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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Anna is new kid on the blog, and he is loving it

A week ago, Anna Hazare went on yet another maun vrat — his 11th to date. Yet the septuagenarian activist has probably never been more vocal. For, every morning for the past three weeks, Hazare has taken to directly talking to all interested through — his blog that was launched on September 29 and that he has apparently taken enthusiastically to.

The newest kid on the blog may not know how to type or operate a computer but Hazare, say his aides, “claps his hands” every time he is shown the updated blog and the responses it has received.

“Through this blog, in a matter of moments, my thoughts reach thousands of people around the globe,” Hazare told The Indian Express, in a written response. “I am also getting their reactions. I am happy that technology is helping like-minded people come together. Had Mahatma Gandhi been alive today, I am sure he would have used this technology to reach out to the masses.”

“Anna used to get very upset every time a statement by him appeared twisted, creating controversies. Now he feels his thoughts can reach people in his own language,” said Suresh Pathare, Hazare’s personal secretary.

In fact in the first post Hazare wrote, he said: “Many a times people (even those who are close to me) make statements that do not collaborate with my thinking. Henceforth, through the medium of Internet, I will personally make sure my thoughts and views reach the people.”

While daily updates are a must, there are now many instances of two posts a day. The topics he addresses range from his Army days and the Lokpal debate to controversies of the day such as Kashmir. A recent biographical post titled ‘End of a Revolutionary’ summed up his life while in another he paid a tribute to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

New to the world of computers, Hazare has entrusted the responsibility of maintaining the blog to Raju Parulekar, a journalist, and Vijay Kuvalekar, who happens to be state information commissioner. Milind Werlekar, a software professional, looks after the technical aspects. Parulekar is helped in running the blog by a group of 13.

Hazare writes his blog posts in Marathi and translates them into Hindi himself. For the English translation, the posts are sent to Parulekar.

The aides say the activist is “extremely particular” that whatever is posted is exactly the way he has written it. “You can’t change even a single word. He decides where to put comma and where to put a hyphen. He himself edits and re-edits everything before he gives it to be keyed in, after which he again checks it before signing it,” said Pathare.

He is shown the saved webpage on a laptop as his room does not have Internet access.

“Whenever I go and show him the blog and explain to him how it works, he smiles and claps his hands with amusement,” said Parulekar.

“When I checked last, the blog had got about 64 lakh hits. Anna’s last post got 10 lakh-plus hits. We are also getting people’s comments from across the world. Annaji said that we can’t put selective comments, either put all or none. So we are moderating the comments and will soon put them all on,” said Parulekar.

“In a couple of months, the blog would be shifted to its own website,” he added. “Then it will be available in two south Indian languages and Bangla along with French and German. The blog is getting considerable hits from these places.”


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