Will you switch off your phone on January 30?

The impromptu endorsement of Narendra Damodar Modi as the Next Prime Minister of India by the chieftains of two major cellphone companies—Anil Ambani of Reliance Communications, and Sunil Mittal of Airtel—on top of a similar endorsement by Ratan Tata, who too has a cellphone company in his bouquet, has sparked a novel protest form.

The call to switch off your cellphones and observe Friday, 30 January 2009 as “Cellular Silence Day”.

The following open letter accompanies an online signature petition.


Dear Messrs Ratan Tata, Sunil Mittal and Anil Ambani

I am one of a billion Indian citizens.

I am somewhere in the middle of that pyramid that you wish to give voice—from bottom to top—through wealth creation.

I am proud of the brands you represent that have made India proud.

I am one of the burgeoning Indian middle-class that share your aspirations of mutating India from indolent elephant to thundering tiger.

It ends there…

I have hitherto been accused of being indifferent and apathetic, simply because I am overawed and felt overwhelmed in a system replete with Goliaths.

But when I saw you embrace the fascist mastermind of state sponsored genocide as a future Prime Minister and endorse the Modi-fication of India, it was disappointingly apparent that the brands that aspire to make India rich shall continue to languish in ethical poverty.

While I am filled with revulsion at your endorsement of Narendra Modi, I must respect your right to do so as a fellow citizen.

In writing this petition I am a mere David amongst the mightiest corporate Goliaths but I feel empowered to address your collective amnesia—through recollection of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002—by the true Goliath among Gujaratis in particular and Indians in general, Mohandas Gandhi.

All those who sign this petition will switch off their Tata Indicomm, Airtel and Reliance cellular phone and broadband connections from midnight on 30 January 2009.

It is eminently possible that I might be the one voice in a billion who will observe the 61st death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on as Cellular Silence Day.

Then again, there might be close to a billion who could join me on 30 January 2009 expressing their solidarity and silently insisting that the captains of India Inc adopt an ethical, compassionate path to wealth creation rather than the single-minded pursuit of the bottomline.

We shall know that by the end of 30th January, 2009.


A David among corporate Goliaths

Sign the petition here: PetitionOnline.com/30JAN09/petition.html

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Good for them = Good for us?

‘The man who sowed the dragon seeds of hatred’