It was in the summer of 2015, where a group of about 100 people gathered in the heart of the city. The gathering was to discuss farmer issues who were facing a deep crisis due to the severe drought.
I was in India at that time, in fact it was just a few hours after I landed in Hyderabad on my
very short 2 week trip. I was fortunate to make it to the meeting.
The meeting was predominantly attended by the farmers, who brought the soil and grains from their fields which was a wonderful display of unity in diversity. It was also a great experience listening to the farmers and especially the women farmers. The farmers spoke about their issues, their challenges and also about the various suggestions, recommendations and solutions, all of which made it into the resolution that was passed in the end.
So the primary goal of this meeting was to get organized, to gather at a place to show support and intent, listen to the views and different perspectives, draw some conclusions which can then be pursued.
To organize in a peaceful way and to take collective decisions is fundamental to a healthy democracy.
Fast forward to today – the #Feb22ndRally or the #MarchForJobs:
The intent of the #MarchForJobs:
- To organize
- To gather as a show of support and intent
- Put forward demands to full fill the 1 lakh jobs as promised earlier
- Recommend a schedule with some key dates to take these demands forward
Getting people to come together to for a cause is hard, extremely hard. The farmers meeting I had attended, despite the fact that it was organized in the heart of the city convenient to all the city dwellers, there were only about 100 people,90% being the farmers themselves from distant places.
The #Feb22ndRally or #MarchForJobs is
- not against the government, it is in favor of the people
- a good way to hold a young government in check
- make the govt. accountable for it’s promises
- a sign of a healthy and participatory democracy
- a bottom up approach to express and consolidate people’s legitimate concerns
- an effective feedback loop the government otherwise would not have in a non democratic setup
At a recent solidarity event at JFK in support of immigration, as soon as I got out of the train, I saw a bunch of policemen guarding the entrance. I was a bit concerned as to what they would ask me or whether they would even allow me to participate, instead they asked me whether I was here for the solidarity event or to catch a flight. I said the former and they asked me to take another entrance. The police was there to organize and assist the crowd. This one small gesture had gone a long way in helping calm my nerves, took away the fear and alleviated whatever little anxiety I had. In fact I had more respect for the police and I thanked them sincerely for helping the crowd. I realized they were not against us, they were with us.
The government is for the people, by the people and of the people – it should be extremely proud of itself for it’s people are coming together, not only for a rock band or a game of cricket, but also coming together in supporting a cause.
Imagine the farmers meeting was attended by thousands of people, not just farmers, but ordinary citizens as well, there was a good chance, the government would have heeded to their call for help and attention and may be Telangana wouldn’t have been among the top 5 suicide states in the country. The society needs everyone – from the carpenter to the car mechanic, the farmer to the fireman, the engineer to the entrepreneur, the doctors to the dairy worker and as a society we can only become stronger if we stand up for each other instead of ignoring each other.
image source: TJAC