Herald View: In the 'New Republic' or the old, we are in trouble

The Prime Minister’s silence on issues of national and public concern and his refusal to answer questions does him no credit even as the nation 'celebrates' Republic Day

Migrant workers returning home during lockdown in 2020
Migrant workers returning home during lockdown in 2020

Herald View

While the customary address to the nation by the President on the eve of the Republic Day next week is unlikely to make the admission, there is little doubt now that the Republic is in serious trouble. Presidential addresses at the best of times have meant little but the dissonance between the addresses and reality on the ground has been growing even more in recent years. Despite attempts by the Government to dazzle and distract the people with celebrations and the Republic Day Parade, the show of military might is unlikely to be of much comfort. The Chinese aggression in Ladakh and on the borders of Arunachal Pradesh, denied and downplayed by the Government, poses a threat to the stability, if not sovereignty, of the country. The Government has not only been in denial but it is now becoming clear that it has not been quite truthful to the people about not just the Sino-Indian relations but also on a host of other issues. The Republic Day also comes this year a little over a month after the chilling call for a genocide made by a group of demented people high on Islamophobia. It is a crime against humanity that has drawn international attention and in a briefing to the US Congress this month, on January 12 to be precise, Genocide Watch, an organization set up in 1999, urged a resolution to urge President Biden to warn and admonish India. A similar warning was held out by the Holocaust Museum in the US, which used a statistical model to predict that India is the second most likely country to witness killing of its people on a massive scale. Such concerns have predictably been dismissed by the Indian Government as exaggerated and mischievous. People however can scarcely afford to ignore the signals when even a former Supreme Court judge Rohintan Nariman laments in a lecture that the ‘ruling dispensation is not only silent on hate speech but is almost endorsing such calls for violence’.Meanwhile, the economy continues to provide little cheer with consumer sentiment down as affirmed by the RBI, household income sharply impacted by restrictions and with vehicle registrations dropping, power generation dipping and number of flights shrinking. Employment rates have remained low and fewer women have work commensurate to their skill.

What is worrying amidst such gloom is the silence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Usually never short of words, he has not spared a word on the economy, the growing external threats or the call for genocide. His silence is contagious. Few of his colleagues in the Government are willing to speak on such issues of concern even as the Government continues to overreact to criticism and comedy. It is worrying when the Union Government deems it fit to react to a children’s play, a satire, on an imaginary ruler in an imaginary kingdom but has no time to address serious issues. It is not just the Prime Minister but even his powerful Home Minister who has maintained a studied silence on the call for genocide. Both these gentlemen had mocked former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh for his ‘silence’ but unlike Dr Singh, they are yet to display the courage to address a press conference and take questions. How long can the Republic put up with their monologues is the question.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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

Published: 26 Jan 2022, 12:00 PM