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

GUY FAWKES MASK: GUY FAWKES – FROM A TERRORIST TO AN ANTI-HERO

From a declared terrorist to a spontaneous anti-hero!

From a declared religious militant to a symbol of anti-establishment protests!

The imagery that lasted for centuries, some 370 years –long enough for system and people to go routine and indifferent to the reason with which it had started – after all, time wears off reasons, interpretations and relevance of any incident to customize it in the context of ‘now’ – has been made irrelevant in three decades.

The imagery that started taking birth in early 1980s with a character of a fictional world, has become the most adopted placard of anti-government and anti-system protests the world over in just three decades.

That tells us the power of communication and the media it rides.

Before the movie ‘V for Vendetta’ which had a wide release in 2006, Guy Fawkes was not known worldwide. Same thing can be said about his mask, or the mask designed in his name.

Even in Britain, the country of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and the country of Guy Fawkes, he was being forgotten, even if the plot had become synonymous with his name. People preferred Halloween over it and people preferred calling November 5 as Bonfire Night and not ‘Guy Fawkes Night’.

He was resurrected as an anarchist and an anti-hero in a comic book series, ‘V for Vendetta’ on a fictional dystopian Britain. The main protagonist of the fictional world, ‘V’, was dressed like Guy Fawkes wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. The series continued for several years. ‘V for Vendetta’ was also released as a graphical novel.

The 2006 movie epitomized the written work behind it. Though it had many changes from the source material, it can be said it took out Guy Fawkes and his mask out of Britain.

With the launch of the movie, the Guy Fawkes’ journey, from a terrorist to an anti-hero, was prepared for a global outreach. And it came in 2008 when the ‘hacktivist collective Anonymous’ adopted Guy Fawkes mask in its protests against the Church of Scientology. Since then, it is all over. Since then, the mask has been adopted as the protest symbol the world over. Its outreach is clear from the fact that it is banned in Middle East countries like Bahrain, UAE and Saudi Arabia. And it is also banned in Canada in ‘extreme circumstances’.

Films are a powerful medium to take an image to the global audience to change and build perceptions. The US has been doing it for years. And Guy Fawkes’ metamorphosis though the Guy Fawkes Mask once again reiterates it.

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

Guy_Fawkes_Mask-Wikimedia CommonsImage courtesy: Guy Fawkes Mask – Wikimedia Commons

THE GUY FAWKES NIGHT: FOR THE WORLD, IT’S BASICALLY ABOUT THE MASK

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**Collage prepared from the photographs sourced from the Internet


It’s the Guy Fawkes Night today (it’s the Guy Fawkes Day as well/also the Bonfire Night – the India time – by the British time, it is few hours away while writing this). Names apart, it is basically in the message. And the name Guy Fawkes in the contemporary times reiterates it.

The over four centuries old name, associated with a failed treason plot (or the rebellion depending on which side one was – the Gunpowder Treason Plot) to remove the British king and install a Catholic monarch, on November 5, 1605, has come to be associated with a symbol that has fast become the protest mark to raise the voice against establishments and against policies.

The Guy Fawkes Masks are fast becoming the protest symbol of modern-age political activists, protesters and anarchists, from Middle East protests to Occupy Wall Street, from India to the US.

Over the centuries, the day has had changing perceptions in Britain about celebrating it with bonfire and masked effigies but history is history and it is for Britain, rooted in a Monarchy.

For the world of now, it is basically about ‘it is in the message’. Irrespective of the associated history, the contemporary world knows Guy Fawkes Masks as popularized by the film version of the graphic novel ‘V for Vendetta’ released in 2006.

The 10 issues of ‘V for Vendetta’ had their run-time from 1982 to 1989 where the Guy Fawkes Mask of the day found its origin but the mass appeal it needed to become a growing worldwide phenomenon came with its film adaptation.

The film popularized the Mask the world over and the themes the novel and the film dealt with attached with the Mask the elements of activism against oppression. V, the mysterious central character of the novel in a Guy Fawkes Mask designed by David Lloyd, fought to liberate his country from a Fascist regime in a dystopian future. He raised voice against the wrongs and he gave voice to the others.

And the world has never been bereft of issues crying for attention and voices, in developed nations, in developing countries, in the third-world block, in democracies, and in tyrannies. The issues always look for symbolisms to tell the world of their presence. And many such issues have found their symbolism in the Guy Fawkes Masks after the movie was released.

It also reiterates why cinema is such a powerful communication tool to propagate ideas, to spread thoughts, and to popularize symbols.


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 **Collage prepared from the photographs sourced from the Internet


THE GUY FAWKES NIGHT: FOR THE WORLD, IT’S BASICALLY ABOUT THE MASK

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

POLITICAL REFORMS: STILL ABOUT RHETORIC AND EMPTY WORDS

Writing about this problem doesn’t make any difference on its state of perpetual apathy. The almost of who are in the fray are beyond redemption. They all are same under the skin, an illicit brotherhood to further their common interests.

Ignoring or maintaining a distance from the epidemic cannot help either. It is heading for a systemic failure and the best fight back to it can be while being in the System, while being a part of it.

And so, the fresh thinking and new entrants with a vow to fight the wrongs in the System are in urgent need.

Sadly, that is not happening. Reform, there, is still about rhetoric and empty words and even the beginning of the process, that no one can decide, define or conceptualize, sounds like daydreaming.

The grip of rotten values and insensitive politics has spread so deep and wide that it rapidly co-opts almost of such entrants. Those who still maintain the stand are made ineffective, cornered or wiped out.

If we look back to gather some names in the recent past, when the process of deterioration has frighteningly speeded up, we don’t find any.

But even if we go back into the history of the post-independence India, we don’t find many names. All we have is apolitical Vinoba Bhave or social and political icons like Ram Manohar Lohia or Jayaprakash Narayan.

But continuance of Congress as the major political force in India, during and after them, and its sustained rule even after the Emergency of 1970s tell nothing much has moved in the name of political reforms in the country.

Initial day of post-Emergency period did give the nation its first non-Congress government but it fell owing to its own fault lines. Worse, many of its firebrand leaders are prominent politicians today, comfortably co-opted by the brand of politics that has come to be known as insensitive, corrupt and increasingly dictatorial, a brand of politics commonly associated with the Congress party.

Recently, after over three decades of the days of the Emergency era, we had first genuine hopes for Political System reform when the country was swept by a huge anti-corruption mass movement. Though it was urban in nature, its wide base and self-propagating nature told there could be some leaders from the movement, who if took the political plunge in future, would be serious players to reform the Indian politics.

For some time, Arvind Kejriwal or even Anna Hazare (in spite of his age) looked as probables for the alternative to today’s politicians. But, the way Kejriwal looked in haste and split with Anna Hazare to form his political outfit was shadowy.

Now fully in politics, he is yet to reach out to tell us if he is different. Only time will tell about it but his ‘could not rise to the occasion’ performance on two of the recent anti-reform and anti-democratic moves by politicians to scuttle the Supreme Court decisions on electoral reforms and to dilute the RTI Act, disappoints. There are clear and pertinent risks of him being co-opted in the future.

Political reforms in country have lingered on for long. Except for some high points, there has not been much to talk about. But, at the same time, the need for a political alternative is more desperate than ever.

And it has to come from within only, from this rotten System only. This System has to be won from within only. The need to fight back the rot is more desperate than ever.

BUT HOW? Still, no one can decide or define it.

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