#Aadhaar Activists’ Notebook: Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste

When I joined my company, my big boss — now my boss — used to say that that we should never let a crisis go to waste. I thought it was a good management mantra, an entrepreneurs mindset — to change every crisis into an opportunity to make more money for the company.

It was only later I came to know that it’s indeed a political mantra, and was first uttered by Winston Churchill, and more recently made famous by Rahm Emanuel.

Now, let’s come to our aim.

A crisis is a bad thing. Especially for the victim. As human beings, we feel bad, we feel sympathetic.

Absolutely true. There is *nothing* more heart-breaking than the sight of a parent holding their dead child in their arms

Now, as activists, our aim should be how to use this crisis to our advantage.

This is where insights from marketing and sales come to our help. Now, marketing insights are based on psychology. And you would have probably heard a term called conditioning. In a famous experiment, Pavlov paired a strong stimulus, that is food and with a neutral stimulus, that is bell, so the subject, dog associated the both strongly. After conditioning the dog thus, even with the neutral stimulus, Pavlov could get the dog to respond in a certain way.

That’s the technique we activists need to follow. We have to pair this event with Aadhaar so strongly, that whenever someone thinks of a dead child they should also think of Aadhaar, just the way a dog salivates when it hears the bell.

How can we make that happen. By tweeting and retweeting.

Here is an example.

The beauty of this approach is not only does it condition people to associate Aadhaar with death, it also makes people feel guilty.

If I have learned one thing from my marketing presentations, it is this. There will always be someone who, in the guise of raising a valid point, will try to pull the carpet from under your feet. The trick is to hold on. Repeat.

That is exactly what happened with this gentleman. And activists should learn how to deflect such attacks.

“Technicalities are irrelevant”

You won’t believe the number of times I have used a similar phrase to dismiss people who just want to show how sensible and intelligent they are. Nothing wrong in that. They just want to impress their boss and get a raise. What they don’t see is the big picture, which the CEO does. But even CEOs sometimes get tangled up in nitty gritties, and so you have to put your foot down and indicate that the person is merely nitpicking and missing the relevant point, the big picture. (But in sales pitches, you have to do it nicely. In Twitter, that might not work.) I liked what this gentleman did.

If you want to become an effective activist. These two replies are worth studying.

The keyword is guilt. Look at the way he masterfully turns the attention of his readers towards guilt.

Unfortunately, in my line of business, that is software product marketing, we don’t get to use this emotion much.

But in activism it’s the most important emotion. It’s the most important weapon an activist carries.

People underestimate this, so it’s worth repeating. The ability to inflict guilt is the most important ability you must develop as an activist.

Now, Hitler is bad man. He is deplorable. But, as activists we must understand history, and therefore we must understand Hitler. When you watched movies like Schindler’s List have you every wondered why the jews gave up so easily to those monstrosities committed by Nazis. The simple answer is guilt. Hitler and his propaganda machinery led by Goebbels made them feel guilty.

For a bigger cause, it’s fine to use some of those techniques.

What to do when supporters of Aadhaar raise questions, when they accuse you of not seeing the nuance? Make them feel guilty. And they will keep quiet.

(This is a part of a series)