People living in metropolises tend to live in their bubbles. The idea of what’s mainstream, the idea of what’s relevant is quite biased due to the kind of people we interact with daily.
India, in recent years, has seen a flood of movements. Be it regarding LGBTQ rights or feminism. But the question remains that to what depth these movements have reached the country’s population.
If you look at the population demographics of India, still close to 70% of the population lives in rural regions. Of the 30% of the urban population, the dominant proportion lives in Tier II & Tier III cities.
So the question arises, whether the social movements around gender equality, social welfare, casteism, etc. have reached the majority of the population. For most of the activism that we see happening on the internet or the TV, the language of choice is English.
Still, in various parts of India, the archaic practices, the orthodox beliefs, the religious bigotry, the undermining of women as breadwinners, the caste system, it’s a way of life. For any urban activist or speaker to even interact with them, they need to understand the level of understanding at which people currently.
I was associated with an NGO that was creating awareness around menstrual cups. We were going around in villages in Karnataka telling women not to use cloth and use the reusable menstrual cup that can be easily washed and reduces wastage. We faced resistance at quite a few villages. During one of the sessions, people got offended as they felt that even discussing something so personal to women was against the Indian culture. Then we got hold of a lady from the Panchayat, and she explained everything to them in the regional language in a lucid manner and was able to get the point across. We realized that to make a difference, we need to talk to people in a language that they can understand.
At Leher, we’re encouraging people to hold discourses in their regional languages. Engage with their followers in a language that they understand to get the point across. Any activism, be it on the ground, or online, needs to be done in a way that it reached the nucleus of the country. That’s where the change needs to happen.