ARAB SPRING 2.0? KEY FINDINGS OF ADR 2016. RADICALISATION THREATS.

RADICALISATION THREATS.

MARGINALIZATION/EXISTENTIAL THREATS!
Events in the region since 2011 have demonstrated the ability of young people to initiate action and catalyse change. They demonstrated young people’s awareness of the serious challenges to development posed by current conditions, and their ability to express the dissatisfaction of society as a whole with those conditions and its demands for change. These events also revealed the depth of the marginalisation that young people suffer and their inability to master the instruments of organised political action that could guarantee the peacefulness and sustainability of such change.

FAILING REGIMES!
There seems to be no prospect of improvement in the ability of governments to create sufficient suitable jobs, particularly because of the decline in oil prices and the negative effects of the decline on economic growth throughout the region, not merely in oil-producing countries.

LOST OPPORTUNITY!
Today’s generation of young people is more educated, active and connected to the outside world, and hence have a greater awareness of their realities and higher aspirations for a better future.

However, young people’s awareness of their capabilities and rights collides with a reality that marginalises them and blocks their pathways to express their opinions, actively participate or earn a living.

As a result, instead of being a massive potential for building the future, youth can become an overwhelming power for destruction.

HAVE NO SAY!
The youth unemployment rate is the highest in the world, reaching almost 30 percent, even though five years have passed since the widespread protests demanding a dignified life.

High numbers of young people, particularly young women, are unemployed and excluded from the formal economy.

The research literature continues to highlight the weak productivity of education and training systems in the region.

WAKE UP!
Indicators confirm that the overwhelming majority of young people in the Arab region do not tend to adopt extremist or violent views or to participate in extremist groups or activities. However, this should not lead us to complacency, because young people remain vulnerable to victimization by groups that misuse religion to benefit from its pivotal role in shaping identities.

EASY TARGETS TO BE EXPLOITED IN THE NAME OF RELIGION BY TERROR GROUPS/FRINGES!
Disgruntled individuals are less prone to resorting to peaceful, patient social action to change their environment. They may prefer more direct, more violent means, especially if they are convinced that existing mechanisms for participation and accountability are useless.

From:
Arab Human Development Report 2016
Youth and the Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality

Advertisements

ARAB SPRING 2.0? KEY FINDINGS OF ADR 2016. UNEMPLOYMENT.

UNEMPLOYMENT
Most recent statistics indicate that two-thirds of the Arab region’s population is below thirty years of age, half of which falling within the 15 – 29-year age bracket.

The youth unemployment rate is the highest in the world, reaching almost 30 percent, even though five years have passed since the widespread protests demanding a dignified life.

Young people between the ages of fifteen and 29 make up nearly a third of the regThe youth unemployment rate is the highest in the world, reaching almost 30 percent, even though five years have passed since the widespread protests demanding a dignified life.ion’s population, another third are below the age of fifteen.

Their numbers exceed 105 million, equivalent to one third of the population. This is the highest share in the history of the region.

In 2014, unemployment among youth in the Arab region exceeded twice the global average – the situation is expected to worsen by 2019.

The most important challenges that they feel they face – 75.77% said it was the prevailing Economic situation (poverty, unemployment, price increase).

Corruption was a distant second with 14.78% going with it – but together they are over 90% (90.55%) – that means a lot and that tells why there is chronic unemployment rate and why the youth is forced to protest.

Unemployment rate among the young female population is 47%. The global average is 16%. Unemployment rate among the young male population female is 24%. The global average is 13%.

In 2014, unemployment among youth in the Arab region exceeded twice the global average – the situation is expected to worsen by 2019.

By 2020, the Arab region needs to create 60 million new jobs to cater to the rising number the young, working age population.

Young people are coming of age in a context of widening income disparities, increasing inequality of opportunity, slowing average growth and shrinking job opportunities. These problems are weakening their commitment to preserving government institutions and their desire to participate in a political world that does not meet their needs or their expectations.

From:
Arab Human Development Report 2016
Youth and the Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality

ACTIVISTS JOINING POLITICS: A WELCOME SIGN FOR INDIAN DEMOCRACY

“I have been fasting for the last 16 years. I haven’t got anything from it yet. I am ending my fast today. I want to try a different agitation now. I will contest against the Chief Minister of Manipur in the upcoming state elections.”

