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New Age Revolutionaries Of India

“The personal is political. Politics has been narrowed down to identity. Identity is as personal as something gets" - Pranav Sawhney

Indian Politics has witnessed young visionaries come to the forefront and help make a socio-political change. They have stood against the oppressive established and demanded to be heard. Revolutionary nationalism or the “terrorist movement” as it was once known, was of one of the several political strands that went into the making of the Indian national movement. This revolutionary nature of certain individuals like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Rajguru, Ram Prasad Bismil, Durgawati Devi shook the foundation of the colonial rule back in the day. They are an inspiration to the people of India till this date. While we celebrate Gandhi, it is imperative to not forget and uphold the ideals of our revolutionaries.

Protests in India during December-February (Source: Reuters)

Young individuals have played a role in the political processes be it through forming the electorate, casting a vote and criticising or appreciating the government. The student community occupies politics as it should and like Damni Kain, ex-presidential candidate by AISA for the Delhi University elections tells Grasp, “Students stood as the only opposition in the country in recent movements. Student protests have historically led to democratic movements. India is also seeing a similar case as students come out to protest for affordable and inclusive education, public health, constitutional rights and democracy.”

There are people amongst us who are vehemently educating people through their work or capturing the wrong by the government. We spoke to a few people who shed light on certain topics. Their idea of politics constitutes a different sphere than the one portrayed by the present government which has signs of inefficiency and tyranny. Rahul Negi AKA Madara Music, an artist who has used his music to attack the current regime in a hard-hitting manner. His song, ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ gained momentum during the anti-CAA protests and helped the movement. He outrightly called the right-leaning parties fascist in nature and the present political setting a dictatorship than a democracy. ‘Politics is brutal’, says Rahul.

Rahul Negi (Source: Hindustan Times)

“The personal is political. Politics has been narrowed down to identity. Identity is as personal as something gets. My identity is becoming more and more political. Whether it was during independence or Indira Gandhi’s time, it has always been for the defence of the identity. It has been the fight for one’s space based on their identity. Politics to me is, to be able to navigate your own space.”- Pranav Sawhney, a popular activist says.

Pranav Sawhney

The fight against the regime is ever-growing. The Anti-CAA and NRC protests had to be called off in March due to the coronavirus lockdown and pandemic. The government would have expected for the movement to die down however it shifted to an online mode with social media occupying the required space. ‘Social media has made the dissemination of information easier. No doubt, it's a major facilitator behind reducing our imagination of "proximity". But like any other thing, this too comes with a set of flaws.’ tells Damni Kain.

Damni Kain (Source: Instagram)

Poojan Sahil, a musician who uses the power of his art to educate people around him. He tells Grasp, “Social Media has played the role as any other media. At the end, it is the people who are using the media. Even if it is written communication or talking to your friends over chai, there is this dilemma that keeps happening that it is obviously helping a lot of voices reach places but the dialogue that you don’t want to spread with that speed is also being published and having a destructive effect.”

While protests play a key role in channelizing dissent but social media storms and observing individualistic ways of protesting within the confines of one’s space is becoming a sign of active dissent.

Poojan Sahil (Source: Twitter)

The present BJP-led won two elections with a whopping majority with the help of their manifesto which catered to the majoritarian section of the society. As Damni rightly points, “Fear psychosis is something that the state employs. How can the dominant and privileged one be in danger? The tool of "danger" is used to construct binaries of 'us' and 'them. This is a shame to a pluralistic society.”

The use of religion has been a predominant factor in the basis of BJP governance. The enthusiasm for the Ram Mandir clearly shows that side and even leading ministers have made speeches communal in nature. “Everybody knows that the Hindu is not in danger. It is a PR gimmick to run a campaign and that ‘Hindu Khatre Mei Hai’ is that campaign. Indira Gandhi’s Operation Blue Star was justified by saying that Pakistan would have rolled in with their army in Amritsar. The idea of taking brutal measures by sourcing to external threats to one’s identity is not new. This is the only way that the country can be split and still have a majority”, tells Pranav Sawhney.

The impact that art has played in times of a political movement is inspirational in its very essence. Poojan Sahil comments, “Art is the backbone of spreading an idea because of speeches and facts. Art reaches with taking you by surprise sometimes. There are songs that tell you how you should be which are capitalistic in nature showing extravagant lifestyles which make people want that. Similarly, art is fuel for a revolution. Aamir Aziz’s poem, ‘Sab Yaad Rakha Jayega gained crores of views which shows that art helped spread a certain idea. The idea has to be shared in a way which is not propaganda because it is not.”

“Every revolution needs a voice. If we speak about a university student, that individual cannot sit 24x7 at Shaheen Bagh and many people are unaware. People don’t watch a 20-minute video but listen to a 3-minute song. Art is entertainment with a message.” – Rahul Negi.

“Yeh tukde tukde kaun hai, jo desh ko batwate hai”- Tukde Tukde Gang?, Madara

“To think, to doubt and question the divinity of the concepts of certain hegemonies.” – Poojan Sahil

“Even if people are not reading or watching the news, but if I can make my song reach them they will at least be aware of what is actually happening in the country.” – Rahul Negi

Often this question of, “If not Modi, then who?’ is asked around during those triggering dinner table conversations or prime time debates and we managed to collect some ultimate answers to it. “I don’t think that this is how it functions in a democracy. There is a cabinet and the Prime Minister is superior amongst equals and a country of 1.3 billion cannot be run by one person. I’d rather have a weak leader and a stronger cabinet than a strong leader with a spineless cabinet. Three people are running the country with one Home Minister and a National Security Advisor which obviously is failing” as told by Pranav.

Poojan Sahil goes on and highlights, “If not Modi, then us and we are the answer. This is a very weird concept that has been brought about since there is never really an election for a Prime Minister but representatives of a constituency.”

These individuals stand against not only holding anti-government sentiments but also the oppressive structure of society. In their capacities, they are doing their part through music or using social media as a tool to spread information. Their ideals are inspiring which have helped organise and educate the masses.

In conversation with: Damni Kain (@damni.kain), Pranav Sawhney (@sawhneyyyyy), Poojan Sahil (@poojansahil) and Rahul Negi (@madaramusicin)

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