Community Organising: The Art of Grassroots Campaigning (Part 10)

David vs Goliath

A colleague recently recommended watching “Sarkar” (Tamil; available on Netflix). It is about Sundar, an NRI who comes to India to cast his vote in the Tamil Nadu state election, only to find that someone else has already voted in his name. From there starts a series of turns and twists as Sundar unites the voters against the incumbent politicians and parties. The movie is replete with song and dance, and many unbelievable action scenes and plot elements. But there are some ideas (the “one vote revolution” – similar to UVI, a government of Independents) that stand out. The key theme: change is possible if the voters unite and vote as one. David can beat Goliath.

UVI may seem mission impossible – just as the likelihood of Barack Obama becoming President did in 2007 when he began his campaign. Conventional approaches will not get us to the outcome we want; we need to think and act differently. In an India where people are increasingly wanting better but are deeply disappointed with the options on offer, UVI and Nayi Disha can be the alternative India seeks. It will need a million leaders to rise across the nation – each a David against the local Goliaths.

In an essay, “Leading Change: Leadership, Organization, and Social Movements”, Marshall Ganz writes: “Leadership is accepting responsibility to create conditions that enable others to achieve shared purpose in the face of uncertainty. Leaders accept responsibility not only for their individual “part” of the work, but also for the collective “whole.” Leaders can create conditions interpersonally, structurally, and/or procedurally. The need for leadership (a need often not met) is evident when encounters with the uncertain demand adaptive, heuristic, or innovative response: past practices are breached, new threats loom, a sudden opportunity appears, social conditions change, new technology changes the rules, and so on.”

Ganz writes about the power of the David vs Goliath story: “The story teaches us that a “little guy” with courage, resourcefulness, and imagination can beat a “big guy,” especially one with Goliath’s arrogance. We feel David’s anger, courage, and satisfaction and feel hopeful for our own lives because he is victorious. Stories thus teach how to manage our emotions, not repress them, so we can act with agency to face our own challenges.” He adds: “David committed to fight Goliath before he knew how he would do it. He knew why he had to do it before he knew how he could do it… David did not know how to use King Saul’s weapons, but he did know how to use stones as weapons… David could use his skill with stones because he had imaginatively recontextualized the battlefield, transforming it into a place where, as a shepherd, he knew how to protect his flock from wolves and bears.”

That is our challenge. We have to channel our latent leadership abilities towards the task of reclaiming our nation from the politicians and their parties, and building a free and prosperous India. We are not alone even though we feel isolated. We are not weak even as the opponents seem strong. We have the ability to lead even if we have not done it before. What we need is the courage to act with the determination to free our nation. Together, we can.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.