Another activist joining politics – that is always a welcome step for Indian democracy. On July 31, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, two pivots of the 2011 anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, announced that they would launch their political party formally on October 2, on the Gandhi Jayanti Day.

Yogendra and Prashant are from the latest crop of the experimental activists who are joining politics after trying their hands in activism for a long period and we can hope that their experience would push them to cleanse the system as they claim and would deliver a politics that would truly be common man centric.

We can say it all began with the Anna’s movement in 2011. It was a massively successful civil society movement in India after decades that forced the government to take notice.

First it was Arvind Kejriwal and his group of supporters from ‘India Against Corruption’ who took the political plunge after they saw that their movement was losing direction and the government was getting an upper hand. Initially, Yogendra and Prashant were with Kejriwal. But later difference cropped up resulting in Kejriwal expelling Yogendra Yadav, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan from the party. In the wave that began with Anna’s movement, many other activists from across the country soon joined the new political party that emerged from the movement – the Aam Aadmi Party.

That is a spontaneous reaction from the people who have been fighting honestly for the last many years – that is spontaneous with Irom Sharmila who has become a global icon of peace and the struggle for it. It is heartening for Indian democracy that the trend has continued and Irom Sharmila is the most notable addition to it after Arvind Kejriwal.

The world has seen the resolve Irom Sharmila has and so we can say she will follow her course even in the future with same zeal. She is yet another in the growing list of activists who are taking a plunge in the mainstream politics and that is a welcome sign for Indian democracy.

Democracy is a participatory process. Every citizen of the country needs to participate in the process to nurture it, to make it strong. Likewise, they need to participate in the acts to keep a check on the factors that weaken it.

A democracy is run by its political institutions.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

JNUSU PROTEST MARCH: THE EXPECTED CLIMBDOWN – AND IT IS FOR GOOD

It was expected to happen this way and thankfully it did happen this way – the response to the protest march called by the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) – that did not set the news agenda today.

And much of it has to do with the rapid climbdown the ‘Kanhaiya Kumar hopes’ saw – after his bail on March 3.

March 3 and 4 were crucial – for Kanhaiya Kumar to understand and act that he was not a fulltime politician but mere a student activist who had got people’s sympathy and support because people felt he was being wronged, because people felt that he and others in JNU were being victimized.

Newsrooms and the nation saw a surcharged atmosphere even during the breaking developments centred on Umar Khalid and Aniraban Bhattacharya disappearance, reappearance and surrender.

Being students was the significant brand equity every JNU student had when police, politicians and administration started making mess of a university matter. Their activism, ideological affiliation and sense of fighting it out only amplified the appeal. It worked well with the popular sentiment that tends to be with the people who are perceived as being victimized.

Kanhaiya Kumar and other JNU students lost these advantages after Kanhaiya Kumar started doing rounds of personal interviews and started making unnecessary verbal attacks that didn’t spare even the defence establishment including the Indian Army.

When communication goes on mass level, no one sees the intent but the words you ejaculate. The ‘Kanhaiya Kumar fined for obscene behaviour against a woman’ episode further added to it. Then there were additionals like talks of Kanhaiya Kumar slated to campaign for the Left-wing parties in the upcoming assembly polls.

So, a mess that had given a window, an opportunity to revive student politics and activism in India was being reduced to a mere political opportunity that could conveniently be labelled anti-BJP and thus could be dismissed.

Everyone saw through it – including those who had rushed to support JNU students. Certainly there has been a disenchantment and it reflected today when no national news channel made it a point to beam Kanhaiya Kumar and others while they were organizing the protest march.

It was third in a series of solidarity marches to raise voice for democratization of academic institutions in the country and was about JNUSU’s and JNUTA’s demand of releasing Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya. And sane, neutral voices want them released though their judicial custody was extended for another 14 days today. Hope, they get bail tomorrow when their bail plea hearing is expected.

But as the overall issue is important – that how some students of a particular institution were targeted and are still being targeted – beyond what should have been a justified punishment/disciplinary action meted out to them – so was the attention given to the issue today. Almost every news carrier carried the developments on the JNU protest march later in the day – with relevant pointers from Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech today.

Student politics and activism are imperatives for any democratic society but within the confines of academic environment. Yes, universities must be the first places for voices of dissent but it is the responsibility of everyone to keep the culture of debate healthy and democratic. And they must be within the Constitutional norms that run a democracy. You have to practice the fact that only your ideology cannot be sacrosanct – be it Leftist – or the Centrist – or the Rightist.

