Hate mongering is directly proportional to Modi’s failures

The worse off we are, the more photos of Modi adorn our roadsides. Even when his popularity ratings fall, it is drummed into us by the pliable media that there is no option

A hoarding thanking PM Modi for "free" Covid vaccine
A hoarding thanking PM Modi for "free" Covid vaccine
user

Ranjona Banerji

The most dangerous people around are the ones who say “things are not so bad” no matter how bad things are. They are marginally worse than our old “this has happened before” friends.

It’s difficult to gauge just how bad things need to be until people wake up. On the verge of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, many believed it was gross exaggeration, that the threat was being overblown by pharma companies, that it was some giant conspiracy by a person or persons unknown.

This carried on well into the virus taking over. Not only did we see the damage that both lack of acceptance and the virus itself could do, today, we still suffer the results of that sanguinity. All those people who refused to get vaccinated in 2021, either because of a conspiracy theory or because all was well again, have wrought another sort of havoc on those around them.

We’re in a similar state with Indian society. The levels of hatred and divisiveness are extremely high but large swathes of us cannot and will not accept what is going on. The past few days have seen an exponential increase in small incidents of violence against Muslims, usually small-time vendors trying to eke out a living.

The mobs who attack them no longer use the cow as their excuse. Now the very fact of being Muslim is apparently enough to justify brutality. Muslims bear the brunt, but other marginalised communities are not far from Hindu majoritarian wrath. And of course, there are always India’s women, of all communities, available to be attacked to justify and further a majoritarian fascist dream.

As the whole case with the late Sushant Singh Rajput showed us, there are enormous power banks of people who are invisible to many, that operate behind the scenes, that escalate and exacerbate public opinion, and keep the fires of rage burning. Many use the internet to do this, and not even the feared dark web. It is all hidden on plain sight, as long as you know where to look.

A Muslim bangle seller being beaten up in Indore just for venturing into a Hindu locality last week
A Muslim bangle seller being beaten up in Indore just for venturing into a Hindu locality last week

And the more the inability of the Modi government to provide even basic governance is exposed, the more the anger, hatred and violence is fomented. You could argue that the violence is a fallout of the incompetence or that the violence was always the goal. We’re on the edge where the point is moot. The process and the end result are now the same: that India’s future must not continue as democratic and secular, and that total control is only possible through the domination and subjugation of all who do not fit the pattern set out by the Hindutva forces.

Do not fall into that trap of elections being the cause. The Uttar Pradesh elections are certainly a dominant thought at this moment. But elections are just stepping-stones to the bigger goal. The hatred and violence have only grown election after election. It’s not after May 2014 all attacks stopped. In fact, as we know they have increased.

And the assault has been by means obvious and insidious. There has not been a single election since 2014 where members of the BJP, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi downwards, have not used communal, sectarian, divisive language. There has not been a single election where the mainstream media has not regaled its viewing and reading public with stories about how every non-BJP party from the Congress to the DMK to the TMC to the Left to the SP to the RJD to the Shiv Sena to the NCP and so on are not completely useless lumps of incessant infighting.

The same strategy and tactics are repeated as we fall for it. The same industrial houses get increasing benefits as everyone else reels under the massive economic crisis, building since 2016 and worsened by the pandemic. The worse off we are, the more photos of Modi adorn our roadsides. The personality cult around the great man is practically complete. Even when his popularity ratings fall, it is drummed into us by the pliable media that there is no option.

And so we fall into the trap of saying to ourselves, everyone is bad, anyone else could be worse, the devil you know. At the same time, some of us are gleeful that Muslims, Dalits, Christians, women, are being “shown their place”. We look at our empty wallets and we’re happy that someone else has no wallet at all.

That is the aim. How stupid will we continue to be to allow it to reach fruition?

(Views are personal)

Click here to join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines