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No space for protest movement in political science

  • Category
    Ethics
  • Published
    6th Jul, 2022

Context

In the contemporary times, Indian political sphere is experiencing a turmoil regarding acceptance of public policies by the public, and hence, several instances of protests are increasing.

Background

  • Recent government schemes, due to lack of acceptance by the public are providing an impetus to the rising violence in the country.
  • Protests and dissent are integral part of democracy which is required to bring a structural change in the socio-economic and political sphere.
  • Despite the fact that protests are necessary element of the democracy and free speech, it is also important to check the action and consequences of the protest, limiting the protest from turning into violence.
  • Fine balance between the free speech and national security needs to be catered and state must look into non-violent way to curb the protests and listen to the voice of democracy.

Analysis

What is the right to protest? Is it a ‘right’ OR ‘moral’ duty too?

  • The right to peaceful protest is granted to citizens of India by our Constitution. It is part of the freedom of speech and expression, which is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a).
  • However, there is more to it. Protesting against injustice is also a moral duty.

Reasonable Restrictions

  • Article 19 (3) says this right is subject to “reasonable restrictions” in the interest of public order.
      • If the security of the state is in jeopardy
      • If the friendly relationship we share with a neighbouring country is at stake
      • If public order is disturbed
      • If there is contempt of court
      • If the sovereignty and integrity of India are threatened

Major stake holders involved:

  • Civilians
  • State
  • Protestors
  • Social stakelholder:
    • Public property
    • Fraternity
    • Integrity

‘Protest’ is it justifiable in democracy?

  • Contributing to all spheres of life: Protests play an important part in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural life of all societies.
  • Positive social change: Historically, protests have often inspired positive social change and the advancement of human rights, and they continue to help define and protect civic space in all parts of the world.
  • Advancement of human rights: Protests encourage the development of an engaged and informed citizenry.
  • Strengthening democracy: They strengthen representative democracy by enabling direct participation in public affairs.
  • Making authorities accountable: They enable individuals and groups to express dissent and grievances, to share views and opinions, to expose flaws in governance and to publicly demand that the authorities and other powerful entities rectify problems and are accountable for their actions.
  • Essential for marginalised section: This is especially important for those whose interests are otherwise poorly represented or marginalised.

When does protest crosses the ethical lines?

  • Violent activities: Protests that turns into a violent activities leading to destruction of public properties and lives, should be curbed and controlled.
  • Communal intolerance: Protests that give rises to the communal mistrust and provides impetus to communal intolerance.
  • Loss of life
  • Loss of public property
  • Loss of civil harmony
  • Apart from these, violation to the following reasonable restrictions on right to freedom, can considered unethical in nature:
    • The state’s security
    • In the interests of India’s sovereignty and integrity
    • Public order violation
    • In terms of ethics or morality
    • In connection to contempt of court, defamation, or encouragement to commit an offence
    • Relations with other countries that are friendly

What are the major concerns of protest?

  • Potential Violence: Although citizens are allowed to assemble peacefully, march and protest, these protests can sometimes be violent, damaging people's lives and property.
  • Political interference: Political interference in a protest is often made by the opposition government to support its political objectives.
  • Impact on people's daily activities: Protests can sometimes be a public nuisance for people who do not have the same vision or who simply wish to continue their daily activities.
  • Public property: Violent activities of protests lead to loss and destruction of public property.
  • Public order: Protests in unorganized and unspecified place creates disturbances in the public order like; blockade of roads, public mobility etc.
  • Fraternity: Violence and communal tensions negatively impacts the fraternity among the citizens.
  • Loss of lives
  • National security and integrity

Conclusion

Ideals and democracy and national interest including sovereignty, security and public order should be balanced and steps needs to be taken.

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