Daily Post 1538


Democracy is synonymous with protests. The nature of the protests define any democracy. Over a period of time protests also got into the daily rigmarole mode and were defined by parameters other than genuine response of the participants and their understanding of the issue. The political parties when not in power became the main protestors and agitators. They became the final custodians of the offended people’s will and custodians of their welfare. The person and group affected need not come to streets to air their grievances. Sometimes they did but mostly the political leaders and workers did the job.

As is the case with lots of democratic systems and processes, this art & science and the method of protests transformed in the same manner as the 24/7 media channels. The protesting groups would gather with banner, mikes, flags, towels, scarfs and what not, shout slogans, stop road traffic or train movements and once the pictures were taken they would vanish into the blue. There is always a professional party / group behind it. Some of these movements would end up with a meeting with big claims of struggle – never say never say die. Rabble rousing with very little of content for any future struggle.

The pics and the news coverage are enough for them and all that is documented gives the impression of a big battle. But that is not really the case. Police deployed everywhere gave an impression of a big law and order issue. The NGOs, unions, lobbyists, most have fallen into the same category. We have reached a stage that we have lost the capability to connect public anger to a protest. The state also gets a feeling that everything can brought under given the law and machinery at you command. When you lose touch with the ground even on one issue we err on the way the protest would fan out.

The surprise and perseverance on many dimensions facilitates upgrade a protest into mass protest and then achieve success in getting the professed goal. The last known protest of this kind was Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption. It achieved its instant goal. What the protagonists did to it later is a different story. The farmers agitation also shows signs different from the regular protests the govt. faces. Given the requirements of delicate handling, it cannot be treated as a mechanical law and order issue. This is not unionism nor a political party led movement. Nebulous yet concerted, very clear on the results with no known face as its leader are its strong points. With no end date in sigh, it is made the battle of a lifetime. That is its strength.


Sanjay Sahay

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