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PTSD after Anna campaign

New Delhi, Mon, 29 Aug 2011 ANI

New Delhi, Aug.29 (ANI): How does one just go about life after a major new story captivates a nation like the Anna fast? A fortnight of obsessive and compulsive disorder of watching any and every bit of news. Absorbing one raucous TV debate after the other till one was saturated. And then, more of the same.


Scan social media sites for juicy gossip for behind the scenes activity of the Anna camp. Gaze through photographs in newspapers of kids balanced precariously on cycle handle bars wearing 'I am Anna' caps. Naked women tattooing Anna's name on their bare backs. Read op-eds that dissect the movement threadbare and still emerge confused as ever.


Is there a recovery from this psychological trauma? Yes, it was nothing short of that, even if you didn't go to Ramlila Maidan or Freedom Park. The whole Annarchy, Annatomy, Annawhatchamacallit was overwhelming in every sense of the word.


Journalists ran out of adjectives...err, that one is not supposed to use adjectives is so pass?. Some journalists even joined the movement. Overtly and covertly. Nothing new. This happened post-Emergency 1976, it happened during the Mandal-Mandir agitations in the nineties. And much before that, it happened during the Freedom Struggle and the Bhoodan Movement of Vinobha Bhave.


And like always, when a 'mother of all stories' hits a nation, all else falls by the wayside. All news gets ignored. Well almost. There was the Kashmir graves, Kashmir amnesty stories. Not interested. Maoists blowing up schools, demanding ransom. Nope. Manipur blockade, Nepal changes Prime Minister. Who cares? Inflation- hold for one week, Leopard rescued. Hmm...Maybe. Did he kill any villagers? No? Forget it. Get back to Anna and his medical bulletins.


All this hyper vigilance on news related to Anna has us all feeling a bit out of sorts now. PTSD or Post Trauma Stress Disorder. It is a medical condition. Time hanging on our hands. Flashbacks haunt us...of the torch rallies, Kiran Bedi swaying while waving the flag, Kejriwal frowning at TV cameras, Prashant Bhushan spewing legalese. Orange hues dot our nightmares. Those are images of Swami Agnivesh entering the tent behind Anna's dais. Orange gets superimposed with white robes. That is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in his sweet sweet voice telling us nice nice things about dear dear Anna. We spend more time with Barkha and Arnab than with our siblings. No, really.


All these cloistering images. As Sharad Yadav said in Lok Sabha "ye dibba soney nahi deta" (this idiot box doesn't let us sleep). It is not just us aam janata (common people) who are restless and suffer from this syndrome, politicians suffer from it too.


Just one day of respite from the stress of the Anna syndrome and they are craving for more. Why else would they give privilege notices to actor Om Puri and activist Kiran Bedi for derogatory remarks made against them. I suspect, it is more out of a desire to debate about them in Parliament. Rake it up again and again so that TV channels can play that Ghoonghat Act of the super cop repeatedly. A bit like the Stockholm Syndrome where the hostage develops empathy with his captors.


Time to get back to life as we knew it before Anna made us think that we have a role to play in law making. Time to get back to exams, sowing the next crop, baking a cake or writing your novel. Or maybe not. Maybe this movement has shaken us from a kind of apathy into believing that it is possible to make government more accountable.


Some of us might not agree with the manner in which it was done, but none can deny that it did scare the government. What fun! Nice to scare a government at times. Scare them into action. Scare them into understanding that we matter. Yes, us powerless, defenseless people. And yes, we matter more than once in five years.


Hey M.P., next time you take my parking spot just because you have a red light on your car, I will get angry. Next time you pocket millions of tax payers' money, I will demand you go to jail. Next time farmers start committing suicide, I will ask you what the he** are you doing hoarding food grains that are rotting. Next time you jump the queue at the airport security, I might just raise my voice and say-buddy stand in line.


And, even if I don't do it, I am hoping Anna has shamed you or scared you into believing that this Jan Lok Pal Bill is just the beginning. By Smita Prakash (ANI)


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