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Did India’s History Play A Role In Propping Up The Modi Wave?

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The Modi wave is a reality that rose out of rubble just as a Phoenix is born from the ashes. An indictment that was a myth during the 20th century became a reality in the 21st century. To comprehend the rise of the right-wing wave, it is not sudden and has evolved over time because of certain failures by the dynastic rulers of early independent India.

The optimism of securing a secular tag in a country that has varied roots of assimilation is the starting point of the fragmentation and the tilt in the axis of the masses. Hindus being the majority in India and Muslims being the biggest minority in India, have been on the tussle grounds for quite a long time.

Dr B.R. Ambedkar was the first person that visualised and quoted, “Communal Hindu would never like a Secular Muslim and Communal Muslim would never like a Secular Hindu.”

delhi riots
Representative Image.

The roots of this animosity and rise of the Modi wave lie much before the modern history of India and the crowned fathers and mothers of the nation. India had been under imperial rule for more than a thousand years. The Khalji’s were the first Muslim conquerors in India (Bharat) and since then, various foreigners have landed on the fertile, rich soil of India to establish autocracy.

We have various historians contending that the Aryans were the first people who landed on the soil on which the Dravidians used to reside. Since then, many Hindu kings have fought many battles for lebensraum and hegemony. For example, Vikramaditya, Chandragupta Maurya, Samudragupta (Napoleon of India), etc.

The very first dynasty, i.e. the Mauryan Dynasty, was established by overthrowing the pre-established Nanda dynasty with the help of Chanakya, who became the prime minister with the first ruler as Chandragupta Maurya. Since then, many other Hindu rulers either added on or took away something or the other in return from the motherland.

But the contention of debates today starts with the onset of Islamic rulers, bagged by their deeds and misdeeds. During the Islamic timeline in India’s history, there were forced conversions of many Hindus, temples were razed and destroyed and many Hindu girls were forced to marry and were also abducted.

As Islam allows polygamy, this is one major problem in accordance with the Hindu community. Indians are a very peaceful race and have never tried their hands on conquering foreign lands or even crossing the waters surrounding the coastal kite as it was considered an omen according to the scriptures.

Many Muslim rulers forced their will as atavist upon Indians, while many appreciated and promoted India’s multi-cultural aura.

On the one hand, we had fundamentalist rulers like Mohammad Ghazni, Mohammad Ghori, Bakhtiyar Khalji, etc., who razed down Hindu temples like the Somnath temple and Vishwanath temple and burned the ancient knowledge hub, i.e. Nalanda University located in Bihar. The Vishwanath temple has a history of being razed and reconstructed many times.

On the other hand, we had rulers like Akbar who promoted secularism in India and created Fatehpuri Sikri, where people from all religions could pray together and meet. He promoted inter-religious dining. He also tried to fabricate a new religion born from the various goods of all the religions called Din-i-Ilahi, which began to fade and eventually died after his death.

Reprersentaive Image.

Today the fresh, uneducated and young minds are filled with hatred by the deeds committed by people who lived and ruled 5–8 centuries ago. They are fed with the atrocities committed by the Muslim rulers like Ghori, Ghazni, etc., but are not narrated about the whole history completely.

Historical events like, “it was Ghazni’s son who stood up against his own father to stop the wrongs he was committing in India” are facades and camouflaged with the ugly deeds recited. Wonderful leaders like Akbar are totally lost to the dust of the pages and are never told to enthusiastic minds to seek positivity.

Various other good things came about with the onset of Islamic rule, like Muslim Cuisine, the Mughal arts, Sufi music, etc., which are alienated and unrecognised.

An attempt was made to unite Hindus and Muslims on the grounds of nationalism to attain independence from the Britishers. But then we had various groups which intercepted different meanings of nationalism and independence in India.

There were three groups, i.e. the first group was moderate and wanted secularism, including leaders like Gandhi, Gokhale, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, etc., and walked on the path of satyagraha and non-violence.

The second group was of extremists who focused on complete Hindu Rashtra, which could be achieved by hook or crook and included rightist minded people like Savarkar, Golwalkar, Tilak, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, etc.

The third group was the one that propounded the two-nation theory and wanted a separate state for Muslims called Pakistan which included minds like Liaquat Ali Khan, Jinnah, etc.

India paid a cost too high when India gained independence. The country was divided into Pakistan and India, which was propounded as the two-nation theory by the Muslim League and Jinnah, and this gained a triumph. This was the second reason for friction among the Hindus as they believed that the Congress and the moderates were the reason for the country’s division and has added fuel to the rising Modi wave.

Although this acquisition completely holds a lie as the country’s division was because of the Muslim League. Gandhiji tried to pacify the division by offering the leadership of independent India to Jinnah, but this attempt laid futile.

