The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) stormed into power with an absolute majority in 2014, ousting the ruling UPA government in the Parliamentary polls. One of the agendas that the NDA rode on, to acquire power at the Centre was the vilifying the previous government’s privatization and liberalization policies stating that they were harmful to the people of the country.
But the NDA changed its stance on the privatization of public assets and inclined more in its favor in the later years of its first tenure that ended in 2019. The move came as a shock to many of its own supporters and voters as it appeared to be a continuation of the previous UPA government, to an extent that the political pundits joked about NDA by calling it UPA III.
As NDA came into power yet again in 2019 with another majority, India buckled up for what was a series of privatization of public assets of the country. This also resulted in several protests and demonstrations against the government. Although the privatization of PSUs and banks did not garner the attention it deserved, thanks to media apathy, the privatization of railways and airports has not gone down well with the sentiments of the people.
In 2019, the center privatized airports at Jaipur, Lucknow, Mangalore, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, and Thiruvananthapuram. The Adani group won the bidding process and has received operational rights for the next 50 years. In July this year, the Adani Group also took control over Mumbai airport from the GVK group. Today Adani Group is the largest infrastructure company in India.
The overzealous Adani Group also changed the signage of the acquired airports with their brand name irking the general public against both, the government and the Adanis.
The members of the union Bhartiya Kamgar Sena, an affiliation of Shiv Sena, resorted to vandalism on 2nd August and wrecked the Adani signboard erected before the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA). The removal of the name of the Maratha warrior was the reason for the chaos caused in the city.
While in the Maharashtra case, the cadre of the Shiv Sena opted for a radical way of protesting; in Assam, Cheif Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma himself had to convince the media and people regarding the changing the name of Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport.
"The name of LGBI Airport will not be changed till I serve as the chief minister and till Narendra Modi serve as the Prime Minister," the CM said while addressing the media.
In all this conundrum, Mangalore and its civil society appeared to have set an example by following a civilized way of protest to get their demands fulfilled.
The Adani Group replaced the AAI signage at the Mangalore airport with its brand name soon after receiving operational rights in 2020. Social activist Dilraj Alva took the responsibility to restore the AAI signage and alleged that changing the name was not part of the procedure. Activist Alva secured a copy of the agreement signed between the Adani Group and the Airports Authority of India.
While addressing a press conference in Mangalore he said, “The change of boards and on Google Maps was in contravention of Article 5.15 of agreement that bars concessionaire from branding itself or its shareholders in any manner, including through advertisement, and display boards.”
Dilraj Alva later sent a legal notice to AAI Mangalore and AAI Delhi, seeking restoration of the AAI signage at the Mangalore Airport. The activist's effort soon bore fruit after the AAI signage was restored on 10th September this year.
In conclusion, there are protests, and there are dissenting voices in every democracy. Mahatma Gandhi led a protest, so did Anna Hazare, so did Rakesh Tikait. In all the protests, there has been a different socio-cultural approach and different background while many of them got good national attention, activist Alva's protest was both unique and commendable and needs a mention. It often happens that activists that take a pragmatic approach and rely more on the executive and judiciary to get their demands met remain unsung; even Mahatma Gandhi’s approach of non-violence would not have garnered public attention if it was not for the South-African media to bring forth his movements. These unsung heroes need to be lauded and commended for their works for these sorts of protests and activism to be kept alive.
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Hong Kong, Oct 25: Amnesty International said Monday it would close its two offices in Hong Kong this year, becoming the latest non-governmental organization to cease its operations amid a crackdown on political dissent in the city.
The human rights group said its local office in Hong Kong would close this month while its regional office will close by the end of the year, with regional operations moved to other offices in the Asia-Pacific region.
This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong's national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government, Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty's board, said in a statement.
Hong Kong implemented a sweeping national security law in 2020 following months of massive anti-government protests. The law outlaws secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign collusion to intervene in the city's affairs. More than 120 people, many of them supporters of the city's democracy movement, have been arrested under the law.
The majority of the city's prominent pro-democracy activists are behind bars for taking part in unauthorized assemblies, and dozens of political organizations and trade unions have ceased operations out of concern for their members' personal safety under the security law.
Bais said the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signaled authorities were intensifying their campaign to rid the city of dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment, she said.
Critics in Hong Kong say the national security law is an erosion of freedoms, such as those of expression and assembly, that were promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.