I-Day: Retrieve your conscience from tyrants’ devious influence

Long years ago, did we make a tryst with destiny for our greatest ever rulers to rewrite history to suit their narrow sectarian interests?

Image for representational purpose only
Image for representational purpose only

Ranjona Banerji

I’m not going to say anything new here, on this Independence Day. There is nothing new to say. Long years ago, did we make a tryst with destiny for our greatest ever rulers to rewrite history to suit their narrow sectarian interests? Or indeed that they will simultaneously work to assiduously follow the history of every majoritarian, fascist ideology that ever ruled anywhere in the world?

The half-fulls will tell you there is still hope.

I tell you right now we’re losing the battle against fascism, against the RSS, the BJP and Narendra Modi. The latest video doing the rounds of a Muslim man being harangued and beaten by a mob of Hindutva thugs, with his little daughter clinging to his legs, begging for mercy, has had many Indian liberals crying that it is too painful for them to watch, and how did their India become like this.

Really? You say this now, after seven years of relentless assault on Muslims, people of lower castes, women, on human rights activists by Hindutva and Hindu “vigilante” forces that roam in packs across India free in the knowledge that they can never be touched by our laws and our police forces? Just about every story of Hindu majoritarian fascism is the same. Attack. The Dalit man who grew a moustache, the Dalit man who wanted to ride a horse to his wedding, the Muslim boy who was returning home after Eid shopping, the Muslim man who owned a cow and had meat in his refrigerator, the little Dalit girl who asked a Hindu priest for water, the young Dalit girl who fell in love with an upper caste boy, the activist who sang a song against fascism, the activist who held up a placard against fascism, the Muslim doctor who provided oxygen to sick children…

I’ll run out of word count before I list every transgression against anyone who is not an upper caste Hindu. Not one of our Constitutional institutions has been strong enough or daring enough to do its job. Our democratic rights have been pummelled and tattered. And almost all our public voices have attempted to excuse and justify all these democratic transgressions by telling us that everything has been done before by some other political entity.

I can tell you with 100 percent guarantee that the human race has for millennia reproduced, travelled, hunted, hated, murdered, loved.

What does that justify?

The nature of democracy, of our hard-won rights, is that we fight for them all the time. We do not give in because in the past some other government whether ruled by Congress or any other party had also stepped over democratic boundaries towards fascism.

We do not kowtow to unreasonable demands out of self-interest and fear. We do not fall for every fascist trick used by every dictator from Mussolini to Hitler to Stalin to Saddam Hussein to Idi Amin to Muammar Gaddafi to Pol Pot to Kim Il Sung…

Control the minds of the people by spreading propaganda, fear, and rewriting history. Silence all dissent. Do that first, you are secure for years. And rest assured, you will be helped along the way by a pliable media ready to broadcast your agenda for a few silver coins thrown their way, by centrists who cannot distinguish between the past and the future, by those who say don’t rock the boat because they are terrified of change, by the rich, the profiteers and money-makers who know that they always have an escape route, and of course the easily manipulated middle classes.

Lower class frustration will be aggravated to violence against an invented enemy. And history will be tortured into submission.

To quote George Orwell: “ ‘Who controls the Past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ ”

Thus today, on Independence Day, we will celebrate those who had nothing to do with our freedom struggle, and we will laud and elevate them and then we will worship more false gods.

This is an undeniable truth. This is our future if we do not stand up now for our present.

For every video you can’t bear to watch, there are innumerable more unchronicled horrors. For every infraction you excuse because it happened in the past, there are thousands of others which have now been allowed by you. For every death you know about, there are all those you don’t.

If you’re going to celebrate anything today, try and celebrate the fact that you finally found your conscience and your voice.

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