If the capitalist system preaches that the human being can reflect who he/she is through his/her purchases, then the shopping trolley in a supermarket and unsold tickets in multiplexes can weigh as much, politically, as a booth in a polling station.
Like the ‘ consent of the governed ‘, the ‘conscience’ of the customer/consumer and the devotee alike have demonstrated the countervailing power of genuine outraged sensibilities across our malls, brand names and religious institutions.
Like the Blood Diamonds
‘ mined in war zones and sold to finance an insurgency, an invading army’s war efforts, or a warlord’s activity ‘, Bollywood movies of the kind that are today attracting the backlash of economic boycotts too are fishing in troubled waters by draining dry all the wellsprings of our sparkling tolerance. And thereby attracting the taint of being labelled anti-national, anti-hindu…leading to the inevitable economic boycotts.
But if ” the purpose of a boycott is to inflict some economic loss on the target, or to indicate a moral outrage, to try to compel the target to alter an objectionable behavior”
then the ongoing waves of economic boycotts spreading horizontally across society ( especially Karnataka) affecting livelihoods, professions and societal relations are going beyond the stated purpose of Hindus proving a point but are inadvertently cementing faultlines, adding to the ‘ war of positions ‘ already being waged in the wider world where the battle is not to alter an objectionable behaviour but obliterate an entire way of life.
Today, contemporary forms of activist engagement like individualised collective action of economic boycotts have spawned the boycott of working-class Muslims in Karnataka and many other states. From Muslim scrap dealers, bangle sellers, dosa hawkers to meat shopowners, street vendors and Muslim fruit sellers doing business around temples during festivals, it feels as if an adversary is being isolated socially and economically, and even spatially, as if the goal had always been to influence political action and not merely to inflict economic harm on the businesses?
If that is the case, then what began as a spontaneous reaction to tasteless Bollywood movies has caught the tortured imagination of other festering and unaddressed grievances, and the effects are being felt . Hindus are slowly realising that voting is not the only effective form of political action. That Democracy does allow you to put your foot down. And the Earth will shake…
But what is unprecedented and remarkable is the decisive conservative shift in what was a Left-powered and Liberal-dominated bargaining space called the Civil Society in India. That a much-coveted civil society can also lean towards conservatism, thereby throwing off the yoke of being legitimate and effective only as an exclusively carved out liberal space has left the Indian Left-Liberals frothing at the mouth, dismissing it as being a conduit of an Illiberal ideology and drawing parallels with economic boycotts in the form of untouchability and caste-based occupational segregation from the past.
And so when The Atlantic Screams in its recent issue that,
🔸” With calls for economic boycott of Muslims, are we at the precipice of a genocide? ”
And when a BJP MLC from Karnataka asks,
🔸” What if Indians in Muslim nations face boycott ?”
will we remain steadfast and stay the course knowing full well that
“whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.?” ( MLK )
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