Making a change

Steps ahead

Making a change

Protests and dissent have been hallmarks of democracy since time immemorial. Demonstrations and marches are often resorted to when the common man wants to voice his dissatisfaction; nothing new about that. However, the recent spurt in the number of such events in Bengaluru is catching eyeballs and posing questions about whether this is the way forward now.

“I think there is a general feeling that enough is enough,” says Hemlal V S, a professional. “People have realised that they need to be vocal about all issues, ranging from environmental concerns and sustainable development to matters pertaining to safety and security of women. And what is interesting is that these movements transcend class, age, gender and so on. Even people from the upper strata of society have come forward to lend their support to many causes, something which was not observed earlier.”

It is indeed a recent phenomenon that people in this bustling IT city are taking time off from tight deadlines and weekend parties to come out on the streets to register their protest. This unforeseen people’s movement is prompting the government to amend laws and come up with new guidelines in a variety of cases.

Swarna Venkataraman, an early learning educator, is a firm believer of the expression that if you can’t help yourself, no one else can. “It is a very good trend that citizens are pitching in to do their bit instead of just blaming authorities for everything. We have to take the first step before expecting others to help us. We have to wake up and start questioning vote bank politics and let the authorities know that we have a voice as well.”

Talking about how awareness is the first step to ensure success of such efforts, Swarna, who took part in the recent protests in Indiranagar against excessive commercialisation of the place, says, “In our case, we had to know the BBMP officials, who does what, whom to approach for specific issues and so on. It is important to be aware of all this as it helps us understand the micro level of governance.”

Ashwini Nagaraj, a homemaker who was part of the recent ‘BusBhagyaBeku’ movement, agrees with this. “We are not experts but we can always consult experts and work in tandem with them. The government is not always right; we also know what we are talking about. Citizens should be consulted on things that will affect their lives, the quality of their lives. Once we raise objections, they should be considered.”

In many cases, no organisation took the lead in mobilising people. Much of the support to these causes can be attributed to the growth of social media. Support groups on Twitter and Facebook have become common whenever people witness acts of injustice. This online support converts into offline enthusiasm as well.

“But even with a huge number of people, the protestors will never resort to violence. Violence is never the answer and we are educated enough to know that,”  says Swarna, adding “The recent steel flyover victory was a shot in the arm for citizens’ movements. This momentum should not fade. More and more people should, and will, come forward for other causes too.”

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