Those of our political leaders who have paid attention to the protests in Tahrir Square must be spending sleepless nights. Not because a floodgate of public rage is about to burst open in Delhi or Mumbai but because the reasons for the rage are so familiar to us who live in the proudly democratic republic of India. Allow me to list a few similarities. Open loot of public money. Political leaders who become fabulously rich while ordinary people remain horribly poor. Dynastic succession. In our case this idea has roots so deep and wide that there is almost not a single political party that is not a family business. Then, as in most despotic Arab countries, we have followed economic policies that have created a small super-rich elite while the majority of our people live on less than $2 a day. And, just like Egypt we have a huge population of young people most of whom will move to cities and towns in the next twenty years.
From Tavleen Singh's article in Indian Express. More Here.
Could it happen here? The leaderless revolution in Egypt has caused some anxiety locally over whether the wretched of our earth could come out to challenge their rulers. Conventional and unconventional wisdom has it that the answer is an emphatic no. We have a vibrant democracy, regular elections, a free media, an alert judiciary—all these checks and balances, it is fondly assumed, provide a safety valve through which the above-mentioned wretched can ventilate their frustrations. It is a cosy and comforting thesis but it needs to be tested. Not just to shake us out of complacency, but to force us to ask some hard questions.
One could in fact argue that it is already happening here. The injustices the protesters at Tahrir Square are raging about—corruption, no jobs, rising prices, appalling governance—are rampant in our blessed land. The tribal population of India, over three times the size of Egypt’s total population, lives daily with hardships ten times worse than those faced by the aam aadmi in Cairo. The per capita income in Egypt is four times the per capita income of adivasis in Dantewada. Moreover, under the influence of the Maoists, our destitute have taken up arms in a do-or-die struggle against the Indian state. Altogether, we are confronted with a situation infinitely more dangerous than the one prevailing in Egypt. Indeed, in contrast to the carnival and celebratory atmosphere in Tahrir Square, our deprived and desolate are waging a grim and violent battle. India is already at war with its own people. If you asked a bow-and-arrow-wielding woman to throw down her weapon because she possessed a wonderful thing called “democracy”, I shudder to think what her response would be.
Shining India, fortunately, does not have to watch pitched clashes outside the street on which it lives. However, unless we wake up, that prospect is fast approaching. Supposing, 2,00,000 of our citizens march into Jantar Mantar demanding regime change or immediate redressal of their grievances, how will the Indian state respond?
Vinod Mehta in Outlook. More Here.