By B. Raman
The lava from the people’s volcano in Egypt has started flowing in unexpected directions.
It did flow to Yemen and Algeria as widely expected, but on February 14 it started flowing in a totally unexpected direction towards Iran — a non-Arab country.
It is no longer a purely Arab anger. It is no longer a Muslim anger towards the West and Israel as Al Qaeda and the Ayatollahs of Iran had wanted it to be.
It has become the anger of the masses wherever people’s rights are suppressed and people are subjected to hardships by uncaring rulers. One does not know when the lava will lose speed and stop and in which directions it will flow. Before it stops, the world is going to see changes in the political landscape of all countries where people are suppressed — whether Arab or non-Arab, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, whether West, South or East Asia, whether Myanmarese or the Hans. The lava is going to be no respecter of rulers and regimes and their religion.
It could sweep everything before it. It could temporarily damage the global economy yet to recover fully from the recent economic melt-down.
We in India cannot afford to be over-confident that it can’t affect us. It can. If it does due to our insensitivity and self-complacency, it will not have a pan-Indian impact. It will be an impact felt in some pockets where there is already people’s anger as in the North-East or Jammu & Kashmir or in the tribal areas of central India.
We have to be alert. Being alert does not mean more security forces. It means actions to monitor the grievances and anger of the people and timely steps to address them.
If the protests succeed in Yemen and Algeria, the impact on India will most probably be minimal. If they succeed in Iran, the impact could be considerable. It could become worse if the lava further flows into Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
There were protests in Iran on February 14 in solidarity with the Egyptian people. There have been calls for more protests on February 15.
The Mubarak regime committed a serious mistake in underestimating the force of the people’s anger. The Iranian regime will be committing a similar mistake if it under-estimates the force of the anger of its people.