When apolitical people take to the street to demand their due, there’s something immensely gratifying about it. It is sign that not everything is doomed about the democracy. Young people are keen on deciding the kind of world they want to live in and they won’t allow politicians to make choices for them. They are aware of their powers in the democracy and they won’t suffer in silence and with a sense resignation like the older generation. They will fight. Because they know India belongs to them as much as the leaders. That’s wonderful.
It satisfies more that the angry and young crowd at New Delhi is not part of any political herd. That gives their protest an air of understated dignity and keeps it above all suspicion. Ignore the minor incidents of violence during the protest and the apparent lack of clarity in the demands, there is still enough to suggest that young India carries a mature head on its shoulders. It has the confidence to demand what it wants and it won’t mind hauling the political class up the coals for denying them that.
India has been tolerating a rotten 'system’ for far too long. It’s a system where nothing works. Political leaders have formed themselves into a class, the collective selfish interests of which overwhelm the interests of those they get their legitimacy from: the people. The bureaucracy lives by the chalta hai motto and appears to have abandoned its role as the bridge between the government and the masses. The police force has more or less sacrificed its integrity to please the political masters and is no more accountable to ordinary citizens.
There are several disconnects between the establishment - it’s the ruling nexus involving the government in power, the opposition parties, the bureaucracy, the influential businesses and whoever in a position of power - and the rest of the country. It’s an unholy arrangement based on unfairness, corruption and discrimination. The establishment has managed to perpetuate its vice-like grip on the country by manipulations of several kinds, dividing people on the basis of caste, community and other identities being the most favoured one.
This system has been calling out for change for a long time but the older generation, caught with worries of its own, was too powerless to act. It made pragmatic compromises, made peace with the establishment and carried on with life. Belonging mostly to the pre-economic reforms era, it was stuck in ideological confusion. It wanted reforms but was too apprehensive to demand it. The result: rampant corruption and unfathomable inefficiency all around. When it erupted in anger, the clever establishment knew how to contain it and use it for its own benefit.
However, there are winds of change now. The young India is impatient. It is demanding, aggressive, arrogant and expressive. It won’t accept status of inequality lying down. They want a better India, an India where they have a say and a role. It does not want to be manipulated by the establishment. The Lokpal agitation was an example how they would take on the political without hesitation. The failure of the movement was also an example how they would not allow themselves to be used by leaders.
Now they on the streets demanding safety for themselves. They know they cannot let the leaders to talk this over in Parliament through the usual antics. They know in numbers they have the strength. They can force the political class to take action. Of course, they will not stop at only one demand. They will make more and the political class will be forced to eschew its arrogance and concede. The boot is on the other foot now. The politicians will need to make a choice whether to accommodate the new India or perish.
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