By Aparna, Aayushi, Chandni and Ishita.
The new year and the new decade of 2020 started with the movement of resistance through CAA and NRC protests for India. After the lockdown, the farmer’s protests, protest on Hathras Uttar Pradesh rape case and protests over the revoked article 370 have been significant resistance movements. The Indian government was under scrutiny with the handling of COVID-19 and controversial laws throughout 2020. A spontaneous and popular uprising of this kind has perhaps been seldom in India for a long time now. Indian society reflects philosopher Immanuel Kant as he claimed that nothing is more important than the “freedom to make public use of one’s reason on all matters”. The people of India are seeking democracy and with their protests, giving more meaning to the equality and representation of the Indian constitution.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed in December 2019 and saw thousands of students take to the streets and protest against the Act driven out by the ruling party. Student groups were amongst the most vocal activists. The protests soon turned violent as the protestors retaliated against the government’s decision. Activists and key members of the anti-CAA movement were arrested during the Covid-19 lockdown. Whilst the government took up measures to stop the protest, imposing curfews and arresting over 3000 students, the students still continued to protest and stood up for their motion. The protests ignited from the state of Assam, where the act was first discussed, and critics soon piled in, raising objections. Millions of Indians rallied against the law and a range of opinions about secularism and community divide were raised and discussed during this protest.
https://twitter.com/i/status/1208455054543347712 – Varun Grover’s poem against CAA/NRC
This past month, we have been witnessing Indian farmers protesting, also known as the biggest protest in world history. Protesters are adamant about blocking New Delhi’s roads until the government takes back the laws entirely. The new laws will cut out the role of the middleman and allow the buyers to directly contact farmers. They also lift restrictions on artificial price inflation and lay the framework for private markets to replace the governments’ subsidized ones, which most small farm owners currently rely on. Although economists believe that these policy changes will improve competition, protesters worry that they will give companies the power to exploit the average Indian farm owner in the medium-haul who has less than two acres of land out of their holdings altogether. At least 22 people have died at these protests so far. Thousands of farmers take their own lives each year and the leading cause is financial duress according to the government’s own data and it’s not just their own livelihoods that they’re hoping to defend, India’s democracy is at stake too.
Continuing this will to fight for their rights, around 5000 Nurses have been on a strike to raise out their demands including the lack of clarity in their salary structure under the Sixth Pay Commission. The AIIMS Nurses presented 23 demands to the board and have put an indefinite strike to their work until their demands have been met. Despite the promise to be heard and multiple requests from the administration to continue their work in view of the Covid-19 situation, the nurses did not back down from their fight. They are also protesting against reservation on the basis of gender that requires 80 percent of the nursing staff to be female. The nurses, along with being concerned about their employment, also worry about the quality of healthcare that they are threatened with will be shattered because of the recruitment of nurses on a contractual basis.
These movements across India, reflect the uprising voices of the people who are not afraid to fight for the advancement of themselves and the country. This year has been a year of resistance, against the debatable laws, government, and several authorities for one’s own community, class, and work. The people fought to keep the democracy of the country intact even though the opportunity to argue is almost always restrained by society. We believe that 2021 too, will be a revolutionary year, and the voices of the people will thrive for equality. The people of India are seeking a revolution and have finally started raising their voices in this new normal.