Have 3 Years Of Modi Govt. Eroded Democracy?

Posted by Anurag Singh in Politics, Society
May 26, 2017

India is soon to become the fastest-growing nation among G-20 nations. To the rest of the world, we are a superpower in the making. Moreover, it is also projected to become the youngest country in the world with 64% population in the working age-group.

All seems to be rainbows and sunshine in this part of the world. However, for me, as an Indian, something very frightening is happening  – the very foundations of my nation are being shaken!

Before I present my case let me remind you what the Preamble to our Constitution says:

“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;… “

India is gradually but systematically moving away from what the fathers of our nation wanted us to be  –  a secular democracy. For all the problems we faced as a country since independence, we kept the DNA of India intact. We made sure that we remained a land which embraced many – because that’s the idea of India.

However, the India of 2017 is very different from that of 2014 and before.

We pulled 133 million people out of poverty between 1994 and 2012. That’s the largest number of people who have recently escaped poverty in the world!

For a country where even needles were imported in 1947, we have indeed come a long long way. We fought five wars between 1947-1999, saw two of our Prime Ministers get assassinated, dealt with numerous waves of terrorism, suffered a political emergency and a near-collapse of our economy in 1991. The most crucial factor that made us fight all odds to see the unprecedented economic growth in the last two decades was our belief in the idea of India.

However, every country needs an overhaul of government policies at regular intervals. When the development owing to the change of economic policies in the 1990s started to plateau, we placed our bets on a man who was like a breath of fresh air and resonated with every strata of the society, in 2014.

While electing this man, we never sat back and asked ourselves if we were overestimating his competency, given his background. We never questioned whether his presence at the helm would challenge the very idea of India – such was our desperation for a change!

Three years in – and here we are, debating about who we should love, what to eat and what to watch. We are debating these trivial issues over our dinner tables, in social gatherings, while commuting in metro trains, in universities and on social media. And if this isn’t all, even media organisations are pumping millions of dollars over these debates in their studios.

Journalism Is Dying A Slow And Painful Death

Never in the history of independent India have we seemingly witnessed such spineless journalism, which is so pro-establishment. Today, we have a breed of journalists who are happy to propagate inflated government statistics, spread half-truths, peddle hate in the name of chauvinism, ignore social injustices and overlook government inefficiencies – all in return for a pat on their backs from our ministers.

Raj Kamal Jha, editor-in-chief, Indian Express, rightly said“Criticism from government is a badge of honour for journalists.”

If only the ‘blue-eyed’ boys of journalism could understand that every time a journalist bends down in front of the establishment, a part of the foundation of our democracy is chipped off! These days, it’s so convenient to say ‘India first’ and then forget about the plight of Indians.

Seeker of truth or government stooge?

It seems that the primary job of our journalists today is to blow the government’s trumpet. Gone are the days when our journalists kept the government on its toes. Gone is the breed of journalists who happily went to jail to save Indian democracy during Emergency!

Nowadays, almost every news channel is in a competition to bash the Opposition or anyone who challenges the establishment’s narrative. What I don’t understand is why there are no follow-ups on the exposes, why no cases are filed against the people involved and why no investigations are ordered.

Is it because the objective is to tarnish the image of all but one political party? If that’s not the case, we would have heard our the anchors talk about the Vyapam scam, the failure of demonetisation, lack of jobs and cow vigilantes, as vigorously as they talked about Lalu speaking to Shahabuddin.

It’s crystal clear that there is a constant and deliberate attempt to shape public opinion. And the worst part is that we are happily swallowing the rubbish that is being fed to us. In fact, there are only a very few ethical journalists who are still doing what they are supposed to – while the rest of the lot is busy creating a ‘new India’.

Democracy Is Reeking Of Hypocrisy

India is currently fighting a legal battle in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with its arch nemesis, Pakistan, over human rights violation in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was tried in a military court of Pakistan.

However, while we are still arguing how unjust and inhumane Pakistan’s approach, we have given an award (for bravery) to one of our army majors who tied a Kashmiri man to a jeep and used him as a human shield. As if the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was not enough, we are now commending acts which blatantly violate the right to life.

The ‘nationalist brigade’ preaches the obligation of supporting the Army irrespective of the situation, because they are ‘standing for us’ at the borders. However, they conveniently ignored Tej Bahadur Yadav, when he posted videos of allegedly unpalatable food served in army camps, and alleged that the ration meant for army troops was illegally sold by officers.Nobody cared about a serious investigation into this. Instead, Tej Bahadur was sacked.

Where was the chest-thumping band of nationalist anchors when the disability pension was slashed-off, for our jawans? Don’t they also deserve the gratitude of the tax-payers – or have their sacrifices been written off because they can’t ‘sacrifice’ themselves anymore?

Perhaps, the biggest criteria to prove your patriotism is to approve every act and every narrative of the Army – no mater how unconstitutional it may be. Pseudo-national cheerleaders (read news anchors) have time and again insisted on how indebted we should be to the Army.

However, they have rarely spoken about farmer suicides and how we can protect them – not even when farmers from Tamil Nadu have been protesting in New Delhi for over 60 days! All they have been asking for is a drought relief package and policy reforms in absence of which 12000 farmers commit suicide in India every year. Well, our Prime Minister does have time to meet Sachin Tendulkar and discuss his upcoming movie – but cannot talk to the ones who ensure food for the soldiers standing at the border!

“I will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”  – these  were the words repeated by Modi under oath, when he officially became the 15th Prime Minister of India. He doesn’t seem to have done much justice to these words.

Cow worship or…

Soon after he became the PM, Mohammad Akhlaq was repeatedly kicked, hit with bricks and lynched by a mob, over rumours that he had stored beef in his house. By the way, Akhlaq also happened to be the father of a corporal in the Indian Air Force. An investigation was conducted – not for the lynching, but to find out if the meat stored was beef or not.

Such is the nature of ‘cow vigilantism’ which still continues in 2017 with increased frequency and tenacity. In fact, ‘vigilantism’ is an understatement for what is happening in India  –  murders and violence in the name of religious beliefs.

The government is doing nothing, but behaving like a mute spectator and almost giving a nod of acceptance to those who are assassinating the soul of India. “Even Gandhi was against cow slaughter,” is the common defence for these killings. Little do they know that Gandhi had also declared his refusal to protect cows through violence!

Call Of Duty

The biggest crime that we citizens can commit is to consider the recent events to be ‘business as usual’. We are so filled with hatred today that we have forgotten the art of dialogues and discussions. Whether it is our religious beliefs, our ideologies or political inclinations , we have always had differences but we have also had certain established rules in case of disagreements. All of that has gone for a toss in the last three years. We cannot let that happen.

With all due respect to those who love and adore the architects of  ‘new India’, I want to tell them that if the only time you are offended is when the architects are criticised, then you are also a part of the problem.

We must not be ‘fans’ of a political party or a politician – because the more we do it, the easier it is for the politicians to compete for our votes. Let them not tell you who is patriotic and who is not. They are not the ones who can limit our questions or dissent. After all, most of them have spent their lives pitting one human, one religion, or one ideology, against the other.

We have learnt and practised to be united and celebrate our diversity. Let’s not give up on that. Politicians will rise to power and perish – but India will continue to exist, however withered her soul may be because of political ambitions!

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Image Source: Manoj Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

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