Saturday, 27 August 2011

....and one from the followers of Baba Ramdev!


On June 7, 2011, soon after Baba Ramdev's 'fast unto death' was disrupted by the Delhi Police, I received a similarly absurd mail as the one I mentioned in my last blog.



LOKPAL BILL : JUST A MISS CALL AWAY +912261550789

Govt. of India put a condition that 25 CRORES of people support is needed to implement 'LOKPAL-BILL'
4 this we just have to GIVE A MISSED call (free) to the number - +912261550789
After giving a missed call to this no. u'll receive a thanks msg. 
Forward this 2 as many to make India corruption free. We forward stupid messages
Let's forward something that actually matters.
I HAVE REGISTERED MY VOTE: WILL U DO THE SAME????
And don’t forget to pass on this message…………….TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS/RELATIVES / FAMILY MEMBERS / OFFICE STAFF, EMPLOYEES, ETC, ETC


 
A brief and appropriate response however immediately came from one of the recipients and I quote:

"Just to inform you that Government hasn't come up with any such conditions. We are not a country who implement policies based on public memorandum, and more over not through the means of missed calls. This is definitely a misguiding message that you would have got from someone......L



I wrote to the group:

I agree with L.. Crazy nonsensical messages are being sent and rumours spread by vested interests, exploiting genuine concerns of the people. How many of us critically analyze some of the absurd demands by Ramdev and his acolytes? And the counter claims made by the state?

The group that received these mails consisted of highly educated people - and many them Post Graduate students of psychology. Yet, the mail exposing the contents of first mail was not received with enthusiasm.  On the contrary, many of them not only went ahead with making the "missed calls", but also advised others to do so. Here is a mail we have received from a 'Dr' and student of psychology:



Even if this sounds nonsensical there's no harm in supporting something which shows our positive response to a right cause . especially when it doesn't cost you a penny. I SUPPORT.....Dr A


Another wrote:

C'mon everybody...this impacts all of us and the future gen. Let us not get personal against the people who have the guts to go out there and demand what is due to us. The issues are the same and the protests are about the issues. I support fully......G


And I responded:


I am afraid I am misunderstood. I have nothing personal against anybody. I said some of the messages we receive during such occasions happen to have no sense. And some of the demands of Ramdev are, to me, unacceptable - for example death penalty for corruption. 

As concerned citizen, I am really worried about the spread of rumour - especially in this age of cellphones. I remember receiving SMSes and emails from well-meaning friends and relatives advising me to use nilgiri oil for swine flu claiming that the message originated from a prestigious institute, National Institute of Virology, Pune. It turned out to be a hoax. The institute was forced to declare that it had not recommend any such remedy. Yet, the Establishment Department in my office (a central government PSU), for instance, purchased a large quantity of this stuff and sprayed every nook and corner of the office. Here is an article I wrote then:

http://nirmukta.com/2009/08/13/swine-flu-nilgiri-oil-and-the-faux-sms/

I think we should be wary of false claims - however well-meaning the messengers are.


Thus ended the email exchanges.

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