So it was all around, a surge of expression of unquenched desire to see the change rising, spreading with the Tunisian outburst and acquiring a global canvas. The common man with his benchmark protest address, the non-descript street around the corner, became the potent symbol of change.
Never was the smell of Jasmine so captivating like it was in 2011. It uprooted three dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. It has become a nightmare for despots in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. It has given a new boost to the efforts to address and discipline the corporate dominance, corruption and lobbying in the form of now viral and global ‘Occupy’ movement. It is giving tough times to another dictator in making, Vladimir Putin’, in Russia, with increasing protests against reports of rigging in the December 4 parliamentary elections as well as a reported Putin-Medvedev power swap deal in 2012. World’s second most populous country and largest democracy, India, saw revival of corruption as ‘the’ main issue in just five months and it happened in a country where corruption was being accepted as a way of life. It was heard even in the most tightly controlled regimes, in China, where a non-descript village Wukan rose in protest of the land-grab policy of the administration and got a stay on further acquisition of the village land.
The Jasmine fervour was witnessed in its full vigour and it rode on the shoulders of the street protester who doesn’t need a Clive Christians Imperial Majesty. The Spring is already there. No one can deny this absolute fact.
But what next? Would it witness a change like its environmental corollary?
Would it lead to pleasant drizzling or sweeping downpour?
THE STREET NEEDS THE APPROACH ROAD NOW
2011 saw the initiation; an initiation that was self-propelled and collection of individual expressions of anger and so was largely unorganized. It needs a direction now otherwise it may well remain a rare spectacle to be written in the chronicles of the world history. The wave that gained full momentum of its youth in January 2011 and flown throughout the year also saw nerve spots where the amplitude looked to scale the trough, the signs that may gain in 2012 to diminish the gains of 2011.
The regimes that saw the rule change are still in chaos. It is true the road to reform is a long and patchy one; still lingering are the detailing pointers like the rise of the orthodox political Islam in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Islamist Ennahda emerged as the largest party in Tunisia. Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party is being seen as the biggest winner in the Egypt elections that would see its final phase of a complex power transition from the military council (a temporary arrangement) to the civilians with the Presidential election due on June 30, 2012.
Political Islam should be welcomed but what about shoddy past history of orthodox political Islam? Egypt is still having violent protests by the public though Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February.
Libya that would see its 2012 vote of change this year is critically short of a uniting political option. In all probability, it looks, as Libya watchers say, the decisive factors for majority of the population might be the tribal and regional considerations and not a development oriented ideology. That is an ominous analysis.
Yemen is yet to see something significant though Ali Abdullah Saleh is leaving. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis protested on December 31, 2011 and January 1, 2012 demanding a court trial for Saleh for killings by the security forces during the uprising after Saleh changed his plans to leave the country against the deal that he was agreed on.
Syria and Bahrain are killing own sons defying the international pressure.
Vladimir Putin is dismissing the protests in his usual raw humour that well may be a disguise for the upcoming wave of political repression. His prominent security officers are speaking in threatening tones to control the social media in the country. Like the Arab Spring, Russian protests, too, at this stage are largely social media organized.
Villagers of Wukan are now reeling under the pressure of the fear that sooner or later they are going to treated like other activists in China. We all know of the fate of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo or the artist activist Ai Weiwei.
India’s anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare is seen looking its steam after a dull public response to the latest round of pressure-fast in December 2011 by the veteran social worker. Apart from his ailing health, significantly less that expected public appearance at his fast venue in Mumbai as well as in other parts of India was the other major reason for him to call-off his three day protest-fast on day-2 only. The media that went in overdrive in idolizing him in April and August is now panning him.
The ‘Occupy’ movement that became a global phenomenon so soon is staring at a proposition where it might well be an extended protest form of the ‘World Social Forum’ protests, remaining symbolic in value, but not strong enough to bring the policy changes.
The initiation needs a direction, for the Spring needs a pleasant drizzling:
The underlying tenet of all these movements is absolute – a craving for change. It required a passionate flow of energy. When the minority voices started getting into majority mode, most of these movements saw outburst of anger and energy to undo the repression, come what may, be it the bullets or the tanks. Thousand were killed but the movements sustained. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen need political reform that addresses that craving of change. The international community has to set up an effective monitoring mechanism that ensures the power transition to the elected civilian governments. Syria and Bahrain need some tough measures from the international community for the unchecked killings of own countrymen. Things are still not very clear in case of Russia and the ‘Occupy’ movement while the world is more or less assured of China’s iron curtain policy about Wukan. India’s anti-corruption movement needs new faces and a revised strategy to kill the fatigue that is creeping in.
The passion that painted the streets to demand a change now needs the approach road to contribute to the nation building. The unorganized beginning needs an ordered strategy to grow now.
Would 2012 be the year to organize the unorganized?
Would 2012 be the year that would see the next positive step of these protest movements?
Would ‘the protester’ remain the ‘global buzzword’?
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/