Sunday, April 09, 2006

Protests in the Air - II

The great news as you may already know is that the problematic Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin has finally resigned following the mass protests that carried on for over 6 months and intensified in the last three weeks. In a last ditch attempt to save his position, Thaksin had called for snap polls on the 2nd of this month. The polls were boycotted by the opposition while a large number of people cast blank votes! After consultations with the King, Thaksin gave his resignation on the 4th, thus ending the political drama and his own regime. He had taken democracy for a ride.

The manner in which the people carried out the protests is exemplary – peaceful and purposeful. Constantly guided by their leaders from the civil society itself, they never turned violent, thus writing off all opinions from the skeptics that letting the people to exert their power can turn the situation into an anarchic one!!

The citizens of Thailand must be feeling really proud of themselves, for, their patience and perseverance has paid off, this must give them a lovely feeling of well being!

Long live people power! Isn’t power that is used to deconstruct something only to reconstruct it back such that it serves the larger interests of the society called empowerment…

Something else, similar in spirit is happening in another part of the world. My dear friend C is very enthusiastic about it and I share the enthusiasm wholeheartedly. Recently, an immigration bill was presented in the US Senate which when enforced was to “criminalize illegal aliens and those who aid them”. The United States is home to around 33 million people of *Hispanic origin. Hence, this is a very big jolt for a large section of the population. Hundreds of thousands of people have been protesting against this immigration legislation nationally, since sometime now. The protests have been hugely successful and tomorrow, the 10th of April, in a historical turn, 1 million people from the Hispanic/Latino communities as well as people who are against the bill in general will unite to participate in a mega march in 65 cities across the US.

Further more, on the first of May, a call has been given to participate in “A Day Without Latinos” where no person of Hispanic origin will engage in any social or economic activity. Even children will not go to school.

A nation of Hispanics to unite on single day.

More power to the people!

*Hispanic: Persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin.

In what I gather from my aunt SGB and the Time magazine, a series of protests are taking place all over France. In the last few weeks, 3 million students and other unemployed people demonstrated all over France demanding from the Government to roll back the law that it was about to implement which would authorize the employers to fix the probation period at 2 years (for young candidates on their first job) within which they may fire the employee, when they want, without having to show cause. SGB writes, “It does translate the anxiety of the youth facing the perspective of globalised economy, which needs its ‘slaves’ and which would make them exist by virtue of the job (chakri, as it was termed by the Bengalis desiring to serve the English in the early period of the colonial rule) and the money it would bring; the system would finally make them crave for that kind of slavery.”

I wish that these young people are successful in paving the way for alternatives.

Protests in Delhi
Braving the hot weather, many people have been demonstrating for over three weeks now in Delhi to protest the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from being raised. The dam will affect the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The protestors argue that the increase in the height will displace around 35,000 families and destroy their habitat and means of livelihood. This is also in light of the fact that the people who have been similarly affected by the displacement at the present height of the dam have still not been rehabilitated.

What are our politicians doing?!! Seems they are playing their usual game of vote bank politics (the Governments at the State and Centre are not the same in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh) or they only care for the mega bucks that naturally follow huge development projects and not the lives of the common citizens. Such a disghusting situation!!

An online petition is being signed by the crusaders of just development all over the world, if you are one to uphold the cause, then do take a few minutes to
read and sign it. It does not matter if you are not Indian or do not live in India.

I am sure other protests are also happening in other parts of the world. Please feel free to contribute if you know of any.
Ta ta friends, will come back soon.


The thinking thinker said...

Okei where did so many posts came from? and, tht too backdated.

kalpalata said...

There are protests happening all over perhaps - I know of people coming together in Bangladesh to protest against Islamic fundamentalism and recently met a friend who told me about the student demonstrations in Malaysia over the draconian ISA. Wherever there is unequal distribution of power - protests will happen I guess. But perhaps empowerment happens - not simply by joining rallies, but when people start critically thinking about issues by themselves, analysing issues that affect their lives, deconstructing power structures around them - their families, offices, organisations. For many a times - we go about protesting against injustice happening in the world around us, but within our homes, work places - we do not think twice. Just a point of view............

Filial connections said...

This is a general comment on your posts. We, no atleast I, would like to hear more of YOUR take on things than mere information which we could get from elsewhere anyways. -- this is just a bit of filial criticism.

ambrosia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ambrosia said...

K- Thank you for visiting my blog. I guess empowerment, in terms that you are speaking of cannot happen till the line between the personal and the political draws closer. For that to happen the patterns need to be understood and not only that, there also needs to be a will into undoing a lot of things. Many people who are in a position to undo things already enjoy privileges that they don't want to forsake.

Thinking Thinker - I am sorry, I did not get your point.

Filial Connections - I don't know which of my brother or sister you are, but please let me write on my blog the way I please - that is my TAKE on your "filial" criticisms.

Gwénola said...

I have just come on the web to read your blog, and I just wanted to wish you all the best with this site you have made - it is already full of your generosity and concern for other people. I wish you many, many visitors and readers! :-) A big hug to you, and to your sisters too if they come upon this message... :-)

Meera said...

That was very interesting and nice. I mean hats off to the people of Thailand. Well one of the protests or awareness thats happening in UAE is labour condition. The labours are treated very poorly here and many have started protesting about their companies. This started at the end of the last year. The first protest that was held was very peaceful one where the workers simply refuse to work. So they sat outside the building. They weren't paid for months I think and their living condition was very poor.

ambrosia said...

This is such a pleasant surprise Gwenola!! Thank you! Hugs to you too!

ambrosia said...

Meera, thank you for sharing. Would you know if the workers there are organised under a formal union?

A very cool cat said...

The French protests are quite heartening, actually - it's probably one of those rare moments when students and workers are actually united in a common cause - and by workers, I don't just mean French ones, but immigrant labour as well.

How I wish there could be protests like the one that took place in Thailand in India too! If ever there was a society desperately in need of an upheaval, it's ours. And yet the problems keep getting compounded, and not enough people seem to care.

ambrosia said...

A Very Cool Cat, thank you for visiting and for your comments. I share your feelings entirely. What you say about the French protests is so valuable.

Here in India everything seems to be sensationalism coz that sells. The media never highlights the real issues, how many of them laid stress on the issues surrounding the protest against the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam - most took pleasure in giving live coverage of the people on fast and that too more attention was paid to Medha Patka coz she is famous. I mean, and the people! Don't they get tired of it! I wonder when the "threshold" for tolerating all this nonsense will come. At this rate I wonder if/when we can have something as satisfying as Thailand. I have secretly wanted to be there during those times you know :)

And here we need something like a Gujarat (funny how we say "like Gujarat" or "Gujarat happened" etc..) to come together in unison only to split up after sometime.

Meera said...

I am sorry I dont get you. If you mean if they formed a union , I don't think so. I guess they got fed up and decided they wouldn't be run over about it now.And didn't work for the day but stood outise their office. Is this what you wanted to know.... Also I must add this was last year some where around October ( i think) so I dont remember clearly. What I do remember is that after the first protest different company's also started protesting for the unfairness.

ambrosia said...

Yes, you answered my question, thanks. The positive outcome that we can see is that workers of other companies also followed suit. I hope workers of different companies can join hands and demand to be treated with fairness. It is so important to get organised in order to put up a front against injustice.