All over the World and in India as well in 2011 we witnessed the uprisings to protestagainst injustice. In Arab world it has been against tyrannical dictatorialregimes to bring back democracy. In the US and many other European countrieswhere ‘Occupy Wall Street’ has been the major one, the people are protestingagainst the socio-economic disparities which are due to the present system ofeconomic structure. The Occupy Wall street movement is very profound in the sensethat it brings to our attention the basics of the system, indicating about thedeeper malaise in the system. In this movement most sections of people are participating(We are 99%).
In India also this year was a very significant as people rose to protestagainst multiple issues. The usurpation of peasants’ land for so calleddevelopment has been the major issue and it manifested itself throughagitations like the one against POSCO, in Orissa. The other upsurges combinedthe concern for ecological preservation and protest against the nuclear hazardsas in Koodankulam and Jaitapur. Currently there is a great amount of landalienation for large number of people. The protests in this direction has been significantbut under projected by media. Similarly the long standing protest-fast of IromSharmila for repeal of Armed Forces Act brings to our notice the atrocitiescommitted by army in places like North east in particular while Kashmir hasalso seen similar problem.
What came as an overwhelming upsurge was the one led by Anna Hazare. Herecombination of several factors played their roles and made it spread far andwide. In this movement IT-MBA generation and some other sections constitutedthe core support base of movement. There was also a parallel phenomenon ofmovement against black money by Baba Ramdev. Anna Hazares’ main insistence wasto bring in Jan Lok Bill drafted by his team, but it appeared as if it is againstcorruption and that those who are not supporting his bill are for supporting corruption.His movement has been supported by various elements including the religiousgurus like Sri Sri Ravishanker. The major mobilization for this was done byCorporate controlled media and the RSS.
The overall scenario is that people are suffering the economic injustices,social inequalities and political marginalization. This Anna upsurge is focusedagainst corruption alone, it does talk about corruption being the major causeof peoples’ suffering, but at the same time it underplays and bypasses thedeeper issues which result in corruption. The corruption is very much there,but it is a symptom of the deeper disparities at economic and social level.Corruption is there due to the power centralization and lack of transparency inthe system. Anna movement is in contrast to Occupy Wall Street Movement. Annamovement focuses. or rather hyper focuses, on the symptom of corruption withthe result that the deeper inequalities of system remain unseen.
All social movements have a complex dynamics. While people have genuineaspiration to bring to fore their real issues, many of the movements remaintrapped at the symptomatic level and this tantamount to bypassing the core issues.Anna movement is a case in point. Here while Team Anna has brought to our attentionone issue of our society, it has at the same time undermined many other issuesand tried to denigrate the parliamentary system. It has deliberately focused oncorruption of one political party alone. It has twisted every argument to talkagainst one party, there-by playing the role of electoral trumpet for the othermajor political party, which happens to be the political child of RSS, themajor mobilize of Anna movement. It seems as if it has a contractual obligationto promote the BJP. At the same time those who bring this observation to thenotice of society are deliberately branded as stooges of ruling Congress, whichanyway has done enough mistakes to let Anna movement assume the present dimensions.
The Arab uprisings are trying to bringdemocracy-parliamentary system; Anna movement in contrast is trying to create aparallel oligarchy, presenting Anna himself as being above parliament. This Annamovement has put all sorts of pressures to denigrate the parliamentary systemand the elected representatives of the people. While one feels that massmovements, social upsurge, are the key to change and are welcome, all upsurgesdo not necessarily lead to social betterment. One recalls the Ram Templemovement which unleashed the era of violence and marginalization of minoritiesin the country. This one, Ram Temple movement, focused on identity issue. Annamovement focuses on symptomatic issue. What is common in the identity issue andsymptomatic issue is that both bypass the deeper social issues of inequalitiesand the issues related to rights of marginalized.
The issue of Ram Temple was not the issue ofmarginalized sections though many of them were roped in by social engineering.Similarly the dalits and minorities kept aloof from Anna movement as they know itis trampling upon their deeper concerns.
Anna movement has been highly projected and made most visible, while the ones'around POSCO, Jaitapur and Koodankulam have been underplayed and Irom Sharmilahas been mostly ignored. The issues involved in these protests are very crucialto our marginalized sections of society, also these issues are neither merelyrelated to identity neither are they just the symptomatic one’s. That’s one ofthe reasons as to why corporate controlled media underplays them. Thesemovements affect the life of society, in a deeper sense. That should explainthat those for upholding status quo in society will highlight and go ga gaabout anti corruption movement which has been presented as a spectacle. At the sametime the other movements have been practically underplayed as they question thedeeper issues related to the system and question the status quo.
All said and done, the mass upsurge being experienced here is a sign of maturingdemocracy, despite vested interests trying to deflect the movement inauthoritarian direction. Surely change for better should be the norm and socialmovements questioning the system are the engine of social change. Unlike Annamovement these movements base themselves on the democratic principles and are inclusivein their approach.
All protests in India should have awakened our conscience but unfortunately,only one of these, the Anna movement, has been given primacy. We need to docourse correction and give due importance to other protests also, which istheir due.