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Power to the People
|by Ananya S Guha|
Soon we will talk about the Parliament elections. Indeed we have started talking about it, and the inevitable, indeed the inexorable question is whether the Congress will come back to power. After the Delhi case many gloat and say that this is the turn around for the Congress, their ineptitude in handling the whole event was pathetic. Undoubtedly this is true and politicians should have addressed the case as a body politic and not play the usual blame game. After all, they are representatives of the nations, they are the leaders and this was an opportunity for them to reassure the nation as a whole that they are with the entire population and not just the family of the bereaved. After all, it is the people of the country who protested in a sober manner. True there was some violence but you cannot expect an agitated crowd to keep quiet on seeing the police. It speaks volumes of our country men and women that they took out protest matches all over the country.
So in this context, what is power? How do we define it exegetically? The Delhi rape incident has proven that power comes from the people and not from the barrel of a gun. Power is not necessarily political power, it is apostate and can also be anti state, especially when we address issues of law and order and internal security of a nation.
It is amazing how reports of rape cases are pouring in from different parts of the country, it is as if there is a dire synchronicity of events and the law breakers are perpetrating this with impunity. It is as if they are saying we will do it more, we have people to back us up, to hell with you and nothing can happen. I see it as a very dark phase of Indian history, society and polity. The body politic and the fabric of a system has been corroded so visciously that there is some thing rotten in the state of ours. Hamlet's prognosis of the state of Denmark is universal connotation of the decrepitude of a body politic which can happen anywhere. But there can also be a counter to this - power of the people, voice of the people in unison to protest.
The Delhi protests have been compared to Tahrir Square in Egypt. That is not the point, the point is that anguished voices of the people can deliberate a power and unleash it in the most becoming manner for which the government or the state can reel with trepidation. Delhi protests and elsewhere in the country were not meant to be symbolic of the Tahrir Square disruption. But in a way they were, because of a deep down recaltricance and misgiving of the common people, read the educated class.
But what happens to that faceless part of India, the amorphous whole we call India? Are they fazed by all this or do they have more pressing matters such as eking out a living and assuring their daily meals? The acrid truth is that the protests did not percolate to the masses because living for them is a struggle every moment, a struggle where they do not know where to go next, or what to do next. In this turmoil is India's tryst with destiny, in the faceless too there is a power. But the power exhibited by the recent protests in the aftermath of the gang rape testifies to the enormity that is India, who are now fed up with political parties, and responded spontaneously to a macabre event. What struck the people most and hurt them was the manner in which it was done. Let alone regret there was only malice as the assailants badgered the frail body of a woman and with gutless impunity and spite threw it as one would do to a carcass.
Plato's conception of power was associated with the well being of people, power to do good to society. It is high time that there is a reappraisal of the term power which is inevitably likened to political and administrative power. The very fact that a bandh was called to protest against this incident, where those who called it asked politicians not to be present, or to bandy their political manifestos is indicative how there can be a transference of political power to people's power.
The Delhi incident has shown us how this is possible and can be possible in the event of this being repeated. Gone are the days when power can be commanded at finger tips, at a hasty summon of ordering people, or can be brutish. The protests which still continue underlie the fact that a powerful body politic actually represents the people and not any political coterie.
And, that is power.
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01/04/2013 23:58 PM
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