| by N.S.Venkataraman
(December 11, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) In recent times, the so called social activists and politicians often indulge in day long fasting or fasting for a little longer period, insisting on one demand or the other. Most of the demands are for narrow political issues or based on communal or regional issues , with political and sectarian undertones.
|Cartoon by – Prakash Shetty
Fasts are undertaken for several reasons such as stopping nuclear power plants, settling inter state border issues, demand for separate states, preventing construction of dams, wage rise etc.etc. Most of these fasts do not have lofty or noble objectives and there is nothing Gandhian about them.
In recent times, fasting has also become a handy tool for those who want to insist implementation of their own ideas to fight against corruption in public life. Fasting is being used by such activists as a method even to undermine parliamentary system of democracy, where parliament alone is deemed to be the right place to take decisions on policy measures and laws and regulations. Obviously, fasting is being used as a tool to force the issues by those who are unwilling to enter electoral politics and winning the support of the people in parliamentary elections to settle the issues.
In most cases, those who go on fast do so for short durations and we have even seen fasting for four or five hours ! Most of these fasts are preceded by considerable advance preparations , media publicity blitz and carefully worked out strategies to catch the imagination of the public. On almost all occasions, those who undertake fast and their strategists and public relation managers also have their plans ready and reasons carefully worked out in advance for suspension of the fast after a few hours or a few days.
In India, the concept of undertaking fasts in public was introduced by Mahatma Gandhi who clearly associated fasting with spiritual and self purification concept. Since fasting have come to be seen as a Gandhian method, general public are extremely reluctant to disapprove fasting as a concept in India today and therefore, many politicians and so called social activists ruthlessly exploit the weakness of the people towards this concept of fasting.
So many fasts are now undertaken in India and one tend to think that fast has become farce. Mahatma Gandhi did not undertake fast as coercive tactics. He undertook fast to purify his thoughts and the general atmosphere in the country . However, today Mahatma Gandhi’s method of fasting is being misused by all and sundry and instead of purifying , the present day fasts are polluting.
It is high time that Indian population derecognize the fasting methods as Gandhian concept and view those undertaking fast accordingly.
What prevails in India today is the vote bank politics and use of fasting method as political tool. Now, the fasts have become so frequent and there is no more any rhythm or logic in undertaking the fasts, a huge national disapproval for the concept of public fasting has become vitally important and extremely urgent.
The huge publicity given to these fasts by the media only encourage those who want to indulge in fasting to force one issue or the other. If media would become more discreet in giving publicity to such method of using fast as a political tool, possibly such use of fasting as a coercive and political weapon can be effectively discouraged.