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Sandeep Kishore

2011 – The year of People Power

Sandeep KishoreSandeep Kishore

Globally, if there is one element that stands out during 2011, it has to be People Power. Activism at the grassroots level around the world clearly set a new benchmark in recent times, with unprecedented levels of people’s involvement in changing and challenging the status-quo. The courage and conviction of people to drive major change is unparalleled in a really long time. When the world comes together through the might of the common people, seemingly impossible tasks start to look achievable. People want a better tomorrow and also an equal participatory role towards the growth of their society and future.

People are no longer satisfied with moderate changes around their ecosystem, be it political, social or economic. The deep angst and frustration of people have forced wide-ranging change that no one can ignore. Who would have thought that what started as demonstrations and protests in Tunisia on 18th Dec. 2010 would spread rapidly across the Arab world and bring revolutions to many other countries? It would become the starting point for the Arab Spring. The 30-year regime of Hosni Mubarak was toppled within 18 days of revolution by the Egyptian people. People want big change and are prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve the results. Arab Spring has impacted many countries such as Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Algeria, and continue to impact several other countries as well.

Anna Hazare’s movement on introducing the “Jan Lokpal Bill” in India is another great illustration of how people from all walks of life come together to fight for a cause that is dragging India behind. The menace of corruption from India is so deeply rooted in the system that only a movement, such as the one driven by Anna, can cause a meaningful impact. The Bill is hugely transformational and, if made into law, will create an independent body (Lokpal) that, without government approval, can register and investigate complaints on corruption against public officers including politicians and bureaucrats. The entire country is supporting Anna on this cause. People have felt pain from corruption, they connect with the issues, and there is massive ground level support for the movement, which is forcing the government to act seriously upon this and bring the Bill to Parliament for discussion and implementation…

With so much economic uncertainty, the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the US is another key indicator of the deep divide within society. People have joined the “we are the 99%” movement, not only in New York City, but also in many other US cities and around the world, to express their deep anguish and frustration with economic inequality in society. Wall Street is the symbol of the faulty lending practices for mortgage-backed securities which started the 2008 financial crisis and needed public funds to bail out top financial institutions. The scar of the 2008 recession is still fresh in people’s minds and this movement has provided a significant boost and platform for the voice of People Power…

Youngsters are among the biggest change agents in the world today. They are neither afraid of change nor scared of failures. With 43% of the total world population (over 3 billion people) younger than 25-year-olds, they are certainly creating huge waves of change and are fighting to make a better tomorrow. Around the world, in each country and region, and for each cause (be it political, social or economic), youths have taken a significant position and role in being change leaders. They are the future of the world and are leading the change…

Social networking provides the platform and enables People Power. It plays a huge role in providing significant boosts to the cause. People want to communicate, share, learn and know. Facebook now has 800+ million active users and as per them, the average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events. Social reach has amplified tremendously and at the rate of its current growth, very soon, Facebook will be the largest country in the world. Tweets written in 140 characters also have more power to connect people and drive real time information-sharing than traditional media. Time magazine reported a 2,000% increase in tweets written in Arabic over the past 12 months, making it the fastest growing language on Twitter. Imagine the power of these platforms to magnify grassroots level involvement and change…

2011 can also be viewed as the year of protest by people. However, I think of it as a form of expression which challenges the current form of thinking. It forces everyone to think and think big about making a significant difference in whatever we do. No longer should anything look impossible to achieve. Causes could be many, reasons could be diverse, but the key is that more people around the world have found their inner voices and gained significant strength in the past 12 months than in several preceding decades. Like many other changes which we have seen, this is also an irreversible change, and times ahead will see even more active participation from the change agents. 2011 clearly belongs to People Power…

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