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The new generation of Indians will not suffer in silence

Is it too much of a stretch to believe that the flood of protests that have greeted the Supreme Court judgement

on the decriminalization of homosexuality and the surprisingly strong showing by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Delhi election are connected?


At first, it may seem that the two issues are unrelated. But to recognize the connection, you have to only ask yourself this: could either of these events have occurred ten years ago? Or even, a mere five years ago?


   If somebody had told you a few years ago that an RTI activist, a psephologist and a lawyer would start a political party which would, within eight months of its launch, demolish the Congress in the Delhi Assembly elections and very nearly become the single largest party in the house, you would have thought they were mad. Even three years ago, when the Anna movement hit the streets, politicians sneered that the activists would amount to nothing because they had no electoral clout.


   Now take the decriminalization of homosexuality. Five years ago, when many of us wrote articles arguing that a society that discriminated against gay people could not call itself liberal or democratic, we were in a tiny minority. None of us ever imagined that the battle for gay rights would grow to the stage when large crowds would hit the streets, as they did all over urban India on Sunday, 15 December, to oppose the Supreme Court judgement. Frankly, I am still a little stunned – and enormously heartened – by the strength of the public response. Significantly, most of the protestors were straight people who had no personal stake in the issue.


   If these two instances do not convince you that something new and different is happening to today’s India, cast your minds back to the Delhi gang rape a year ago. The public anger was without precedent. This was not the first horrific crime against a woman in the city of Delhi – sadly, there have been too many of those over the years. Nor was the victim high profile or well connected. And yet, the rage that spilled out into the streets was spontaneous and genuine. This was a movement with no leader and no hidden agendas. It was based on nothing more than the outrage of concerned citizens.


  "Democracy works best when citizens not only demand their own rights but also demand rights for others. And finally, the educated Indian is flooding the streets to demand the India that we deserve."

   What these incidents suggest is that after decades of being taken for granted by the establishment, the urban Indian is fighting back. This fight is not party political. The anger over the gang rape was directed at the police and all politicians for their continued failure to protect our daughters and sisters. The outrage over the criminalization of homosexuality stems from a conviction that the old establishment (including the judiciary) is unwilling to grant rights to citizens and insists on imposing its reactionary prejudices on India. The vote for AAP marks a rejection of the political alternatives available to Indians and is a demand for change.


   Why is this happening? There are many reasons. The middle class is now larger and more confident that ever before. Educated Indians regard themselves as being equal in every way to our counterparts in the West. And yet, while Europe and America have first-rate political systems, we are stuck with third-rate politicians and third-rate levels of governance and justice. Why, people want to know, should we tolerate this any longer?


   There are now more educated Indians than at any point in history. More people now have access to an increasingly vibrant media. Social media not only affords a voice to the angry and frustrated but it also helps in organizing and mobilizing protests.


   We have all heard about the demographic dividend, about how the majority of Indians are now under 30, and how this will affect our economy. But what nobody had considered till now is how it will affect our politics and our society. The new generation of Indians will not follow the example of its parents and suffer in silence. This is a generation that demands to be heard.


   Democracy works best when citizens not only demand their own rights but also demand rights for others. And finally, the educated Indian is flooding the streets to demand the India that we deserve. If the events of the last two weeks are any indication, this generation will not rest till it creates that India.


   (This column first appeared in India Today)



  • Renuka 27 Dec 2013

    It is also a sort of freedom fight ..before independence we were with out cloths our leaders fought for us allow us to wear cloths .. How long we wore the torn cloths.. But now on wards we can expect often new dresses .we Indians have to form one pattern for politicians

  • somnath karunakaran 26 Dec 2013

    Vir...A well written article hitting the right spots..Yes...the middle class have had it to their gills with shabby politicians, least interested in their work, but quick to pounce on anything remotely self serving..The Lok Sabha is also going to throw up some surprises for the Congress, but they are yet to come to terms with the changed situation in the country. I think there should be a All India Level meet for the Congress to get an Idea of the pulse of the people, and they do it fast....

Posted On: 24 Dec 2013 06:00 PM
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