Skip to main content

India's poor don't participate in protests, as young professionals, business people, skilled workers do: Study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent study has starkly revealed that, in the recent past, the poorer and oppressed sections of the Indian youth have refused to go out and take part in protest movements as vehemently as the youth from the middle classes have done, even as the number of participants in protests, too, has gone down.
Prepared jointly by the Delhi-based Centre for the Study in Developing Societies (CSDS) and the German Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), and titled “Attitudes, anxieties and aspirations of India’s youth: changing patterns”, the report finds that “participation in protests and demonstrations among the youth is relatively higher among some occupational groups”, but is lower among unemployed, women, semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
According to the study, running into 180 pages, “More than one-fourth of youngsters engaged in business (27%) said that they had participated in a protest in the last two years.” It adds, “Professionals, government employees and skilled and service workers are also relatively more likely to take part in protests.”
However, it says, “Participation seems to be relatively lower among those engaged in agriculture (14%) and unskilled labour (17%).” It adds, “Only a small fraction, less than one-sixth of the students, said that they had participated in a protest in the last two years.”
“High participation in protests among professionals, government employees and skilled workers can be attributed to multiple factors. Relatively better economic well-being provides them with adequate resources for participating in political activities”, the study says.
“Also, these occupational groups also have stronger collective bodies. For instance, many professions have an apex body collective that represents them”, it adds.
According to the study, several “impede/facilitate participation in public activities like protests”, which include “opportunity cost of participation, social factors and associational activity.”
“A combination of these factors may explain the occupational category wise trends in participation”, the study says, adding, “Agricultural workers and unskilled labourers are concentrated in the informal sector of the economy which has limited formal associational activity”, the study says.
It underlines, “While we do find farmer organisations in the agriculture sector, there are very few bodies which exclusively work for agricultural labourers or marginal farmers. Also, most individuals in these sectors work as daily wage labourers. Thus, they have a high opportunity cost of political participation as it leads to a direct loss of income.”
The study, which is based on a survey conducted in 19 states of the country among 6122 respondents in the age group of 15-34 years in the months of April and May 2016, says poor participation of youths from the oppressed sections happened despite the fact that there seemed to be a spurt of unrest across India over the last two years, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over.
The unrest included “the 139 day student strike at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, in protest against Gajendra Chauhan’s nomination as the institute’s Chairman, mass protests in various universities across the country after Rohith Vemula, a PhD scholar at Hyderabad Central University (HCU) committed suicide, the alleged ‘anti-national’ sloganeering at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the subsequent arrest of students on charges of sedition.”
The study insists, “These protests are merely a few instances, over the last two years, which highlight youth engagement with politics outside mainstream electoral politics.”
Calling protests and demonstrations are “an important political activity as on most occasions they are either in opposition to/support of a state policy/action or for demanding state intervention on an issue”, the study says, “In the present survey, one-sixth of the Indian youth (15%) said that they had participated in a protest and demonstration in the last two years.”
It adds, “The level of youth participation in protests had increased substantially between 2011 and 2013, but there has been a sharp decline in 2016. The level of participation currently is higher than the 2011 survey. In 2011, only 12 percent of youth said that they had taken part in a protest or demonstration.”
“This increased to 24 percent in 2013”, says the study, was because of the “the Anna Hazare-led ‘anti-corruption’ movement which had witnessed massive youth mobilisation.” However, in 2016, the survey found “a significant decline in participation in protests and demonstrations as compared to 2013.”
The study is quite in line with a significant observation by Nobel laureate Prof Amartya Sen, who said, “It is always problematic to judge distress from protest movements, since it may reflect better organization and militancy rather than greater distress.”
That the poor generally do not protest also is clear from a Reuters blog on Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, which acquired huge support in Delhi in 2011, leading to the formation of the Aam Aadmi Party.
The blogger observes, “While I was interviewing a group of students and young IT professionals who had travelled from the trendy city of Gurgaon, next door to the capital, shoe-shiners and trinket sellers approached us several times, and were ignored or spoken over.”
“The group, who wore paper signs on their chests criticising Sonia Gandhi, the country’s most powerful politician, was later making jokes about Singh being Sonia’s “toy” when children in bare feet prodded them, asking for money”, the blogger says, adding, “They were gently but firmly brushed away.”
“The beggars did not share the excitement of the protests, just as it is not clear how much of the news of scandals involving politicians and bureaucrats on trial have filtered down to rural areas, where concerns of jobs and where the next meal is coming from dominate”, the blogger says, adding, “in a recent poll by the Hindu newspaper, only 45 percent of respondents had even heard of Anna Hazare. The figure dropped to 39 percent among rural respondents.”

Comments

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

GM mustard not swadeshi, it's a patent of MNC Bayer, GoI 'misleading' SC: Modi told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 42 farmers’ organisations though their representatives , backed by senior scientists and experts, have said that the Government of India (GoI) should stop misleading the Supreme Court “with untrue and incorrect” statements on GM mustard. Insisting that India does not need unsafe GM mustard, in their representation, they urged the Supreme Court to order immediate uprooting of GM mustard crop in various locations. The representation comes even as a penal of experts, coming down heavily on the GoI for refusing to see how in less than a week’s time the pollen from GM mustard will “start contaminating” non-GM mustard fields with transgenes, including male sterility and herbicide tolerant traits. Alleging that the GoI is actively misleading the Supreme Court with untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where Gov

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w

Demand to withdraw 'anti-environment, anti-adivasi' forest conservation rules 2022

By Gopinath Majhi*  The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a coalition of adivasis and forest dwellers’ organisations, has sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) raising serious concerns over Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, notified by the Centre on June 29.  Contending that recent amendments and a host of executive orders/guidelines issued by the ministry undermine and dilute the FRA and threaten the rights of adivasis and forest dwellers, CSD demands that the 2022 FC Rules should be rescinded forthwith. Demanding withdrawal of such anti-people and anti-environment rules CSD Odisha organised a protest Dharana in front of State Assembly today on 25th November 2022 and submitted memorandums to the Hon’ble Governor of Odisha, Chief Secretary and Commissioner-cum-Secretary, ST & SC Development Department for conveying our concerns against the FC Rules 2022 to the Central Government for its withdrawal. The memorandums w