4 Citizen-Led Movements That Every Indian Should Know About

By: Rukmini Chopra

Published On: June 06, 2018

India is no stranger to movements. From the quit India movement during India's freedom struggle to the Chipko movement that saved hundreds of trees from being cut, citizens have brought about significant changes with their outcries and determination. The phenomenon of people flogging to the streets and demanding change has been carrying on for years and continues till date. One of the biggest movements seen in  recent times was the one led by the citizens of Delhi in 2012, in the wake of the Nirbhaya rape case, demanding justice for India's daughters.

Read: Delhi To Kathua Via Unnao

Since then there have been many others, though carried out on a relatively smaller scale. Nonetheless, these movements have made headlines for either the ideology that they are promoting or the rights that they are demanding. Here's a look at some citizen-led movements in the recent past:

The Queer Azad March

Held on February 4, 2018, this march was held at Mumbai's August Kranti Maidan, the historical site where the quit India movement was announced by Gandhi. The  march takes place every year, starting from the maidan to Girgaum Chowpatty beach, marking the start of the Mumbai Pride Month. The march is attended by members as well as supporters of the LGBTQ community, who are dressed up in bright attires and quirky outfits, as they demand for basic civil rights.

Every year the march has a theme, and this year, the theme was section 377, where LGBTQ members demanded that the Indian Penal Code get rid of this law as it criminalizes sexual relations between people of the same sex.

From a farmer, to a priest, to an American, people from all walks of life attended the movement in large numbers. You can read more about it here.

The Farmer's March From Nasik To Mumbai

On March 12, 2018, 40,000 farmers flogged the streets of Mumbai. They started their journey from CBS chowk in Nashik and made way to Azad Maidan in South Mumbai. The farmers covered a distance of 180 kms through a march organized by the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha. The farmers were joined by others from Thane and Palghar in their quest to demand for a loan waiver free of conditions, fixed remunerative prices for agri-produce, implementation of the recommendations made by Swaminathan Commision, implementation of the Forest Rights Act, etc.

The farmers covered areas such as Thane, Sion along with Azad Maidan. Many of them experienced severe injuries on the waybut they kept going and encouraging others on the way by playing traditional folk music.

As reported by Scroll.in, the farmers were compelled to carry out this movement, owing to the negligence shown by the  government. They haven't been able to implement their credit policy effectively. On top of that the increasing debt, and weather hazards such as hailstorms, variable rainfall,droughts etc, have left the farmers helpless with most committing suicide as the ultimate resolution.

Anti-Sterlite Protests 

News reports of violence breaking out  during the anti-sterlite protests in Tamil Nadu have been doing the rounds. This report by The Hindu says that on May 22, 2018, the protests turned violent when 10 people got killed in police firing. The police were compelled to open fire after the protesters started hurling stones and footwear at policemen, when denied to proceed further. 

But what are anti-sterlite protests and how did it all begin? 

Sterlite's copper smelting unit in Thootukundi, Tamil Nadu is under fire for causing environmental damage to the area. The company’s careless attitude towards environmental conservation is being ridiculed and has ended up causing health problems to locals around the area. The protesters are demanding that the company’s unit be shut down. 

The company was planning to expand their plant but were soon met by protests, that began on March 24, 2018. Though they were denied permission to expand by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, some protestors claim that Sterlite plans to go ahead nonetheless. 

Similar protests against Sterlite Copper took place in 2013, after a toxic gas leak caused serious harm to habitants around the area. 

Slut Walk 

Victims of sexual violence and  abuse are often blamed for “asking for it” by either “dressing provocatively” or by “being too free and spirited and hence giving guys the wrong idea.” The mindset is rampant in India and surprisingly, is also prevalent in first world countries such as the US, Australia, Latin America etc. 

Read: How To Be A Woman In The India of 2018

India is unfortunately referred to as the ‘rape capital of the world.’ In 2016, there were 2,155 reported in Delhi alone, a rise of 68 percent since 2012, according to data given by police. 

In a quest to end rape culture, women across several countries participated in the slut walk movement that began in Toronto in 2011, when a police officer advised women to “avoid dressing like sluts” in order to present themselves from being sexually assaulted. The comment was met by widespread criticism, eventually giving rise to the slut walk movement that was joined by women from Australia, USA and India. 

The Slut Walk movement in India took place in Delhi in 2011, where a number of women took to reclaim their right to be themselves, without being blamed for “provoking” or “asking for” sexual harassment and rape. . Though women overseas sported bright attires and skin-revealing clothes to make their point, Indian women kept it low key and subtle, as they wanted to respect the socio-cultural environment that they were in.

The name ‘slut walk’ was to liberate women from being called sluts or other offenses for simply making their own choices about what they wear and the way they want to live. It demanded respect for women, notwithstanding their personal choices, and put light not blaming the offender and not the victim in acts of sexual violence.

The ideology however is met with criticism. You can read about it here

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