Modi's 100 Days: India Towards Doldrums?
By Ajaya Kumar Singh
31 August, 2014
It is three months since Narendra Modi took over the leadership of India . Never before India 's debate on secularism is as intense and frightening as it is today. Minorities are on edge. Bharat Bhusan, a senior journalist writing for news daily, Business Standard captures the mood of the nation and state of affairs minoriites in India , “S omething has changed in our society after Narendra Modi became the prime minister. Today, speaking carelessly about other religious communities has become acceptable. A new "normal" is being defined about how India talks to herself and the world. Even legislators openly speak of a Hindufication agenda; with one from Goa claiming that under Modi India will become a "Hindu nation", and another countering that it already was one. “The minorities might choose to become inward-looking, more ghettoised and to withdraw from active political participation. A large section among them might be satisfied if they are left unharmed and allowed to live their private lives. While a section of youth might be attracted to militancy, another section could be won over by the loaves and fishes of office. The larger segment of the minorities might simply become indifferent to public life”.
WHITHER INDIA ?
The Preamble of the Constitution says, “We, the people of India , having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC . India 's essence is captured in five constituents in The Preamble.
Four of the five constituents in The Preamble is in slippery mode; SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC.
Socialist : Crony capitalism is shining
India chose to be socialist country. The huge divide between rich and poor reflects that it did not consolidate on these principles; rather yield into capitalist economy. “Bangladesh is better off on Human Development index than India”, An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions authored by Jean Dreze is Visiting Professor, Department of Economics, Allahabad University. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen is Lamont University professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University . “ According to the Forbes rich list (2011), the 55 dollar-billionaires in India controlled over 17 per cent of its GDP; compare that to China, whose 115 billionaires controlled a mere 4 per cent”, reported a news daily, The Hindu. . It is not just crony capitalism that is shining; but plain corruption says eminent Supreme Court lawyer, Prashant Bhushan. The Corporates ensured Modi win with their capital, media and human resources to their best use. The Modi win seals the socialists' surrenders to capitalists. Certain regions in India are worse than Sub-Sahara countries in development indicators even today. What worries the ethnic and minority communities is the nexus between corporate hindu radical nexus.
Secularism: India First
Secularism is the basic structure of the Indian constitution. A state which does not recognise any religion as the state religion, it treats all religions equally. Secular means the relationship between the government and the people which is determined according to constitution and law. Mohan Bhagwat, chief of Sangh Parivar (Hindu Nationalist Outfit) oh whose instruction Narendra Modi became Chief Campaigner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and later made BJP Prime Minister candidate declared this week , “ India is a Hindu nation and Hindutva is its identity”. Bharatitya Janata Party nor the Prime Minister could counter such arguments. For Modi, secularism means India is first.
Mr. Modi said he had a simple definition of secularism: “‘India First'. Whatever you do, wherever you work, India should be the top priority for all its citizens.” The critics point out why indigenous and minority communities do not figure in his discourse of secularism. Why did he fail to acknowledge the secularism is one of five cornerstones of India? Whose India, Modi represents?
Democracy: Giving into Majoritarianism
There is a sense that democracy is giving into majoritarianism. It was unthought-of that Penguin India, a reputed publishing house without consent of the author gave into pressure by Hindu far outfit to pulp the copies of well-known international scholar Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History . That is too outside as an out of court settlement. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The test of the nations depend on how it treats it minority members”. Here, if wishes of alleged majority is kept on mind rather than allow the rule of law even if it is minority voices; the precept of law could be construed as flow in a democracy. Instead of strengthening, democracy could destroy the diverse plurality of the nations without even anybody guarding it. The cursory look at the organs of democracy would provide further insights into it.
Judiciary losing sheen as its voice unheard?
. On the plea of corruptions at judiciary despite strong observations from Judiciary, Parliament approves bill to overturn collegiums system in Supreme Court that selects Supreme Court Judges. Now, the country was told through this approval, the voice of Judiciary does not count; but the government.
