From the Viewsroom

A tale of two democracies

Poornima Joshi | Updated on June 09, 2020 Published on June 10, 2020

Lessons to be learnt from politicians resisting Trump’s divisive politics

The world’s largest democracy and members of over 190 student organisations who held a little-publicised protest last week against the “repression of anti-CAA activists and democratic voices of dissent” can perhaps take heart from political messaging emanating from the chaos that has engulfed the US.

A day after President Donald Trump characterised protests raging across America over the killing of George Floyd as ‘acts of domestic terror’, his predecessor Barack Obama said: “Just remember, this country was founded on protest: it is called the American revolution, and every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals has been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable”. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was even sharper when she snubbed Trump, who had earlier suggested that protestors be shot — not unlike the views expressed by some in government over the CAA protests, just before the Delhi elections. She called Trump’s response to the protests and riots a “profoundly dangerous” effort to stoke racial tensions and throw “red meat” to his base. “… His goal is to polarise, to destabilise local government and to enflame racist urges. And we can absolutely not let him prevail...,” said Lightfoot.

In India, students, teachers, artists, filmmakers and the common people who participated in the countrywide protests last winter against the CAA occupied a vacuum created by the disappearance of dissenting voices in mainstream political space. All expression of dissent against the current regime is sought to be labelled as “anti-national” or “terrorist”. There has been an attempt to invoke draconian anti-terror laws to discredit students and activists. The violence in North-East Delhi in February has been projected as an organised continuation of the anti-CAA protests. In the absence of mainstream political leaders with credibility, protesters lack the sort of institutional and civil society support that is in evidence in the US today.

The writer is Associate Editor with BusinessLine

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Published on June 10, 2020
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