Note: This article is in no way a criticism of the NDA government. The author holds greatest regard for the Hon’ble post of PMO and greatly cherishes all democratic ideals and rights (including the freedom of speech and expression) that the Indian government and our Constitution has graciously bestowed upon all citizens. The only source of this article is the Freedom House report itself and the CBSE Class 12 Political Science textbook.
A report published online by reputed organisation Freedom House has taken the country by storm as India was awarded a mere 67/100 on the democratic scoreboard of the Freedom In The World publication, dubbing our great nation and the largest democracy on the planet as only ‘partly-free’. This document has already been labelled misleading as the Centre, through the Ministry of Internet and Broadcasting, clarified that the report highlighted incorrect and fabricated lies and while no one is in any position to challenge this stance of the ruling government (the people in power have made sure of that), this does seem erringly close to the Congress-led Emergency of 1975.
Both eras had strong and charismatic leadership spearheaded by Ms Indira Gandhi and Shri Narendra Modi ji respectively. While the Gandhi administration censored the media, the surplus majority coalition did no such thing. Instead, it chose to add select topics such as recent developments of the BJP politics and NITI Aayog along with omitting concepts such as anti-Muslim riots and Indira Gandhi’s assassination, self propaganda in school textbooks that the Election Commission pretends to be in denial of.
The government today doesn’t hesitate to arrest comedians, climate change activists and “corrupt” journalists who speak ill of the Centre just as the Congress-led government then didn’t hesitate to arrest 676 opposition leaders. Students at that time protested bravely on the streets under the banner of Bihar and Gujarat movements of 1974 and students today continue to protest through social media and memes that are frankly more of a shining light on the broken education system and not the youth itself.
There has been no change in the police force and other institutional administrations as they were politically inclined then and are politically inclined even now, blindly marching for those in power. Accidental custodial deaths happened then and they continue to happen now. Women were forcefully sterilised then and Muslim women have “miscarriages” in police custody now.
Many prime decisions were taken by those who held no official position, including the likes of Sanjay Gandhi, indicating a corrupt regime. The BJP, on the other hand, has no corrupt ministers, only those accused of sexual assault and inciting the anti-Muslim Gujarat riots. Do take note that these BJP ministers were cleared of all charges by a fair and just judicial Bench, which is almost as fair and just as the one which, in 1976, declared that in an Emergency, the government could take away citizens’ rights to life and liberty, a judgement that virtually closed the doors of judiciary for the citizens.
The doors of judiciary are closed in 2021 also, but that’s because of the Covid-19 crisis, and not because a certain court verdict in 2019 in favour of the ruling majority led to the citizens losing faith in the apex court. On the positive side, both the governments, despite being on polar opposite sides of history, introduced pro-poor schemes such as Indira Gandhi’s 20-point programme and Modi’s Ayushman Bharat and Ujjwala Yojana policies. Citizens today are much more aware of their rights and continue to challenge ludicrous notions such as same-sex marriages being against the Indian culture, which it most definitely isn’t. All consensual marriages should be declared valid and marital rape a criminal act.
All in all, while there are many similarities between the two regimes, only one of them can put the author of this publication in prison, while the other can’t. This is why — besides other reasons such as the abolition of Article 370 and the government’s new stance on nuclear policy —I agree that the BJP is the right choice for Indian democracy in 2021.
This is my opinion on this issue and the fact that I’m perpetually scared of posting anything anti-Modi and ending up in jail like Disha Ravi or facing an IT raid like Taapsee Pannu’s has in no way made any real change.
For those who liked my article, please stay tuned for more such pieces. Others who are BJP bhakts, please keep your opinions to yourself. I’ve no interest in negative feedback and much rather prefer positive praise.