This Republic Day will be a sad day for me, and I believe, for several others. I had expressed my anger and anguish on several occasions, sometimes using Twitter. The latest is in a review of a book ‘Malevolent Republic: A Short History of the New India’, by K. S. Komireddi (Context/Westland Books). The review was brief. Yet, I believe it has summed up the present political and democratic crisis in India. The review appeared in The Hindu of 12 Oct 2019. I reproduce below an extract:
“Komireddi’s India under Modi cannot be understood without reference to Gujarat under Modi. He was chief minister when communal riots killed more than 2,000 people. At the very minimum, his political career should have come to an end at that moment; instead, a dozen years after the riots in Gujarat, Modi was the contender for India’s highest political office, and he was being applauded as a competent leader. Failing to stop the riots was not a disqualification in Indian politics; it turned out to be a prelude to success.
Komireddi drives home the fact, as perceived by some that Modi’s achievement was of an epoch-making magnitude. It heralded the birth of a “second republic”, meaning India founded in 1947 by Congress was dead, and Modi who had drained his youth propagandising for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, would wield the largest democratic mandate in more than a generation to recast the republic in the mould of his indurated ideology.
Central to this ideology is “hegemonic (coercive) homogenisation” of the Indian people, through political manoeuvres, parliamentary legerdemain. This is partly evident from the emphasis on ‘one’ since 2014: One nation, One tax; One nation, One ID (Aadhaar); One nation, One language; One nation, One election, and so on.
The demonetisation move, which wiped out 86% of the currency in circulation, was Modi’s sinister masterstroke. Though Manmohan Singh rubbished the decision as “organised loot, legalised plunder”, the likelihood of diverting huge amounts to BJP’s coffers for electoral use and financially draining other political parties—sort of a scorched earth policy—has yet to be probed.
In the midst of a majoritarian drive, it is relevant to recall what B.R. Ambedkar said in his speech after the Constitution was adopted on November 26, 1949: “Indeed, if I may say so, if things go wrong under the new Constitution the reason will not be that we had a bad Constitution; what we will have to say is that Man was vile.”
Before concluding, a note of caution by Komireddi: “India will leap to a point from which return will become extremely difficult if Modi remains in power at the head of a government with an absolute majority in Parliament… If he succeeds, Hindu nationalism will become the official animating ideology of the republic.” Modi succeeded and remains in power for the second term.”
The happenings in Modi’s second term are visible to all in lurid and ghastly details. The Aadhaar enrolment caused a lot of hardship to millions of people. Worse still was demonetisation, which caused untold hardship and misery to millions of people and many of them died under duress. Other items of the insidious Hindutva aka Moditva agenda now under implementation, or are likely to be implemented have caused an unprecedented groundswell of protests, which are mostly spontaneous, and mostly by India’s youth, our proud ‘millennials’.
It is heartening that they protest as a secular fraternity irrespective, caste, creed, language or region. Their vision and action will shape India’s future. The macabre threats by an abrasive, aggressive, boorish Home Minister Amit Shah to implement CAA, come what may, followed or paralleled by NPR and NRC, are highly devastating and apocalyptic, to say the least.
As he was Modi’s henchman in Gujarat in 2002, planted him in Parliament deliberately to take the Hindutva agenda to its irrational, destructive dead end and finish forever the India of now where all of us live and are proud of. If this happens, India will lose a lot, of which the most important will be all the rich attributes of democracy which we still have, though some of them have become moribund under Moditva.
Let there be no mistake, the NPR, which was done in 2010 and provided the database for the Aadhaar project, was primarily an unpardonable transgression of the UPA government. The Modi government has used it to its advantage. That the NPR-NRC-CAA are aimed at smoking out rudely and violently India’s non-Hindus and truss up those who still remain in India into a Hindu Rashtra is already evident to all discerning citizens.
This is more so if we remember that on all available occasions, the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat waxes eloquent that India is a Hindu Nation. All said, the Modis, Shahs and others of their ilk are products of the RSS and in all what they do the RSS chief calls the shots. While it is true that nations big or small have gone through upheavals of cultural and political power-plays from time to time in India, the present is the worst since Independence.
Apart from highly articulate, well informed and committed youth, mostly college and university students, who else would have joined the fast-evolving “Indian Spring”? It is sad to say that we do not see much reaction from our opportunistic politicians, barring a few exceptions such as in Kerala, and some other states, which firmly believe in the prevailing social and cultural diversity and do not want their citizens to suffer because of some hot-headed Modis and Shahs.
The media to some extent, albeit selectively, focus on the Modi-Shah harmful agenda and their ramifications and on the protests by the youth across the country. But what about India’s judiciary? It works in ways which are seemingly partisan, reactionary and lacks a sense of time and urgency. We have seen this in the context of Article 370. We are seeing it now in the context of the NPR-NRC-CAA racket. We often use the adage that judiciary grinds like god’s mill. Even if that is the case, if it is insensitive to the nation’s priorities in a difficult time such as now, the judges will do well to join the Modi-Shah bandwagon.
Lastly, the latest issue of The Economist has two important and well-thought articles on India:
1. Intolerant India: Narendra Modi stokes divisions in the world’s biggest democracy;
2. Protests in India: Narendra Modi’s sectarianism is eroding India’s secular democracy.
I urge all those who are against the Hindutva-Moditva project of the RSS’s Hindu Rashtra trying to be implemented through the sinister plans of Modi-Shah to read these articles as well.
I wish our protesting youth well and all success.