The Era of Peaceful Movements by Sanjay Chowdhary SignUp

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The Era of Peaceful Movements
by Sanjay Chowdhary Bookmark and Share

We are living in the times of movements. Elections are a once in five year affair. Unfulfilled demands and new realizations shape themselves as points of pride. Modern movements are linked to the fervour of rising nationalism. The approach to keep pleading with establishment, starts making little sense.

In fact, it is the establishment which allows these movements to prosper. Establishment clearly sides with the protesters or the pressure group letting their demand go public, opinion created on social media, and popular made by morning print & evening TV. Perhaps it’s the best tactic to keep the political opponents confused, marginalised and irrelevant; for whatever they would speak would be against the public mood! This gives establishment a handle to do what it would not otherwise. In bargain, it assures a sense of victory to the people, sort of triumph of democracy! Topping popularity charts. Opposition mouth stitched and back home people with restored honour saying, “Our reverence, for we were heard!”

Movements without the tacit support of establishment hardly succeed. But it’s fine, so long as the agenda is endorsed by the nationalistic public mood. At least there is some activity and a step forward in settling uncertainties in social cord. When the cause is real, it keeps surfacing repeatedly from time to time, hence an opportunity is always available to the establishment to let it develop as a movement, as a matter of convenience.

Unorganized public on its own is poor on resources and stray voices can be easily bought over by promising consideration. Again, the spirit of a demand keeps itself alive latently amongst groups and the establishment could easily rekindle it to grab support.

Movements can be allowed to grow big! Vast majority of population neither ever participates nor ever take to streets to protest. Groups within the majority population take upon itself the task to be the flag bearer of majority opinion. There could be resistance too. Of these active groups, the resisting minority, representing ‘against’ side, when fails to garner numbers, ie., opposition, it invites widespread ridicule and the establishment may pounce on the opportunity to suppress or stamp its endorsement when ‘for’ numbers are overwhelming.

Movements are closely connected to Majoritarian-ism. Establishments find it good to keep the majority in good humour. In most developing societies, it is the majorities who have not had a fair share in having their say all through past history. Growing education and awareness, the rights of the majority debate, have put the majority on accelerated activism; like awakening after prolonged slumber. Focus is back to not economic issues or stagnated income levels, but on cultural hegemony, resistance to absorption of outside views and securing institutionalization of ethics sported by majority.

In the Indian context, political movements had largely dominated, with majority itself lying greatly divided. Post-independence, it was more of a minority appeasement that establishment harboured rather than placating the majority for its assertions. Anti-emergency was sort of a first mass movement, but that too was purely a political cause and was never premeditated as majoritarian. Perhaps VHP led Ram Janam Bhoomi (Mukti) Movement on late 1980s, on which subsequently all splinter groups of RSS including the BJP also rode, was the first ever assertion of rights of the majority. Though still unfulfilled, the mass awakening left a permanent footprint and laid the base for many more assertions of the majority to be expressed.

General elections of 2014 was the Silver Jubilee of Ram Mandir movement. It took 25 years for the majority to assert itself decisively on the political question of governance. In a way, India Against Corruption (IAC) campaign that brought the government of the day to its knees, (out of which was subsequently born the Aam Aadmi Party), was another people’s movement of nation-wide appeal, more of an apolitical demonstration by majority driven civil society. This movement clearly made a statement for anyone to read: Change is in vogue! Undercurrent of this movement, disenchantment with establishment and resurging majoritarian-ism culminated into being the Modi Wave. A year later, AAP government in Delhi can also be attributed to the assertion of majoritarian-ism for alternate politics.

Despite high political awareness, a vast majority of society actually stays a non-participant in decision making, leaving it in perpetual disillusionment. The discontent is exhibited more through cheer leading. Society encourages movements. It is always open to change so long as the basic foundation and principles are not attacked. Majority grants legitimacy by putting its weight behind the ideas of goodness as perceived in contemporary times.

Modi era is truly the new period of majoritarian-ism in Indian society and politics at large. Majoritarian-ism in its own way has posed some challenges to the establishment of the day. New movements, more refined, better organized, well propagated on social media; highlighting specific causes are taking birth. Some could be seen as headache, premature eruptions. But the statement has already been made – Social Transformation has started – The Era of Movements is here to stay.

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