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Conventional and Unconventional Ways of Protesting

February 07, 2012  by: S. Chowdhury  Points: 12   Category: Others  Earning $0.60   Views: 1120

Protesting against any political or non-political entity or body or a controversial decision is nothing new in this world but the world has seen several kinds of protests by now ranging from the conventional ones to the unconventional ones, going to the extent of being bizarre.


Every citizen of a democratic country has a right to protest peacefully against any political or non-political decision or organization or even a person if they feel that particular decision or organization or person is acting against the interest of the country or its people. It is not necessary that the protestor will be right every time but no one can take away his or her right to protest peacefully unless we are talking of an autocratic rule of government in a particular country. Here I must add that there are democracies in the world that are actually facades of an oppressive autocratic regime.

If the country concerned is a genuine democratic country then the government or body against whom the protest is being made might or might not chose to respond to such a protest but if the human cry gets louder by the day then they would have to do something about it to restore normalcy and maintain law and order in the regions of such protest. We all know what will happen in case of protest against autocratic regimes, the powers that be will try to crush the protests ruthlessly, but the recent Arab Spring has shown all of us that such oppression is not going to work forever.

Protests against governments and other institutions or individuals are nothing new and has been going on for several centuries now, only the modes of protest changes with the elapse of time and new thoughts and innovations come into play. Technology also plays a role to further such protests as we have seen with the case of garnering support through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Also the more the youth of a country participates actively into such protests they gather much steam. So the effectiveness of such protests lie many times in the numbers one can garner, though spontaneity of such protests ultimately determine its sustained vigour.

A Candlelight Protest March

There are various ways an individual or group can launch a protest, even though individual protest might not count that much unless the person making such protest is a socially renowned individual. Marches and demonstrations are the most common form of protest and widely done across the world. Even there are differences in types of marches and demonstrations as well. Some marches are silent protests with candles or torches at times while many are raucous with banners and slogans against the contentious moves or bodies in the dock. Though maintaining law and order is probably the biggest challenge of any protest but many times such protests have turned violent, causing in unnecessary bloodshed and inconvenience for many.

Strikes are another form of protest that are carried out by political parties many times and other non-political organizations, as well as trade unions of industrial units or other organizations. If a political party calls a strike then there is a great possibility of violence and innocent people get sucked in between two warring sides. Convenience and general mobility of daily life comes to a standstill if the political party is a strong one. Still small non-political groups have also created many instances of violence and inconvenience in the past through their acts of hooliganism. Even if those get ultimately dispersed it causes great inconvenience for the normal plying of the masses.

In India, the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi has really used the non-violence protests to bolster the freedom struggle against colonial rule more effectively than hardly any other person in the world. Since then it has been used over and over again my many inspired people around the world. The non-violence people's movement in India in 2011 led by social activist Anna Hazare has shown once again the effectiveness of non-violence protests. Even to this day its effectiveness hasn't lessened one bit and only what matters is its proper execution.

Unconventional protests have also caught the attention of the media and the people around the world and the most attention that such an incident has got in recent times are the 'Shoe-throwing Protests'. Some very high profile people have been target of shoes thrown at them and the one incident that leads everybody was the one when a man threw his shoe at the then United States of America President George Bush, while on a surprise visit to Iraq. Then headline was again created when a shoe was hurled at the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at London. In both cases the target was missed and the protester nabbed immediately but it created headline news around the world.

Shoe thrown at U.S. President George Bush

In India also shoes were hurled at the present Home Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi and several other renowned leaders including L.K. Advani and Rahul Gandhi. The members of 'Team Anna' - which is the social activist group fighting for a strong anti-corruption law in India - has probably become used to shoes thrown at them by now, as there has been several such incidents in the past few months. Political leaders mostly cutting across party lines have been mostly the repeated targets of shoes thrown at them but other recognized people in public life has not also been spared of such shock attacks.

The reasons of such bizarre behaviours can be many and it cannot be pinned down to just an act by a lunatic. It appears to me that somehow the George Bush incident has created such ripples around the world that many people now consider this form of protest as a good option to grab the headlines and drive the point home. It is a very dangerous trend as tomorrow it could be something more deadly that can cause serious harm or security breach of a public figure and might even trigger violence as fallout. Therefore the authorities should not take such incidents lightly and create more awareness in the public about the ill-effects of such kinds of protests.

Apart from the shoe throwing incidents there are other several kinds of unconventional protests from as serious as acts of self-immolation to completely hilarious acts of 'Gandhigiri' where the protestors mock the person against whom the protest is made by gifting them flowers. Also the protests of Anna Hazare has once again brought the hunger strike protests to the fore and it is fast gaining popularity with even some political leaders also jumping in the bandwagon. Non-violence protests of such kind find more acceptances within a large section of the population who are always looking for innovative ways of protesting when the conventional methods fail to make an impact.

Protest by Anna Hazare

The onus of keeping the protests non-violent lies with both parties and both sides must act responsibly and cautiously so that no innocent lives are lost out of such protests or loss of national property. Sadly in many places around the world the people holding any kind of powerful position, either politically or non-politically, have become so much intoxicated with power that even the most raucous protests fall at deaf ears. It is only when the size of protests grow by the day and louder by its every added day of existence, the powers that be sit up and take note of the turn of events. I wonder why it has to come to such a pass always and why can't issues be settled out in a more civil manner.


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