Look beyond the clutter of protests across the country and the cacophony of angry noises, there’s something more disturbing about India than what is obvious. A war of the classes is brewing and it could soon land the country in a situation that is anarchic and debilitating. The classes here don’t fit into the Marxian construct. They are far too disparate in their causes, far too disconnected from each other to present before us a cohesive picture. If they converge at some point and join forces, there will be a drastic realignment of power equations in the country.
This is possibly what they call a revolution — a thousand mini popular mutinies merging into a bigger one and forcing a drastic overhaul of the existing, entrenched order of things. Let’s not get judgmental about the developments around —they are far too complex to render to simplistic understanding; people don’t wage battles just for the heck of it, let’s view it as parts of the process that changes societies.
So what we have now is a number of skirmishes between classes – the political class vs the non-political class; business class vs the agrarian class; the lower middle class vs the upper middle class; the corrupt class vs the supposedly non-corrupt class; and many others. Leave aside the many contradictions as well as overlaps in thinking; there’s a broad visible pattern to the developments. It’s the new battle between the have and the have-nots with a twist.
From a much broader perspective, the anti-corruption movement is not about getting the Lokpal in place to prosecute the corrupt. It is an attack on the unfair advantage the political-bureaucrat class has over the rest of the population. When former Army Chief General VK Singh decides to join the farmers’ anti-nuclear power plant agitation in Haryana, it is again about unfair advantage— others, with the support of the state, have been benefitting at the cost of the farmers for long and this needs to challenged. The black money protest of Baba Ramdev is about the perceived sense deprivation in many sections of society too. He is cashing in on the growing perception that illicit money is perpetuating the economic imbalance in the country.
The predominant theme in the spate of protests across the country is about villagers, the poor, farmers, tribals and people who have remained at the receiving end of an unfair system and the perception that the coalition of politicians, business interests and officials has been depriving the rest of the population its due share in a democracy. The opposition to economic reforms must be seen in this light. If the farmer in the village feels reforms are meant to put him at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the businesses, he is justified. The same is the case of tribals who are resisting mining in their areas as with retailers who perceive a threat from foreign players in the local market.
Now that the theme is roughly ready, what is expected to follow next is the gradual coming together of the scattered forces under a single umbrella. That is where the next big political idea in the country is likely to take off. Consider this hypothetical situation where Anna Hazare decides to form a political party. He will have the support of Baba Ramdev who has considerable following in rural areas. Add to it General VK Singh —it’s a long shot right now though— bringing together several groups of farmers opposed to nuclear power plants and civil society groups espousing the cause of tribals and artisans. We have a solid social support base for a strong political outfit.
Seen dispassionately, this would be a political entity in the good old socialistic mould with little enthusiasm for new economic ideas. It might lead the country to villages again. But again, the assessment is subjective and it all depends on where one stands.
Coming back to the spate of mini mutinies, these could be the precursor of ‘that’ great change the country has been waiting for. They promise to destabilise the world as we see it and let loose anarchy. But every revolution in the world starts off this way. We should welcome it. This is how great democracies should work.