In the history of human society there has always been a conflict or a tug of war between people power (Jan Shakti) and money power (Dhan Shakti). The rulers and the wealthy people always tried hard and best to control people power with their money power. Surprisingly the people power always won the battle. People power can change the world, f rom boycotts, workplace action and memes, to political campaigns, disaster relief and civil disobedience. People power can take many forms depending on what kind of change we want to achieve and who has the power to make that change happen, whether it is a government, corporate company, community or individual. There are different types of people-powered tactics that can help us define our strategy and generate ideas.
Consumer Power: The voices of many can now match the marketing budgets of even the biggest brands, making consumer pressure an effective way to influence companies to change their ways. Companies, and the brands they own, are more and more responsive to people power in the digital age. Studies show that people prefer brands they know and trust. As a result, brands are sensitive to public pressure and will go to great lengths to protect their reputation.
Corporate Power: People can also directly influence companies by asking for the help of shareholders, employees, investors or partners of the company. Anybody who has the potential to pressure a company’s investors, leaders or even employees has the ability to influence corporate behaviour. Because of its directness, corporate pressure can work quickly if we engage these special groups of people.
Awareness-building: Exposing a problem is often the first step to harnessing people power. People will only invest energy and time in a campaign when they understand why it is important, how they can help and what the solution is. Awareness campaigns are often combined with other people-powered change strategies that give people ways to act.
Organising: It is a form of leadership. Identifying, recruiting and developing skills that help others act and become leaders themselves build a community’s ability to control the forces that affect it. Large-scale change is possible when organising is coordinated across many communities at the same time. There are many great examples of organising that have captured headlines and brought about real change on the ground.
Volunteering: V olunteers bring new skills, energy and ideas to a campaign or organisation (and may also increase how much we can get done). The benefit goes both ways: volunteers give skills, knowledge and time while receiving experience, new friends and satisfaction.
Crowd sourcing: The internet is enabling large groups of people to take on tasks, get involved in decision-making, and contribute to solving specific problems. Crowd sourced campaigns organise efforts across communities, social networks and groups to draw on a deeper pool of creativity, knowledge and resources.
Donations: Fund allows campaigns and organisations to conduct sustained research, investigations, and education, pay for equipment and much more. Money is important, of course, but people can also donate goods that can be used or sold. Donations offer a way for the donors to connect with a cause they are passionate about and see the good their money, goods or services can do out in the world.
Behaviour-change: It has been (and remains) a goal of many advocacy campaigns. Online platforms and social networks are rewriting the role people play in behaviour-change campaigns. People can quickly learn what family, friends and colleagues believe through social media like Face book, Twitter, or even Text messages. Smart campaigns are using networks as social proof platforms and engaging more people than ever in behaviour change campaigns.
Political Power: There are many ways to influence governments and politicians, all of which can shift laws, policies and regulations. Governmental and political structures are complex and vary widely across the globe and local laws can restrict the ability of organisations to engage in politics. Some widely used and effective political pressure tactics are: face-to-face lobbying, political protests, sending messages to politicians, contacting local media, campaigning for candidates and voting.
Non-violent direct actions: Individuals and groups of people can disrupt or stop the work of companies, governments and other actors causing harm. These non-violent direct actions can raise the level and quality of public debate, engage people and provoke action from those with the power to change law and policy. Efforts led by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior are often used as classic examples, but non-violent direct actions have a long history around the globe with thousands of examples big and small every year. The recent example in India is the ‘non-violent protest’ at Shaheen Bagh that is being replicated in various parts of the country.
It is more than 55 days since the women, including young children, are protesting peacefully against CAA, NRC and NPR. Shaheen Bagh has attracted the global attention and this protest has become a ‘model’ of people power. What is heartening to see is that the protest has united the people and they have become aware of the Indian Constitution. Representatives from all religions, student and SC/ST communities are visiting the protest venue to express their solidarity with the protesters. This indeed is a show of people power.
In 2014, BJP made the people to recognise it as a ‘genuine party’ that will usher-in good days and earned due respect. The party started criticising and teasing the people when they doubted the credibility of the party, their policies and schemes like demonetization, splitting Kashmir, GST, slow-growth of economy, CAA, NRC and NPR etc. The party then started ignoring the people. With contempt the party called the dissenting people ‘anti-nationals’. Going a step ahead, the party started ‘crushing’ the people through life-threatening words and induced-violence. The party is able to do all these because of the money power. But the party is shocked to see all its efforts going vain. With lot of optimism, the people are looking forward to the day when Jan Shakti will defeat Dhan Shakti.(Published on 10th February 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 07)