A pre-determined exercise to paint Bharat black, and defame the Modi government speaks volumes about the frustration in a section of society, which finds no popular favour on its side in society, yet assumes the acronym of Civil Society.
Prof. Rajvir Sharma
People are the eyes and ears in a democratic system and are effective instrument of participatory and accountable and responsive governmence. Hence it needs not be emphasized that the civil society is an integral part of the voice and choice of the people and is meant to play a critical role.
At the same time, it needs to be underlined that the civil society also has to be responsible and responsive while engaging in the opposition role whenever it becomes necessary. In the name of the civil society the people have no right to create social and political cleavages or to deepen the existing ones in the name of raising transgressions on the rights of the vulnerable people. It can be noticed that most often than not the protests or marches or award wapsi festivals are organized in a partisan manner or at least this is the impression one gets at the behavior of the civil society activists. Are the civil society activists playing politics ? They become the conscience e keepers at the time of stray incidents of killing in one or the other part of the country portraying as if it is the most significant feature of our national behavior. They are trying to paint India with that colour either to defame and discredit the RSS or Modi whom they are unable to match in charisma or his rising legitimacy and popularity. This has been establishd almost regularly in the elections after elections. So change of strategy; raise some issues, not in the name of political opposition, but in the name of the civil society terming the mobilisers as eminent academicians, lawyers, doctors, artists and so on. They now want to establish a discourse where everything would seem topsy turvy, unjust and discriminatory. It is here that the civil society appears to be neither civil nor social. It is nobody’s argument that the cases of police failure to effectively control law and order without bias or prejudice or apathy in the issues of mob killing of innocent people should not be highlighted or pressure should not be created to establish rule of law bringing everyone to justice. That the civil society must do and urge the government to take speedy action in that regard is beyond contest. But to paint India as an intolerant country and society or to bring social segments of one or the other hue face to face would do greater harm than good, particularly in a plural and socially and politically diverse environment. Their actions like award wapsi, or not- in- my name drama throughout the country in the name of the victims or their support to the students in the JNU crying for the dismemberment of India in the name of freedom of speech would create or strengthen the social divide and may, god forbid,be counterproductive. Is this not the time for the civil society to be constructive and creative? Will these protests/marches/rallies not hurt the national interests? Would they not weaken the cause of harmonious living of people ? The civil society engaged in anti- Modi or anti- RSS fairs in the name of justice may gain some lost ground in terms of votes for their masters in politics, that may not be certain, but at what cost?
That Democracy has its own narrative and also its own corrective, is what is to be understood by the government, the opposition and also the civil society. India is changing, economically, politically, culturally and people cannot be taken for granted anymore. Very recently this fact was brought to the fore when the entire “class of the eminent” and the political opposition to the NDA lost on the issues of communalism, nationalism and also on Note Bandi(demonetization). Again the tirade against the suppression of the freedom of the press did not prove to be of any effect. The civil society would do well to serve the nation and her people if they come out with a well researched criticism of the shortfalls of the government on the issues of good governance. The NDA government is busy in giving its midterm appraisal report to tell the nation as to what difference it has made or is trying to make in the economic, social and cultural arena and how it is certain of the future aspirational and inspirational India, the confident youth determined to shape a dynamic, vibrant India that is given a place of pride in the global community. It is a common knowledge that there are provocations of the kisan groups in the BJP or NDA ruled states for the loan waiver. Here also, they are interested in creating bitterness and distrust. Every right thinking citizen of the country would agree that loan waiving is not the solution of the problems faced by the farmers. The long term solution is the cultural and attitudinal change at that level. The loan taken for the agricultural purpose should not be used to meet the social obligations. Public pressure should be built for the appropriate and remunerative prices for agricultural produce, reduction in the numbers of the middlemen, organization of kisan marketing cooperatives at the local level and for providing adequate warehouses. It would be worthwhile to get subsidy in their accounts directly. But the civil society would not bother for these issues. The kisans , if killed in the process of maintaining law and order, become the subject of agitation both on the streets and within the four walls of the media notwithstanding the call of the event on the spot. Again, I would vote for the maximum restraint on the part of the peace and order keeping agencies and that resorting to firing should be only exceptional, but the mob engaged in the burning of public property or attempting to attack the innocent civilians may not leave any other option but to open fire. In the end, the defenders of democracy and human rights must differentiate between the social and political cause they seek to serve while initiating an action. That civil society and the state are adversaries is an old theory. Let us be modern in our outlook and action.
(The writer is a Senior consultant, IGNOU)