As I look into my liberal circles, I find a lot of anguish about the degeneration of democracy and embracing of religious fanaticism in India. I will be honest that for one, I share similar concerns, although my privileges somewhat protect me from being at the receiving end of it. India has several laws in her constitutional framework, which are remnants from the British colonial days and can be used to suppress people’s voices severely.
In the past, many political parties- Congress, Left, BJP, and other regional parties have used or abused such laws to their interest. Further, there is a scary precedent of ruling parties being complacent and not keeping the law and order in check for their own vested interests. They often turn a blind eye when violent mobs take to the streets to satisfy their political pursuits. Therefore, BJP doesn’t need any new regulations to suppress dissent, if they see fit.
Now, as far as an embrace of religious fanaticism is concerned, I must admit it will be an oversimplification to think that a large chunk of a nation of a billion people voted solely towards that goal. Call it decades of indoctrination towards secular principles or whatever, the people of the country didn’t give a clear mandate to a right-wing party until the new millennium, more than fifty years since the birth of the free nation. People are also tired of being complacent with the choices they have.
People no longer wish to vote back the existing political parties to power. They are tired of corruption and what they see as a failure to deliver on development and good governance. But given a chance to explore new opportunities, people have shown keen interest. In 2015, in the capital of India, people gave a clear mandate to Aam Aadmi Party, a newly formed people’s party with an outstanding 67-3 majority.
The three seats that went to Modi’s BJP came as a bitter loss in the nation’s capital, right after he became the PM. My liberal friends, if you wish to see an alternative to Modi, you should also advocate and root for a person you can stand behind, a leader who can inspire millions of people around the nation, and speaks about a vision for development that this country can feel hopeful about, and has the credentials to translate that vision to reality.
It is okay to get frustrated about the choices that you see people around you making, but if we don’t try to understand our people, who are so overwhelmingly diverse, we will never be able to see a nation of our dreams. We will always be out of touch.
So now that the people of India have given a second term to Prime Minister Modi, where do we go from here? Those who voted for Modi, you have a big responsibility to keep the leader of the nation accountable. If you weren’t satisfied with the seventy years of sluggish development, you shouldn’t be tolerant of the new government’s lackadaisical attitude (if need be) either. If you don’t like being told what you should be doing, that you are bigoted, not intellectual, you shouldn’t command anyone else about the choices they are making in their own lives either – the food they eat, the people they choose to love and marry, and so on.
If you want to be proud of India’s accomplishments and her being a superpower, you should understand that recognition comes from outside, and not through self-proclamation. We need to be a leader in science and technology. We need to lift our people out of poverty, scale new heights of economic development, and create new jobs so that no one goes unemployed and shouldn’t have to serve in an unaccounted economy without benefits.
We have to be a responsible guardian of natural resources and environment as we fight against climate change, which directly affects many vulnerable lives of our nation. Only then, we can be a nation, we can be proud of. Most importantly, the liberal friends that you hate so much, you should be listening to their constructive criticisms of the government, instead of branding them as anti-nationals at every passing opportunity.
We will not walk in fear of one another: good luck, India!