- Unity is Everything – You’re nothing without your batchmates
It’s a cold hard truth in most places, law school in particular. Be it vindictive teachers who just don’t give you attendance or merely a quest with the Exam Department, you’re going loco if you solo it. Moreover, in the absence of any grievance redressal system apart from the SBA (which generally follows the policy of non-intervention/mediation rather than representation), it’s going to be pretty damn hard, but not impossible. But if you’ve got your batch’s support, there’s nothing you can’t do. They’ll stand for you, your cause is theirs too, and there is no way the college is going to consider throwing out 96 students. Hence, you are invincible.
- Embrace the dissent
Any movement brings with it a lot of dissent, even from within. Rather than ignoring it, it’s better to work with it. For instance, a lot of people disagreed with putting up posters that expressed our disagreement with the professor in class. Big issue but nothing a little bit of wordplay couldn’t fix. The result: you’re going to end up being a lot stronger than you look. Kind of creepily goes in tandem with Sun Tzu’s advice, “appear weak when you are strong.”
- People are going to cut you short – “But what about the kids in Africa?”
You’re going to get a lot of eye-rolls, prepare yourself for loads of unsolicited advice. “Like seriously, why can’t you just ignore him”, “you’re going to unnecessarily piss the admin off”, “you know nothing is going to come out of it, drop it”, “why can’t you guys just resolve it already”, “it’s just one incident”, “focus your efforts on bigger issues”, “now they’re going to impose a dress code”.
Who said it was easy being an activist? It is disillusioning, and at these moments you really want to give up by undermining the relevance of incidents. But just because most people choose to roll with it doesn’t mean you have to. Don’t rationalise it, don’t let the apathy get to you, it’s never going to be “OK”. There will always be people who don’t agree, don’t let them bring you down.
- Hope is a good thing
In this world of endless silences and red-tape abyss, swimming against the current is a herculean task. But you’ve got to keep at it, and being positive helps. Don’t go overboard with the optimism but don’t let pessimism take over either. Be in consonance with reality but hope for the best (yes, prepare for the worst too). Pessimism loves creating cracks in that great wall of solidarity.
- (Social) Media really ups your bargaining power
Many of us chose to distance ourselves from the manner in which the matter was reported. It was irresponsible, distorted and sensationalised. But I begrudgingly admit, the media, including social media, really changed the bargaining dynamics. Nobody cares about what nobody knows. Injustice is best perpetrated in the dark. In broad daylight, it’s difficult to hide. Sometimes, switching the lights on is probably the best option you have. Social movements and the media are inextricably linked. Greater the coverage, more the bargaining power.
Also, the comments section is priceless (for beginners, start with the TOI). It makes everything you do worthwhile.
- No guts, no story
You need guts. There can be no two ways about it. If you don’t have enough of it, refrain from dishing it out often and hopefully you’ll have enough of it stored up for D-day. Our whole batch had turned up in shorts for the ADR class and in what turned out to be a little anti-climactic, the professor didn’t seem to notice. The fact that my batch had gone to such great lengths to express their solidarity gave me courage to stand up and refuse to sit down until he apologized. Within minutes, the whole batch was standing up. So guts can come from anywhere, really. Needless to add, please keep your good sense intact while binging on the guts.
7. It can be a long haul – believe in your cause
Taking up any cause is going to be challenging. Which is why it is imperative that you strongly believe in it. There are going to be no-response days, overly stressful confrontational days and all other kind of days you can come up with. Many of them are going to coax you into giving up. Since it’s going to be your belief in the cause that will prevent you from taking the bait, stronger is always better.
- Don’t get vindictive
It is almost tempting to feel vengeful, especially in the face of a brazen opponent. But keep calm and evaluate your options. Ego leads to destruction, even the winners must pay a price. On the other hand, a win-win situation doesn’t hurt anybody and we all go home happy. What would you rather choose? Come on, go get your Godfather on and make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Views are personal. Number of reasons are proportional to length of shorts.