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“To Hell With The System” : A Reply To Dhruv Arora

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By Anshul Kumar Pandey: 

Dhruv Arora in his post From Punishing Monsters To Being Monsters: Let’s Not Conclude This With A Flipside on Youth Ki Awaaz has called the violent demonstrations at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and Vijay Chowk yesterday against the heinous Delhi Gang Rape case as ‘foolish’. I beg to differ.


The visuals we saw yesterday on the TV screen were reflective of the larger psyche and the mentality of the youth of this country today who is fed up of the political chicanery, bored of the partisan dilly-dallying and does not want to sacrifice his/her spirit of political participation in the daily grind of rhetorical volleys. What we saw yesterday, whether it be called aggression, raw anger, passionate energy or as Dhruv would choose to define it, foolish tactics, it cannot be denied that this is the very protest that has jolted India’s perennially slumberous political class into action and has yielded lightening fast responses. After all, how many times have we seen a Sonia Gandhi coming out of her house in the middle of the night to pacify youngsters who were relentless in their quest for answers and justice? How many times have we seen a Sheila Dikshit hiding her face and taking the short cut out to escape in a state which had just returned her party to power? How many times have we seen the MoS for Home taking questions directly from the Youth of this country on Live Television in order to pacify their anger?

These are the happenings that have never before occurred in the history of this nation because the political class of this country has been never before confronted with a mob of violent demonstrators around the symbols of democracy right in the heart of the capital. These are the very symbols which had been rendered cold and unresponsive over six decades of the political neck grabbing and name calling on the hapless body of the common man. Yet, these are the very symbols which came alive yesterday and radiated the anger of this country in its full glory when that common man decided to muster all his energy and grab both ends of the political spectrum by their collars and demand accountability. The political class, as we saw, was sputtering between gasps of breath to utter its haphazard and unsatisfying blot in the name of an answer.

Dhruv writes that “We have the power; we just need to use it properly. All this violence is not required. This is not the matter of one government failing, this is a matter of the system failing. We must not make this about overthrowing this government with another one. We need solutions, not reactions” and yet he fails to see that a dysfunctional system running against the clock to meet the demands of its populace neither can come up nor can accept solutions as it is an affront to its status as being the “system”. The veritable wheel of democracy, so far suppressed under the baggage of the egotist political class, decided to gyrate over the obstacles yesterday, causing all those above to shake in terror.

Dhruv’s response to these spontaneous demonstrations to demand justice also reignites the age old debate of violence vs. non-violence. Only in this case, facts and context has irrevocably shown us that short term tactical violence can be far more effective than long term non-violence. Don’t we remember the recent Jan Lokpal movement whose originators and propagators had claimed, with a holier than thou aura hovering around their heads, that their indefinite fast would provide us with an anti corruption law which had been reduced to a game of legislative ping pong for the past 44 years? Was non-violent successful in getting us the desired end? We must not barter the need to obtain political justice with the appeal to capture the morally sanctimonious position.

As the 23 year old medical student fights for her life in Safdarjung Hospital, it is fitting that we all fight with an equal ferocity against the forces that be to obtain justice. Let us demand answers! Let us demand tougher laws! Let us demand justice!

[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author: Anshul Kumar Pandey is studying Political Science in University of Delhi. He blogs at To read his other posts, click here.[/box]

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  1. Dhruv Arora

    Anshul, it’s quite easy to romanticize revolutions and get carried away in the current, but there’s a bit more to that. I am by no means calling the protests foolish, but allowing ourselves to be fueled by a propaganda that is not ours and getting violent in our approach is what I was referring to. We need to protest, it’s important. A collective voice MUST be heard, but what we did yesterday gave the authorities a reason to shush it. We are not a violent mob, and we don’t need to act like one.

    You are absolutely right, history has shown that violent protests often call for faster reactions, but they are no more than reactions. It’s not about this particular rape case, it’s about a collective frustration that we’ve had enough, and we have. What history also shows, which too you have pointed out, that never before have we seen such a collective uproar from the youth of the entire nation. It’s not about Delhi anymore, it’s not about the Gang rape. It’s about the message that we’re not going to stand for it anymore. We need to protest, we need to unite and raise our voice, and it is in our hand to take an informed decisions – elections are fast approaching. We must not forget this. I agree, electing a different party seldom leads to solutions of the nations problems, but how do you think occupying Rashtrapati Bhawan will solve a thing?

    The message was simply imploring us to not become a gang of gundas to protest against a gang of rapists. We don’t need it, we are the informed youth that has the power to think.

