Farmers’ Protest and Master-Strategist’s Image


Paradoxically, despite this being viewed as an age of communication boom, communication lapses seem to be gaining greater importance than what is supposed to be primarily communicated. Of course, some level of communication lapse is expected to exist at practically all levels. There is no guarantee that what is conveyed through various means of communication may actually be understood by all recipients as desired by the communicator. There is also no guarantee that whatever is conveyed by the key communicator may actually be presented similarly by various tools of communication. Neither is there any guarantee that whatsoever is conveyed may be understood in the same manner by all recipients. The latter may chose to support, oppose the same and/or accord it the importance they perceive as pertinent in their respective understanding.

India is home to several religions, many castes, regions, languages and differences among people of numerous kinds. It isn’t surprising that there is no dearth of means of communication in this country. These aren’t limited to being controlled any specific body, whether linked with government or not. This point is being specifically made against backdrop of the ongoing farmers’ protest, which is taking shape of a movement against three agricultural laws. As reported, attempts of various kinds have been made to check the spread of this protest. So far, chances of this protest coming to sudden or even gradual end seem fairly limited.

The preceding point is supported by lakhs of people participating in as well supporting this protest across the country. Reports of the protest being supported from outside the country cannot also be dismissed lightly. When communication reaches the stage of involving people directly with each other, sources of communication opposing it cannot be expected to have stronger impact than what is felt and communicated by participants as well as their supporters.

Taking part in any protest is not an easy job. It amounts to participants leaving comforts of their homes to assert their voice strongly about issue(s) compelling them to reach that stage. Besides, the need to protest extending beyond a few months is only felt when participants feel their lives, means of livelihood and/or identity are threatened. Protestors at the Shaheen Baghs opted for this path when they felt strongly about their national and religious identity being questioned as well as targeted. It may be recalled; they earned support from across the country and coverage from national as well as international media. What demands attention is that humane concern cutting across various barriers earned support for protestors at the Shaheen Baghs across the country.

Attempts made to add religious as well as socio-economic bias to coronavirus have fallen flat. The vicious virus hasn’t discriminated along these lines. Besides, corona-panic and its impact across the world have raised concern primarily along humanitarian lines. Simply speaking, when a large number of people are involved and also attract attention – cutting across various barriers – it is imperative to view people’s concern from a humane angle.

Irrespective of whatever are differences of opinion between rival factions about agricultural laws, ethics demand that farmers’ protest should be viewed from a humanitarian angle. Some importance needs to be given to hundreds of thousands of persons raising their voice about what they feel strongly about and that their protest is earning them substantial support. A true leader is one who aligns himself with concerns of the people he leads. No leader loses his dignity or credibility by choosing to walk a few steps with aggrieved people of his country. A different image is likely to be projected if he chooses to keep a major gap between his aims and what people desire. The gap is also suggestive of there probably being a major communication gap between him and the people.

Gaps of this nature, when linked with people’s basic needs – bread and butter – cannot be covered by political rhetoric. Numerous attempts made to touch sensitive religious nerve of people along communal lines are also least likely to have any impact. Farmers’ protest is over what their families have been engaged in for generations. How can they be expected to take this issue lightly? Even a small, marginal farmer is extra-concerned about his plot of land and what he earns from it. Practically, a large number of these marginal farmers spend a part of the year in cities to earn and then return to their villages for farming when needed.

The slogan, “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”, coined by our second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri clicked with people as the majority understood its importance. More than 60 percent of country’s population is engaged in the agricultural sector.

Considering that Prime Minister is a master-strategist and is extremely particular about promoting a positive image of himself, he needs to seriously think about his approach towards the farmers’ protest. Given the nature of the farmers’ protest as well as its coverage together with support and sympathy being gained by it, those opposing it need to rise above themselves, if nothing else, at least out of humanitarian concern for protestors!