Outside the whale
- Target Uttar Pradesh: Modi goes to Varanasi, Rajnath to Lucknow
- TRS rules out alliance with Cong in LS, assembly polls
- SC stays death penalty of two Delhi gang-rape convicts till March 31
- AICC spokesman lashes out against PM's silence and negative publicity
- Court imposes fine of Rs 2,500 each on Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia
A year bookended by popular agitations is now behind us. The people's discontent about corruption, about public safety, about the way democratic experience doesn't match up to the sales pitch, spilled out into the streets and addressed itself directly to the government. This kind of highly visible protest is likely to become a recurring feature as the urban middle classes aided by social media create new mobilisations around causes that affect them. Such movements are given even greater prominence by a media that champions their values and exploits the visual drama they provide. The government is still unused to this mode of protest, and unnerved by it, but it is going to have to figure out how to respond.
The challenge, though, for these new forms of activism is to press for change in a useful way. Their demands, right now, tend to petition the very state they revile, even to ask for greater control and repression. For instance, for all the valid protest against corruption, the only solution proffered was a heavy Lokpal bureaucracy, which would only add to, not reduce, the invasive powers of the state. Similarly, the current outpouring of anger about rape and sexual violence has focused almost exclusively on the state's solutions, rather than looking within for the social roots of the problem. Again, many of the answers are blunt — hanging and castration for rape, moral policing and bans for other manifestations of sexism, with Honey Singh's "rapist" lyrics, for instance, becoming a lightning rod for this anger. With this new alertness to toxic gender politics, attention has turned to things that were always around us — Bollywood's blithe objectification of women, the clear misogyny in certain popular songs, advertisements that speak to dangerous cliches about masculinity. Disturbingly, however, the reflex is to legally ban and punish, rather than to boycott and avoid.
- BJP projected to sweep Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka; Congress to get big jolt in Maharashtra
- Editors body slams Arvind Kejriwal for ‘irresponsible’ media remark, says it is a sign of ‘weakness’
- Trouble in alliance with Congress, TRS turns to BJP
- Minority panel removed my riot report against Modi: Ex-Secy