A case for social movements

What will redeem us?

Good politicians practicing clean politics?

More responsible corporations?

Active citizens who engage locally?

There are cases being made for each of these (on my Facebook and Linked In feeds). I see no case (yet) being made for a social movement. I want to attempt that.

In 5 points :

1. Social movements are able to bring social justice to the most disadvantaged. My case in point is Ekta Parishad who worked to organize the landless. Eventually it was the government that granted the reforms, but without a catalyzing force, the machinery would not have really cared.

2. Movements birth political parties…..Congress coming from the freedom movement, RSS birthing the BJP and the anti-corruption movement being the genesis of AAP. A movement then must precede the new politics and politicians that we want to see.

3. A movement goes beyond just its own organizing and wings (including the political wing). It includes thought leadership that cuts across sectors and is able to shift the zeitgeist of the times through its impact. Movements espouse not only politics but ways of living and being. To that extent they meet much deeper needs.

4. Social movements seem to have the least ‘market impact’ compared to corporations looking for profits, NGOs for big donors and governments that rely on tax money and get lobbied. To that extent they serve the people who are a part of them directly.

5. We have seen several cause-based and class-based movements but it has been a while since we saw a broad based movement that engages the hearts, heads and hands of a massive population. Such movements, though rare are able to bring huge lasting and tectonic shifts

There is a possibility of a centrist movement grounded in Indic wisdom with a long-term vision for our country, that is also compatible with people’s visions for themselves and the world. It may take a long time, but it might be a worthwhile journey for those who choose to undertake it.

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