Millennium Post

In the spirit of democracy

India is a country that set a global example of peacefully pursuing a target under Mahatma Gandhi, and the deep impacts of non-violent resistance in shaping political outcomes. A democracy is a system which revolves around its core component of people, and a democracy could be a healthy system if it is in alignment with the aspirations of the people. If an elected government, upon the strength of its numbers, decides to go ahead with an unpopular decision, people—citizens—have all the right to express dissent and protest against it in suitable manners. Eruption of violence in the course of protests need not be inevitable; when a protest explicitly starts out as a peaceful one, violence could be an instrument induced to quell it and subsequently dilute the entire affair. Not only is a democracy without any protests a state under dictatorship, the citizens are conferred Constitutional right to express and register their protest in case of any disagreement with the systemic decisions at any level whatsoever. A protest does not indicate violence unless specifically intended so, and in which case, the acts of violence must be checked, but defining protests for involvement of violence is inherently incorrect and undemocratic. The only way to resolve a protest is first listening to what the protest demands, and then addressing the concerns adequately. It is thus, also the responsibility of the protesting groups to ensure peaceful demonstrations. Gandhi famously said that "Nonviolence is an intensely active force when properly understood and used", and he led by example establishing yet again that peaceful stances against disputable civil rights have been successful throughout history and that nonviolent movements can lead to meaningful systemic change. A landmark moment from India's modern history holds relevance in these tumultuous times—when Gandhi led a peaceful protest against Britain's imposed law dictating that no Indian could collect or sell salt in the country. Followed by many who shared his view and vision, Gandhi walked over 240 miles leading protesters to the Arabian Sea and peacefully and diligently defied the British by picking up a small handful of salt from the sea. Civil disobedience is yet another method to actively profess refusal to obey certain laws, demands, orders or commands of a government. This too is a peaceful and non-violent undertaking to emphatically bring a point across. In context of recent events, with the Central university of Jamia Milia Islamia being the epicentre of demonstration against the new citizenship law made by the Union government, several more universities, both nationally and internationally stand in solidarity with the protesting students against the legislation and the police crackdown on the students. The immediate concern here is not simply protest in a democratic nation, but also the bigger risk of turning the country's aspirational youth away. A timely reach-out can considerably help matters but a delayed one can compound it beyond repair as student-led protests can galvanise quickly to reflect a national cause or sentiment.

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