Protests fuel a Backward march

22 Jun,2022

 

 

By Sanjeev Kotnala

 

Sanjeev KotnalaAs a citizen of the nation burning with protest one or the other things, I am confused and undoubtedly disillusioned with the country and its capability or potential to move forward. We seem too agile and opportunist in finding reasons to violently protest for Region, Religion, Politics, Language or Government actions. And naturally, advertising is the farthest thing in my mind, though I believe that the communication could have been far better handled somewhere.

Shaheen Bagh to farmer protest. CAA to Gyan Vyapi to Agnipath. We find windows of synchronised, well-orchestrated protests — not from an average citizen’s angst or observations. It is evident that behind such gross violent protests are bigger fishes with more significant stakeholders fuelling and funding them.

 

Simple Questions

The question that comes to mind is simple. How come, in each of these instances, the government has not been able to present them in a better form? Not necessarily more acceptable, but definitely where the reactions are controlled. How come no one in government could visualise the possible scenario? In the case of Agnipath, it was WIP for the last two years. And how come, if they did, they did not prepare for the reaction control?

One may say that typically ill-informed and judgmental citizens do not have the intellectual width to pace counter argument on some schemes and policies. I am not fully aware of all the policies and the media biases. But I know they have a sound logic for being created and pushed for. Unfortunately, plans on paper are mere plans till they are executed.

 

Protest Damage

The damage these protests are doing is enormous to the country. It is disrupting the national fabric, which is already strained. It is pulling down the nation. It is raising questions about the government’s capability to run the country. A government that is in power with a decent majority. It faces the legacy and the after effect of the earlier appeasement policies that never tried to be disruptive.

We live in a nation with multiple political agendas that are opportunistic and illogical. There is never a thought of the national future and well-being. And this is not true of the current opposition but also of other parties. The schemes launched are future-oriented and good for the nation. Yes, these policies or schemes rub some stakeholders wrongly and badly. But it is expected-there is no programme and policy that will always be good-good for everyone. However, our welfare state doesn’t talk the language.

 

Ill-framed, Ill-informed

There is always an afterthought. The points are not placed in their right spirit. The branding and the communication campaign still follow the basic governmental advertisement model of achievements. It rarely talks and concentrates on the possible impact on the consumers of the scheme. It is time for the government to consider using the best of the services for their campaigns. No guarantee it will solve every problem- but I think it will create a better climate.

The government should also stop presenting everything as a scheme and a policy.

The government in a welfare state with responsibility and accountability for laws and running of the nation: not necessarily, the businesses. It decides citizenship. But, because of myopic political promises, it is expected to be a job and job security provider. It has to create the climate for such a situation, not micro-manage it.

 

Nothing Deters the Protestors.

Protestors protest and burn public as well as private properties. They know nothing will happen to them. Every government has been unable to find a way and demonstrate a faster judicial process or an exemplary penalty to deter others from doing so. The police force is a puppet of the powers. It is highly ill-equipped. The surveillance camera doesn’t prevent the rioters. The riot blue dye is not available. Pellets bullets cannot be fired. Guns cannot be charged, and the lathies are nothing before the well-prepared protestors. The cases run for ages. Things are forgotten, cases withdrawn, and a new subject to protest keeps the nation on its toes.

This is one area where the government- central or state has to think and, if need be, invest in them. Maybe even have fast courts for deciding the cases. Maybe bar the protestors from every government support- but only the protestor, neither the property nor the family. Unless the property is non-regularised and not approved! And these regularising of the encroachment on land, national ambition, and emotions should not be allowed.

 

Net-net

Till the government does not start doing a proper communication and the rioters of every reason are not summarily prosecuted, we should be ready for such protests. And if needs be, keep a tight check on what appears in the media. The nation does not just want to know. The country wants to see a positive, optimistic proactive government delivering. And if possible, the opposition join hands for issues of national interest and oppose those that are not.

 

Sanjeev Kotnala is a senior business strategist and educator. He writes on MxMIndia on Wednesdays. His views here are personal

 

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