As a fan of Indian Cricket team, how will you feel if instead of training our cricketers properly, assigning a good coach and an efficient management team for them, BCCI conducts a big puja before every tournament and sends the team to play? Will you ever have any hope either on BCCI or on Indian cricket team?
This is exactly what happened when Men’s Rights NGOs gathered in Varanasi for their national meet and the major activity they could conduct was #PishachiniMuktiPuja and #PindDaan as it seems from all their communication and media hype. A normal abused man doesn’t gain any confidence from these Men’s Rights groups because it turns out that MRAs have no other means to fight the social evils facing men today but hoping that God would solve their problems.
This becomes even more frustrating when we see prominent MRA leaders, MRM NGOs and the organizers also make this puja and #PindDaan a BIG activity. As if performing this puja was their biggest achievement in the Varanasi National Meet, 2018. Out of 15 articles published in the latest edition of Daaman newsletter, 10 are on this puja and #PindDaan featuring MRA leaders from around the nation posing and talking about this puja. This hype created around a puja by MRAs themselves projects MRM as a very weak group that doesn’t have any control over the social changes and want to depend on such pujas for success. Male victims surely don’t get any confidence from this kind of outcome of a national meet.
An activity that could at most be done by some fans (not by leaders themselves) and the activity that should have been projected as a secondary activity of the meet which was ‘also’ performed by some ‘men’ (and not by NGO leads) has created a new sense of weakness among male victims. Like some Indian fans conducting puja for India’s win may be acceptable but not BCCI doing the same.
At the outset it is pertinent to clarify that even though on the request of organizers, The Male Factor (TMF) did help plan the event and designed most of the activities, #PishachiniMuktiPuja and #PindDaan were not TMF ideas and TMF would have never have created so much hype around a non-value adding activity so that the main essence of the meet itself is changed.
So, we need to understand that the strategic objectives planned by TMF for the Men’s Rights National Meet 2018 that was not fulfilled as TMF was not present due to unavoidable circumstances.
MR Connect With the Masses
TMF has planned to connect men’s rights with the masses in a unique way for this national meet. A proposal of being live on social media with the first day’s program was given. The idea was to ensure live telecast the first day speeches of different NGO leads about MRM achievements and to generate enough public enthusiasm about Men’s Rights.
Coupled with this, a live Twitter Q&A session was suggested so that common man could ask their questions about MRM, activities, initiatives, strategies etc. An elaborate implementation plan was also given to the organizers to make these successful. However, in reality, these were not planned properly and there was only some unprofessional live footage on FB that had failed to generate enough enthusiasm among the general public. There was no live Q&A on Twitter to connect to general people. This was because the implementation plan for these activities was not followed and there was no communication before the meet about these people connect programs.
Coupled with this, TMF also planned to conduct live interviews attendees from around India during the breaks to bring out various aspects of men’s rights, how victims are getting help, victim stories, success stories, strategies etc.
This initiative suggested was aimed at creating the right perspective of MRM, its need, its achievements etc. with general people and to build their confidence in MRM. Sadly, with these being not done and a puja being hyped as the main activity of the meet takes down MRM value significantly and projects MRAs as a group of weak and superstitious people who do not have the strength to fight feminism and want to hide behind puja for results.
Future Leaders Hunt
Termed as MRA ‘Talent Hunt’, this program was aimed at finding future leaders for MRM based on ‘different leadership parameters’. This was also aimed at finding out these aspects in these promising MRAs and to give them constructive feedback on areas of improvements to become competent leaders. Today, MRM suffers from a leadership crisis and this activity was aimed primarily at resolving the crisis.
Even though this activity did happen at the meet, it happened without the strategic inputs, case studies and specific leadership traits being discussed. Each task in the activity was planned with a specific objective in mind, but since this was not possible to be shared with the organizers who were not trained in leadership development programs, these were supposed to be conducted directly at the meet. This didn’t happen because of TMF absence and hence the strategic objectives were not met. The leaders chosen might not have got correct feedback to be groomed as a successful leader for MRM.
