In today’s traditions, protest is a very common and well-known phenomenon. Sometimes we see a large protest with lots of celebrities as part of it. Sometimes we find a single person protesting in front of a government building, and no one is joining hands with him or her.
Is this true that some protests are more important and some are not? Is that the reason for which some crimes can gather thousands of marching protesters but another just fails even if the crime is more heinous?
According to the Global Protest Tracker of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, since 2017, there are:
More than 230 significant antigovernment protests have erupted worldwide.
Over 110 countries have experienced significant protests.
78% of authoritarian or authoritarian-leaning countries have faced significant protests.
Over 25 significant protests directly related to the coronavirus pandemic.updated up to October, 2021
The site also summarizes each one of these protests. Here in this article, we will try to find out some of these protesting entities. And why they chose these particular incidents but ignored others, we will raise those questions as well.
Why so little number of protests? Are we rushing towards any Utopia?
The first thing that comes into mind is the number of protests. Only 230 significant antigovernment protests worldwide from 2017 to 2021! That means the 192 governments all over the world are doing such a great job that we almost do not need any major protest along the line.
Just compare these statistics with your real-life experience. No matter which country you belong to, no matter in which government you are under. Do you think there is no big issue to protest right now or has there been no such issue for the last 5 years? You do not think so, right?
That means, to make a protest “BIG”, you need some more help! Consider the local goon is harassing you or there is an attempted robbery or violence. It will not attract the limelight of the mass or a long candlelight march will not be there to support you.
Have you asked yourself exactly why your issues are not getting massive protests, but some are? What are the ingredients and formula to make a protest “BIG”? Whom do you need to mass move the public?
Analyzing some BIG protests
Tunisia was a democracy until September 2021. President Kais Saied then seized all the powers and tried to declare himself as the one-man ruler of the country.
Tunisia, as a country, for the last 10 years, is facing several crises in terms of economy, youth unemployment, and bureaucratic corruption. People were angry, they were looking to get rid of these. The people were hoping the dictatorship will wipe out corruption, and it was necessary for the sake of the country.
But being a democracy means there were many oppositions among the people of Tunisia. The major opposition party (during the last democratic governance) soon took to the field and (as reported) 20 odd human rights and democratic groups also joined hands with them on this issue. All of them wanted democracy to return.
But, a large group of people also were there in the country who supported the dictatorship, hoping the corruption and national problems may soon get resolved in absence of democracy.
The protest was fueled by the then major opposition party and the 20 odd human rights groups. Now think of one simple citizen of Tunisia and assume that the person is facing severe hindrance in terms of corruption and non-development for the last 10 years.
Nobody for the last 10 years attempted to solve his problem and to start a candlelight march to support the poor citizen. Only because the protesting groups did not want to stand by the poor citizen for the last 10 years! Should an association of some political parties and human rights organizations control his/ her fate? Or a dictator should? If they think it is “protestable” then only there would be a remedy?
The sarcastic point of view
While in democracy, it was a power game and neither political party did any improvement when in power. Therefore, a protest was self-revealing that all political parties failed miserably.
This opportunity was used by President Kais Saied and as soon as he declared himself a dictator, it opened another democratic void and the opposition political parties used this opportunity to lock horns. But what were the 20 odd human rights organizations doing for the last 10 years? Tunisian people have every right to know!
The European Union declared a new rule called “The EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation” and put this into the act on 1st July 2021. This new rule enforces digital pass to every person living under EU territory if they want to roam free and distinguishes between vaccinated and non-vaccinated people.
From the very first day of this enactment, France started facing massive protests. They estimated that nearly 2.5 lac people took part in the first-day protest! All they wanted was lesser control.
Former French Health Minister, Agnes Buzyn, once said (when she was in ministry, and being a doctor herself) that COVID-19 will have a minimal impact in France. But there were some misconduct charges against her and they started an inquiry to probe all those allegations. Soon after her discharge from the Ministry, she said that the Covid tsunami is yet to devastate France.
Also, there was a mandate for some health workers that they must get themselves fully vaccinated within mid-September, and failing may lead to job cuts!
This created a massive uproar in France, and common people started fuming in anger and frustration. Well, this may be was “Protestable”, but this is absolutely not possible that suddenly a quarter-million people came out of their home with no prior information and a protest march spontaneously started.
