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Modern India & Non-violence

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We are also so overwhelmed by violence per so on the global stage that it is like a junkie’s fix, we are hooked on it. Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, northern Africa, college shootings, rapes, murders, caste wars, border tensions, there is so much of it no place left for anything else….writes Bikram Vohra

JALALABAD, June 1, 2015 (Xinhua) -- An injured man stands at the site of attack in Jalalabad city, capital of eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, June 1, 2015. Five militants were killed in a six-hour-seige on a police station in Jalalabad city, capital of eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar by Taliban overnight Sunday, police said on Monday. (Xinhua/Sapay/IANS)Have we as a nation lost our affection and stomach for the peaceful protest? We gave it to the world but seem to have downgraded it for ourselves. Martin Luther King took it to Selma because he believe that fighting unjust laws was a moral responsibility. Nelson Mandela adopted the Gandhian ideal and ended the abomination of apartheid. Benjamin Franklin was non violent. So were Socrates and Confucius. 

We find it boring and need some audio-visual excitement like Birmingham burning or Watts in full riot, buses and trains in flames and a death count for it to get out attention. media fans the passion and the hate. Sitting about stoically gets no attention, it is too vanilla for the now generation. No action means nothing is happening, move on.

In this instant world the slow pace of the civil disobedience option has slid into oblivion. 

In this century we have not had one full on peaceful agitation with the stamina to see it through. Fed a diet of violence through TV (a child of seven has witnessed 4000 killings on the screen at an average) and now wedded to the netherworld of video games drenched in violence and the split second responses of the Net anything as slow as a long drawn out battle of wits fails dramatically to catch the attention. We are also so overwhelmed by violence per so on the global stage that it is like a junkie’s fix, we are hooked on it. Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, northern Africa, college shootings, rapes, murders, caste wars, border tensions, there is so much of it no place left for anything else.

The media, too, moves so fast to fresh fruit that its trail is littered with unfinished stories. What price civil disobedience in this frenetic melee we call modern life.

Gandhi’s movement to free India of the British Raj still ranks as the modern icon for this genre of protest. The Extremadura in Spain in 1936 when landless farmers took over some 3,000 farms and forced the government to resettle them and keep its promise is joined by the silent gathering of the US Depression years and the hardly spoken about London anti-tax protest in 1990.

That was nearly seventy years ago. think about it. Even if we move Mandela and Martin Luther King no one else has picked up the flag since the seventies and certainly not in this century.

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