The very idea of protest is very romantic for someone like me who has been a student of History and is particularly proud of the Indian freedom movement – the whole exercise of driving oppressive British out of Indian soil was indeed one mammoth display of what results can be achieved, if this awesome tool is applied in great sense and spirit. Today, with you, I’m going to explore, briefly, how is ‘protest’ seen today, what should be its objectives and if at all it is makes sense to support a protest.
Yeah .. I know, this is not a cool topic, it doesn’t have anything even remotely funny associated with it but don’t be surprised when you find out, how humorously we sometimes start calling an agitated mob a “protest” – both terms to many minds are synonyms – those are cute people and I love them 🙂
Let’s spend a minute finding out how is a protest born – what causes it? Let’s first agree that protest is a weapon of the poor and the week when they’ve to take on the mighty for a “cause” which is worthy of the effort! Key term here is “cause”! It is nobility of the cause that validates your act of protest .. lesser noble you are .. least meaningful your protest will be, it could still be strong though, take Jallikattu agitation for instance. Every protest in its infancy is a disagreement that with time grows into dissent powerful enough to engage people outside those in direct influence of the mind(s) in which this idea first takes shape, it spreads faster than wild fire when articulated well to people with similar background, history, tradition & of course, challenges!
Let me state a fact here only about 5% of protests are for forward looking objectives, rest are always an attempt of restoration (sometime for tradition and others for legal rights). People come on board with the idea and then decide to air it collectively so that it becomes so powerful and loud that no one no matter how far and wide & however up in the ladder is can not choose to ignore it – it’s initially about delivering that message & mood of the people supporting the cause.
The establishment always sees any uprising, not matter how just the cause may be, as germination of an anarchic Idea .. status quo is affable for those in power. Change scares them, as they know some changes are so powerful that they blow even those in power with them, so the initial reaction is always to ignore it publicly but they keep observing it from distance. People in power wish to see if protestors are committed enough to stay in it for as long as it requires them to. Most protests die here! Those who survive the first hurdle call upon themselves action of suppression from the powerful, which is generally their second reaction, tools differ – power, wealth, law to every other kind of trick that you can think of is applied, more than half of those who sustain the first period of ignorance, cripple at this stage and dismantle themselves, happily.
The ones that remain alive and breathing past this stage .. thrive as swiftly as mushrooms do post first monsoon shower and it then becomes a powerful force! They become the talking point, not only for them who they are protesting against, but also for those who aren’t really participating in the protests, columns are written on them, social media swells with their mentions – some even make it to prime time television (ultimate victory, we’ve seen people become Chief Ministers (Mr. Kejriwal) too from it).
Then comes the stage of compromise where both parties sit and decide on the common ground, objectives are achieved and the protest is called off – society gains from these, mostly! There are also those who are so adamant that they just do not wish to move an inch from their demand .. they slowly loose popularity and then die .. here the powerful starts talking about all that are offering generously but is being refused arrogantly etc. Remember what Babu said, “Compromise is beautiful”
Many movements also become violent at this stage and then die a death of foolishness ( Jallikatu serves as a good example, even here). You’ve to keep it peaceful at all times, when in the land of Mahatma Gandhi!
From civil disobedience movement to Anna’s Lokpal movement to Nirbhaya to jallikatu to all other uprising that we may see in the future, will all follow the same chronology of growth and decay.
Let’s explore the other important aspect of protest, let’s call it nobility test where the purity or usability of the cause is ascertained. Let me give you an example, if 50 billion Hindus come together demanding that all Jains be made to leave the country – will it make the cause noble? The answer is NO! Numbers, therefore is not the sole measure, here. You can look at making ‘ethics’ the barometers, but ethics are generally biased towards traditions and therefore could be immoral, take Jallikattu for instance. Religion should never be made the base of anything to do with larger good, it is best kept private … locked safe! Traditions too can’t be trusted .. for even that suffers from bias – Sati, Dev Dasi etc are glaring examples. Then how do we look at the cause of the protests and what is to be considered valid is the question?
Fundamentals of natural justice should be our only trusted yardstick .. because it is not only fair but also just, unbiased and equal not only towards humans but also animals and environment and everything else thinkable that exists. – there you could bring inferences from law etc to take guidance.
Let us understand, it is extremely important to remain lawful because without discipline the idea of a nation is impossible and therefore always base your reasons on creating a more lawful and above all a just & kind society, one that treats all alike.. one that believes in empowering people with the ability to take right and courageous decisions.
That brings me to the final aspect of this dialogue – what should be an ideal medium of protest, or let’s say how best can we channelise our protest? Well, a simple answer to that is not possible so I thought why not have a funny one, instead. Yes, you heard me right answer to this question may well be found in humour! Don’t believe me think of this – When our PM says “Mitrrrrrrroo” in his iconic style, most of us ‘cool’ people yawn but when a comic mimics him with “Mitrrrrrro” he gets all our attention – and that is my point .. But before I rest my case I would like to make a few more points in support of humour, not that it needs any.
When we laugh as a reaction to something funny .. there are three things that happen, we accept the message completely, we are honest in our reaction to the message and we expect more -preciously what every protestor would want to do with his audience or target audience. Understand this, there is a need to engage and what can do that better than laughter .. your guards are down when you laugh irrespective of you doing it in admiration, awe , shock or surprise .. you do it fully engaged and that’s the objective really to engage everyone – to the cause!
There is one group in India called AIB… they’re doing it for us .. it’s time we do it for ourselves too and make our lovely la la la ( added an extra la, because the this is not Oscars) land into a happy happy country!