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

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Did Netaji turn blind eye to Japanese massacre while in Andaman during World War-II?

Dr Diwan Singh Kalepani museum off Chandigarh By Rajiv Shah  Did Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose ignore the massacre carried out by the Japanese army in Andaman and Nicobar islands during the Second World War? It would seem so, if one goes by the account of Mohinder Singh Dhillon, who authored a book in memory of his father, 'A Titan in the Andamans, Dr Diwan Singh Kalepani'. Dr Diwan Singh was tortured to death by the Japanese soldiers in the cellular jail in Andaman in 1944.

A golden goose, GoI bent on selling LIC 'for pittance' without consulting stakeholders

By Thomas Franco*  In spite of strong opposition from all sections of the society, the Finance Minister (FM) recently asked her Ministries to speed up Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) Initial Public Offer (IPO). Does she realise that this can lead to collapse of the economy over a period of time because LIC is a golden goose which is giving golden eggs regularly to the economy, development projects and providing social security to the majority of the marginalised people of this country.

Modi's Gujarat 'ignores' India's biggest donor of Azad Hind Fauj, Dhoraji's Habib Sheth

By Dr Hari Desai* One surely feels happy that the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is being installed near the India Gate in New Delhi. Every Indian and even Netaji’s 79-year-old daughter Prof Anita Bose Pfaff feels happy about the statue at the most important area of the capital. In an interview with an Indian TV, Anita, who is a German citizen, mentions that she thinks if not Netaji’s only Mahatma Gandhi’s statue should have been there. She may be aware that there existed a plan to install life-sized statue of the Father of the Nation at that place.  Even after differences with Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel which led Netaji to leave the Indian National Congress, Bose was the first person to call Mahtma Gandhi Father of the Nation on July 6,1944 in his Ragoon Radio broadcast, and sought Bapu’s blessings as the Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army (INA). Till 1968 there was statue of King George V at India Gate. It was removed and placed in the Coronation Park, New Del

Sweden-backed study: India won't achieve 2030 UN goals, officials can't recognise SDG

By Rajiv Shah  A Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)-sponsored study, carried out by the advocacy group Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) India, seeking to analyse the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 12, Responsible Consumption and Production (RCP), has regretted, it is "very unlikely" India will achieve any of the targets of SDG 12 by 2030 "unless some serious measures are taken by the government to reverse the present trend."

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Biodiversity bill 'undermines' tribal rights, ayurveda, India's federal structure

Counterview Desk  Demanding immediate and complete withdrawal of proposed Biodiversity Act Amendment Bill, 2021, a statement issued by the Coalition for Environmental Justice in India, consisting of tens of civil society organisations, activists and experts, has said that it is a “well calibrated and clear attempt to progressively undermine and destroy the sovereign rights and control that the people of India have over their biodiversity, bioresources and associated traditional knowledge.” Floated by the Bangaluru-based Environment Support Group, it adds, the proposed Act would undermine “a right that is particularly crucial for adivasis, Dalits, farmers, fishers, vaids, hakims, nomadic and de-notified tribes, and such other natural resource dependent peoples whose lives, livelihoods and socio-economic wellbeing are intricately linked to nature.” Text : The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has proposed comprehensive amendments to the Biological D

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Is it time to celebrate India's 'improved' sex ratio? Reasons to question NFHS data

By Aditi Chaudhary*  The recently published National Family Health Survey (NFHS) factsheet brought cheers amongst the public and the government. With Child Sex ratio (number of females per 1000 males in the age group 0 - 6 years) and overall sex ratio (the total number of females per 1000 males), both showing an improvement, NFHS-5 (2019-21) got applauded by all around.

Blunting Constitution? 'Secular' parties using communalism to compete with BJP

By Prem Singh*  Most spheres of Indian politics have been tainted by communalism. Looking at the current political scene of the country, it seems that just as there is a consensus on neoliberalism among the political and intellectual elite of India, similarly a consensus has been made on communal politics or political communalism.