At a time when the whole of India is busy standing in ATM and Bank queues for few quantities of currency notes, South Koreans are out on the streets protesting against their scandal-mired president. The wave of protest has grown over the last few days. More than 1.5 million people thronged on the streets demanding the resignation of the President. This is not a small number considering the fact that, the country has a total population of just 50 million. What’s happening right on the streets of South Korea is not just a demand for the removal of president, but it is a clash between a Korean society trying to move forward and a Government creeping backward. We can sense a similar situation prevailing in India now, where the government seems very keen on pushing the economy backwards, but there is hardly any sort of protest which is quivering the chairs of the Government.
The mention of the case of South Korea is not to draw any kind of comparisons with India, however when I look at the whole situation with my dissent glasses on, one question which strikes the mind is why India is not ‘protesting loudly’ against the demonetization move of the government? Why is the resentment not visible on the streets as it is happening in South Korea?. There is no need of any references to prove how the demonetization has created chaos on the economic, social and cultural spheres of the country. The whole nation is crippled because of the demonetization policy of the government. Even the government can’t deny the fact that a palpable impact has been felt across the entire economy. Experts are of the opinion that the impact is going to extend beyond the ‘50 day’s ‘claims of the government. There are ample reasons for us to feel uncomfortable and agitated now, but history proves we have always remained silent witnesses to our troubles in the past too.
This is not the first time a situation of such gravity is happening in post-Independent India. There has been many occasions in the past under various regimes, where we have been reduced to mere numbers. Our patience has been tested by the political establishments time and again, however barring one or two movements here and there; there is hardly any national level movement that has united the whole of India for a cause, concerning every one. A cause strong enough, for us to leave our sub-nationalism behind, to claim the streets as it is happening in Korea.
Demonetization and its continuing saga are reasons, strong enough to demonstrate our opinion and power. However we have failed on that front too. A nation’s culture- belief system, attitude, plays a significant role in determining how they react to a situation like this. In India people look up to the state for guidance, leadership and direction. There might me many reasons for this complacency, however I feel that it has got a lot to do with our fatalistic attitude. The doctrine of fatalism is deeply ingrained in our culture. We believe in destiny more than our capability to change / achieve anything. This fatalism promotes conformism and deference to authority, be it in the form of parents, teachers, employers or simply anyone who hold a powerful position. The passivity and uncritical attitude has been passed on from generations to generations, as a result we now live in a milieu that discourages ‘disruptive’ thoughts.
The fatalistic attitude could be seen at the way how we have reacted to the impact of demonetization. We have heard stories of those who have died while standing in bank queues or waiting for medical treatment, but no one is concerned. We are comfortable blaming it on the destiny of the deceased person. We live in a country where actors, sportspersons, politicians view are taken seriously, but no attention is been paid to eminent economists or academicians. Our Finance minister blames the large number of population for the long queues at ATMs and Banks rather than accepting the conceptual flaws of the measure. We also have a Prime Minister, who has made it a habit to cry on the podium and we swallow his ‘capsule of tears’ just to make us feel better. We are also a nation who doesn’t mind standing in queue endlessly, just to witness the ‘doomsday’ of black money holders. Instead of coming on the streets and protesting against this draconian move, we are ready to ignore the ‘temporary hardships’ in the hope of ‘acche din’.
If we really want an end to this opaque, authoritarian and crony capitalistic style of governance, we need to throw away the cobwebs of our uncritical submissiveness. We should pitch inconvenient questions to the establishments. We should express our opinions and power on the streets. We don’t have anything else to loose, except our passivity and fatalism. Let us not wait for things to happen. Let us make things happen.
Rakesh S is a research student at Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org