ByÂ Pratham Karkare:
A broken down Yoga camp, a hospitalized yoga guru, dancing politicians and confused citizens all contribute to a not-so-perfect picture of a country which has proudly called itself a democracy for the last 64 years. After experiencing years of colonization, the basic idea behind the formation of the Indian democracy was to give the people of India rights to chose people who would be the major decision-makers for the betterment of their country and society. A democracy survives on people’s participation. However, India is an indirect democracy, which implies that people do not have a direct say in the legislative and judicial matters of the country. Hence, people cannot directly vote for or against any law passed by the government.
Thus, it is not difficult to see that there may arise a conflict of ideas and thoughts where a group of people may not be convinced by the viability of a law or of certain existing practices. And so it makes complete sense to speak out, and even dance if you are good at it, to show your protest. Although the recent times in India have seen a number of protests that have made the newspaper headlines, the fulfillment of the purpose of the protests is questionable.
Of all these protests– each one having a different cause and degree of relevance- the most famous have been the protests under the leadership of Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. An important thing to note is that what made these protests large scale were the media coverage and the people’s support. Baba Ramdevs’ peaceful protest had many ups and downs, and quite a large amount of public support. However, the protest soon turned into a battle ground for political parties with Congress and BJP leaders having a go at each other. More emphasis was paid on what one leader said about the other rather than coming up with an effective solution to the problem. Baba Ramdev, whose protest was ultimately crushed by the police on 8th June 2011, called for men and women across the country to join his army.
In the land of Gandhi , a yoga guru calling for people to participate in what may potentially be an armed revolt, not only hurts the idea of democracy but also makes us wonder whether these so-called peaceful protests are actually required and if a much more diplomatic approach to problem-solving is necessary .
It is said that protests invite persuasion. Well, Swami Nigamananda died after holding a 73-day fast to protest against the illegal mining in Ganga. Wasn’t his cause, his death persuasive enough? Probably, it was, but I guess it wasn’t “peppy” enough. He did not have 50,000 followers but he did have a voice. Somewhere down the line it seems that democracy has failed or at least not been entirely effective, and the protests have done a very decent job exposing a number of facts regarding our democratic system. Our leaders are not effective enough, but then again we choose them, thus it seems that we have made some mistakes in fully understanding and using the rights that we had been provided.
Today, we proudly call ourselves citizens of a country which is on the verge of becoming a developed nation. However, these protests and their ineffective outcomes not only question our unity and integrity as a nation.