2019 Indian parliamentary election has changed many aspects of Indian politics. All these changes bring new lessons for every group, especially those working for men’s rights movement. Even though this is an apolitical movement and people from all political colour work jointly for this cause, a nationwide movement can’t be far from political influence. Activists may still not be fighting for political power but they do need to influence the political powerhouses to get their points across. That is the reason it is important to learn lessons from Indian politics that can teach us some important aspects of success. There can’t be any better opportunity than learning from the mega success story of Modi and some of the mega failures in the 2019 election.
1. You Don’t Need Political Correctness to Win Hearts
Just before elections in her constituency Swadhwi Pragya said, Nathuram Godse who killed Gandhiji was a patriot and that statement brought earthquake in Indian politics. With opposition grinding BJP on her statement and then she was made to apologize. Even though her apology was a politically correct statement which many didn’t consider as an apology, 2019 elections saw Swadhwi Pragya as the winner from the Bhopal Constituency. In fact, this statement didn’t damage BJP’s chances in 2019 parliamentary elections in other states as well.
MRM is a politically incorrect movement. MRAs who need to say this kind of politically incorrect statements all the time, wonder how to survive and how to win people’s hearts with their message. Some of them try to make politically correct statements like they work for family rights, mother’s rights, children’s rights etc. This dilutes the original cause of men’s rights. If MRAs don’t find men’s rights a viable and correct demand how can MRM survive? It is important that all MRAs understand that political correctness is not required to win hearts but there are other factors. However, you do need to know what needs to be told and how.
Swadhwi’s constituency had an overwhelming majority of voters who knew the details of why Godse killed Gandhi and they didn’t consider him as a terrorist. It is the people who studied history written by Gandhi’s close aides and who didn’t know the truth or inside story was outraged. So, a politically incorrect statement can be made acceptable by spreading the right awareness. Needless to say, that needs hard work and dedication, but that is not impossible to achieve.
2. Not Grooming New Leadership is Often Fatal
In 2019 election, Left Parties in India has not won any parliamentary seats. This signalled an end of the left regime in India. The political analysts said, left didn’t create any new leadership and hence there was no one to take them forward. Additionally, leaders like Kanhaiya Kumar who was associated with separatist slogans were made their parliamentary candidate from Begusarai. Problem was not only he had nothing to do with left ideologies but was clearly a separatist activist, dragged the party into a greater fall.
MRM is currently under a similar situation where after 2012 this movement has failed to groom new leadership and some leaders who came forward was not enough to take the movement forward. There is a clear apathy in the movement in grooming new people and such programs designed at a national level has failed because of a large chunk of leadership wanted it to fail. As a result, MRM continues to suffer from this leadership crisis and there remains no one to take forward. Instead, some women with a tendency of show-off have become leaders of MRM.
3. Being Openly Arrogant Is Highly detrimental
The fall of the Mamata Banerjee in 2019 elections was marred by her extreme arrogance and abusive nature. She continued her abusive behaviour pointed at Modi and Amit Shah and while she was calling them thugs, goondas etc., she herself displayed those characteristics. In addition, she failed to show any hope of representing India at international forums because her behaviour was simply not suitable for a leader. Her party TMC had a great fall in the 2019 elections due to her arrogance.
The leaders of MRM very often indulge in internal fights that often becomes visible outside. Some who don’t add any value for years, keep surviving as leaders in the movement despite their high arrogance and low level of positive contribution. These leaders are the reason why hard-working activists leave the movement in despair. Also, these arrogant leaders fail to take the movement anywhere. As a result, we see a Kolkata group that was once prominent one is shut down now.
4. Not Having a Sensible Leadership Leads to a Debacle
In any group or party or movement, leaders become the mirror of the entire group. Leaders set how the group will behave or how they will be perceived by others. Congress’ leader Rahul Gandhi is the burning example of how a leader alone can drag an entire prestigious party to the drain.
MRM too is suffering from lack of able leaders. The main problem is having leaders who can drive MRM with energy. It’s not that MRA leaders are idiots like Rahul but most often these leaders are self-made leaders who can’t deliver. They may boast about their ground presence but cannot show any success in their area of activism. In addition to this, they are so arrogant that they don’t accept their failure to deliver. Very often MRM leaders send wrong pictures through different actions and don’t even understand that. Since it is an overwhelming trend and no one is trying to remediate these issues, it is unlikely that MRM can turn around in the near future.
5. Not Learning from Previous Mistakes is Often Fatal
2019 elections have shown that the opposition leaders and mainly the Congress have not learnt anything from their mistakes or probably they didn’t understand what was wrong with them. In one way it showed how immature the party and its leaders were and on the other hand, it also showed how emotionally they were detached from the masses. A series of wrong statements from Congress leadership has led to one after another misfortune. If Sam Pitroda’s “hua to hua” (on 1984 killing of Sikhs in India he said), was a death nail in Congress coffin, Sidhu’s sexist comment regarding women or Priyanka’s comparison of Modi as Duryodhan was another. In fact, before 2019 elections the opposition leaders have shown enough signs of not learning from any of their previous mistakes or mistakes committed by other leaders. That in a way proved them to be more detached from reality.