If you have to get engaged in fulltime activism or politics, pass the confines of the academic institutions first. While still being a student, it is not your job to raise voices, indulge in sloganeering and organize events to rid the country of this or that ideology. Keep your leanings intact for the time when you will be out in the open to take on what you believed was wrong and unjustified when you were building the activist in you during your days in your academic institution.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

KANHAIYA AND OTHERS TO BE RUSTICATED? TOMORROW IS AGAIN A STORMY DAY IN DELHI.

The inquiry committee constituted by JNU has submitted its report. The day finally came today after the three extensions the committee was granted. And going by the information leaked so far, its findings and recommendations are going to make for headlines.

It has already begun and tomorrow, when there is a big agitation march planned by the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) – Parliament Chalo, it is going to figure prominently. The findings of this probe committee will certainly reflect on how stormy the day is going to be tomorrow.

JNUSU is demanding removal of sedition charges and other cases slapped on Kanhaiya Kumar and others. The Left-wing students unions are backing the move. JNUSU has appealed to the students in Delhi’s different colleges and universities to join the protest tomorrow.

And given the response that Kanhaiya Kumar and other students got after the administration and police made the mess of a simple university issue, the protestors will try to mobilize more support for Kanhaiya Kumar and other students when they take to roads tomorrow.

Kanhaiya Kumar is out on ‘interim bail’ with some tough words by the presiding Delhi High Court judge who delivered the order. Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya are still in jail after they failed to secure bail.

So, even after the blitzkrieg that Kanhaiya tried to unleash after his bail on March 3, they, from JNUSU and those under scanner including Kanhaiya, are not going to say anything acidic or hostile to the law of the land – that will further affect their case. Yes, a sort of speech delivered earlier in JNU is expected tomorrow – but it is not going to get same eyeballs – because, since March 3, Kanhaiya Kumar last lost much of his currency that made him relevant for a cause.

Some deft political manoeuvring has to be there then – that conveys what the JNUSU wants to say – and convinces people of its intent and substance. JNUSU opposed this probe committee, demanded a fresh one. Those under investigation didn’t appear before it. And students had support of many faculty members as well. And it was certainly not restricted to the university campus. And that has to be sustained.

A well coordinated movement fanning across the capital city or a significant presence in the heart of Delhi to catch media attention and social media pull will serve the purpose. Yes, a speech is ok – but with the intent that reflects sincerity and commitment to a cause.

If tomorrow has to be a stormy day – it has to be within the confines of the law – like the protests of the hugely successful anti-corruption movement of 2011. And if JNUSU has learnt any lessons, it will try to follow the suit.

Hope sense will prevail tomorrow – unlike what happened on February 9 – when anti-India slogans were raised in JNU. Yes, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and others say they did not raise them and those who shouted those slogans were outsiders and we would love to go with that but with the obvious questions that if all these JNU students were present there, when these slogans were raised, they why none of them bothered to stop such anti-nationals or behaved like responsible citizens by informing the authorities of what had happened.

If there had to be any punishment in this case, it was about this – a disciplinary action by the university administration.

And it is expected that the action taken on the recommendations of inquiry committee would be in line with this spirit – with no expulsions – but clear warnings. Police did not go on hunting for two more students named after Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya surrendered indicates that.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2015 TO TUNISIA’S NATIONAL DIALOGUE QUARTET: A PERFECTLY LOGICAL DECISION

“The National Dialogue Quartet must be given much of the credit for this achievement and for ensuring that the benefits of the Jasmine Revolution have not been lost. Tunisia faces significant political, economic and security challenges. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes that this year’s prize will contribute towards safeguarding democracy in Tunisia and be an inspiration to all those who seek to promote peace and democracy in the Middle East, North Africa and the rest of the world. More than anything, the prize is intended as an encouragement to the Tunisian people, who despite major challenges have laid the groundwork for a national fraternity which the Committee hopes will serve as an example to be followed by other countries.”

– The Norwegian Noble Committee, October 10, 2015

Now, for the first time, in its recent history, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has chosen a winner that all would agree to – all who watch geopolitical developments and understand the importance of the ‘Tunisian example’ in a world marred by civil wars, dictatorships and terrorism.

And the press release by the Nobel Committee sums it up logically.

