Thursday, May 15, 2014

DEBATE:New wave agitational politics is the right way forward?

Indira Mukherjee
Karl Marx in his “Theses on Feuerbach” said – “Philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point however, is to change it.” Now the moot question is - who will bring this change? Let’s try and answer.

Respected Director Ma’am, Judges, members of faculty and friends – a very good evening to all. I, Indira Mukherjee will be speaking for the motion.
We will answer our question for two different political regimes – one democratic, and the other non-democratic. Now democracy, as we all understand, revolves around the idea of periodic elections. Our representatives become our voice and they bring about changes. But what happens, when a simple, innocuous, harmless, vivacious, young girl is brutally raped and left to die on the streets? Now my worthy opponents, who are non-believers in agitation will answer this by falling in two categories – one group will say, that we should wait for the next elections!! And the second group members are clones of Narayan Shankar of the movie Mohabbatein who will say “I don’t like changes”.

But ladies and gentlemen, lets not forget that revolution is the indispensable midwife of social change. And a revolution, either violent or non-violent is inextricably entwined with the concept of agitation. Now some may ask – does and agitation really work? Well, appointment of the Justice Verma Committee and the 2013 criminal amendment act, says “Yes”. Again, it is not a one-off example. A simple Gandhian and few members of the civil society protested against the widening tentacles of corruption as they assembled at the Ramlila Maidan in favour of a strong Lokpal. Was it a total failure? The parliament proceedings on the Lokpal bill say “No”.

The entire concept of agitation has got a new meaning now – it is no longer restricted to sloganeering, it encompasses candle-light march, not-mere-scribbling over facebook, and intense marketing/advertising. And this phenomenon is not unique to India. Self-immolation of a brave-heart like Mohammad Bouazizi, a simple fruit seller on the streets of Tunisia, sparked off the Arab Spring. My friends from other side may say that this agitation was a failure much due to the Syrian crisis and Libyan quagmire. However, the fate of Hosni Mubarak, Zine Abedin Ben Ali, Gaddafi point to a different story.
Dictatorship, absolute monarchy, Human Rights violation, oppression, hegemony, tyranny, political corruption, economic decline, educated joblessness – you just can’t bring these issues to the forefront without a new wave agitation. In fact, not only the developing world but even the developed world believes in agitation. The biggest and recent most example in this regard is the Occupy Wall Street Movement – the reasons and results of which are well known.

So you see, Ladies and Gentlemen - a rape in India, a self-immolation in Tunisia, and a movement on economic grounds in the US, tickled the conscience of the common man and they agitated to bring about quick changes, showing that social, political and economic – all three genres of change can be brought by new wave agitation.

I ask this august gathering, tell me – why should a person not agitate? Even if we live in the kulags of Stalin, the rice fields of Polpot and hounded by Gestapo of Hitler, should we not protest? We might not get all that we aspire for via agitation but if we don’t, we get NOTHING at all.

Coming to the Indian context, let me remind you that democracy is not only about voting, it is about deliberation; democracy is not only about a party manifesto, it is about participation; democracy is not about remaining a mute spectator, it is about exercising one’s freedom of speech. And it is not only me, who believes in the potential of an agitator. Even the TIME magazine in its December 2011 issues, named “The Protestor” as the person of the year.
If we wish to see India as not only the largest but also the strongest democracy of the world, if we wish to stop an individual from becoming a mere intellectual, mummified mannequins and if we wish to prove that socio-economic-political inequity is nothing but a terminological in-exactitude, then we have to protest, we have to contest, we have to agitate because, at the end of the day Ladies and Gentlemen – New Wave agitational politics is the right way forward. Chaos, is sometimes; order.

Indira Mukherjee is an IPS probationer currently undergoing training at  SVPNPA,Hyderabad. This post is her replication of the debate held there.

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