbai police to setting up information resources, these groups are using Web 2.0 to come together and network.
Take Kirti Poonia’s information resource network called the Youth Anti-Terror Squad (YATS), for instance. It already has 400 members, connected with each other on networking site Facebook. Poonia’s dream is to use young people to report suspicious activity to the police and rate security at public spaces like offices and movie halls.
While some groups have come together to raise a voice, others want to make grass-root change. Founder-CEO, Indian Television, Anil Wanvari isn’t sitting back either. With the strength of 2,900 group members, he plans to create enough noise to ensure bureaucrats and lower-level officers are held accountable. “Why should an IAS officer be allowed to hold a post even after failing to deliver?” he asks. Salary revision of Mumbai’s police, security personnel and the Prime Minister of India are on his agenda too. Incentives are key to ensuring satisfied employees and better performance, he believes. A PIL on the government failing to provide its citizens security is going to be the catharsis of Wanvari’s Fight for India movement.
Although much of the initial furor against the nation’s incompetent politicians faded away, some citizens have not lost hope. IIT alumni and film director, Anand Sivakumaran is setting up a core group of professionals that can come together to list problems and get experts to find solutions. He believes boycotting politicians or not paying taxes isn’t going to change much. “Yes, the country is in a bad shape. And somewhere each one of us is to blame,” he writes. Further explaining, how every time citizens avoid voting and bribe officials, they violate their own freedom. Falling back on Gandhigiri, members of the group have vowed to be clean, staying away from all kinds of corruption and following the laws of the nation.
The anger that poured out through SMSs and email forwards may have been short-lived and temporary but online petitions are still active, managing to give direction to free-flowing passion. Singer Anushka Manchanda’s Awaaz Uthao and Owen Roncon’s Screw This Shit are two such platforms. The petitions ask for strong CCTV networks, a fully equipped security force of commandos, the formulation and implementation of a national ID cards program, and the time bound implementation of Project Sudharana (Mc Kensy report), the report of the National Police Commission of India and the Administrative Reforms Committee report.
So, if you thought that post 26/11 anger was limited to anti-Pakistan slogans, think again.