Representative Image. (Source: flickr)

The division was followed with riots and pogroms where many Hindus and Muslims were torched, stabbed or killed out of frustration of the division. The violence began on 16 August, 1946, in Calcutta and spread to Bengal. From there, it moved onto Bihar, then to United Province and finally to Punjab.

By November, the toll of deaths in the riots crossed 5,000. Calcutta was revenged in Naokhali, Naokhali in Bihar, Bihar in Garmukteshwar, and so on. There were trains arriving on either side of the borders with dead bodies piled and only the driver left alive to drive the train to the destination as a message of cause and effect of the partition.

Gandhiji took a fast unto death to calm and neutralise the tension and later planned to go and stay in Pakistan among his Muslim and Hindu brethren for the rest of his life but was assassinated on 30 January, 1948, by a Hindu fanatic, Nathuram Godse.

Godse, in his final testimony, mentioned the horrors the Hindu community had to face because of Gandhiji’s methods of satyagraha and ahimsa and his over sympathy with the Muslims. It was believed that many at the RSS head office celebrated the death of Gandhiji.

Following the death of Gandhiji and our first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru, riots and vendetta gained common ground and there was a continuous attempt to widen the bridge between Hindus and Muslims. The riots of 1948–49, 1964, 1971, 1984, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2020 etc.

Further, various cases of lynching, killing and mobbing keep flashing on the screen occasionally. These riots compounded by the agony of hatred of Hindu vs. Muslims became a solidifying reason for the rise of the Modi wave.

The congress government did take some steps with goodwill that turned out to be a disaster and could not be avenged and led to the cause of revenge, animosity, hostility and the tilt in the mindset of the people, giving birth to a new totalitarian right wave.

The Hindu Code Bill of 1955–56 was seen as a miscalculated and one-sided move by many members of the constituent assembly and by Hindu priests and followers outside the chambers. Many demanded and desired the removal of polygamy from the Islamic religion and the introduction of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

“He wasn’t against the UCC, but the time was too ripe to introduce it in the country and the country needed a strong base for UCC to be introduced. The base was the Hindu Code Bill.”

The implication of emergency by Indira Gandhi was another reason for various people to drift their thinking and support from Congress. Many believed that Congress and Indiraji wanted to abuse the powers devolved by the constitution and collectively eulogise the central powers within their own hands.

bjp rally
Representative Image.

The birth of the BJP in 1980 by the founding fathers Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, got a new sigh of relief for the people who opposed Congress vehemently.

After the interference by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi into Shah Bano’s verdict, he ordered the opening of the locks of the disputed land of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. This decision, later on, took a ghastly turn and affected the whole country a-ghastly.

For the first time since independence, we witnessed the unity of Hindus for the sacred cause of the resurrection of the Ram Mandir over the disputed land from the lengths and breaths of the country. The Congress’s attempt to unite two polarised ends on the same table under a single canopy of secularism was difficult, unguaranteed and highly risky post-independence.

The logic behind the unity of the masses during independence was different as the Hindus and Muslims united against a common enemy, i.e. the Britishers, for a common cause, i.e. independence. But post-independence, they became enemies and blood-thrusting vultures against each other.

The contested lands of Kashmir and the mass exodus of Kashmiri pandits in the 1990s was a major ancillary for widening the gulf between Hindus and Muslims. The hedonism compounded with nihilism was another nail hammered, which later led to the rise of the mythical reality of Modi’s wave today.

The last nail in the coffin is hammered by the politically conscious communalist groups who aim to exaggerate a situation by acting adversely and adding hot fuel to the resting spark.

Modi’s wave is a reality that resurrected following the beacon for their survival, growth bagged with revenge and to avenge the annihilations and sufferings suffered by many Hindu people over a long period. Religious fundamentalism can easily overthrow the peace and tranquillity obtained over a long period of struggle.

Modi’s wave is so staunchly supportive that despite all the ill decisions taken by the government on various grounds, whether social or economic, they still support, stand and cheer in unison, ignoring the dire and antagonistic conditions they are being pushed into.

From demonetisation to GST, increase in unemployment, inflation, unwanted violence and corruption, people have shut their lids towards their own development, welfare and are willingly ready to suffer at the hands of the government. Moreover, many people believe that the BJP has rigged the electoral system with faulty EVMs and is destroying the garb of secularism and democracy.

But we cannot un-see the masses that chant in the name of Modi. It was Narender Modi that excited the majority of youth into politics in 2014 when he contested for the seat of a Prime Minister. Even after economic disasters like the introduction of demonisation and GST, people elected him to the Lok Sabha in 2019 with a 34% majority, outrunning Congress and other parties in elections.

The new Modi wave is like a silhouette that follows its beacon irrespective of any situation and consequence, and hence, this wave is more of a reality than a myth of the 21st century.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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