The Nobel Peace Prize has had a controversial history when it comes to selecting its winners. The universal perception is, and the stated reason behind ‘deciding the recipient’ is, that it would ‘recruit’ global attention, its local manifestation, more organizations and more people to the cause that the ‘selected’ person(s)/organization(s) is/are associated with.

That is not the underlying reason always and there have been no assessments on ‘links between yearly selections and intended recruitment results’.

The recent spate of controversies began with the unusual ‘Peace Nobel’ decision to award Barack Obama in 2009, for raising hopes with his elevation as the President of the United States of America (with no ‘such’ past to talk about), and continued with the ‘too late’ decision about the European Union in 2012 and the compromise decision with ‘Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yusufzai’ in 2014.

The 2010 decision to recognize Liu Xiaobo was a much needed step but had its global repercussions with China flexing its muscles at every stage, first in trying to derail the decision, and then exercising its power to affect ‘opinionating’ by many countries.

So, in a way, since 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee had three ‘controversial decisions’ in five years and the committee chose to play safe by naming Malala Yusufzai, again ‘for raising hopes’ and balancing the decision by adding Kailash Satyarthi, a career activist working for children but certainly not the national, regional or global icon, in 2014.

But 2015’s decision to name the National Dialogue Quartet of Tunisia is really apt, is to the point, and is rightly based on geopolitical developments.

Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution that gave rise to the larger ‘Arab Spring’ movement in many countries in North Africa and the Middle East is the only bright spot if we look back at its journey against authoritarian regimes in different countries.

Libya, Yemen and Syria are badly stuck in civil wars. Libya and Syria didn’t see power transitions after the Arab Spring that could keep the countries well on the way of becoming peaceful democracies. The fight to change the regime in Syria has the biggest terror menace since Al Qaeda to control, the Islamic State that has overran vast parts of Syria and Iraq. In Egypt, first it was Muslim Brotherhood, a shady organization, and now a military ruler. In other countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arab which are absolute monarchies, the mass movements have been effectively crushed.

But not in Tunisia!

Tunisia, a small country with ‘not much’ geopolitical stakes, is globally important because it is the only ‘survivor’ of the Arab Spring, the biggest mass movement in the recent history.

‘Survivor’ because there are forces in authoritarian regimes spread across the world, especially in Muslim monarchies, and terror outfits like the Islamic State, that would do all to destabilize Tunisia to create situations like Libya or Yemen or Syria or Egypt – to create situations that would tell the world that the Arab Spring failed to produce any result even in its birth place.

The transition, from Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s dictatorial regime to democracy now, has been quite a journey for Tunisia. The journey that began in December 2010 and took first step towards reconstruction in January 2011 had an Islamist party government with its proposed ‘controversial constitution’, political assassinations and widespread protest movements.

But thankfully, Tunisia had strong civil society organizations – organizations that formed this National Dialogue Quartet – organizations that represented workers, activists, lawyers and business outfits.

The four civil society organizations in Tunisia that form the National Dialogue Quartet in 2013 – the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Human Rights League, the Tunisian Order of Lawyers, and the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts – played pivotal role in convincing Ennahda, the Islamist party in the government, to step down – and in laying down a roadmap for further (and rightful) democratic transition.

As the Norwegian Nobel Committee says, and as we know, a strong democratic tradition in Tunisia would serve as the reminder to others, in other countries, that what they had fought for.

A successful spring in Tunisia, originating from the Jasmine Revolution, would be a tribute to the fighting spirit that had made the Arab Spring a multi-country movement.

And the world has its tasks cut in ensuring that it happens in Tunisia – helping those who are helping to restore peace and strengthen democracy in the country – given the fact that the destabilizing forces are active to perpetrate terror and chaos – with two large scale terror attacks in Tunisia this year that killed scores – and with radical elements trying to recruit more collaborative hands.

The decision by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize 2015 to the National Dialogue Quartet of Tunisia should be seen as a logical step towards that.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE MAHATMA WILL ALWAYS REMAIN THE CONSCIENCE OF HUMANITY..

Mahatma Gandhi will always remain great because he was one among us – and he will always remain ‘the one’ among us.

And for that reason – and for that reason alone – October 2 will remain the universal day of humanity – not just in India – but across the world.

And the world is celebrating this spirit – the UN has declared October 2 – the birth anniversary of the Mahatma – as the ‘International Day of Non-Violence’.

The movement was initiated in 2004 and the UN had adopted it in 2007. The UN page on the day says – “The International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”. The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”.”

