Reality Bites: Not content with vigilante justice at home, we are now exporting it

Even as the Western World has started to see through the ugly underbelly, Western governments will always have their own axe to grind and turn a blind eye to our warts, writes Rupa Gulab

PM Modi (file photo)
PM Modi (file photo)

Rupa Gulab

Governance is not something the Big Fat Stadium is good at. If his incompetent regime has survived for so long, it’s primarily because of the numerous PR agencies it employs to whitewash it across the world, and its stranglehold over India’s mainstream media. Some people call it “headline management”, but it actually goes deeper than, spilling over into edit pages, Bollywood happenings, and sports pages too. Our cricket stars, for example, report to the sinister Home Minister’s son. His daddy inspires their tweets. After all, no one wants the IT Dept, ED, CBI, Narcotics Bureau, Delhi Police, or the ABVP’s hit woman Komal Sharma ringing their doorbells.

While the Big Fat Stadium insists that he has a 56-inch chest, the thickness of his skin is well below the human average (about the same as his IQ and EQ). Tweets upset him. Independent digital media upsets him. Cameramen who focus on other people or other peacocks upset him.

The international spotlight on our protesting  farmers has made him behave like a headless chicken, and his plans to shut up or lock up every dissenter have been kicked off. A section of the media has published a terrifying story on how his government plans to silence everyone. The article, ‘Paranoia about digital coverage led ministers to propose media clampdown, monitoring “negative influencers," is a must read.

Here are a couple of gems: They plan to get allies like Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik to say lovely things about them, critics and supporters will be colour-coded and dealt with accordingly, and everyone (including your BJP-cursing parrot, budgerigar, and mynah) will be watched 24x7.  Incidentally, they got senior reporters from several publications to advise them on how to “neutralise” fellow journalists who criticise them!

Fortunately, the Western world is beginning to see through the Big Fat Stadium, and their noses are beginning to twitch like there’s a bad smell. Freedom House (a US-based Human Rights watchdog) downgraded India’s status as a democracy and free society in its 2021 annual report. We have been shunted from “free” to “partly free”.

The report says that “Political rights and civil liberties in the country have deteriorated since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, with increased pressure on human rights organizations, rising intimidation of academics and journalists, and a spate of bigoted attacks, including lynchings, aimed at Muslims... The decline only accelerated after Modi’s reelection in 2019.” Oh how I miss the time when India felt morally superior to China!

Whether democratic governments will act on this is another matter. Commerce trumps human rights, and shoving globs of Vicks Vaporub into nostrils can disguise the bad smell of bigotry. Why, even angelic Angela Merkel’s ambassador to India, Walter Lindner, paid a friendly visit to the RSS—Hitler’s biggest fans—in Nagpur. He had a smashing time and tweeted about it with photographs and all!

I get anxiety attacks these days when American officials witter on about shared values between the oldest and largest democracies in the world. I fell out of love with US President Barack Obama when he came, he saw the bigotry, yet he said the same old drivel. His successor, Trump, had the same contempt for democracy as the Big Fat Stadium, and now we’re waiting to see if Biden, who has promised to strengthen democracies across the world, walks the talk.

The RSS-BJP has a large international network. The loudest and the most devious of its supporters are in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. They fund political parties and also organise rallies at smaller stadiums when the Big Fat Stadium visits their countries (how does he fit in, I wonder?).

This lot have upped their game.  It appears that they have read the sacred Gau Rakshak manual, and are now attacking fellow Indians who object to the farm laws.

Australia’s 7news recently reported that a bunch of RSS-BJP supporters wielding bats smashed a car in which Sikhs were travelling. Similar madness is happening in Canada and the UK. So, even if world leaders do not read dry reports on India, they can see what’s happening right under their noses, can’t they? I do hope, for our sakes, that they stop reciprocating hugs, for starters.

(Any resemblance to real people or events is a coincidence)

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