Occupy Mumbai: ‘We are already too crowded’

There is talk of an Occupy Mumbai on social media, planned for 29 October on Madam Cama road, but what you see so far screams 'don't go there'.

Tegta October 17, 2011 19:51:24 IST
Occupy Mumbai: ‘We are already too crowded’

Occupy, Occupy, Occupy. That's what the city is about — the squatters, the wada pav/Chinese bhel sellers, the builders... And it's restless. So while Anna has left and gone silent, here is another idea to toy with, this time an import, not Swadesi. It's called Occupy Mumbai and it is meant to have followed the lead of the original movement, Occupy Wall Street, sweeping across the US and fast spreading across the world, condemning the MNC-State nexus.

You'd ask what better place for an anti-corporate protest than Mumbai — right? — India's financial capital. One would think! And there is a light fizz on Twitter, people wanting to know of a local version of the American movement here in Mumbai.

Curiosity led to a quick Google search on occupy Mumbai and sure enough there was a Facebook page, a Twitter account — that on last count had 272 followers — started by a pro Jan Lokpal group, and an official website claiming affiliation to Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Together and Occupy Globally.

Occupy Mumbai We are already too crowded

You'd ask what better place for an anti-corporate protest than Mumbai. AFP Photo

This group has planned an occupation on 29 October on Madam Cama Road. Fast moving, guys! But that's about it. From what it seems, they will have a hard time mobilising a crowd (though, some are talking about attending).

What are they demanding?

Just about everything that has been making news these days. And just about everything that ought to enrage every conscientious man/woman. Here's the assorted bouquet of grievances as listed on their site — any resemblance to Occupy Wall Street's mandate is purely coincidental; or wait did I see a line about MNC's abusing the rights of Indians? And looks like the court has already taken care of demand number 2 (Bhatt was not a political prisoner).

"Our aim is to bring change in India to make it a more socially advanced and democratic nation. This can only be achieved through the following:

1) The Indian government must do more to prevent currently rampant corruption
2) All political prisoners such as Sanjiv Bhatt must be freed immediately.
3) The Indian government must stop transnational corporations abusing the rights of Indians.
4) The Maharashtra state government must invest more money into the Dharavi administrative ward which has become overrun with poverty.
5) India must focus less on it's foreign policy and more upon it's own people.
6) India must end state-sponsored brutality through the police, the Border Security Force and militia groups such as Salwa Judum
7) India is encouraged to give the right to bear arms back to it's citizens."

Reminds me of my friend who had had quite enough of my insistent complaining. One day, she finally sat me down to make a 20-point list of what's wrong with my life, which ended with 'I can't bear a tan' and 'I don't like to sweat'. That is in no way trivialising the issues but the intent of copycat protestors who will hop on to any excuse for a catharsis in the guise of changing the world.

On to their political leanings:

"The political views of those involved in this movement differ hugely. Among us there are anarchists, libertarians, the far-right, conservatives, socialists, social Democrats, liberals, nationalists and theocrats. We are united in that we want justice for Mumbai, and India as a whole."

Wonder why that looks familiar. May be this is why. There is always Wikipedia!

While Twitter's Occupy Mumbai at least takes a shot at choosing issues with sure potential for resonance, the Facebook page betrays a ‘foreign hand’.

The things it says!:

• They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

• They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

• They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

• We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

While this would make for good circus, hopefully there will be some genuine forum on the Internet for Mumbaikars hoping to do a New York on Dalal Street.

On that parting note, some Twitter humour:

@Prasad Patkar: Any 'Occupy' happening in Mumbai? Apart from 'Occupy Fashion Street'
@madmanweb: There were plans to have an "Occupy Mumbai" movement in South Bombay but nobody would've been able to tell the difference.
@TheFocusMan: Will mumbai indifferent people ever do a "occupy BMC" movement?
@tushardverma: Pls don't think of occupying any street in #mumbai. We are already very crowded and hardpressed for space here.
@andreaclear: We could all #occupyMumbai, but with a hawkers already doing such a great job what's the point?

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