Chief Justice of India, R.M.Lodha came in public that he was not consulted when government refused to promote a senior Lawyer, K.K. Venugopal as Supreme Court Judge. He was prosecuting lawyer for Amit Shah, the new President of Bharatiya Janata Pary for his role in the fake encounter murder cases. In later period, one who was defending case, the lawyer was elevated to Supreme Court as Judge. The message is loud and clear. The Chief Justice pleads with the Government not to encroach into its territory shows equilibrium getting disturbed.
Legislative: Worrying Points
National Election Watch (NEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) that studied the criminal history of the candidates say, “35% of the 281 winners from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have in their affidavits declared criminal cases against themselves, while eight (18%) of the 44 winners from the Congress, 15 (83%) of the 18 winners from the Shiv Sena, an alliance partner of BJP”. The analysis reveals interesting part; the Saffron Party legislators have criminal background more than the others. The language used by a few legislators to belittle religious minorities in India and there was no rebuke for the same by the senior ruling party members showed that the religious minorities would not be treated on the same par. In fact, an unknown person, who was accused of murders in 9 cases, got elected to Odisha legislative in 2009 on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket in Kandhamal. There was a huge win for Bharatiya Janata Patry in unprecedented manner after communal violence that claimed more 30 lives in Uttar Pradesh; just before the elections. That was pointer too; why communal divides political party resort into it.
Executive: Communal violence Accused joins Modi governance
Dr.Sanjeev Balia accused of involvement of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar that claimed several lives made minister in Modi government. Muslims community feel aggrieved as it only added to their woes and their hopes of securing justice seems to be dashes off. The message is not victims' survivors of the region; for the minorities in India.
There are allegations that the files that are not comfortable to the governance ruling party nearly 1.5 lakh destroyed within Modi's taking over the country media reported.
Media: No more impartial
Media claims to be fourth pillar of democracy. In recent election, according to media reports, “ BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has got more than 33 per cent coverage on national TV channels during prime time in March and April, surpassing the likes of Congress' Rahul Gandhi, 336 minutes (4.33 per cent)”. Media just did not give coverage; but went ahead with rather negative campaign of opposition candidate; while promoting BJP candidate as a leader of the masses, who would deliver India.
Every citizen of India is eligible to become the President of the country. India is supposed to be republic. Today, the party has got one third of the population of votes manages to run the country shows that the Republic reflects that a governance could be handed down to minority that seizes the power with divisive strategies that would cause more damage to the Republic.
India might be investing on boarder security and guarding the geography of India (sovereignty); but inside it looks India is on the crumbling.
Minorities: Test of a Nation
Mahatma Gandhi once said "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." It is yardstick of a family character how a family treats its weak and infirm. One need not measure one's family/society/nation strength from one's engaging with others.
Fear and anxiety grips the religious minority community. There are huge lot of instances that really disturbing and alarming.
Amit Shah the first state home minister of a state in India to be arrested and behind the bar for months for faking encounter deaths using police state machinery. Even before he is yet to be acquitted from the court, he was sent on a mission to UP that resulted in communal violence that claimed more than 30 lives. He could polarise and win almost all seats in the largest state of India. With such fear that his name spells, the minority community sent into shivers by appointing him to be President of a ruling party.
“The first was the tragic killing of the 24-year-old Pune techie Syed Mohsin Shaikh, who was beaten to death with hockey sticks by the goons of the Hindu Rashtra Sena in retaliation for the uploading of "derogatory" pictures of Maratha icon Shivaji and the late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray on a social networking site.Young Mohsin had nothing to do with the uploading, but the Hindu Rashtra Sena activists were looking for a Muslim to exact revenge upon, and he was visibly Muslim, emerging from namaz at a mosque in a beard and skull cap. This was a classic "hate crime" that was universally condemned across the country - by everyone but the Prime Minister himself”, media reported.
There are reported sexual assaults against dalit women; yet the silence was deafening from the top ruling leadership.