Yes, non-violence is the only universal principle that can guide the humankind to an egalitarian world – where each human life has same scalability.

And non-violence is the only guiding principle that can ensure equal distribution of opportunities to each human life.

The Mahatma will always remain great because we know the world, in spite of realizing the ‘inevitability’ of non-violence, has failed to build a ‘humanitarian world’.

History of human civilization is replete with violence – men killing men. The world is still plagued with ‘man-created’ violence in many parts of the world.

The modern day world – with its contemporary times – is best chance for humanity to aspire for a world of ‘universal humanity’ – and that world can only be built by eradicating wars and other forms of terror.

But, in the prevailing geopolitical circumstances, that looks a ‘far-fetched’, hypothetical concept.

Well, when the Mahatma had started practicing non-violence, first in South Africa and then in India, to oppose, and then to uproot the mighty British Empire, people had dismissed him first. Gandhi used to be a subject of mock initially.

And we all know the might of ‘Satyagraha-non-violence’ today.

It was the might of ‘Satyagraha’ only that could ‘successfully’ take on the might of British Empire. We recently witnessed this ‘might’ again – not just in India – but in many parts of the world. The underlying theme of every mass protest in the recent history – the global ‘Occupy’ movement, the Arab Spring, anti-corruption movements of India and Pakistan, universalization of Guy Fawkes masks as the symbol of mass protests – has been the principle of non-violence.

Strengthening democracies and minimizing wars are the basic needs of the day – and non-violence is the basic tenet, the guiding conscience behind every such thought process.

And life the Mahatma is its best manifestation – and a robustly functional Indian democracy is the best tribute to him.

The Mahatma

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

TRADE UNIONS TRADE WELL THEIR DAYLONG NATIONWIDE STRIKE

As is the norm, Arun Jaitley dismissed yesterday’s nationwide strike. PTI quotes him saying – ‘Bharat bandh has marginal or inconsequential impact.’

His reaction was on the expected line. After all, a government is not expected to laud a protest event against it – certainly not in the current political scenario prevailing in India. And Arun Jaitely is one of its senior-most politicians and ministers.

But, then, let’s look at what reports basically said about yesterday’s nationwide strike. Here are some headlines.

The Indian Express – Bandh halts life, spurs violence

The Times of India – TU strike takes a toll on services; 1000 held as Bengal turns warn zone

Hindustan Times – Trade union strike halts public transport, shuts factories

Mail Today – Bengal worst hit as bandh slows down life

The Hindu – Strike hits banking, transport services

The Economic Times – Strike hits normal life, coal output; Violent clashes in West Bengal

BBC News – Indian workers strike over Modi labour reforms

Reuters – Millions strike in India to protest against Modi’s labor reforms

AFP – In huge show of strength, lakhs of workers go on strike over ‘anti-labour’ reforms

CNNMoney – India’s workers strike to challenge Modi

Wall Street Journal – India on Strike: In Pictures

These headlines, and many more, tell what happened really, that, normal life was badly affected by the daylong strike called by 10 central trade unions, many state level trade unions and supported by unions of employees of banks and insurance companies.

Public transport was badly struck in states like West Bengal, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, and also Meghalaya.

The Hindu said the ‘shutdown disrupted life and business in many states’. ‘Banking, transportation, postal and shipping services were the worst hit’, the report wrote further.

The Indian Express reported the similar outcome of the bandh – “a daylong nationwide strike called by 10 central trade unions on Wednesday disrupted normal life in various parts of the country with coal production, banking operations and transport services being hit the most. The day also witnessed violent clashes in Odisha and West Bengal.”

The Times of India observed the same, and so the reports by other dailies and national and international news agencies. Detailed articles carried essay sort of photographs that were available to the camera lenses in plenty.

As most of the trade unions are Left-oriented and as the RSS/BJP led Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh (BMS), a large outfit, had walked out of the strike, a natural curiosity was about the extent of the success of the bandh. And if we, indeed, see the daylong protest event as a ‘show of strength’ as the Times of India wrote, it was totally successful, even if it didn’t prove out to be the largest one in the nation’s history as the unions had claimed.

If Delhi was any indication, where normal life of citizens was badly affected due to non-availability of transportation means on roads, we can gauge how troublesome the life would have been for those in other parts of the country who would have chosen to venture out or had to venture out on the day.

In many states, public transportation means were completely shut. Activities like banking, insurance, mining, shipping and even civil defence were struck by protesting employees or by their ‘absence’. Schools and colleges were closed on the day in some states.

