ISSN 2330-717X

‘Activist’: Has It Now Become A Misused And Abused Term? – OpEd


The number of activists are now steadily increasing all over the world who claim themselves to be environmentalists, freedom fighters, religious propagandists, etc. They call themselves as activists and some of them use the term activist as a shield to cover their activities, which may be questionable in some cases.


Activism is a good cause and practice, if it would be oriented and practiced with total transparency in speeches, activities and outlook. Unfortunately, some of the activists these days indulge in spreading hatred and carrying out malicious propaganda with the objective of forcing the suspension of projects and government programmes, which they believe to be wrong. In the course of their activities, the disruption of the existing order of the society happen, causing difficulties for large section of society.

Recently, it has been seen in India that there are hundreds of non governmental organisations founded and run by “activists”, who receive money from India or abroad under the guise of donation for any social cause like helping the deprived section of society etc. but use such funds for some activities , which is different from the announced purpose of donation and use it in a clandestine manner, sometimes with the knowledge of the donors.

In India, government of India has deregistered number of non governmental organisations, since they do not publish details of receipts and expenditures and do not submit their annual reports as per statutory requirements. There have been number of complaints about these “activists” promoting and encouraging separatist tendencies and even violent activities that would destabilize the society.

As far as these activists are concerned, most of them seem to be of the view that they are serving a particular cause dearest to their heart and think there would be nothing wrong in concealing their style of functioning while trying to promote the ideas that they cherish.

In India, a few days back, police have arrested a few activists on the charge that they have been funding, supporting and motivating the Maoists, who are extremists believing in violence and in breaking law and order to achieve their objectives, which they claim to be towards promoting an egalitarian society etc.


When the police raided the houses of these activists and arrested them, the media and many opposition parties accuse the government of curtailing freedom and using draconian measures to suppress the liberty of individuals and groups.The critics say that these arrested activists are well educated persons, scholars , profound thinkers, writers etc. which all may be true.

However, when the government has the information that these “scholar activists” have indulged in some objectionable practices that could cause serious law and order situation and disrupt the peace in the society, how can any government keep quiet? Should the government allow such activities to go on when it has information collected during the investigation about the wrong doings of these activists? If the government would keep quiet without acting on it’s information, fearing media trial and criticism, then would it not amount to abdication of the responsibility of the government, which is elected by the people to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the country?

India is a democratic society and everyone has the liberty to criticise or protest. But, if such activities would be done in clandestine manner with the target of ushering in the so called revolution, the government must act and government not acting would lead to serious adverse consequences for the stability of the country.

The arrested activists can go to the judiciary and make their complaint. Let the judiciary decide the merit of the government’s action.

The activists should be aware that liberty is not a personal affair but a social contract. While they can have their views , they cannot impose their views, violating the law of the land.

The term activism should not be misused and abused.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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