Baba Ramdev... Crowd Power

Published: Monday, Aug 13,2012, 18:22 IST
Baba Ramdev, Crowd Power, mainstream TV, Against Corruption, Indian Farmer’s suicide, ramdev agitation, jail bharo, ranjit singh flyover

Yoga Supermo, Baba Ramdev and his team have been at Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi for a week now. Their protest continues undeterred. This flamboyant gentleman has beaten all the odds and leads a well organised effective protest. Contrary to popular belief, he was able to command a large audience. Approximately two lakhs attended Ramlila Maidan on the 12th August 2012. The protest has been very peaceful with organised food and entertainment for its attendees. Inspirational speeches were given in-between. Ramdev demonstrated that he knows how to take care of people.
Sadly, the true extent of people power was not demonstrated on mainstream media. The Ramdev Team had set up Live streaming of all the speeches. The crowd power was only caught on live streaming and digital camera not on mainstream TV.

Prof Pandey tweeted “My predictions on crowd strength mathematically in right direction. Deliberate ignorance of movement by Government is driving people crazy”.
People were frustrated that mainstream TV stations were not covering this full time despite the high attendance. This was reflected in social networking. Sandeep @steadyhunk, acting independently as a citizen’s journalist, took his own photographs. He wrote “Can you see them in lakhs … #paidmedia is not showing.#Ramlila Maidan”. Droves of people were spilling onto Twitter and other social networking websites hungry for the latest news on the Baba Ramdev’s protest. Many were furious that the media did not feature an event of national interest.

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The print media began reporting in trickles. Gradually, by the end of the day, people were able to piece the events together. The protest had been extremely successful despite the government’s assumptions that it would come to nothing. Ramdev invited anyone who was interested in fighting corruption to attend Ramlila, this prompted tough girl Kiran Bedi to tweet “On way to ramlila ground on invitation of Baba Ramdevji. Nation needs United Front Against Corruption nurtured by Anna, Baba, Sri Sri + others”. Sadly, the others in the former Team Anna did not have enough foresight, wisdom or courage to attend the protest.

Having followed the protest for a number of days now, I have felt that despite criticisms against Baba Ramdev, he does have a fair grasp of the issues. Ramdev’s speeches demonstrated that he cared about vital issues that were in a state of emergency – black money, poverty and the needless suicides of countless farmers. These issues are at the heart of India, they are an urgent priority. His speeches made absolute sense to me. It is clear that his agenda was well thought out. Moreover, he demonstrated his understanding of the people’s plight.

No matter how many individuals criticise Baba Ramdev, they cannot deny that he represented the voice of the people over the weekend. It is that sense of awareness and integrity that drives people to him in their droves. Perhaps, when all hope is gone, people do migrate to the light at the end of the tunnel. His empathy for them is a stark contrast to the austere distant Congress party who which remained silent despite the strength of opinion against them.

I cannot say I have been hugely familiar with Ramdev bar the insistence from my family that I wake up at the ungodly hour of 5am to join his Yoga programme featured on Zee TV. I hadn’t given this man much thought apart from a certain irritation and objection to yoga presented on TV. Yet today, as I have listened to and watched Ramdev in action, it dawned on me that he has made more sense than many people in suits. It is true that he has a sense of showmanship about him but it is this quality that attracts people’s attention. Perhaps it is this style that is required to effect change. Maybe, his star quality and dynamic personality will be enough to attract the nation-wide support he requires. Ramdev also means business and appears serious about the issues he raises.

For many months I have knocked on a number of doors about the Indian Farmer’s suicide rate only to be met with lethargy. I have cared immensely about this topic and written about it. I have found it unacceptable that India has the highest suicide rate in history and that too in its farmers – the backbone of India. On discovering this a few months ago, I was horrified.

Congress has remained tight lipped on the matter. Yet, this is the most important and catastrophic crisis in India. It was as if no one wanted to give these vulnerable farmers a voice. That was until now. Former Army Chief General Sri V.K. Singh spoke at the protest and said “ Nothing can be more sadder than the fact that the one who nourishes the country is exploited and not taken care of properly. He carried on

First is the role of the farmers. Our country is an agrarian country. 70 percent population is linked to agriculture, which nurtures the whole country. From 1995 onwards, till date, more than two lakh farmers have committed suicide. In every half-an-hour, one farmer commits suicide. Nothing can be sadder than this. One who nourishes the country is exploited and not taken care of properly,” he said.
It was the care and attention to this issue that won my attention over because I knew how hard it was to get anyone to take the issue seriously.

I have been pleasantly surprised and quietly impressed by the well organised state of the current protest. It has been peaceful, entertaining, inspiring and constructive. For all their hard work, I would like to thank Baba Ramdev and his team for lighting up India again. We hope his team will keep the lights on for the foreseeable future. My only slight criticism was the lack of English translations in some aspects – this was really because I felt that the content of the speeches were also of international concern. In this era of the internet, the world is a smaller place and I believe the issues they raise warrant international as well as national support. In any event, many individuals in the west would be inspired by a protest at Ramlila this week.

I hope Baba Ramdev is able take this success and build on it until he brings justice to the most vulnerable in the land. While he may never persuade me to attend his 5am Yoga classes, I am certainly convinced that he has the ability and the strength to challenge injustice. If his integrity stands the test of time, the people of India will walk with him until justice is done. Jai Hind.

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