A far-right politician, named Florian Philippot, who is also a presidential candidate in next year’s election, has been organizing such protests for months. Obviously, he gathered more organizations of similar interests to work for him.
But this protest is gradually going downstream as a lesser number of people are taking part in each subsequent protest marches day by day because more and more people are getting vaccinated.
Did the organizers check if all the participants in all those protest marches get themselves fully vaccinated? The answer is absolutely not, and almost all the protesters were non-vaccinated. We can say this because the issue is related to non-vaccinated people only.
That means, marching with non-vaccinated people in the Covid crisis has a higher cause than to save people from Covid? And it was the demand for lesser control of the state of people’s movement!
The purpose of state control was to minimize the Covid spread. But the protester’s demand and action just took the infection one step ahead. It also jeopardized the people who did not have any infection till then and joined the march.
In the above point of view, was the protest march did any good to the participants at all?
The sarcastic point of view
This could have been in a more constructive way. There could be a more thorough study about the effects and consequences of Covid, rather than depending upon the statement of a politician!
The protest march could have been for faster vaccination and the opening of more and more vaccination centers across the country.
The protest organizers could have collected funds not to organize the protest but to buy vaccines from vaccine producers straight away. And start their own initiatives to vaccinate more people who would have taken part in the protest.
In 2020, the Indian government proposed a bill named “THE FARMERS’ PRODUCE TRADE AND COMMERCE (PROMOTION AND FACILITATION) ACT, 2020” which introduced a series of proposals to give more powers to farmers in selling and signing contracts directly with businesses or buyers. This bill gave birth to some of the most violent protests in recent history in India.
As of now, APMC, or Agricultural Produce & Livestock Market Committee, controls the trading of direct agricultural products. The respective state governments (What are states? In India, they divided it into multiple states and every state has its own elected governments and enjoys some scale of autonomy) fully control the APMCs.
The bill proposed the farmers can trade agricultural products from outside the APMCs as well. It brought severe protests from almost all the state governments, as they were in fear of losing the tax collected from the APMCs.
There were also a few more pros and cons in favor, as well as against the bill. Many people, mostly from two particular states of Punjab and Haryana, came to support the protest against the bill.
The protesters refused to sit in discussion with a Supreme Court of India-appointed committee. They uprooted all the telephone towers belonging to a particular private company in Punjab. They were holding on to Haryana-Delhi connecting road as a “Dharna” (sitting protest) site, blocking it for months. They traveled the whole of India to gather support, but could not find much.
There were a few unreasonable activities that were noticed on the protest site. As the state of Punjab is mostly Sikh religion-dominated, there were open hate speeches by some politicians targeting Hindus (which form the majority in India). Farm bill protesters held placards and posters relating to the infamous Kashmir issue for some days.
In the latest development, the Supreme Court of India has asked the farmer’s representatives about which are they protesting now when the government of India has postponed the bill in controversy.
The telcos firm JIO lodged a complaint to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India that their rival Airtel and Vi mobile are indulging in the unethical practice of luring customers from JIO to their network. They were allegedly fuelling the protest to gain customers.
The state government’s protests were all open. They do not want to lose tax money. And in fear of that, they also went against the bill.
The Gurnam Singh Chaduni is the leader of farmers from Haryana. He contested the 2019 Assembly elections from Ladwa constituency in the Kurukshetra district, but failed miserably. This movement is again bringing shines in his political career.
Punjab is an agriculture-based state, and farmers are at the heart of this state economy. Also, they have an opposition party (opposition to that of the ruling party holding the Prime Ministers’ post in the government of India) right now in the state government. This political rivalry also has fueled the protest. The major opposition party in India, Congress has already won by riding on farmer issue by supporting farmer protest. In the Baroda bypoll, Congress has snatched victory on this issue.
Therefore, every participant in this protest has their own agenda. Then actually, who is fighting for farmers? Only those poor farmers themselves?
The sarcastic point of view
Many organizations have ridden the farmer’s agitation and tried to rip their own benefit out of it. When a poor farmer can not read through and understand all the technicalities of a proposed bill, then he has to depend upon other people’s opinions.
As a result, this agitation has lost all its credibilities which is clear from the Supreme Court’s comments on what the farmers are protesting now.
