Protests, Bandhs and Violent Agitations - To What End?

Hinduwebsite editorial
From The Editor's Desk

(Hinduwebsite Editorial - Exploring Truth Amidst Illusions and Distortions)

Protesting is a way of life in India. When a disturbing event happens, people swing into action and protest. Newspapers and cable channels run their 24/7 course and keep presenting and representing the same visuals and news to keep the viewers busy, engaged, and emotionally charged.

For a few days there will be demonstrations, processions and violent incidents. People and politicians alike demand apologies, explanations, resignations and change of laws and rules. There will be transfers and suspension of responsible officials, shouts in parliaments and dharnas in the streets. Sometimes the protests turn violent and result in widespread clashes, deaths and damage to public property. Then life returns to normalcy. Everyone knows people cannot go on protesting forever. They have lives to live, duties to perform, debts to settle and children to look after. So, the problem becomes submerged in a sea of innumerable other problems. People forget the incident and move on.

The protests that happen in India are mere emotional responses at the mob level to growing lawlessness and disorder. They do not address the problem except providing an outlet for people to vent their anger and frustration. They expose the underlying malaise of Indian democracy which is largely primitive and feudal in character. The demonstrations achieve very little in terms of removing the ills of society or improving the functioning of democracy. They actually distract the attention of people from the real problems the nation faces. The protests are a convenient means by which people publicly disown any personal responsibility for their own complicity in perpetuating the problem and shift the blame and the guilt to a faceless third party like the government or bureaucracy. It is very much like blaming fate or God for one's own laziness.

The truth is whether it is corruption, misuse of official power, rape or some other social crime, in a democracy things happen to the extent people allow them to happen. If you elect the same people and expect different results, that is stupidity beyond description. If people want the country and society to change, they must first accept responsibility for all the ills in society and stop looking to the government to initiate reforms. They must identify the real causes and work to remove them with the power of their vote, electing right people, strictly on merit instead of caste, gender, region, language, money and social background.

Right now this is not happening even in a few constituencies. People habitually chose the same leaders based on irrelevant criteria rather than their character, integrity and past services. This malaise is so widespread in the country, that people apply the same principles and chose unworthy candidates even in talent shows and other contests organized through television programs. The people who act as judges in these events, who are mostly renowned people in their respective profession, also rarely display their courage and individuality in choosing the right candidates. On many occasions they willingly submit their discretion to the whims of a film star or the channel company in public view while judging their performance or giving their marks. If merit is sacrificed at ever step, merit will be the last thing you can expect in the governance of a nation or in the success of an individual.

In a country like India, with over a billion people and most people having some political awareness, corruption cannot prevail unless people are willingly letting it happen. Corrupt leaders cannot remain in power on caste and hereditary basis for generations unless those who are electing them are willingly turning a blind eye to their actions and corruption. A country becomes corrupt when a majority of its people become mentally corrupt in their thinking and actions, forget the distinction between right and wrong, lose discretion, and cultivate opportunistic and perverted values to the extent of ignoring their very humanity. Indian society has become corrupt to the core and in this corruption the major shareholders are people themselves. The leaders are the symptom not the problem. If the earth itself is filled with toxins, you cannot expect the crop harvested in it to be better or different.

Until there is proper awareness at the people level, until they set aside their caste, communal, regional, gender and other considerations and choose people on merit, until they believe in basic human values, integrity, morality and mutual self-respect and basic human dignity, until they respect law, discipline and enforcement of law, no reform will work. If people are largely immoral and unethical, the country and society will be largely immoral and unethical. If people largely do not respect law and order, the country will have law and order problems. This is simple common sense. If people want to lead better lives, they must be willing to take personal responsibility for their lives and actions, rather than expecting the government to do it for them. They must chose their leaders wisely, demanding nothing but excellence from them.

Expecting the politicians and the government to set things right is as foolish as expecting a tiger to spare the rabbits and the deer when it is hungry. Whether it is corruption or crime, no political party is going to improve the working of society. Only people can do it. People must realize that. They must acknowledge that apart from their personal duties and family obligations, they have social duties and responsibilities too, which cannot be ignored unless one wants to live amidst chaos and disorder. They must realize that they cannot transfer the garbage of their houses and the falsehood in their minds on to the streets and expect to live in clean and honest surroundings. They must know that there is not only individual karma but collective karma also. The destiny of each individual in society or community is determined not only by the actions of each individual but also by the collective actions of all people involved. Those who ignore this commonsense truth do so at their own peril. If Indians do not wake up to these symptoms of malaise, you can expect more of the same until a more violent turn of events will make life very difficult for them to live.

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