Reasons and Seasons of Protest in India

By: Dr. Kishor Dere

(Supreme Court Advocate and Visiting Professor of International Law and International Relations)

Of late, there has been a wave of protests in India – the biggest and largest functioning democracy in the world. One should not be surprised at all about the surge of protests because dissent, disagreement, debate, discussion, criticism, and opposition are the very essence of the vibrant democratic way of life. Thus democracy not merely as a form of government but as a way of life entails even opposition for the sake of opposition if that serves enlightened public interest.

So, more the protests, better it is. Therefore, let us heartily welcome protests and congratulate protestors of all hues and shades, not just one.

Their valid causes need to be espoused by us.

In fact, one is reminded of what a great French philosopher Voltaire said, “I don’t agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

Now this is indeed a double-edged sword.

If the protestors for a variety of reasons, best known to them only, want to protest against rising intolerance only at a particular point of time, they are quite within their right to do so. It is quite unfair to question their choice. One should support them in exercising their right to do so.

But any well-meaning person will accept the hard fact that nobody has monopoly over truth.

Therefore, the critics of such seasonal protestors also have a democratic right to question the motive behind such occasional, seasonal  or selective  protests.

Both the sides have an equally justified right in questioning each other. Nobody has a final say.

It is an ongoing debate.

Only time will tell who is bad and who is worse.

If there are people in society who want to endorse or turn a blind eye towards many other forms of intolerance and want to single out only one, either real or imaginary, then their critics will become vociferous and quite justifiably so.  In other words, in order to prove one’s impartiality and objectivity, it is essential that one ought to call spade a spade and not be hand in glove with any group or faction.

Otherwise, one risks becoming a laughing stock and butt of jokes.

So, dear seasonal protestors, it is in your own enlightened self-interest as well as the larger interest of reasoned debate to be fair, objective and bold enough to squarely criticise wrong-doings of all and roundly condemn the intolerance emanating from all quarters.

Selective amnesia is not at all a panacea.

It can only offer short-term publicity to few but undermine the long-term goal of peace and progress of human civilisation.

Thus, “choice is yours”, Lord Krishna had used these wise words in his message to Arjun.

So, it is up to you whether you want to go down in history as reasonably objective persons or unabashedly and unashamedly subjective ones. Best wishes to you in making your own choice.

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