Kollayane Veliyeru: Where citizens found the courage to speak out

A Chennai citizen briefly recounts his observations during the launch of Arappor Iyakkam's anti-corruption campaign and explains why he is hopeful about the impact that it could have.
On October 8, NGO Arappor Iyakkam spearheaded the launch of “Kollayane Veliyeru”, a large anti-corruption campaign movement aiming to bring together all those who are against corruption.
I arrived at the event a bit late, at around 6:30 or 6:45 pm on that day. Ordinarily, North Mada Street is extremely chaotic and crowded, but surprisingly, it was relatively peaceful and calm that day. Arappor had one end of the street cordoned off and traffic was being actively diverted by their volunteers, clad in shirts and caps bearing anti-corruption slogans.
I put my name down on the sign-up sheet and collected their bilingual pamphlet on corruption in Tamil Nadu and took a seat. Although reasonably well-attended, there were still a few seats available in the back, where I took one. People kept trickling in, keen to understand what was going on.
I arrived in the middle of a fiery speech that had one absolutely unique quality to it. The speaker had the courage to name and shame specific public figures and government officials. It was bold, to say the least. It’s rare to see a member of the public summon the guts to mention specific politicians, a route often avoided for fear of reprisal.
This was, to me, a welcome development, and something I’d like to see more of. He finished his speech with calls for the end of corruption and the status quo in Tamil Nadu.
After the speech, a younger girl, probably in her early twenties exhorted the youth of the state to join the movement. Long have the youth in our cities been removed from the process of governance, the cumulative effect of a generation of parents drilling engineering, medicine and allied aspirations into their kids’ heads. This has led to youngsters feeling disenfranchised and unwilling to participate in the political process.
This was followed by other calls to energise participants and get their full backing. The event was overall well-organised and an important rallying call for everyone who wants a more transparent, fair, and corruption-free government.

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