Yuva - India

AandolanJeevis: The Newest Squad in Town

Prime Minister Modi’s speech in Rajya Sabha over the Farm Laws has to be the classiest display of cutting down the opposition to its size in the last few years. Lately, Modi has been accused of turning into ‘the silent PM’, a title he had often used condescendingly for his predecessor, Manmohan Singh.

Even his staunchest supporters had started turning restless in the last few months, accusing him of not communicating effectively with the protestors, not doing anything to clear up the borders and not taking any action against those who displayed violence on 26th January 2021.

Then came his Rajya Sabha speech; a speech which killed 75 days of propaganda in less than 75 minutes. Watching that speech reminded me of why I have been an admirer of Narendra Modi starting 2019. He hit out at the opposition for instigating the protestors and spreading false information. He dispelled all fears regarding MSP – the most cited reason behind the ongoing protests. Most importantly, he brought up the fact that ‘promises made by Manmohan were being discharged by Modi.’ Which is true- considering all parties protesting currently had these exact same laws in their own manifestos.

Not just stopping at shutting up the opposition, PM Modi then went on to coin a new term- the most used term on twitter in the last 24 hours- “AandolanJeevi”.

He began by saying that society has many sections- ShramJeevi (hard workers) and BudhiJeevi (intellectuals). But now we have a new section called as AandolanJeevis.

Needless to say, this new word spoken out by the Head of our Government in the Upper House caught everyone’s fancy. The word has suddenly become a part of our political discourse and is being debated on news channels during prime time. A lot of vocal anti-Modi Twelebs slyly inserted the word in their handles, symbolic of their opposition to the PM and his derision towards these AandolanJeevis.

Those who hit back at Modi for this term, did so by bringing up India’s history prior to 1947. True; India got its freedom only through Andolans, i.e., mass movements, protests, uprisings, etc. And nobody should stand against the same.

When Congress was in power, ABVP activists and BJP leaders were at the forefront of all movements and protests the Centre.

However, one needs to note the difference between Aandolankaari, and AandolanJeevi. The former is an activist, someone who fights for others’ lives and livelihood: an integral part of our society. The latter, on the other hand, ‘protests’ merely to protest and the only livelihood they care about is their own (as they are often paid to disturb the society) and their movements have no meaning per se; their presence in the society is harmful to its stability.

These AandolanJeevis have nothing better to do. They are seasonal protestors; whose credentials change from “psephologist” to “international relations expert” in a matter of days; on odd days they are “agricultural activists” and on even days they take on the role of “educationists”. The point is- they play multiple roles but are good at none. Hence, their only source of income is blocking roads, calling Government names and showing people the path of anarchy. They do not support any ideology or any party. They represent nobody’s interests but their own. A wad of cash will make them switch sides.

Thus, the controversy surrounding Farm Laws has made them rich, even as it continues to cost the exchequer so much money every day, considering the disruption of routine activities.

AandolanJeevis instigate people to take up arms, then blame the Government for not doing anything when hell breaks loose. And if the Government does take any action, they cry “fascism”.

AandolanJeevis convince ordinary people with impressionable minds to turn to anarchy against their better judgement, only to throw the latter under the bus when there are consequences for the same.

AandolanJeevis misuse the rights accorded to them as per the Constitution by constantly calling for strikes and protests, yet they will allege curtailment of those rights when they are asked to put an end to their madness.

In short, AandolanJeevis are the bane of any democracy’s existence. Mind my words, AandolanJeevis, not Aandolankaaris; the latter is fundamental to any democracy’s operation.

I am a college student, and I find protests cool.

And I wholeheartedly believe in the idea of going against the establishment if it refuses to listen. I strongly support the concept of debate and dialogue when two sides collide, as everyone’s interest is of equal pertinence in an egalitarian society. I think everyone has a right to protest; and tomorrow I may be out on the streets if something is affecting my life or my livelihood.

But what is the extent of this right? Should the protests go on indefinitely? Should the use of essential roads be suspended for months with no sight of any respite in the near future? Should protestors stick to their unreasonable demands, irrespective of the other side willing to meet them halfway?

History is proof that every time the Government of India has introduced radical reforms, right since independence, somebody has opposed them. We are uncomfortable with change, especially when we believe it will deprive us of our privileges. But each time, the warring parties met and talked things out; the outcome has been favorable most of the time.

India today, can either stick to the same old farming system, which was introduced in a different century, in different circumstances, by different leaders with a different goal in mind, or it can move ahead and embrace the change it desperately needs.

This is not a BJP vs. Congress issue. I am one-hundred percent sure, had BJP been in the opposition, it would have done what its nemesis is doing now. It did oppose the FDI reforms in 2013, which were really needed in the retail sector.

This is proof that Aandolans are not always for the greater good. They are often politically motivated and funded by political parties trying to bring down the ruling party.

AandolanJeevis are making our political system toxic. Their constant criticism with no logical backing is irritating but tolerable. However, when they come on the streets and harass ordinary citizens who have jobs to get to and money to earn, since they are not being paid to sit idle on the roads, it is a lot harder to take even real and necessary social movements seriously. As much as I like Aandolans, I deeply abhor AandolanJeevis and hope they get a stable source of income- something that will take them from being AandolanJeevis to ShramJeevis or BuddhiJeevis.

Bhavya Jha

Intern, Goa Chronicle
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