People can neither protest every time the price of petrol increases nor can they buy petrol at any given price. There seems to be a gap in the system that many countries, including ours, is following. If a free market economy is in place, people cannot and should not agitate on a rise in prices because supply and demand forces will automatically bring price to an equilibrium.
If a country is following the command economic system, people will not need to agitate against price rise because the government would never dare go against the wishes of the masses, if it’s a democracy of course.
Seeing thousands of people on the streets every now and again, agitating against price hikes and showing their annoyance at trivial decisions made by the government leads us to think about the problem and finding a permanent and long lasting solution to the same. Rather than coming out on the streets for each price hike on every commodity, why don’t we look for a solution that does not require our wasting precious time and effort?
Why do people protest under the banner of a political party? Why should the masses worry so much if the extra money charged remains within the country and is used for the welfare of the people?
Every time a protest pertaining to price rise takes place in the country, all opposition parties come out on the streets and start raising slogans against the ruling party or the government. The protest is successful if the number of people mobilized to raise slogans is large and destruction of public property is severe. Whether their demands are met or not, is not their concern. It is considered a success if a few people are fired upon or set themselves on fire!
It is also often found that people who take part in such protests are not aware of the meanings of texts written on the placards they are asked to hold. Surprisingly, all these protests are led by political parties. Local rivalries among people are common, partly owing to the frequency of elections and also as a result of fewer number of strong political parties in constituencies, as a result of which every constituent is known to be affiliated to a certain political party and under no circumstances whatsoever would he consider switching allegiances to a different political party.
Technically in a democracy, when a majority-backed political grouping is in power and the government declares a hike in prices and in retaliation protests called by the opposition groups take place — where the probability of people supporting the ruling party is low — do such protests matter? And how seriously would the government take these protests when they know that the agitators are their opposition who are ready to agitate against them at any given time? Yes, there is no doubt that such protests could become extremely significant if the government is in a coalition and elections are nearing.
People’s anxiety against government decisions with regard to price hikes shows the absence of their faith in government. If the added amount of money charged will not leave the country or the subsidy being removed on a particular commodity will ultimately be used for the welfare of the people and the nation, then why do people have a problem in paying the extra penny? It could be either because they believe that the money will be lost in a scam or they are too poor to pay the extra amount.
Doubt on the viability of the current form of democracy touches new heights when not a single party worker or neta of the ruling political party speaks out against the price hike, as though they are going to buy the commodity at previous rates or they are rich enough to pay any price for the commodity. Whatever decision taken by the high command of the party, is religiously followed by the masses who do not see the doors of mandirs, gurdwaras, churches or masjids until the time of festivals, crises and disasters. It clearly explains that welfare is welfare, only when it is that of the party.
Jim Rohn says, “If you don’t like how things are, change it! You’re not a tree.”
Let us not waste our energies in raising slogans against ourselves. We could instead think of an alternative new system that is more feasible, transparent and in the interests of the people, and not just of the political parties.
[Views expressed herein are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Jamia Journal’s editorial policy.]