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Saturday, 29 December 2012

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 WHEN 'PROTESTS' ARE NOT PROTESTS

The horrendous story of the gang-rape of a twenty three year old medical student in New Delhi India, and the protests in the aftermath, play in the manner of a surreal version of a Bollywood movie. Rightly, the right thinking citizens of India in New Delhi and other parts of the country, are in mass agitation mode, asking for exactly what one does not know --- but certainly for a halt to any such occurrences in the future.

It's a real Rule of Law crisis in India in one sense, because people that feel threatened in public transport and in the public sphere, are not obviously being protected by the law or the law enforcement agencies in the country.

But the protests in India are spontaneous, and they are manifestations of genuine public outrage. People want results, they are not baying for blood. To that extent, these deeply felt manifestations of public outrage, are an object lesson on how public protests should be done, if they are to be a tool in affecting reform in the system.

It is a different story when protests are orchestrated by politically vested interests. That is the bane of so called civil society agitation in this country, by contrast.

Almost all the protestors here, seem to be bought and paid for by foreign donors, or filthy rich locals pursuing personal political ambitions. The so called impeachment protests are a case in point. The details need not be repeated here, as they were dealt with extensively in the editorial in this space yesterday.

The salient aspect in the comparison between how protests play out in these two countries however, is the fact that the protestors in India are issue-based, and are therefore much more result oriented. The protests against the lack of security in the Indian public transportation system, and the violence against women in Indian cities are about just that - the ineffectuality of law enforcement - and don't transmogrify as a lunge into some kind of pathetic political movement that seeks to propel disgruntled men into the seats of power!

These are genuine people's protests, whereas the protests in Sri Lanka are about desperados trying to leapfrog into prominence on the backs of poor people who are misled into taking up causes that they do not relate to, or identify with.

Then, on the other hand, civil society in India, comprised of intellectuals does not treat issue based protests as national calamities, and the opinion makers and activists are eminently able to keep matters in perspective, whereas in this country sections of civil society remain perpetually catatonic.

Strangely, this is why protests in India are more effective in the long run; our civil society loud-hailer addicts have been raising cries of wolf for so long that they are guaranteed not to be taken seriously if and when calamity does strike.

The discourse in India is much more civil however, as a result of the fact that issues are not overtly politicized by parasitical smooth operators. Watch NDTV on the issue of the gang-rape repercussions, and one could see that those who appear are sane and rational people, not politically motivated.

Sri Lanka is an object lesson of what seems to happen when an opposition has for long been ineffectual and in fact, dysfunctional. It is not the government that has to be blamed for a cranky civil society in Sri Lanka that seems to go into apoplexy at the drop of a hat, preventing genuine agitation on real issues such as happens in India.

It is the opposition that has to be blamed for things coming to this pass. When there is no real organized political opposition that is effective, it leaves room for various charlatans and purveyors of mumbo-jumbo to take their place. The fiasco of the 'impeachment protest' should open the eyes of all --- to the fact that those such as J C Weliamuna who is so transparently foreign funded, do not give a two cents about glaring integrity issues about the Chief Justice but instead stands with her, for instance. By far, these are people who give a bad name to citizens' protests. Take a cue from India, people's protests should be people's and not those of vested interests.

On My Watch

Women BATTLE FOR VALUE CHANGE in Indian society

India is seeing what appear to be the widest protests and demonstrations since independence. The political leadership, whether due to ‘coalition compulsions’ or other reasons were slow to realize the extent of the anger that broke out after the gang rape of a 23 year old para-medical student in a moving public bus in New Delhi.

Full Story

Judges expose systemic failure in corrupt judiciary

The anecdotal evidence, revealing what the judges are up to on the bench,should have amused and, more importantly, shocked the Magistrates and District Judges gathered at the Annual General Meeting of the Judicial Services Association, (JSA)held on December 22, 2012.

Full Story

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