A dictionary definition of populism is that it is ‘the political doctrine that supports the rights and powers of the common people in their struggle with the privileged elite’. At one look, it is a very comforting definition. It is a movement away from inequality and forms of oppression. But the world history shows it has taken many forms; Right wing Populism on the rise in many countries (India, US and others); Left Wing Populism is seen on the rise in Bolivia, Sanders in US and in smaller versions in other places. They are not just two divisions, large variations are possible.
I consider right wing populism (US, philippines, India)as very dangerous; left wing populism has created good stories in some countries like Bolivia; the story is not so bright in places in Venezuela. The inability of the left wing populism to rise is further helping the right wing populism to cement their place. Occasionally they don’t have an effective counter-narrative of development. (In many cases, they too have their own grey areas).
Finally right wing populism is for the people only in definition and it is for some elite (elite differs in different countries) in practice. Mob Power runs over and above the constitutional and human rights values. I am not an expert to write a detailed essay on this. But what could (and should) be the counter-narratives against right-wing populism.
- Teachers: Along with teaching the subject, teach the children to reason; to find what is right and wrong for himself, not to be carried away by the mob mentality.
- Activists: Creating cultures of dialogue, where the culture of hate is being fought.
- Politicians: I would consider this as the most important group. A responsible politician in power should try to promote sustainable and inclusive development. In Indian context, can they try to create structures and opportunities so that reservation would become irrelevant? (For that you have to provide equal opportunities for dalits and tribals and others).
- Media: Allow the stories of inclusive development to be shared to all. Let initiatives of love like Karwan-e- Mohabbat and others be promoted extensively. This is a simple contribution all youngsters could even do in the social media.
- Researchers: To continue looking for ways and means to unravel truth and to fight false propaganda.
- Faith Leaders: To appreciate challenges and critiques on the interpretation of Sacred Text. I feel it is not the best thing to assume having complete certainty with regard to God and his/her characteristics.
Beyond all these, we should keep human-ness, humanity, fraternity as the basis of all our interactions; not a We vs They, but a collective We.
Finally it is a question each one should ask, What I can Do (depending on my talents and potentials) to create a culture of trust (where critiquing is part of it) than a culture of hate?