I was amused at the Pink Chaddi campaign when it started a week or two back. It was colorful (?) and interesting. It was fascinating to see an undergarment taking the might of zealots like Shri Ram Sena. In a well-worded retort to Sagarika Ghose, Amit Varma of India Uncut talks about why it is not about the chaddis.
But today, the Times of India reports that the zealots are planning to burn the chaddis they received so sheepishly on February 14th.
So, it was indeed symbolic and was intended to highlight the cause against moral policing. It sure worked wonders and it ends today/ tomorrow as the chaddis are burnt. What next? Yellow langotis?
Now, compare this well-publicized campaign with Vishal Dadlani’s Small Change. No undergarments. Only grunge work – a composer like Vishal Dadlani stood outside the Mumbai High Court to ensure that his PIL petition on making news channels more responsible is accepted.
The chaddi was nice and pink. It was funny. It made us all smile and was Munnabhai’sh Gandhigiri. But, did it achieve any purpose besides generating realms of positive press and perhaps improving sales of assorted brands’ pink lingerie (was there an exclusive lingerie partner as well, I wonder!)? Oh yes, I remember – its purpose was to make noise. And noise, it did make. It was all hunky dory till it lasted and till the Ram Sena decided to burn them. Suddenly, all those money spent on buying underwear and couriering them to the Sena seems utterly pointless. Did it bring about any change in the mind of the zealots?
In comparison, Vishal Dadlani had a drab website – smallchange.in – and he was looking to file a petition so that, in his own words in the website, ‘we can get the state machinery to fight this case on our behalf’. Granted, the legal way is bound to be annoyingly long, but at least there is a Point A to Point B transition in the Small Change campaign. It was grassroots level activisim helped largely by Facebook (among other social networking tools) and email, by Vishal and he made it happen by working hard. Who asked him to attend the court between his busy schedule? He got 25,000+ people to sign up and created a sense of ownership for a legitimate cause.
Compare that to the chaddi campaign…doesn’t it seem to be in tatters? It seems almost frivolous now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for lynching the Shri Ram Sena folks – they deserve to be. But, I suppose we have replaced our support for meaningful activism with symbolic, glamorous and publicity-seeking undergarments.