    1. Anshul Kumar Pandey

      Dhruv, I am by no means romanticizing the violence that occurred at Vijay Chowk or in front of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. My point of contention was with the very idea of non violent form of protest as being the ideological flagpole of the concept of resistance. As soon as the violence broke out, everyone in the media studios of Delhi was quick to ascribe it to ‘lumpen elements’ in the crowd because their conception of a protest can only envisage petite women and suited men carrying out 2 minute candle light marches and then discussing the issue in fancy restaurants in South Delhi over a plate of overly priced dinner. The idea of a violent form of protest is alien to this elite because it neither covers, nor informs this very kind of protest that take place regularly in Kashmir, Telengana and the North East. The Youth of those regions are also well informed, as you say, and certainly, they have much more power to think because they are present in a zone where state repression is at its height.

      The point that I want to make is, when faced with a lumpen political system that is ruled by people who are totally out of touch with the grass root reality and having a conscience whose radius does not extend beyond their very constituency, does it make any sense to go to Jantar Mantar or India Gate and sit in a silent form of protest knowing that the next day everything would be forgotten and that the life would return to numbing normalcy? Thanks to the violence at the India Gate and Vijay Chowk, we can now be sure that this issue would hog the limelight unless or until the girl is safely discharged from the hospital and her rapists are behind the bars. This incident has also helped initiate the systematic changes that you talk about. Ask yourself, had this been a non violent protest, would our politicians be talking about reducing VIP security and initiating more thorough police reforms. I don’t think so. At most, the rapists would have been swiftly persecuted and the matter would have died down. But we are talking about and seeing real change now.

      One reason I am defending the violent actions of the mob even though I know it was most likely instigated by NSUI members to end the agitation is because I see the shades of resistance to the system that we previously saw in Greece, Britain and Chile. The anger of the youth must not subside and the political class must know that we are not compliant and docile citizens who would only protest non violently. With this in mind, I believe, we will obtain much better results.

    2. Guneet Narula

      What real change are we seeing now? We don’t even know what we want, how can we ‘obtain’ better results like this?

      We are not even sure of what justice means, in this case or otherwise. In another post you are advocating for surgical castration for these criminals, and then you are talking about real change. How hypocritical is this? Your sexist view of this situation sums up patriarchy and the hegemony of the culture we are living in.

      With violent protests and retributive justice, you are letting this menace run free again. Such crimes will haunt this society again in the near future, and I blame the likes of you for it. You are going for the easy, convenient option, like the society has been in the recent: “a) blame other people”

      It’s about time we use our minds. It’s about time we exercise the intellect that our education system has packed up and sent to the deeper reaches of our brain. Our fellow human beings, the oppressed women and men, are in need and we better think our actions through to help them.

    3. Anshul Kumar Pandey

      First of all, you do not seem to know what the term ‘sexist’ means. How can demanding strictest punishment for the accused and real change in the society both can be deemed as ‘sexist’? And how does it sum up patriarchy and hegemony? Does real social change in the mindset of the people and strict punishment that would send out a clear message to every other rapist or would be rapist have to be mutually exclusive? If it seems so, then I blame the likes of you for it. No one is denying that we need real social change to occur. However, what I am demanding is that the rapists should be dealt with strictly and expeditiously and this conviction should pave the way for a larger structural change that is required to change the perceptions, the mindset and the attitudes towards the way we understand women and behave with them in the society. It is pseudo-intellectuals like you who leave no opportunity to play petty politics over such issues by indulging in shallow chest beating and glorification of what you think is right. So stuff your opinions.

    4. Guneet Narula

      – Wait. You want to play petty politics over this issue? And I, as a ‘pseudo-intellectual,’ am not giving you the opportunity to do so? What? Is there a definition of petty politics that I am not aware of?

      – If you think social change and capital punishment are very related to each other, then I would like you to look up what’s happening in China and some countries of West Asia. And even some states of America, where such strict punishment is used.

      – People are passionately demanding for this strict punishment, and alongside justifying the blame game, as if it will lead to social mindset change. As if there is enough evidence to support this linearity between a) what ought to be done when a crime is committed, and b) how to prevent it from happening again.

      – I haven’t proposed what I think is right as of yet. This is a response to your articles and comments. My so called shallow chest beating and glorification is against the arrogant and deterministic view many of us are taking on this issue. Whereas, right now, we haven’t even begun to understand where the problem really stems from. I don’t have answers, and well, neither do you.

      – And this is the extent of patriarchy in our culture. This is how hegemonic the established systems are. When it comes to women’s rights, human rights, we are clueless. We are confused. From here short sighted solutions like ‘reservations’ take birth. Using this lens we start viewing rapists, politicians, policemen as disconnected from the society we are part of. Thanks to this, we begin to believe that a) is much more important than b), so much so that we forget the long term objectives.

      – That is what I am voicing out. My apologies if I upset your sentiments but on a forum like this, which is visited by thousands of young minds, I expect inquiry and opinion, and not sermons.

      – And if we want ‘do something at least’ then we better be careful. Because, right now, thanks to this approach, the media – and the public, is busy discussing constable Tomar’s death or what Abhijit Mukherjee said.

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