Rise of Popular Movements

Popular movements help us to understand the nature of democratic politics. Members of the movements are generally socially and economically disadvantaged sections of the society. People with similar problems, demands and expectations participate in the movements. In the villages of Uttarkhand, the forest department refused permission to the villagers to fell ash trees for their livelihood, but they allotted the same for commercial use. This resulted in the Chipko Movement against the government. In order to ensure a better representation of the demands of diverse social sections in party based politics, political parties establish their own trade unions. E.g. Peasants of Andhra Pradesh organised a massive agitations under the leadership of Communist Party. Non party movements started in the 1970’s and 1980s when many sections of the society became disillusioned with the functioning of the political parties. Existing social inequalities complicated the issues of poverty. Subsequently, Young political activist organized the marginalized sections. Voluntary organizations remained outside the party politics and were called as non–party political formations. Dalit Panthers, a militant organization of the Dalit youth formed in Maharashtra in 1972. They fought against the caste based inequalities and material injustices. Political parties failed to stop the economic and social oppression of Dalits. Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) was the leading organization in the farmers’ movement. In 1988 farmers gathered in Meerut, to protest against the government decision to increase electricity rates. BKU organised rallies, demonstrations, sit-ins, and jail bharo (courting imprisonment) agitations etc. The women of village Gundlur in Kalikari mandal of Chittoor district assembled to put an end to the use of arrack in their village. In 1992 they campaigned against the issues of domestic violence, the custom of dowry, etc. In order to save Narmada NBA (Narmada Bachao Andolan) opposed the construction of these dams. As a result of this struggle a comprehensive National Rehabilitation Policy formed by the government in 2003 was the achievement of the NBA movement. Arrack is a strong alcoholic drink of the Middle East and Far East usually distilled from fermented palm sap, rice, or molasses.

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