by Amar Yumnam
It all started in a small Arab country with only about one-third the population of Manipur, Tunisia. The powerful dictatorial president of this country was displaced by the Jasmine Revolution spearheaded by the common citizens of the country. Nobody anticipated that the developments in this small country would have a tsunamic impact on the politics of a much larger nation, Egypt. But it has happened. The more than three decades old dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak has been put to an end by a relentless peaceful movement of the population. The power of the modern youth largely exposed to the uses of information technology has been put in full display in this Egyptian Revolution.
Global Lessons: There are certain lessons to be absorbed from the successful Egyptian Revolution recently witnessed by the world with bated breath. These lessons are of particular interest to India. Let us recall a few incidents of India. We have the unholy history of Nandigram in West Bengal. We have the Malom massacre of ten innocents in no time by the Assam Rifles. We have the incident of nine people being subjected to the trigger happiness of the Central Reserve Police Force within the campus of the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences. We have the history of eighteen lives lost on a single day on June 18. Well there are many more stories of how the armed forces and law enforcing agencies of India have failed terribly in controlling crowds, and had resorted to reckless use of weapons with bullets.
Now let us look at the recent Egyptian experience. The number of population involved in the crowds kept on rising over the eighteen days and it ran into thousands. But we must put it to the credit of the discipline and resilience of the armed forces of the state in Egypt that the recent revolution went off so peacefully and wonderfully successfully. It is not that the public were allowed to have a free run. There were signs of looting emerging midway in the revolution, but it was brought under control in real time. All along the public were under the surveillance of the armed forces. But they were not of the intimidative type as in India; it was a friendly control type.
Of course, we must also give credit to the public for the wonderfully peaceful way they had conducted their movement. To begin with, the need for focus and not losing grip of the situation must have weighed upon them. Besides, the participants to the movement were mostly educated youths. Further, the main protagonists of the revolution were all highly educated persons exposed to the contemporary global experience. Above all, there is the history of civilisation. It cannot be without reason that scholars emphasise the relevance in critical moments the civilisational background of the population. This time round the wonders of the Nile Valley history are in full play.
But in the case of India, we are yet to experience from both the police and the army the kind of tactical control and matured exercise of crowd management the Egyptian forces have recently displayed. It is here that we strongly feel there is need for a full-fledged review of the governance mechanism and the overriding ethos of the armed forces of the Indian state. In the case of India, we cannot help feeling that the armed forces are there to serve the interests of the powers that be even it implies absolute repression amounting to killing of the public. The ruling ethos of the armed forces in India seems to be that the public are disposable while the rulers are to be served with absolute subservience. This is in sharp contrast to professed democratic set-up of the country.
In a stark contrast to the Indian approach and experience, the Egyptian army never displayed any kind of disloyalty to the administration during the entire period of the recent revolution by the masses, while at the same time portraying themselves as being present in the scene to protect the population and from preventing the situation going out of control. In the process, they commanded respects of the masses without ever having to resort to firing unlike the Indian armed forces who are wont to indulge in large scale firing in similar circumstances.
The lesson for the common men emerging from the recent massive uprising in Egypt relates to the manner of organisation and the quality of leadership required for effective revolutions to take place. It has shown that, howsoever someone maybe so well-entrenched in power, change is something which can be effected by the general will of the population; future can be reclaimed by the masses if the rulers fail to address the public issues for long periods. Further, unlike in the past, we can no longer base a social movement on the demagogy of a few, but have to be led by educated youths conversant with contemporary issues and who can fire the imagination of the masses towards a competitive future.
Well, India and in particular Manipur have some key lessons to be learnt from the recent Egyptian revolution.
by Amar Yumnam