It's the latest fad in India. Follow it, and it is almost guaranteed to make you a celebrity overnight. Well, in most cases if not all. It helps if you are already quite well known because then, it will add to your repertoire. If you are not so well-known then you may garner anything ranging from instant fame to absolute indifference.It's worth a try any which way. Just pick an issue which is irking the public at large (there are a variety of them to choose from) and go and do a dharna/anshan somewhere. Prepare your slogans, clear your voice and if possible, get a few heckled supporters to join you as well. Yes, it's that easy.
If there is a trend, there has to be a top-five. So joining the top-five bikinis/mini-skirts/distressed jeans is a list of top-five fasts. Here goes.
1. Anna Hazare - Fast Fame
This is the one that started it all. The great Indian public, which is troubled to no end with corruption, high-prices, inflation, terror etc. needed a mouthpiece to vent its anger. And lo, Anna appeared as if sent by God himself. The multitudes joined him in the protest for the now famous Lokpal bill. Which seems to be getting somewhere, after all. Or so we'd like to think. After the terror attacks and more fasts by more people, the media seems to have forgotten about the Lokpal. So has our public. But this one deserves the No.1 spot, that's for sure. We got to know that there is somebody called Anna Hazare and there is actually something called the Lokpal bill at least.
2. Swami Nigamananda - Fast oblivion
When some of the protesters at Anna's rally were asked as to why the Lokpal bill was so important, they responded with confused answers and equally baffled expressions on their faces. Well, who's concerned as to what the bill does? We want to protest and we will, so there!
I am sure most of us will think of sex scandals and visualize petty starlets having a romp in bed with saffron-clad men when we hear of 'Nigamananda'. To the confused, this swami is different from my spiritual guide Nithyananda, of the Ranjitha fame.
This swami (idiot) was on a fast against the pollution in the Ganga (who cares, that river is as clean as a gutter. Holy, my ass!). The best part was that he died fasting! The even better part was that nobody cared. This shows that you have to pick a proper issue when choosing to stage an anshan. Nigamananda does not deserve the number 2 spot, but I am giving it to him because he died. This tribute on this unknown blog is the most he will get after all.
3. Irom Sharmila- Fast FAIL
Who? What? Sharmila Tagore? Where?
Are the few reactions that this name elicits. This is a woman who is demanding the removal of the AFSPA from Manipur. Some of her relatives were killed by the army, and so she has been on a fast since the past eleven-odd years. Yes, you heard right, eleven years. She is being force-fed to keep her alive since so many years. Methinks that's what the funny tube up her nose is for. This is another case of fasting for a cause that the majority does not care about. I mean, most of us from the rest of India can hardly pinpoint Manipur on the map. The whole of the north-East is a geographical confusion and we usually show interest only in the case of earthquakes and such. God only knows why she is still alive. Poor girl.
4. Narendra Modi/Vaghela - Fast Savvy
Why he chose to fast in the first place, nobody knows. But the desired effects have been achieved. The media went ballistic, Modi got the much-needed fillip among the masses and the power of fasting as a trend has been demonstrated to great effect. In the battle of the fasts, Congress leader Shankar Vaghela started a counter-fast against Modi's sadbhavana fast. This one was a five-star fast. There was an air-conditioned hall, celeb visits and media blitzkrieg. This one deserves a position on this list because it demonstrates the power of fasts even when you are fasting for no specific reason.
5. Baba Ramdev - Gender-bender Fast
He tried the fast-for-no-apparent-reason tactic too, albeit with different results than the one by Mr. Sadbhavna. One of the 'reasons' for the fast was the billions of Indian money stashed in Swiss banks. It ended in the swami dressing up in drag and trying to escape the cops. In an apparent case of the 'aa bail mujhe maar' syndrome, there were investigations conducted against the Yoga-man and his ashram. There have been reports of financial-funny business in his organization and the swami has been subdued ever since. He still merits a place in this list because he dared to dress in a salwar kameez.