Rajasenan inaugurating Save Mullaperiyar event at Thiruvananthapuram beach
On Sunday, young members of the Save Mullaperiyar Dam, Save Kerala Facebook Campaign gathered on Thiruvananthapuram’s Shamkhummukham beach, giving rise to hopes of an Internet-driven new generation movement -- not to dislodge the government, but to force it to pay attention to the voice of the people.
About 200 young people arrived at the beach on motor bikes wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Build a New Dam”. The bike rally was flagged off at Kawdiyar by the well-known sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman. At the beach, which was crowded, as is usual on Sundays, they were joined by hundreds more.
Young artists, most of them students of the College of Fine Arts, working with sand, graphically depicted the potential threat posed by the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam.
A video on Mullaperiyar with a song set to music by composer Balabhaskat and rendered by Shan was screened. Balabhaskar also rendered the slogan “We Want New Dam” musically and the crowd repeated it enthusiastically.
The beach event, inaugurated by film director Rajasenan, ended with lighting of candles by the participants as Shan rendered the theme song.
It was a non-partisan affair and some of the speakers urged the political parties to join hands on the Mullaperiyar issue instead of attempting to make political gains.
There are several groups using Facebook to put across Kerala’s demand for a new dam to replace the existing one. The Save Mullaperiyar Dam page appears to be the most active one. It boasts of more than 53,000 members and has more than 1,600 photographs and 12 documents.
The role of the Internet as an agent of change has been widely discussed in the wake of the uprooting of government in some Arab countries and the spread of the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States. Whatever changes were wrought by the Internet were the result of public action, not of scribblin on Facebook Walls.
Viewed in this light, the public event organized by the Save Mullaperiyar group is a significant development. It was not a protest of the kind which we witness everyday. It was an event that revealed the youth’s vision of a new society and its readiness to work for its realization.