The passing of the first two exraordinary decades of the 21st century is marked by people capturing the streets against inhuman policies of the government, pushing mainstream political parties behind, and taking the lead of change. The New Year's Day this time was celebarted not with the fiesta of fireworks in Australia, where the first rays of the new year fall, but Shaheen Bagh of Old Delhi which even in the freezing temperature of December, showed the protesting energy of the people including toddlers and women out on the street to claim justice and freedom.
The new streets of resistance shatter the post-truth sophistry of the trio of Donald Trump, Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi, who hide their failures in governance and in providing basic necessities of food, home and clothes, by inciting nationalistic and racial hate-mongering, and by spreading falsehoods. The streets are abuzz with their angst in Latin America, West Asia, West Africa, Hong Kong and finally India, against legislations that violate civil rights, neoliberal reforms in economic sector, governmental apathy towards vital issues including climate change.
The popular upsurge that started in Seattle in America 1999 against the trap of World Trade Organisation - which had impoverished the world's undeveloped countries and societies – evolved into a global protest movement called World Social Forum (WSF) with the slogan 'Another World is Possible'. Although WSF was tricked into the machinations of capitalist-imperialistic tactics, the popular protest models raised by it soon had its copies all over the world. When WSF came to a stage where it did not have much to do against the bellicosity of imperialistic powers, what came in its place was the show of force of the anti-war movements in 800 cities of the world against the Iraq occupation by the US-Ukk coalition.
By the time the century got into its second decade, the streets in search of bread and ideas, stomped into the ramparts of dictatorships, seats of power and palaces, resulting in autocrats being ousted. Those sping revolutions in West Asia and northern Africa soon faded through counter-revolutions, but as a result of the reverberations created by it, 'occupation' movements by blacks, sidelined sections and identity advocacy advances hit the streets globally. As opposed to earlier times, protests emanated from the countryside to the cities, and social media became the chief medium of organizing and transmitting the new the verve of dissent.
The protest demonstrations that erupted following the betrayal of promise by regimes to wipe out social inequality and neglect, not only exposed the inefficacy of governments, but also resulted in loss of people's faith in them. The popular agitations that burst in Hong Kong, Lebanon and Iraq last year, are still raging in the streets. As we enter 2020, more battle-fronts are being opened against the deepening inequality, economic crisis, trade war, militarisation and denial of civil rights. In parallel, however, the leadership of the governments destined to resist the protests, fell into the hands of extreme rightistsin many countries from Brazil to India.
And this camp of rulers, who have nothing other than frenzied nationalism and racial hatred, saw disdain for the other as a panacea – and that aggravated matters. In India, the sangh parivar attempt to implement its agenda by torturing students of central universities academically and financially, has been making frequent unrest. As if to add insult to injury, when the sangh-led government ventured to make a citizenship amendment law in order to create communal polarisation, the student community that was pushed to the wall, came out of the campuses in protest en masse.
When they saw the agitations intensifying, political parties started climbing on to their shulders, but the course of the protesting youths seem to be no taking them into account, as indicated by the campuses of Delhi and Aligarh and by Shaheen Bagh's youth and middle-class home-makers. This outpouring of people's rage has in fact had its genesis in the inference that such grand rallies by the Opposition - that is incapable of even capitalising on the popular anger against the governmental failures of BJP government at the Centre – do not go far beyond realzing their own narrow goals. Therefore, the question being put by the enraged youth before the parties on the anti-fascist government is whether they are prepared to correct its failings and sincerely stand by the popular sentiment to lead the battle –more than merely doing the agency job of these protests or to steal the limelight.