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4 December 2008


We'll be singing...when we're winning..

In what the media has called, 'unprecendented' show of strength, citizens and Mumbaikars came from all walks of life last evening to rally at the Gateway of India- the scene of the horror that took place last exactly one week ago -last wednesday.

It was a completely self-managed turnout and amazed the politicians and police and public officials in it's disciplined and yet powerful show of emotions. The kind of crowd that'd have been the envy of politicians, film-stars and cricketers. It had no agenda but to express grief, respect the memory of those who died and voice complete disgust with the corruption and self-serving politicians.

What started at 5 00 p.m went on till almost 9- four hours during which people expressed feelings in all kinds of ways. One person played his guitar and sang a self composed song; others held prayers; others held banners made - very very creative ones. Posters that said, 'ZEROS (politicians)/HEROS(martyrs)' or 'All dogs are welcome to my funeral, no politicians'. Fliers, posters, charts of all sizes home made and printed. Cartoons and pictures; photos and cloth. Street plays performed -'Bharat hamari ma hai- Baap hamara hijra hai' which demanded public to examine the situations. A wall of grafitti and petitions; advocating electoral reforms; venting against stupid statements by politicians, cricketers, celebrities-you name it- it was there.

Young, old, school children, housewives, students, film stars, poor, rich, middle class, from far & near, grief -stricken, distraught, militant. Fully able and differently abled- they all showed up. As seniors shared their voices of wisdom, the youth loudly affirmed their power. Main stream media, citizen journalism, civic rights organisations, resident welfare societies. Just normal average people. After school, college and work streamed in- placed flowers, lit candles and simply stood or walked in and joined in what was a slap in the face of terror. Shoot us we do not care. We will drive you out and everyone who supports such evil - was the message if any -of the evening. Hindus, muslims, christians, speaking every language spoke as one. Every voice that could speak, spoke up even as fellow brethren in other cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad joined their voices.

So technically it is not unprecedented. Many many years ago, in August Kranti Maidan, people in erstwhile Bombay gathered and declared a war against the British. On Dec 3, 2008, once again people declared war- against terror and against corruption.

There is a little disquiet too- I hope people do not get led astray by people promising the silver bullet. Not paying taxes, 49-0, only two party system etc are not ideas that can be bandied lightly. Every idea, every thought now need to be presented and debated publicly. Examined rigourously and this is the junction at which leadership is required. The momentum and traction needs to be gathered and expanded to all parts and all corners of the country.

Even as we face the prospect of war and, skeptics, naysayers, citizen deshdrohis( they were there during time of british, they are still around now) and such others. To who I say, Lead, Follow or Get out of the way!

Hoping and praying that the spark Mumbai showed yesterday burns at the very roots of all divisive forces and the horror of world terrorism. Never mind how slow or long it may take.

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