Micro Revolutions of India

Is it not a strange fact that people of the most autocratic nations of the world are able to take to streets and overthrow their despotic rulers, whereas some democracies are not even able to complete a national protest march against government policies ?

Of course, democracies continue to be democracies, and we hardly know the fate of the autocratic nations – whether they will be ruled eventually by the military or by an elected party. It will be interesting to watch the developments as they unfold over the rest of the year, especially in the Middle East.

What about India, however ? There are many protest and strikes, but apparently all of these fizzle out. What could be the reason ? India is a democracy, the largest functioning democracy in the world in fact, and allows its people to exercise their rights and freedoms. There is no doubt about this, though there is a backlash from the law enforcement agencies once in a while, in somewhat a violent manner. The violence could be mutual, or one-sided. However, the protests are largely peaceful.

Comparing the peoples of the nations, say the one with the autocracy and the Indian democracy, what do you think is the respective rationale for their behaviour ? In the first instance, the long-suppressed emotions of the people erupt in public display of anger and frustration. The people want to have an immediate change, once they achieved an opening, like what they accomplished in Egypt. That is a revolution of sorts.

In the case of India, the people are anyway free for a long time. And, India is economically on a growth path. While a few youngsters are involved in public protests, most would like to protect their economic achievements of the past decade or so, instead of throwing all up in a people revolution. So, while we saw a lot of Twitter and Facebook activists in the Egyptian revolution, we did not see that in the Indian “Micro” revolution, where the actors are all in their sixties and seventies.

Is that surprising ? Surely not. This is what I expected as India is still led by old politicians and swamis, that has not changed despite the economic growth. They still continue to hold sway over a “suspecting” population. Are we tired of them ? You bet.

Given that Indians would not willingly sacrifice their economic gains in a political revolution, India is in no danger of a people revolution, but is going to be constantly disturbed by a series of self-centred “micro” revolutions.

Just watch the fun and enjoy it !


Vijay Srinivasan
19th June 2011


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