Panty-bombers beat back the pub-bombers!

A few weeks ago, the Pope told young Catholics to use the Internet and the new digital media to spread God’s message. For the last several months, Mangalorean Catholics have been shell-shocked by the intensity of the violence unleashed on them within weeks of the BJP-govt coming to power. Only the Archbishop of Bangalore, Bernard Moras, was able to take on the Chief Minister effectively. He and the media helped beat back the BJP onslight. Over the past three weeks, women have been brutally attacked by those determined to impose their centuries-old culture on them.
When I was in Mangalore last week, I was told about goon squads roaming college campuses, looking for boys and girls violating the Muthalik code of conduct. Now Mangalore, and India, have just witnessed a new way of fighting back, 21st century Gandhi-style, (someone recently described the computer as the charkha of the 21st century!). What we have seen in the last few days is something to think about — the power of digital media combining hands with mainstream media to fight back! It shows that all is not lost. If we can organise ourselves and join hands in a sustained manner with others, even the most obstinate goons can be beaten back, non-violently. Nisha Susan from Bangalore, now residing in Delhi, has shown us how.
This is a case study in itself and is making waves in media circles of how an imaginative approach can help take on the sledgehammer methods of the muscled and the powerful. But that calls for a new discipline amongst ourselves, in what we say and do and, abover all, a willingness to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn the new tools at our disposal. Are we up to it? Read on…
Panty-bombers beat back the pub-bombers! Barely three weeks after he vowed to go round Mangalore on Valentine’s Day, with goons, priests and video cameramen in tow, and forcibly marry off unmarried couples celebrating Valentine’s Day, Pramod Muthalik has been forced to sit out Valentine’s Day in a police cell so that women can celebrate their right to love! It is a powerful victory for the rational and the balanced. Barely three weeks ago, this self-styled leader was threatening to force his belief that women ought not to go to pubs because it was against “Indian culture” on the rest of the world. What made the difference?
The power of click! Nisha Susan, a Delhi-based media professional originally from Bangalore, had two options — stay quiet and accept everything, or meet these people head-on and make fun of them. She chose to click off an imaginative “Pink Chaddi Campaign” of the “Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose and Forward Women” on Facebook on Feb 5 – and made a difference! “Most women in this country have enough curbs on their lives without a whole new franchise cashing in with their bully-boy tactics. Be imaginative, have fun and fight back!” was her novel, Gandhian, 21st century form of non-violent protest!
A new style of Gandhigiri! Print and television media picked up the story of the “panty-bombers vs the pub bombers” five days later, on February 10. Other social networking sites took it up. Bloggers and media columnists jumped in and the word chaddi, normally an unmentionable in conservative Indian society, acquired acceptance as the campaign became the buzz of the country. By 5 pm on Feb 10, over 5,000 had signed up for the campaign on Facebook. By 8 pm, the number had crossed 8,000, by 11 pm it was 11,000 and by Friday night it had crossed 33,000. By Valentine’s Day morning the number was 38,150 and still climbing!
“The content and the form of the movement enthused me. It’ll make a point in a cheeky way. This is a way of taking back the space the guardians of morality are trying to take from us. This movement isn’t just an activist movement, it’s by ordinary women who want to speak up and fight back,” one woman told the Main Stream Media (MSM).
The BJP top brass picked up the signals that Yedduurappa did not! Media reports said they packed him off from the Nagpur meeting a day earlier than scheduled and told him they wanted no more negative headlines from Mangalore. Which is why Muthalik’s men called a news conference yesterday, eve of Valentine’s day, to announce a change of plans – instead of forcibly marrying of couples or compelling them to tie rachis, they would be good law-abiding boys and merely inform the police about “obscene displays of love in public “! Instead, the police rounded them up and marched them to jail for a day! Hurrah for the new digital media! Allwyn Posted by: Allwyn Fernandes, Journalist & Communications Professional, MangaloreanCatholics@gmail.com Sat Feb 14, 2009 8:13 am (PST)

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