Let’s forget, for a while, the merit of the issue. The protests at Marina tell one single thing – with sufficient motivation, huge numbers can assemble to protest; to protest peacefully with literally no inconvenience to any and that with sufficient motivation, a bill can be passed in a jiffy. Marina Beach in Chennai has seen counts as high as 9 lakh protesting for a single cause but, the traffic is still flowing through, with the protestors themselves regulating the traffic. It’s been four days and there is not a single mishap in that area. Everything is clinically organised there – people are regulating the traffic, are requesting people not to honk and to turn off the vehicle headlights, especially during the night when people are sleeping, they are doing the cleaning bit themselves. Besides this, there is another important things – the ease with which film fraternity becomes a part of day to day life and the abhorrence of political parties. Well, everything has to have a reason.
Some natural calamity or the other happens in Chennai every year. The speed with which Chennai takes a hit, and it being the capital city and the centre for Tamil film industry, everyone will rush in for aid. And that includes people from all walks of life – film industry, social service and all. There are only three film industries of note in India – Telugu, Tamil and Hindi. While Hindi is famous for people in ivory towers and nothing happens in Hyderabad, Chennai plays a special role here.
This is probably the first protest anywhere in the world in the digital age where the movement is spearheaded by the educateds and the intelligentsia. Not once, we have seen mass protests in Chennai IT belt. But on the D-day, we saw more than 30000 people on the roads in that area. Being the tax payers and constituting India’s core educated working force, they tend not to create ruckus on roads simply because they know that it’s their tax money which gets wasted and because their jobs are on stake if something happens. The other major group is the students, whose future will be held in ransom. Will they risk to create a riot on roads? And seeing that no protest in Chennai turned violent, will anyone in the state dare to breach the discipline? And with people under such control, will the government force their hand?
Probably one of the most evocative photos of the year
The biggest lesson from this protest is, if the motivation is sufficient, the governments can pass an ordnance in one single day.
1. The Chief Minister went to Delhi to speak with the Prime Minister.
2. The Prime Minister says I can’t involve citing that the case is subjudice.
3. Within hours, the Attorney General tells what to do so that an ordnance can be passed.
4. The ordnance is written, it’s passed by Culture, Law and Home Ministries by the end of the day. Since Home Ministry passed it, there is no need for the President to give his approval.
5. Next day, the state governor approved it.
6. In the meanwhile, Centre requested the Supreme Court to postpone the judgement by a week.
From the time the Attorney General spoke and till the time the state Governor approved it, it took may be 26 hours. And, I don’t see any difference between passing an ordnance and passing a law.
If this is the speed with which a law can be passed, why are we stuck in red tape? Is it just the correct motivation or moving the correct levers?
Well, this is the legal situation we are in, now –
1. An ordnance is passed, meaning it can live only for six months. What happens after six months?
2. State has promised to pass a bill over this soon. Note the word soon. When is that soon?
3. Supreme Court is asked to delay the judgement by a week. In the meanwhile, the state government will file a caveat. What’s going to happen when someone takes up the ordnance as a contempt of court? And if court rules against the ordnance? We are back to ground zero again.
The people protesting are questioning this now, and are not ready to call off the protest till they get a final answer. The question, then is this. You have made the government bend to your will. Do you seriously think the government can dare to act otherwise? Call off the protest and wait to see what the government will do. By doing that, you are respecting your government and are telling it that we can resume it any day if you renege your promises. By doing that, you will have the respect of the people by ending the protest at the right time. We want this threat of protest to hang on to the government, we don’t want this to be a one time show. And don’t forget the vested interests – this is clear in the tweets from today morning. It’s up to the people protesting to think about it now. We are just outside supporters trying to do whatever we can to highlight the cause.