The same trend of not learning from other mistakes prevail in MRM as well. The activism that often leads to negativism is often repeated without understanding the public impact. Even worse is that MRA leaders boasting about their failed attempts. One prominent mistake that is often repeated by most of the seasoned MRA leaders is resorting to 498a or suicide stats everywhere. That makes these issues so cheap that eventually, people stop listening to these genuine concerns.
I have seen MRA leaders talking about these even in unrelated discussions. In one case, a Mumbai marathon event for handicapped people, saw such posters on 498a and rape whereas the need was to showcase the biases that existed against handicapped males.
In another case, in a discussion of domestic violence against men, the MRA leader started a discussion of 498a at the slightest hint of the interviewer without realizing the ample opportunities he had to discuss domestic violence law, its procedures and different sections and how men were suffering more from domestic violence compared to women. What is more alarming is, often it is seen that these pathetic performances of MRA leaders and groups are very often lauded by other leaders, ensuring the death of the movement.
In a Facebook interaction with the women’s minister Ms Maneka Gandhi, immediately after her introducing the National Policy for Women, MRAs were found talking about same 498a misuse and suicide rates whereas the discussion demanded discussion of the policy and many anti-male policies therein. It was after a lot of internal fight MRAs were made to comment on the policy rather than on 498a misuse or suicide.
6. A lot of Leaders With No Vision is Worse Than a Few Visionary Ones
The 2019 elections in India has thrown out the parties with opposing ideologies coming together for stopping Narendra Modi. But all these political pundits were defeated by two visionary leaders of BJP. Even the Mahagathbandhan (a group of parties coming together and fighting together) has failed miserably in UP.
This was a clear signal of how important is having visionary leaders who are determined to work and change society. Since leaders create a perception about a group, leaders’ behaviour or incompetence often costs the team more dearly than is ever thought of. It is this incompetence that leads the leaders to discuss unrelated matters like 498a and suicide rate all the time in every discussion. This shows that these leaders have no knowledge about their own subject, Men’s Rights.
The Mahagathbandhan or mega-allies has also made it clear that the lack of innovation and vision is often suicidal. When all their speeches were centred around bashing Modi, it seemed that they didn’t study anything in depth. Even Modi criticism was random and not based on any data or logic. It is very often seen in MRA leaders as well. When they keep talking about the same old 498a, rape or suicide stats in all discussions, they show a characteristic that they are not prepared for the discussion or do not have enough study about the subject. This shows their lack of interest in activism and hence create an impression about lack of vision.
7. Simply Spending Years in Politics, Doesn’t Make One a Great Statesman
Mamata Banerjee has spent a few decades in politics and she has shown a phenomenal contribution in overthrowing the 37-yr-old left government in Bengal. However, she has still carried an image of a fighter opposition leader who can shout at the top of her voice or threaten people but can’t lead a state. Probably she doesn’t even understand what leadership is. Her interactions very often show a lack of vision and an arrogant attitude that is a huge deterrent for a national leader. She might have acquired power in Bengal but she could not transform into a statesman.
This is a phenomenon that is crippling Indian MRM for years. Most of the MRA leaders are old timers who do not even bother to learn and improve. Most of them have no knowledge of MRM itself. It becomes evident when they talk in any interview. Even the prominent ones can be dragged to age-old discussion of 498a misuse. Since this is the comfort zone for them, they feel happy to talk about this without realizing the huge opportunity they are missing.
If we think that these MRAs have huge knowledge about 498a cases that is also not true. Most of them do not anything beyond 98% false cases or some random examples of misuse. If you ask them about the trend of misuse at different social levels, or in the hands of different institutions, or any other critical information about 498a they will not have any information. Many will not be able to tell the 498a figures of a particular year even. This is mainly due to the fact they don’t have any study in that direction.
With MRAs not being habitual readers, MRAs are not even interested to take help of existing research work available in the public domain like The Male Factor. The result is often disastrous, and they often end up talking about the same age-old things that MRAs used to say even 10 years ago.
Added to this, if we consider other parameters of leadership we see most of the MRA leaders failing in all the parameters because they have become leaders simply by showing their face and not really contributing in any manner. Even though they may boast about their ground presence when we evaluate their performance based on their ground presence (how many favourable judgments passed, how many successful child-custody cases won or how many PILs successfully ended in changes in laws or simply how many new MRAs added to the group) we see them failing. Still they remain as MRA leaders and as a result, we see today that some random women with no men’s rights background becoming mouthpieces of MRM today. All old-timers are easily replaced because MRA leaders could not create strong branding for themselves.
8. Not Talking Sense When You Have the Mike, is Disastrous
Leaders like Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi, Navjyot Singh Sidhu and Mamata Banerjee has lost all respect because of their not so sensible speeches and interactions. In this case, ‘having a mike’ refers to expressing one’s opinion in any public forum in any manner. This includes write-ups as well. These leaders have shown clear characteristics that they don’t know what to say, when, where and how much. They also don’t know where to stop. All these important characteristics of any leader. As a leader, all of them are not valued by the public.