Freedom of Religion
“In Bastar, 50 villages ban non-hindu missionaries” hit the headlines. Bastar is tribal region of Chattisgarh state wherein it is reported, “ An aggressive campaign by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had led to a ban on the entry of and propaganda by non-Hindu missionaries, especially Christians, in more than 50 villages of Chhattisgarh's Bastar region in the last six months orders under Section 129 (G) of the Chhattisgarh Panchayat Raj Act 1994 banning all “non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches in the villages”. The radicallised villagers went a step ahead to deny Public Distribution System Rations.
Christian leaders call it “blatant violation of fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution of India”.
In another event, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where Viswa Hindu Parishad converted a village Church into Mandir with “ A cross was allegedly removed from the church and placed outside the gate and a portrait of Shiva installed”. It is totally blatant violation of ethos of secular India despite there are some Christians remain Christians. The state nor the centre has done anything to restore the confidence of the minority community resulting the pastors leaving the area out of fear of threats and attacks .
Eminent women activists condemned “the propaganda over so called ‘Love-Jihad,' dismissing it as myth and stressed on the fact that individual women or men not only have the right to choose their partners but are also free to choose their faith in a secular democratic country”. “They are trying to propagate a myth that all such interfaith marriages where the male is a Muslim are malicious and are solemnized with single objective of religious conversion and increasing the population of Muslims by producing innumerable children” Vrinda Grover, eminent lawyer.
There are certain elements in the Church, who seems to fall prey to this nefarious design of "Love Jihad" launched by radicals. Wish Church understands this design at the earliest for better.
Women activists further noted, “Such campaigns against inter-religion, inter-caste marriages are not only against the spirit of a diverse and plural society they also aim to control women's sexuality/women body used as tool and polarize the society along communal lines for electoral and political purposes”.
We cannot ill afford to medieval tactics to control women and polarise the communities.
Freedom of Association:
The first budget of the government took extra measures to squeeze the NGOs space with a threat to cancel if they do something against “national interest”. It is one step more to silence the voice of civil society groups. The intelligence agencies try to paint NGOs as anti-national for working the most vulnerable communities.
Freedom of Speech:
“A marine engineer Devu Chodankar of Panaji, Goa was arrested for a comment on a Facebook that seemed to be anti-Modi and cyber crime cell still investigating to ascertain “a larger game plan to promote communal and social disharmony”.
“Syed Waqas, an MBA student in Bangalore, Karnataka state was arrested for allegedly circulating offensive messages against Modi on WhatsApp while a film script writer Amaresh Mishra was arrested for posting messages on his Twitter account in Uttar Pradesh”.
“In the past four days alone, Kerala police have registered two separate cases against 18 college students and teachers for "defaming" Modi in their respective campus magazines ”. These reports in media especially in Social Media capture the alarming trend of in situ of India today
ON A WAY TO NEW INDIA HISTORY:
The appointment of a historian whose work is unfamiliar to most historians' shows scant regard for the impressive scholarship that now characterises the study of Indian History and this disregard may stultify future academic research. Those who believe in puranas and myths have become overnight historians and are entrusted with the task of writing history of India. This is dangerous trend where facts and scientific temper are being replaced with myths and possibly infiltrate thoughts that would make dangerous and divisive for the future generations.
Sangh Parivar aims in attempting to stifle India's vibrant plurality and diversity. Modi's one hundred days show that the very idea of India as plural and diverse nation is at axe. The alarm bell has rung. What nobody dared to do; Sangh Parivar attempts to do it by pulling the strings of the rubrics of the constitution. It does undermine all that India stands for: SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC. The attempts are retrograde. If could India proud, if we continue to as senior journalist Sagarika Ghose puts, “ Hinduism has always stood for intellectual freedom, freedom that has led to super-achievers both at home and abroad. It is in fact decidedly un-Hindu to ban, to exclude and to suppress any form of knowledge, because the Hindu tradition has always honoured those who embraced intellectual striving and forged new ways of reform” and respect diverse religious beliefs and also promote scientific temper to usher in modern India.
If this is the reality that Modi government has achieved in just hundred days, what could be the future implications for the nation in next five years? Hence, the challenge before the nation is to reclaim SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC India before it is too late.
Ajaya Kumar Singh, a civil rights activist based in Bhubaneswar
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