Yes, we can say the ‘September 2 Bharat Bandh’ was traded well by the trade unions to ‘show their strength’. Protesters (and workers) bought the deal that was being promoted in the name of opposing the reported anti-labour policy changes (proposed) of the government.

While we may debate on the nature of our ‘mixed economy, time’s requirement and government’s decisions (political decisions) in that context’, we need to accept that the Left-oriented trade unions still hold sway over a larger sections of workers across the country even if the Left-front political parties are fast becoming ‘politically’ obsolete in India’s politics.

That also gives them some points to ponder over – that why is that happening?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

GETTING STARTED ON A ‘BHARAT BANDH’ DAY..

September 2 was a general strike day by 10 central trade unions of the country. The unions claim ‘some 15 crore members are on their membership rolls’ and since they were preparing for it for long, in fact the strike was earlier proposed in July, the normal life was expected to be affected.

And it was so, at least in Delhi – as personally experienced by me.

I took longer to reach my work place today than the usual 30 minutes because public transportation was badly struck with Delhi facing burden of dual strikes – one by the trade unions and other by the union of auto drivers who were protesting against the government of Arvind Kerjrilwal opposing affordable taxi services.

So, I didn’t get any auto-rickshaw – with legitimate fare.

The strike was comprehensive and very few auto-rickshaws were on the road. Some were making use of the day, that happens on a day like this, by charging customers sky high fares. So, if I pay some 50 bucks daily for the ride I take to the Delhi Metro station, today, the drivers were demanding 150-200 Rs.

Buses were less in frequency. Parking slots for auto-rickshaws were full with vehicles. Some were running their vehicles without passengers. Doing so, with their meters covered, was probably their mode of protest.

It was coupled with the larger nationwide strike of the trade unions. And the daylong ‘Bharat Bandh’ was also supported by different associations of bank and insurance employees. So, it was much less than usual activity out on the stretch of the road that I daily take to my work place.

Overall transportation channel looked subdued. There were less people on the road, but more in the Delhi Metro trains – which again showed how badly the strike had affected it. Though I did not come across any violent activity in my part of the country, the strike was marred with reports of violence from many states.

The stretch, from my house to my work place, usually 30 minutes long, took around an hour today. As I could not get any auto-rickshaw, I had to opt for a nearer Delhi Metro station where a rickshaw-puller could take me. Paying somewhat more that he demand on a day like this didn’t pinch me because he was sweating it out on a hot and humid day.

Though, inside of the Delhi Metro train didn’t look like there was any significant ‘Bharat Bandh’ in India’s national capital – the rush at lean hour of the day was due to the sluggish public transport on Delhi’s roads. Whenever there is some sort of problem of Delhi’s road transport, the rush in Delhi Metro becomes manifold. Let’s see how the strike spanned across the country.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

JULY 1: WORLD IS SURE OF HONG KONG’S RESILIENCE TO WITHSTAND CHINESE PRESSURE

July 1, the day comes every year. But for Hong Kongers, the day has increasingly become an occasion to reflect on what their protests have been so far – to think what they should do ahead.

Hong Kong was ‘handed over’ to China on July 1, 1997 under a British-Chinese agreement that laid down certain conditions for the city-state and former British colony. For Hong Kong, a ‘one country two systems’ norm was set up and China promised to give the citizens universal suffrage in a phased manner.

But that was just the story as it was thought to be. The reality of the day is starkly different.

Since its takeover, Beijing has been trying to impose the culture and the system of the mainland on this global financial powerhouse. Chinese national anthem is being more and more used. Sometimes, Beijing tries to introduce elements like altering textbooks. One of the regular features is propping up and supporting pro-Beijing lobby of politicians and pro-Beijing group of local Hong Kongers. And the most prominent of Beijing’s efforts is a panel of pro-Beijing politicians and its chief executive officer that governs the administration in the city state.

Beijing has even tried to show Hong Kong that the mainland can do better on the parameter Hong Kong has been known globally for – the economic might with a global financial pull. Beijing tried to do that with Shanghai and its stock market last year but failed in its attempt.

Majority of the Hong Kongers, who make the city-state population it but who are in minority in the ruling elite, are worried of the designs Beijing is trying to impose.