When you show a poor person two possibilities, one is a bright side, and the other is fearful, then the anxiety and behavior changes according to the fearful understanding. They could have handled much better the whole movement if the government, farmers, and the opposition could have sat in discussion and grant assurance. But this initiative was completely absent and thus led to a good pond for political fishing.
United States (2020)
In 2020, a black-skinned person named George Floyd died of police brutalities. In a video, they revealed he was being choked under the knee of the accused police officer, and after a few minutes, he succumbed to death.
A vehement protest erupted thereafter, throughout the country. It rocked the social ambiance on the “Black Lives Matter” slogan. Yes, it was a very sad and unfortunate incident, but how come lakhs of people spontaneously came out to the road in protest?
Miski Noor, one organizer, said that she wanted to stop funding the police and let them invest the fund in the welfare of the black community. From her statement, you may think that the US states really do not need any policing, and killing the blacks selectively is the only job that the US police force does.
Though the black community may really need some extra care to fund and spending for community welfare. But people took her words of defunding the police force and fund cuts were real! Now, in this light, imagine when a black criminal really does some wrong with a white and there are no police to prevent that in fear of mass protest.
Ashton P. Woods also wants to abolish the police system and wants black representatives in all political sectors. He thinks white politicians are not good enough to benefit black communities.
Black supremacy is not the answer to white supremacy. Being black does not mean that one should go for a black-driven community in a city. The best way seems to be an inclusive government or political system.
If they abolished the police system, who will take care of crimes, complaints? Is it the community itself? This will bring back a bloody mafia regime. Multiple contenders for a certain community leader designation will start infighting among themselves. Who will control the greed of power addiction then?
Why is not there talk of equality rather a color-oriented thought process? If someone thinks of one skin color, then tomorrow the other color will automatically demand their social share as well. How are the community leaders going to address that when they only work for their community only?
A government is always a centralized concept. At the very bottom of the social system, they can not place any decentralized community rule. Lower-level community decentralization gives birth to area control and area domination. This prohibits free movements and hinders some basic rights of a natural citizen. Is the identity of being a community member more desirable than the citizenship itself?
The sarcastic point of view
There should not be any community supremacy. Neither is black domination nor let it be white domination. Equality must prevail. When the black community is downtrodden, then we must work for the upliftment of the black communities until they reached equality. But never supremacy in the name of community or sympathy.
We need to go to the root cause to find out why is there any need for community help for black people. Reducing police funding and spending the same as to a particular community is not a better solution.
Also, fuelling the protest based on religion or gender, or skin color is targeted to unify any specific group of people. The worst side of these protests is that opportunistic politicians can use them for their own gain and later forget about it. In the long run, the community gains nothing, though looks promising. Gradually it becomes the same in the long run.
In the brief analysis of four protest incidents from four different countries on four different issues, only one thing is in common, as we find out. And that is non-inclusiveness.
In Tunisia, the opposition and the human rights organizations ignored the misery of common people but started taking sides of them after it created the political void.
In France, they took no constructive steps to achieve a faster vaccination of unvaccinated people but to make a large protest to point out the fault of the current government. Political opportunism also plays a role in these events.
In India, there were no bold or revolutionary steps taken by any of the supporting political parties towards farmers’ benevolence while they were in power. Farmers’ plights are a very long-running common issue in India. But nobody missed the opportunity to use the farmers’ plight and gain electorally.
We know the US as the birthplace of the concept of equality. But lives there are still being measured based on skin color. The primary focus became to diminish white supremacy. And thus creating a void of community supremacy and ride on to it. It forgets to include people irrespective of skin color.
Enemy of my enemy is my friend- is a very appropriate proverb which very often plays a lead role in organizing protests. Therefore, there are at least two different interests that go to protest. One is the actual victim of the situation, and the aforementioned proverb drives the other. We can mention them as victims and opportunists, respectively.
We must reduce the number of opportunists from our protests to amplify the purity and sanity of the movement. The pure the protest is, the more gain the victims can have. And vice versa.
Our advice is that, before you go for any protest, just insist on knowing as much as possible. Always measure first the purity of the protest. If you still go to protest sites or be a part of it despite knowing the purity of the protest is not satisfactory, you are becoming the part of the opportunists, who will in the long run force you to take a wrong turn.