Till three weeks ago, Suhas Sonwalkar, 23, was your average executive working his way up in a multinational travel firm. While the rest of his colleagues continued to do so, Sonwalkar sweated it out, overseeing arrangements at Azad Maidan for the 4pm rally in support of the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Sonwalkar is among the thousands of youngsters who have joined Anna Hazare as he takes on the government in his anti-corruption campaign.
Sonwalkar got hooked to the campaign through the group’s Facebook page. “I saw that there were so many people wanting to do their bit,” he said.
Mumbai coordinator of India Against Corruption (IAC), Mayank Gandhi, said the idea to use Facebook and Twitter reaped dividends. “We had to get more youngsters into the campaign and the best way to target them was through these sites; 90% of our volunteers came through Facebook,” he said.
Till last night, the IAC page had 1.04 lakh followers. It featured an update every few minutes. Along with a central IAC group, there are also city and regional groups. IAC Mumbai had about 2,500 followers.
Sejal Deshpande, 23, who works with a production house, is glued to the digital campaign. “Going digital is a good way of reaching out because youngsters will take an instant liking to it,” she said. However, Deshpande added: “Online campaigns need to translate into people’s movements on the ground. Simple signatures and ‘likes’ on Facebook make little sense.”