By Tripada Bharati
The not-so-easy-dying JNU Row has protests and sloganeering at its centre. In fact, the whole row started off with alleged anti-national sloganeering at JNU campus on some occasion of debate and discussion commemorating the death of Afzal Guru. Since then, our country has been seeing a huge surge in protest marches, agitations, demonstrations in favor and against of the JNU Cause. In between, we also saw Jats violent protest for reservation and Journalists peaceful protest against the assault on journalists in the wake of Patiala court incident where few journalists were beaten down by a handful of lawyers. Prior to JNU, there was a nationwide protest in support of Rohith Vemula cause and presently the twin- matters, Rohith and JNU, have been going hand in hand with each other.
All these crucial news making incidents have protests, agitation, sloganeering- many a times violent, at its core. Raising voice in the form of peaceful protest is a democratic tool at everybody’s disposal but sometimes it does damage the basic ethos of constitution when it turns violent. And it has been seen that many a times that such opportunities are lost on the altar of politicization of the matter which serves its own ends. There is no denying the fact that there are more than a handful of politicians across parties who are good at stirring the sentiments of common people by their verging-on-violence speeches, delivered to attain their hideous designs. This particular act is called Rabble Rousing. Violent sloganeering at protests also contributes to the same effect. So here is enlisted a few harmful effects of rabble rousing and violent sloganeering:
- Violent speeches and rhetoric can strip people off their reasoning and incites violence. It makes people think along the lines of hatred and divisiveness culminating into worst repercussions.
- It fuels, sectarian, communal biases and feeds hatred in public.
- It kills the very existence of nuanced analysis and helps propaganda instead.
- It helps in polarizing people along, communal, casteist lines thereby helping political parties who play divisive politics.
- Rabble rousing, at its worst, can culminate in violent rioting, communal violence and destruction of public property.
Online social world is a huge platform for common man to speak and make his voices heard. We carelessly share endless news, videos, memes, and whatever comes along with it, without even giving a second thought about checking their authenticity and suitability of the content. And so powerfully it works that we get swayed away irrationally and become a part of the mob without even realizing it. A recent video with #sharewithcare nicely captures how ignorant we are, especially youth, when they were asked questions about JNU saga and Afzal guru. The video appeals that we should do enough research before sharing anything on social media.
In the wake of the ongoing JNU Row, our country is witnessing mass polarization in the name of Nationalism. There is a deluge of articles, commentaries, debates and discussions on ‘Right to dissent’, ‘Freedom of speech’, ‘Nationalism’ across national media, online media and other online social portals. It would be in keeping with the democratic tradition of the country if we apply a nuanced approach to the debate of Nationalism. In a Nutshell, we as informed public, before giving in to any such rabble rousing; we must pause and think; think and act in sync with the democratic principles as outlined in the constitution.