Not everyone may want to buy into Anna Hazare’s crusade against corruption, but he has certainly created a sellers’ market. As the Annafest gets underway, local economies, which had slowed to a canter from the earlier gallop, have begun to pick up speed again.
So even as Anna goes into deprivation mode, those selling t-shirts, Gandhi caps, arm bands, flags, you name it, are laughing all the way to the bank. Oh, not to mention candle makers for those vigils. We are heartened by this and are reminded of a Native American custom called the potlatch. At time when the economy would be moribund, one or the other villager would throw a gigantic feast to which guests would be invited from all over the region. They would arrive to sing, dance and feast for days on end, engaging in barter and trade giving the flagging economy a boost. Similarly, those ‘who are Anna’ have and will give substantial business to those in the areas where the festivities around the relay fasts and speeches take place.
Street vendors are doing roaring business as those who are supporting Anna fortify themselves for all the heavy duty lifting that lies ahead. As for us in the media, this is a boon from the gods. In this rain and humidity, most of us prefer to sit in our offices venturing out only if absolutely vital. But now that the Anna show is on the ramp, we have to be out there. We have got the energy of Dracula after a blood transfusion and are striving to reach greater heights of hyperbole with each passing hour. While many are not buying what the politicians in government are trying to sell, the Opposition has readied its wares and has opened its stalls. The packaging is a little tacky but there is gathering interest in what is on offer. This has also given little known ‘celebrities’ a chance to sell their pedestrian wisdom to the nearest taker. No doubt, tapes of Anna’s messages and a few ditties composed in honour of his crusade will soon be on sale, if they are not already. The more enterprising could turn this into a desi version of the Royal wedding. Anna memorabilia like scarves, ceremonial mugs, pens and ties could be marketed.
If this is mini-history in the making, many people will want a part of it. The possibilities are endless. A stirring theme song could be in the making and poets may set these developments to verse. A Bollywood film is definitely waiting to roll out. The issue is serious, but the atmospherics are elevating, even fun. Anna’s message is — don’t sell your soul to the highest bidder. But nothing wrong in putting more worldly items on the market at a marked up price.