Soft Power

In a nation where hundreds of farmers commit suicide in Vidharbha for their inability to watch their family starve to death, how much power can fasting have? It seems a lot. It is ironic how powerful the tool of fasting is in a nation like ours where poverty still looms large. Anna Hazare has shown India that Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent methods, in which fasting was an important tool, are still very effective. The interesting part is fasting and even the threat to fast have been very powerful tools in India since time immemorial and it was Gandhiji’s intelligence to identify and use this tried and tested weapon. Women, since ages, have been using their soft power to get things their way by ‘blackmailing’ their husbands that “if I don’t get this (read jewellery), I will not eat”. And husbands have traditionally given in. Even today, it is used as an effective tool; the demands may have changed — Jimmy Choo stilettos or a Hermes clutch — but, nonetheless still workable. So, when Anna is trying to make the government more accountable and using the same method, I know he is using a power tool which is most likely to work. However, I also sympathise with the government just the way I do with the millions of husbands who have been ‘threatened’ by their better half. A friend of mine had once tried to argue with his spouse about how she could use such a tool when so many people are dying of starvation every day? She started crying and as a result, not only did he have to promise her to buy what she wanted but also had to promise an additional Cartier ‘gift’ to stop her from weeping. Logical arguments just don’t work and I believe the government has already tried that and failed. So just like my friend, the government may also have to pay a hefty additional price if they don’t give in now. The compensation may just keep getting fatter and fatter and might even cost them their power.




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