Donations, merchandise sales help pay for venue arrangements
The participants in the anti-corruption demonstration at Freedom Park in the city are not just giving up a day's work, pay or studies; they also appear to be loosening their purse strings generously.
India Against Corruption (IAC), which is behind the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption crusade, has made adequate arrangements for demonstrators to gather in good numbers at the park here and appears to have already recovered the expenses it incurred.
With generous contributions and brisk sale of caps and T-shirts, specially manufactured for the movement, the IAC has broken even in three days recouping the Rs. 6 lakh it has spent since the commencement of the protest.
Not only was the stock of merchandise exhausted on the fourth day, the organisers also stopped accepting donations on Friday.
Ashwin Mahesh from the IAC told The Hindu the organisers collected Rs. 1.63 lakh on the first day and Rs. 3.4 lakh on the second day as donations and from the sale of caps and T-shirts. This is despite the Rs. 500 ceiling on individual donations.
“We kept the ceiling to make it possible for everyone to contribute. But there are people willing to give more. On the first day, someone donated $100. As the volunteers did not know to calculate its worth in rupees, they accepted it,” said Nitin Jagtap, a volunteer.
All sold out
Apart from donations, people are snapping up the merchandise. In less than three days, the organisers sold 1,200 Gandhi caps and 1,800 T-shirts. By Friday afternoon, all were sold out.
“The caps, procured from the Khadi Bhandar at Rs. 33 a piece, were sold at Rs. 40 each to avoid change issues. Similarly, the T-shirts were sold at Rs. 130 while we bought them at Rs. 124 each. We have run out of the first stock and are now planning to order more,” said IAC volunteer Rajashekhar Maran.
As for the contributors, the feel-good factor of funding “a good cause” appears to be the propellant. As student Sharath Kashyap, who gave Rs. 100 from his pocket money, said: “When someone is taking up a cause for our good, it's only fair that the public makes small contributions.”
“Wearing the cap and the T-shirt makes me feel part of the movement,” said Mithun Ganesh.
Vendors make merry
The organisers are not the only ones having a satisfying financial situation. Some vendors flocking the venue too are laughing their way to the bank. Bookseller Y.L. Iranna, who has just two titles, Enidu Lokpal and Anna Hazare, is selling at least 500 copies a day. However, vendors selling eatables said sales had dipped. “Looks like everyone comes here only to fast,” complained a churmuri vendor.