Innovation in Street Activism
A major push was planned to boost street activism which is dying in India recently. There were innovative ideas that were planned to be presented at the conference. Even when different groups take up street activism in different times, lack of innovation in activity design leads to no success. There are multiple factors to be considered in the design of an activity that includes but not limited to are – design of communication, the design of material, language of communication, local factors etc.
There is a growing gap in MRM in RTI filing and even bigger gap sharing the knowledge related to different RTIs filed by different activists. This problem is so big, that RTI results obtained by one activist do not percolate to others and hence there are many duplications of RTI effort. Currently, there is no one in MRM who has the right knowledge of RTIs filed and hence MRM can’t take any strategic step towards bridging the gap. The MRM knowledge in these matters is very fragmented and incomplete.
A specific strategy was designed to weed out these problems from RTI activism and make it leaner, cost-effective, future-oriented and need-based to help the entire MRM. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen due to lack of strategic focus of MR NGOs and due to the absence of TMF in the meet.
Bringing Success Stories
No group can show their success without proper success stories from the past. Even if there are many success stories known to MRAs, the general population is hardly aware of those. There is a need to bring out success stories in different areas related to men’s rights by different MR groups. This is for the creation of a positive image of MRM and for better people connect. This is also needed for knowledge sharing and sharing of best practices with MRAs so that all groups can strive together for excellence.
A specific strategy was planned to be implemented through activities in ‘Talent Hunt’ but this didn’t happen due to TMF absence.
Even though the number of debates in the media about gender issues has decreased in recent times, there is a need to train activists in different media handling skills. Very often we see even prominent MR leads faltering in media handling and can’t bring the expected outcome. Examples of leaders speaking with half-knowledge or completely missing the point are many in different media experiences. Coupled with these are inexperience and knowledge as major issues with MRAs when it comes to handling media debates. All these create a negative impression about MRM and that needs to be corrected immediately.
Extensive inputs were planned for new leaders so that future media handling becomes efficient, but this objective was not met.
MRM Expansion Strategy
Currently, it is seen that MRM is not present in the locations they are needed the most but present in places that can be consolidated with other location. This is failing a major chunk of population from connecting to MRM.
A need-based expansion strategy for individual chapters was planned to be discussed and parameters for identifying the strategic expansion plans. Organizers were asked to collate specific data from different sources and this was supposed to be used for this activity during the talent hunt program. This is completely missed due to TMF absence, and we will continue to see these problems existing even in coming years if not addressed.
Course on Men’s Rights
There is a growing need for a course on men’s rights as more and more students are becoming interested in men’s rights and asking for such courses. A discussion was planned in the national meet and specific structured and unstructured brainstorming sessions were planned to be conducted by TMF during the meet to meet this objective.
Since TMF had to withdraw at the last moment this discussion and brainstorming sessions didn’t take place.
TMF has also planned to take up any other strategic initiatives for future growth of the cause as they might have emerged in the meet or if the time permitted. The plan was to focus on top few burning issues and create an implementation plan for those.
When all these strategic initiatives were planned and were to be executed in the meet, failure of doing so and promoting non-value adding #PishachiniMuktiPuja and #PindDaan as the primary activity of the meet, make MRM look like a weak and superstitious team that doesn’t have any control over social changes. Because even the Hinduism believes that performing one’s ‘Dharma’ (duties) can only lead to one’s spiritual advancement (not by performing pujas). Duties of MRAs are to ensure they become more effective and design appropriate future strategies to fight the social evils posed by feminism and not expect that to happen by performing some puja. Because even ‘God helps those, who help themselves’.
When MRM needed to come out as a strong group of committed individuals who are ready to take on feminists, they came out as very weak and undecided group of individuals after the meet. I am happy that I was kept out of this mess.