The performance of the Modi Government during last two years has to be seen in the light of the promises made in the electoral campaign and on the barometer of values of Indian Constitution of pluralism and diversity. Acche din had become a buzzword, black money being retrieved and being deposited in everybody’s bank account was looked forward to and anticipation of creation of jobs got registered in people’s mind. None of this came through. Prices of essential commodities started shooting the sky, of all the things even dal (pulses) started becoming a luxury item. Fifteen lakhs is nowhere in the account and job creation is stagnant. As such the much flouted foreign policy remained on the confused platter with nothing to show except the Prime Minister’s much hyped global rendezvous on regular basis. With Pakistan the policy of blow hot blow cold is in operation and the friendliest neighbor Nepal is drifting away from the earlier status of a close ally.
The much touted Maximum Governance-Minimal Government has been reduced to all powers being centralized in the hands of a single person and authoritarian streaks are visible as the cabinet system, where PM is first among equals, is being overturned towards a PM controlling everything. The major damage is in the arena of the communal amity, autonomy of academic institutions and communal harmony.
This is the first time that BJP has got a simple majority in the Lok Sabha and with this the Hindutva agenda is being unfolded in a drastic way. Right from the word go; the affiliates of Hindutva politics became active and Mohsin Shiekh, a techie from Pune was killed by the activists of Hindu Rashtra Sena. The cabal of this politics stepped up spreading hate against those not agreeing with the agenda of ruling dispensation. Even before coming to power the current minister in the centre, Giriraj Singh had stated that those not voting for Modi should go to Pakistan. Another worthy in the ministry; Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti uttered the word Harmjade (illegitimate) for those not voting for her party. All and sundry from this dispensation reached the limits of spreading hate against religious minorities; all this when the all powerful PM kept overseeing the march of ‘Hate other’ politics. It was said that as a Prime Minister how can he comment on every incident? It seems his silence was a deliberate one and part of the ‘division of labor’ assigned by their parent organization, the RSS. Those making these hateful statements were not fringe elements as called by some; they are part of core agenda.
HIndutva politics thrives on identity issues. This time around the Holy Cow-beef eating took the center stage and the hysteria created around this issue led to the murder of Mohhamad Akhlaq in Dadri and many other acts of violence including murders. This came in the back drop of the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi. This Dadri incident became a sort of barometer of growing intolerance in the country, prompting many eminent writers, scientists and film makers to return their well earned honors. Rather than taking note of the growing intolerance in the society they were criticized heavily as being motivated politically or doing so for money.
The attempt of this Government to intrude in to the educational institutions became apparent soon enough. It was visible with appointments of those who are ideologically aligned with ruling organization irrespective of their competence. Gajendra Chauhan was appointed as the Chairman of FTII. The student’s protests against this decision were ignored. In Hyderabad Central University, Ambedkar Students Association was targeted. The local BJP MP, Bandaru Dattatrey complained to MHRD minister that anti-National and casteist activities are going on in HCU. MHRD Ministry pressurized University and Rohith Vemula and his friends were expelled from the hostel and their scholarship was stopped. This is what led to the suicide of Rohith Vemula.
There was a nationwide outrage against policies of Government towards the academic institutions. Meanwhile JNU was targeted and Kanhiaya Kumar and his friends who had not shouted anti-India slogans were charged under sedition. Those who shouted slogans were not arrested. This also ignored the fact that mere shouting of slogans is not a crime. The doctored CD was used to implicate the JNU scholars. They were charged under sedition act. This triggered the debate on nationalism leading to prominent scholars participating in ‘teach-ins’ on nationalism in JNU.
RSS patriarch Mohan Bhagawat raked up another emotive issue by saying that youth must be told to say ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’. In response to that; Asadudding Owaisi of MIM said he will not say so even if a knife is put on his throat. In further building up the issue and RSS fellow traveler Baba Ramdev stated that had Constitution not be there, by now lakhs would have been beheaded. The ground level message of this is fraught with dangers.
All in all, two years down the line Modi, the RSS prachrak, is on the job of pushing the country towards Hindu nation and undermining Indian nationalism. Indian nationalism has liberal space and place for diversity built into it. As such communal politics resorts to emotive issues and that’s visible in propping issues like beef, nationalism and Bharat Mata ki jai. While three more years are to go for this government the divisive agenda and policies which are detrimental to the welfare of average people is on the display. India needs to march on the path of inclusive growth and amity among the people that seems to be missing at the moment.
Ram Puniyani was a professor in biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and took voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full time for communal harmony in India. He is involved with human rights activities from last two decades.He is associated with various secular and democratic initiatives like All India Secular Forum, Center for Study of Society and Secularism and ANHAD. Response only to firstname.lastname@example.org