Protest in India and US: Similarities and differences

Synopsis: The violence that has happened in the US and India has some similarities. It highlights the erosion of democratic values in the world’s oldest (US) and largest democracies.

Background

  • Recently, In the US, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol building. This mob vandalized public property and threatened lawmakers in Congress.
  • Similarly, India witnessed violence on Republic Day. A rally planned to protest against three farm laws, broke off from the planned parade. Protesters entered the premises of the Red Fort by breaking the gates. It later led to a Police crackdown.
  • These two episodes witnessed in the world’s oldest (US) and largest democracies (India) have a few similarities and differences.

What are the similarities between the two mass rallies?

First, in both countries, the aggrieved parties challenged the political developments.

In America,

  • Following the victory of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, Mr. Trump raised questions on the electoral process. It was despite having no proof for that.
  • He even spread misinformation on social media. This led to the incitement of violence in the US.

In India,

  • The anger was against the three laws passed by the Parliament to reform the mandi system. It was felt that the farm laws can endanger the minimum support price system that has been the economic backbone of small-scale farmers.
  • The farmers protested peacefully for months baring the cold winter. Yet, the lack of political will to negotiate with the protesting farmers triggered the violence on Republic day.

Second, social media played an important role to show the darker side of mass rallies, in both examples.

In America,

  • Social media telecasted an invading mob holding zip ties (zip ties imply a threat to the lives of lawmakers in the building).
  • A truck filled with guns and bombs near the site of the attack that was discovered by law enforcement agencies was also telecasted.

In India,

  • Social media was flooded with images of the religious flag of the Sikhs (Nishan Sahib) being hoisted at the Red Fort. This gave an impression that the protest was politically motivated.

What are the differences?

US mass rally was in support of Trump’s call for nativist populism and racist ethos i.e. in support of white supremacy. It created a sharp division among the US population and will have long-term impacts.

Whereas the farmer’s protest in India is against the law enacted by a powerful government. They are resisting the neoliberal economic policy of the government.

Issues with democratic models of Polity

  • The above incidents clearly give a picture that Democracy is a contested topic in the world. It favours a religious or social majority through democratic processes like elections.
  • Moreover, democracies are inherently capable of turning into a power structure that overtakes democratic processes. It is evident in the rise of fascism in the pre-World War Europe.
  • The ongoing events in the US and India clearly explain that Democracy has been wrongly understood as the rule of the majority leading to the undermining of Democracy.

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