Shor in the Country: Anti-Government Protests

Posted on July 14, 2011 in Specials

By Manki P:

Integrity is being truthful to oneself and honesty is being truthful to others. In light of the present issue-ridden circumstances, shall we say, our government lacks both. But trying my level best to maintain integrity along with honesty, I admit I am left a little confused by the current rise in non-violent revolutionaries and our government’s disinterest. Civil society in the form of Anna Hazare’s Lokpal bill movement and Baba Ramdev’s anti corruption movement raise some issues which directly affect the day-to-day lives of the majority of people in India.

In spite of that I will not defend one side against another because the shallow depths of my mind remain unmoved and unprovoked. Over the course of time I have been able to deduce that it is not only important to stand-up against what is wrong but to also stand up for what can be improved and changed for the betterment of society at large. And that is the common denominator between Anna and Baba Ramdev’s fight, if only we choose to ignore cynicism which claims personal agenda and saffron colored reasons.

Given that it is important to fight the good fight but, in order to win any battle, it is even more important to fight it the right way. When I was about a decade and a year old, I was more of a revolutionary than I am now, so I happened to have given my poor parents an ultimatum to come and get me out of this horrendous of a boarding school or I would run away and come home on my own. To my surprise they came, but my blackmail fell weak in front of their stern and unchanging resolve.

Looking back, had I tried hunger strike, it might have done the trick, but only because my parents care about me and have my best interest at heart unlike a school board or a government which is devoid of feelings. Government is made up of humans with feelings, but as a collective body it functions with a brain more than a heart. It is important to remember that a government is NOT a social work organization. And that is why a multi-dimensional approach is needed by the unelected masses to bring about progressive change in the methods of governance.

Indian autonomy is not the result of a struggle based solely on Satyagraha. The greatest Indian epic, Mahabharata, also has some very valuable lessons in store for which we do not need to reinvent the wheel. If Arjun, the great Indian warrior, had declared a self annihilating revolution of hunger-strike unto death before the Kauravas, could he have maintained dignity and won back the throne of Hastinapur? I have my doubts but these examples are not to promote extremism like the Kurukshetra War, but to reassess the method and the goal of revolution. A fight without the will to win or a dire consequence for the opponent is really a lost battle even before it begins. A meaningful protest/demonstration is one which is inclusive with little exceptions, strong strategically and non violent towards others and oneself. For that one must be fit in mind and body.

In the north-east of India, a lady by the name of Irom Sharmila has spent more than 10 years fasting against a draconian law that plagues thousands in the region. And no amount of empathy can help me understand the extent of atrocities that are still committed in many parts of India. Yet I struggle to muster feelings of admiration for her relentless fight because to me it lacks not only in execution but also in intent. We must at no point let the cause of our honest protest become stubbornness. What is important to remember is that we are trying to win a revolt which is above personal egos and 10 years is a very long time to not reassess and learn from methods that have not yielded results.

In a country like India, where the value of life is nothing, with daily reports on child malnutrition, murders, accidents, rapes all across the country, how can there be any dignity in self imposed starvation which makes one a burden on hospital beds and drips for over a decade. For that matter I feel sorry for Swami Nigamanand who lost his life under suspicious circumstances while on a hunger strike to protest against illegal mining in the Kumbh region. He too had succumbed to dependency on hospital beds towards the end of his struggle and there is no way anyone can take a movement forward with a frail body. What happens to the cause/struggle after death? It too becomes only as good as the leaf in the wind, it blows away.

Like in a game of chess, the best way to win is to play all your moves wisely without sacrificing your knights, rooks, bishops or queen. Team Anna possibly has all the ingredient right in the fight. It consists of a strong team of counselors, apt use of media, and a life-time of experience. In the end, Lokpal bill might be nothing more than a toothless law, but the team would be alive to fight another day another revolution, to help strengthen the democracy of the people, by the people and for the people.