What served once the most threatening and powerful way of expressing protest has now turned into a sort of daily affair and mockery. I refer to the recent dramas staged by many socially conscious citizens like Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev etc. who inform and stage ‘fasting’ unto death and conclude it within a few days or fix the time limit as two or three days and call them to ‘mark’ their protest.
Mahatma Gandhi who had really taken up this method of protest on many occasions before independence must be turning in his grave if he happened to read these news items.
This method was, in fact, introduced by late Tamil Nadu Political Leader cum Filmstar MGR who staged a fasting protest from morning to evening for one day. Later, others started following it religiously as this method is very convenient for publicity. According to statistics on poverty in India many of the poor folk go without food for many days while our politicians who are supposed to be champions of eliminating poverty, starve between breakfast and dinner and call it a protest.
The Dravidian leader went once step ahead of these people. He staged a fast for half a day that is between breakfast and lunch to protest against the atrocities on Tamil Eelam fighters. Many of the south Indian netas choose this method to show their crowd pulling capacity. But none exceed or go beyond three days. The social activist Udaya Kumar who engineered the protest against Koodangulam Power Project engaged people to go on relay fast. This is still wonderful.
These clearly show how Indians can twist and use anything which could be deployed for meeting their purpose with suitable modifications. Is it not real socialistic democracy where everyone enjoys to right to protest through any crazy manner they want?
Today ‘Fasting Protest’ is nothing but a farce. It provides enough material for the press and television media to make a mountain out of a mole.