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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where Team Anna Went Wrong!

It was good going for Team Anna. Anna Hazare, that is. What started out as the battle for elimination of corruption seems to be taking another direction already. It's still early days and the protest or the movement is only in it's second day today but there are certain issues which force me to foresee a loss for team Anna. And the reasons are not far to look. They are calling it a war, a war against corruption. Then it makes sense to follow the principles of war. Team Anna seems to have overlooked the principles of war totally, though I would have expected them to take care of these just because of Kiran Bedi who is an ex-IPS officer and must have certainly heard of Clauswitz and/or Sun Tzu. Let us explore these principles and see where the Team Anna went/is going wrong.

Selection and Maintenance of Aim: This is regarded as the master principle of war. Clearly the aim of Team Anna was to start a protest against corruption. Somehow during the first day itself the protest has changed into a battle for freedom of expression or the right to protest. A smart move on the part of the government. Right now everyone is saying that they are with Anna and not that they are against corruption.

Maintenance of Morale: The Government did well to try to break the morale of the opposition by arresting the leaders or those spearheading the movement. Morale is just a positive state of mind derived from the leadership. The leadership gone into jail, there was no one outside to take charge and keep the morale of people high. The others like Kejriwal and Bedi were only trying to keep the morale of the public high by giving them news about Anna and that he was fine and still fighting.

Offensive Action: Sometime down the line, one has to resort to offensive action. It does not mean that you have to take to arms and start killing people, just that you have to adopt an aggressive stance and seize the initiative. In this case the only aggression shown was that they stuck to their demands, while it would have been a trite prudent to confuse or throw the government off-guard by maybe asking for permission to protest in other cities and thereby giving a larger face to the protest.

Security: Provision and maintenance of the secure environment required for achieving the objective was not catered for at all. It seemed like Team Anna had presumed that they were not free to protest against the government of the day and had premeditated the happenings and their response. It was their undoing. Maybe Anna should have arrived at the venue before the Delhi Police asked him about his intentions and started his fast. A red-handed arrest would surely have won much more points for the protest than a preventive arrest, which also gave the Government an opportunity to salvage the situation.

Surprise: The Government made the right guess that no protest against corruption will start in the absence of Anna, the leader. After he was arrested, all the others in the movement including the supporters of Anna started protesting against the arrest rather than the main objective of corruption. Team Anna would have done much better if they had a succession plan as a back up and it would have been great to see the protest start in the absence of Anna. The Government would really have been in a jam then.

Concentration of effort: Even though Team Anna had warned of a protest almost two months in advance, somehow they did not coordinate the effort in the other cities. Whatever we are seeing in some of the other cities are just individual efforts totally without any guidance or co-ordination from the core team.

Economy of Effort: Again an outcome of the lack of planning, we see people gathering at multiple locations to protest against Anna's arrest. Some are at Tihar jail, some at the India Gate and others at what they are now calling the Anna Hazare stadium. If there was some direction and control, it could have been lakhs of supporters at one place rather than a few thousands each in multiple locations. Numbers do make a difference when the government and the media, at the behest of the government, are trying to make the efforts look futile.

Flexibility: Totally lacking in the present campaign, the team is trying to follow a written script. They lost the initiative when Anna was arrested by not providing a leadership and then they lost it again by insisting on a permission for a longer term of protest. If they were flexible enough to start the protest and had garnered sufficient support by the end of the permissible period, no government in the world would have been able to make them walk out after seven days.

Cooperation: Sharing of burdens, risks, opportunities and threats is something which is totally lacking from this team. The only thing that others besides Anna are sharing is being a spokesperson or a negotiator. It seems like no one else is ready to share the burden or the risk of fasting, They are willing to work behind the scenes but do not want to be in the center of the action. Hardly something you can call cooperation.

Sustainability: Even the businesses are following it now. Once started the movement has to be sustained. Team Anna does not seem to have a plan to sustain the movement and it seems that they are hoping for the public to somehow in some manner take up and sustain the movement. What happens if the Government does give the permission to Anna to continue his fast for thirty days and he succumbs to it or is forced to break his fast? Who will continue the movement... Have we even thought about it.

If it is indeed a war, a war against corruption, it would augur well for the proponents of this war to get serious and prepare for it as if it was war and no war can be won without following these principles of war. A Battle, maybe, but War, No.. Never. I wish that someone thinks about the above issues and takes corrective action to put the movement or the protest on the right track and lead it to its logical conclusion. I wish all the citizens of India who are lending their support to this movement "all the very best" and pray to God to give courage and inspiration to all the citizens to thwart all the attempts of the politicians and the bureaucrats to curb this movement against corruption.

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