Archive for December 2011

Symbol Of A Citizens' Movement: Need For Some Introspection

An estimated 60% of  9.8 million Jews in Europe perished in the Holocaust. The greatest losses were seen in:

Germany, in the eye of the storm, saw close to 141,500 Jewish deaths. More than one million Jewish children were killed in the Holocaust, as were approximately two million Jewish women and three million Jewish men

The Holocaust, was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, throughout Nazi-occupied territory. 

So why am I writing about the Holocaust today? 

I was a member of  the 'India Against Corruption' page on Facebook. I supported the cause for which the movement stands, although I did not necessarily support or approve of their methods or actions in recent times. I was present at Jantar Mantar in April 2011, when Anna Hazare went on his first fast unto death. I was moved and energised by the outpouring of public support which I witnessed. I even blogged about it here.  I admired their  social media strategy. I had never seen anything like this in my decade's worth of experience in the Indian social sector. I felt a sense of  hope. 

However, over the past few months, my interest in the movement and Team Anna waned - in no small measure due to their shenanigans and faux pas in the media. A feeling of disillusionment set in which finally turned to anger and disgust last week. 

India Against Corruption has posted a video, a parody showing Adolf Hitler as a supporter of the anti corruption movement in India. The English sub titles depict how Hitler is determined to support 'that Gandhian Anna' and how he would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the Jan Lokpal Bill is passed by the Indian Parliament. There are of course the usual digs about Sonia Gandhi and others. And finally some lip service to 'non violent methods' (although Anna Hazare's comment following the Sharad Pawar slapping episode  may lay that claim to rest). 

Are the IAC people out of their minds to put up Hitler - the man at the helm of one of the worst genocides known in history - as a poster boy for a citizens movement? How dare they attempt to sully the spirit of Indian  democracy (dysfunctional as it is) with references to that mass murdering lunatic?! 

What was more frightening was that some 20 people had 'liked' the video and said 'its a wonderful parody'. Did they not see how totally inappropriate the video was? But then again, considering that Hitler's popularity is being  revived in our country thanks to devious propaganda by some right wing parties, I guess I should not have been so surprised. People are actually saying that Hitler was a 'good leader' and India needs a dictator. I  guess it is easy to say that when you are wrapped in a cocoon of infallibility. 

Sorry! I think I'll pass. 
Apart from me, only two others objected to the use of Hitler as a spokesperson, however in jest, in a democratic movement. I was so incensed that I put in a scathing comment. Despite the objections, the offensive video was reposted the following day by IAC!! 

The whole funda behind endorsements is that your brand value impacts the product you're trying to sell. And so it is with social causes. The person/s and symbols used to promote a cause will impact public perception and the effect you're trying to create. Using Hitler to promote the cause of anti corruption is like using apples to sell oranges. More than that, it actually demeans your cause and insults the memory of millions of people who lost their lives at the hands of a madman. 

Today is Human Rights day. A day when we remember with solemnity those who had injustice done to them and those who fight to uphold what is just and right. I thought it is appropriate to blog about it today. Fighting to weed out corruption from your country is right. But if IAC continues in this self destructive path, it won't be long before it loses the goodwill and support it enjoys from the public. It has certainly lost mine. 

PS: I could have posted that video. But I really do not want to increase hits to that site. 

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