Politics & Economy

Do people need to protest?

Protests? Thinking of demonstrations?

Well, Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal may have parted ways but together they have sown the seeds of a new phenomenon in India – the cult of protests by the ‘civil society’.

In a democracy, the people have the right to peaceful demonstrations and protests against government actions or in-actions. It is a legitimate means for the masses to vent out anger and anguish and a tool to pressurise the elected representatives into doing things.

Today in India, unfortunately, the protest demonstrations seem to be losing its sheen. The government of the day seems to have gauged the outcome of such movements and have become somewhat complacent about them.

Protests generally start with genuine concerns of the common man and are apolitical in the beginning and are enthusiastically supported by an overwhelming media but are not able to remain so and lose focus mid-way. Why is it so happening?

In a democracy, if there is anger in common citizens over mis-governance and in-action of the authorities and the protesters take to the streets, the opposition political parties are certain to step-in and take advantage of the situation. There is nothing wrong in it also. But, the moment political activists from the opposition political parties join shoulders with the common man, the trouble starts.

The demonstrations are then taken to another level and the government gets an opportunity to play down the anger and agony of the common man by saying that the protest demonstrations are politically motivated and they need to be curbed by use of force. The media too starts finding faults with the movement and shifts focus from highlighting the core issue.

It is then that the apolitical common citizen retreats – empty handed, frustrated, helpless.

And in a desperate bid to keep garnering media support, the leaders of such protests start saying that their protests were not against any particular political party. In a democracy, such stands are absolutely meaningless. Every protest or demonstration has to be against the government of the day and the ruling party and if it is not so, why should the government or the ruling party be bothered?

Now, why does the common man resort to the streets and demonstrate over every second issue. Why can’t the people of this country give to themselves a government which will take care of their well-being as a part of its duty? It is not all that tough.

All that the people of the country need to do is exercise their wisdom and jurisprudence while choosing their legislatures. The common man of this country today is spending lot of time and energy participating in protest demonstrations over issues which concern him but he is reluctant to spare a thought when it comes to electing his representatives – which actually matters the most in a democracy.

There were protest demonstrations in Delhi and elsewhere over a gang rape case and a commission was set up to review the law relating to rape. Fast-track court has been set up too to impart justice to the rape victim. Hope something good comes out of it and the victim gets justice. But what about thousands of other rape victims? What about the general mis-governance which concerns the common man day in – day out.

So the crux is if we need good legislation and good governance in general, we need to elect able, honest and sensitive legislatures. Sadly, most of the literate middle class populace don’t care about exercising its franchise even once in five years and those who reach the polling stations, choose their representatives based upon criteria such as – party, caste, community, region and some short-term gains; and competency is invariably last on their agenda.

The bottom-line, therefore, is – in a democracy, which by far is the best form of governance, there is no alternative to electing good legislators who are able, honest and sensitive to our causes.

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