On pamphlet activism

propaganda_postersFor any idea to work, its dissemination is as important as the inception itself. Undoubtedly, the invention of printing press has accelerated the process of dissemination of ideas. May it be the revolutions or the new ideologies driven by the spirit of equality and freedom – posters, pamphlets and books have played critical roles. It was also the invention of printing press, which marked the beginning of the ongoing struggle for freedom of expression.

May it be Thomas Paine during the American revolution, or the slogan ‘Inqalab Zindabad‘, which infused a new spirit of nationalism in the Indian freedom struggle – pamphlets have always played critical role. The Hindustan Socialist Republic Army under the leadership of Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh composed The Red Pamphlet and threw out copies of it when they dropped smoke bombs in the parliament to grab national attention. And not to forget the Communist Manifesto (Marx, Engels) which stands out as the most widely read pamphlet in history. It is one of those rare piece of works upon which history got built.

Internet is the new revolution in media. Internet has given newer dimensions to the art of pamphlet activism. While print media was read-only, Internet gives read-write access to the masses. The avenues of Internet allows a user to not only listen to opinions, but also to make his voice heard. This invariably gives a great responsibility on the citizen’s shoulders. With increased number of blogs and young writers, it is high time we understand that with great power comes great responsibility! When they say – a pen is mightier than a sword – it can also be in a negative sense. Internet – like a pen or a sword – is nothing but a tool. It can be used or misused. As writers, the digital pamphleteers of the evolved world, we can either choose to write and speak about issues that matter, or we can write junk for short term popularity. The ball is in our court.


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