The massive outpouring of popular support against the bigoted combination of CAA and NRC, on the streets of various cities and towns across India, has again inspired a hope that people of this country will stand against the majoritarian onslaught by the powers that destroy the idea of India and its pluralistic culture.
These unprecedented protests have taken everyone aback, coming at a time, when the Modi government has just returned to power with a stunning majority and the opposition which is still brooding over its rout has looked completely incapable of mobilising the masses behind it to protest against this brazen attempt by the government to reopen the wounds of partition through the CAA and NRC.
However, the most baffling aspect of this has been the fact that, the country’s youngest population was the first who took to streets and inspired other people who were fearful of the government to exercise their constitutional right to protest and are now spearheading the popular resistance against the CAA and NRC. These are the same millennials who were considered to be PM Modi’s biggest support group and had showered their love for him just a few months ago in the 2019 general elections.
The last time we saw such a large scale protest in the country was during the Anna Hazare Movement when a large number of people marched behind him against a corrupt UPA government. At that time they were disillusioned by the status quo, wanted a change and were looking for hope. That hope came in the form of hope, Narendra Modi who rode to power on the back of promises such as “Achche Din” (better days) and “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” (progress, in unity). They saw Modi as a strong leader and an agent of change who will change the business of the country and believed in him to take India on a path of development and progress.
Yet, to their utter dejection, the promise of “Achche Din” has proven to be a big jumla (literally translates to ‘a sentence’, recently used to indicate rial politician’s/party’s promises) with the economy sailing on choppy waters, unemployment reaching a 45-year-high and on top of it all, the government also making attempts to undermine the autonomy of their educational institutions.
The disaffection in them over the non-performance of the government was building up for quite some time and the bloodied visuals from Jamia Millia Islamia where students were brutally beaten up inside the campus for protesting against the NRC and CAA seems to have acted as a trigger that has now unleashed their pent up rage.
Today’s youth is very different from their predecessors of the pre-liberalisation era and is much more aspirational, aware, crave for real development and has shown that it wouldn’t get swayed by the divisive rhetoric of the BJP. This youth can read between the lines of government’s propaganda and has recognised that CAA and NRC is nothing but a diversionary tactic used by those in power to polarise the voters and deflect their attention from the real bread and butter issues on which they have failed to deliver.
The protests have been largely peaceful and the manner in which these young students have creatively employed the Gandhian method of resistance against a sinister agenda to pit one Indian against another on the basis of religion would have made Gandhi’s chest swell with pride. The country couldn’t have paid a better tribute to the Mahatma on his 150th birth anniversary other than standing up for the very secular ideals for which he sacrificed his life.
But despite the peaceful nature of protest the manner in which the government has responded to the protests highlights the insecurity and fear that lies at the very core of this establishment. As a large number of Muslims and people from other religions walk shoulder to shoulder singing patriotic hymns and holding the tricolour high, it is not that easy for the ruling party to tag them all as ‘anti-national’ or ‘urban Naxals.’ This is why you see the government scampering to put up an effective response and is even using violent means and assembly restrictions to crush the spirits of the protesters.
We the youth of this country are putting up a very valiant fight to save the country that we have grown up in and it’s time for everyone in this country to come ahead and join the movement.