Hong Kong always maintained a culture of free speech and expression in an otherwise oppressive dictatorship that China has been and is. Tiananmen massacre incident is a taboo subject in China and many in the generation now see it just a political incident from country’s past. But Hong Kong has always maintained the spirit of June 4 Vigil every year with remembrance march and associated events to commemorate the brutal crackdown by Chinese leadership on students and political activists on June 4, 1989. Hong Kong’s Victoria Park echoes the global sentiments on this day, be it the British rule or the Chinese autocracy.

Obviously, Beijing does not like it. But it cannot openly do anything about it. So, the other way is to try and prop up elements that support the Chinese viewpoint as is on the mainland. In spite of its sociological problems around income distribution, Hong Kong is still a financial powerhouse and an important global connect centre for the Chinese economy. Beijing realizes it and cannot, therefore, impose itself forcefully on Hong Kong.

So, even if it agreed to give universal suffrage to the residents of Hong Kong, it came with the rider that Beijing was going to be the ultimate holder of power. Hong Kongers are free to elect their next leader (chief executive) in 2017 but they are not free to elect ‘whom to elect’ – that is what Beijing had proposed in the name of ‘universal suffrage’ leading to ‘more democratic rights’. The Beijing proposal that was voted down on June 18 by pro-democracy legislators after an intense debate of two days required Hong Kongers to elect their next chief executive from a panel of three names ‘shortlisted by Beijing’.

Now that the proposal is struck down by the pro-democracy groups, the old mechanism of electing the next chief executive would be followed in 2017 – sans any pseudo-democratic assurance. A pro-Beijing electoral college of few will install someone who will be no more than a Beijing puppet, the case now. And that would be without any spectacle of ‘democracy’. And it is routine business for Beijing administrators in China. They have been far more ruthless in crushing dissent on the mainland.

When the pro-democracy protesters were gathering for their march on July 1 ‘handover’ day last year, they were talking about the way ahead on pressurizing Beijing for a ‘true democratic’ proposal. The mood on that day was optimistic and resilient about fighting ahead as the Beijing’s proposal was still not in.

Beijing did what it had to do. Hundreds of thousands took to the street to oppose the ‘autocratic proposal’ in the garb of democracy’. Protests, that were named Umbrella Revolution, raged for months. The civil disobedience nature had few incidents of minor violence. But, as expected, Beijing did not relent.

This year, on July 1, the mood is driven by the developments since then. With the so called ‘democracy proposal’ by Beijing struck down, the political deadlock is in the air. Protester are very clear now that Beijing will not relent, not in the near term and their ‘struggle for democracy’ needs to go back to the drawing board at the thought level to decide on what they have to do ahead. The multitude of such thoughts, reflecting on the developments so far, will come with a spontaneous response ahead. The world is sure of that.

The world is sure of Hong Kong’s resilience to withstand the Chinese pressure. The world is sure of the culture of free speech and expression that has made June 4 Vigil and July 1 Handover Day march regular features of Hong Kong’s social fabric. The world believes in them. The protesters should have confidence in themselves.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

Here are some of the photographs from today’s march:

July 1-HK-Alex Ogle-The Telegraph

Image courtesy: Alex Ogle – The Telegraph

HONG KONG - JULY 01:  Protesters march on a street during a rally as they hold banners and shout slogans on July 1, 2015 in Hong Kong. July 1 is traditionally a day of protest in Hong Kong and also marks the anniversary of the handover from Britain to China in 1997, under a 'one country, two systems' agreement.  (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

 Image courtesy: Anthony Kwan – Getty Images

July 1-HK-AP

Image courtesy: AP

JULY 1-HK-ISAAC LAWRENCE-AFP-GETTY IMAGES

Image courtesy: Isaac Lawrence – AFP – Getty Images

Protesters carry Hong Kong colonial flags during a march in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2015, the day marking the 18th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from Britain to Chinese sovereignty. Thousands of Hong Kong protesters marched for full democracy on Wednesday and called on the Chinese-controlled city's leader to resign, just weeks after lawmakers voted down an electoral reform package backed by Communist Party leaders in Beijing. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

 Image courtesy: Bobby Yip – Reuters

Patrick Brousseau, 35, an English teacher from Canada, plays a bagpipe in support of a protest march in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2015, the day marking the 18th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from Britain to Chinese sovereignty. REUTERS/Liau Chung-ren

Image courtesy: Liau Chung Ren – Reuters

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters stage a march to demand universal suffrage in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Image courtesy: Tyrone Siu – Reuters