In this case, I have used the reference to ‘mike’ for expressing one’s opinion in any form. It may be in written form as well. This is very often seen that MRA leaders fail in their communication. This happens due to several reasons, but the main reason is their lack of depth of knowledge about the subject they are speaking about. It is because MRM has virtually zero studies on any matter. They use the same age-old statistics and don’t bother to spend that extra energy to do the hard work to understand different nuances of MRM.
This also reflects in any MRA article written by these leaders. Unless leaders of a movement become great debaters, writers and public speakers no movement can survive. Again, this quality is rooted in the hard work on research and constant discussion of different MRM issues. Since none of this is currently happening, most often MRA leaders fail to make any mark.
9. Random Activities Are No Activity At All
One reason for TMC debacle in West Bengal was TMC has continued to have all meaningless activities and showed them as the growth of Bengal. For example, they wanted to show ‘chop frying’ as an industry or painted old bridges in blue and white to show they were renovating those bridges. They paid money to local clubs, Durga puja committees and organized local fairs, football, Cricket tournaments etc. without focusing on real growth and development of Bengal. Initially, the people of Bengal were happy but soon they realized that these were all external shines devoid of any long-term measure.
Similarly, it is important for the MRAs to understand that random and poorly conceived activities are very often detrimental to the whole group. It shows poorly on the entire group’s capability. For instance, the 2018 National Meet has seen all MRA leaders meeting for a conference to perform a puja. This sent a message that instead of creating new research material for MRM or drafting strategies to counter immensely powerful feminism, MRAs started believing in some Puja of a ‘female’ god (maa Ganga). This has shown entire MRM as weak because all leaders from all corners of the country have participated and also showed that they probably didn’t have any other meaningful avenue left to fight with feminists, and hence has resorted to something randomly to show their faces in media.
Similarly, every time a wrong message is sent, that becomes detrimental for the entire movement. Likewise, promoting only 498a, DV, rape etc in a marathon for handicapped people without highlighting any of their issues were also blunders. These random activities, make these groups spend money unnecessarily, wastes a lot of energy and time but without any result, or even worse negative result.
10. If You Have The Right Attitude, You Can Win
One of the many lessons we can learn from PM Modi is how he has taken forward the BJP campaign in 2019 and how he had developed a strong persona that attracted everyone to him, even the opponents. This winning attitude was never devoid of a strong value system. This teaches us that Indians are still driven by their strong value system.
The idea of men’s rights has surely gained grounds in the last few years but it failed due to the absence of such leaders who could take it forward with grace. Someone who was committed to the cause and a team who was ready to listen to him and accept him as a leader. Absence of such kind of dedicated leaders has seen MRM leadership being grabbed by some attention seeking females with no emotional attachment to the cause. This is the reason male victims today feel cheated by their own movement.
11. There is No Alternative to Hard Work
Smriti Irani’s case study is very important for MRAs to understand. Smriti Irani has snatched the Amethi constituency seat from the Gandhi family in this election. This was a confirmed family seat for the Gandhi family and it was a humongous task for anyone to defeat a Gandhi from there. But Smriti has done that with élan and very hard work. She has started her hard work even after getting defeated in 2014 and continued working for the people of Amethi and delivered in the last five years, despite not being the parliamentarian from there. Ultimately her hard work in Amethi has paid-off in the 2019 elections when she defeated Rahul Gandhi with a modest margin.
The reason I have given this example for MRAs is to inform them about the hard work necessary for success. There is no alternative to hard work and a politically incorrect movement like the Men’s Rights can’t succeed without everyone working hard. Unfortunately, the trend is seen to the contrary. With almost no one working hard for a better MRM, the movement is also getting dried up for activists, new ideas of activism, meaningful articles and a lot of other things. In spite of being in activism for 15 years, this movement still does not have a successful YouTube channel or a sustainable stream of researchers, writers and speakers.
Another very harmful trend in MRM is stealing the credit of others’ work. This is such a bad phenomenon that MRM is losing meaningful contributors and many have stopped contributing.
12. You can Remain Positive, Even in Extremely Negative Conditions
2019 parliamentary election has seen an unprecedented personal attack on Modi. From WB CM Mamata Banerjee wanting to slap him to calling him goonda etc. it was a never-ending affair. However, Modi didn’t lose his calm and responded to every slur hurled at him with poise and his strong sense of humour. He didn’t resort to any personal attack on the opposition that led to his winning the elections.
Personal attack on MRA leaders on any social media platform or at a personal level is an everyday affair. Modi is a strong example of how MRAs need to behave in adverse situations. A positive attitude and a strong character that is willing to go that extra mile to deliver shows a winning attitude. A lethargic soul, someone who can’t deliver the right results or someone who is not sincere in his activism only brings negativity to the group. It is seen that in MRM most of the leaders who retain their leadership because they have spent years in MRM without contributing often becomes wrong examples of leaders that demotivate others.
[This is part of the series ‘The Causal Affair’.
All articles under this can be found – Here]