Thursday, May 7, 2009

Etiquette for Street Protests

I sure am sticking my neck out trying to prescribe etiquette for what essentially is "mobism". But here goes.

Two days ago, I was walking along Durbar Marg when the Maoist street protest passed me by, on the way to the President's residence. There were a few hundred people with banners decrying "the Presidential Coup" and lots of Maoist flags waving merrily. One individual ran well ahead of the procession assuring all shopkeepers politely that they could keep their shops open, and there was no danger from the procession. This, I thought, was a very considerate gesture. I could observe the shopkeepers skeptically eying this messenger; but they did leave their shops open, and there was no damage.

Now I come to the crux of the matter. Sure, it is the democratic right of every citizen to march peacefully protesting whatever they wish - from stinking garbage to presidential decisions. BUT, there is something called traffic in this city of ours. It has far too many vehicles for its roads. So when these protest marches block entire streets, the already horrendous traffic situation becomes manic. Okay, I concede, those who own vehicles are the elite minority. But what about the taxis who need to earn a livelihood, or all the middle class motor cyclists?

I have seen political protests in many countries. For example, in the United States, they are controlled well by the police and their protest areas are designated beforehand. Traffic is never hampered. By exercising our democratic right to protest (or freedom of expression), we surely do not have the right to tie up traffic, cause commotion and destroy the peace. But this is exactly what our protestors - be they red or of any other hue - are doing. The police apparently do not know that protesters do not have the right to block traffic. Or they do, and don't give a damn!


Anonymous said...

Traffic is horrendous. We really need to find a civilized way to carry on our protests. One take on this would be this is what happens when we have a bastardized form of democracy in dangerous places.

Furthermore the Maoists and their YCL who can turn unreasonably violent when blocking traffic are like the Ranas of old, above the law! And we have the "useful idiots" enabling them. History repeats itself even today!!

Anonymous said...

Good answer to the traffic blockers is: we need to have over-bridges everywhere with no footpaths. About wealth to construct over-bridges- wealth of the former/existing PMs, ministers, other corrupt civil service personell and security agencies.
Cannot those Maoist killers/terrorists use their 'Jana Adalat' to dig out those corrupt? Or, simply their job is to kill innocent Nepalese and nothing else?

Bishal Shah

Govind said...

In new Nepal politics takes precedence over everything.Thank God at least the Maoists have not declared bandha.
I say to everyone if you want to keep your sanity its foolish to drive in Kathmandu streets at day time!

HORATIO said...

Your quick comments are much appreciated, Anon 2:17, Bishal and Govind.

I would submit that we do not even have a "bastardized" form of democracy - we have NO democracy. The present state of political affairs is the responsibility of the Maoist, Congress, UML troika who decided we should be a secular republic - without any say of the people. Let us not forget this basic breach of democratic principles.

Over-bridges will help. But the problem is too many cars on the roads. And a lot of these cars are huge 4-wheel drives, totally impractical for KTM traffic - mere status symbols!

As for the maoists not declaring bandhs, it is only a matter of time. Their agitation is only simmering now. You wait until it starts boiling. Let us not fool ourselves and thank the maoists prematurely.

Subodh said...

If the Maoists rule the roost. they will ban the 4WD vehicles of the capitalist classes and encourage rickshaws to be pulled by jobless workers. No traffic jams, no pollution and plenty of employment generation! They will only allow sub-compacts like my Fiat! Prachanda disclosed this at a secret meeting, the video tape of which is yet to be released by RAW.

Anonymous said...

Sure blame the Rana's. Did their rule not end in the 1950's?
I guess the last 59 years of failures in Nepal is all because of the Rana's.
For the last 19 years the politicians of Nepal have been screwing everything up. They don't have the guts to do anything before asking the Indians permission. Nepal is like heading towards another Sikkim. A pawn in the Indian game and our so-called leaders bow down to them on a daily basis. It is shameful. At least Mao created his own "ism". We have power hungry leaders who use an "ism" to become the new King of Nepal. Someone give Prachanda or Koirala a crown and get this shit over with.

At least the damn Rana's had the guts to run their own damn country (whether it was good or bad). During those times Nepal was an enity on her own. Today we are just another extended state of India.